‘Taking Stock of the Truth'
[A Rogue's Confession]
Security control, Docking gate 2, Deck 6
"Permission to come aboard." The cocky grin, the souicant stance and the mocking salute attested to the years of grief Molly Cartwright had received from her ex-husband. Paul Dubeque stood at the threshold of the gangway flanked by the increased security presence. Molly Cartwright sauntered down the ramp with a non-too-amused expression on her face.
"Aren't you pleased to see me babe?"
Crossing her arms defiantly, expressing to Paul that his compliments were wasted. "Maybe you haven't noticed the wrinkles Paul but it's been a long time since anyone called me babe."
He winked and smiled broadly, "But I always thought so."
Lacking the patience for these games she retorted smartly, "What do you want Paul?"
"Cutting to the chase Molly. You've lost none of your edge."
"No but I have lost the marriage certificate so I don't need to do the whole ‘banter' thing. Why don't you cut to the chase?"
"Well do we need to do this here in public on the gangway? Do I get permission to come aboard or not?" He nodded to the security guards trying not to listen in.
Reluctantly she sighed and agreed to his request. "Fine Paul but you'd better not be wasting my time."
With good humour but a heavy dose of sarcasm Paul remarked, "I wonder sometimes Molly why it is we never worked out."
An arched look met this comment as Molly nodded to the security guards who waved Paul through. Without ceremony, the commander turned on her foot trusting Paul to follow and fall into step with her. He did so.
Once ensconced in her executive officer's office Molly poured a drink for herself and a tumbler she slid across the short table to Paul. "You still keep the good stuff."
"A certain cargo captain keeps me stocked."
"Ah I almost forgot," he rummaged in his backpack and pulled out a similar looking bottle. "Do enjoy ... and drink in good company of course." He raised his glass in a faint toast.
She sweetly replied as she stowed the bottle in her bottom drawer, "I'll make an exception in this instance."
"Very witty." He settled himself in her couch. Molly remained behind her desk presenting an officious demeanour but after a moment, she unbuttoned her collar.
She sat her glass down. "What's this about Paul?"
"Can't a man visit his wife? Ahem ... exwife."
"Not when the man has no need. You only come calling when you're in trouble Paul."
He spread his arms proclaiming innocence. "Huh! How very nice. Was there any stage at which you didn't suspect me of some wrongdoing? Did you marry me as some sort of undercover operation for McGregor?"
"I wouldn't put it past the man to try such a stunt but I'd not be the type to follow such a mission. But remember Paul you did give me plenty of reasons over the years to suspect you. What is it? What trouble are you in?"
"I'd like to think that it has been a while since I saw you last. I took advantage of the opportunity of being berthed here at the same time as yourself. It was a pleasant surprise I can tell you. I'd expected the Kestrel to have shipped out a month ago."
"Well T'Hos Likk but an end to an early departure." Molly caught the brief aversion in his eyes at the mention of T'Hos. "What the hell is it Paul? How in the hell are in wrapped up in his business. You do some dodgy things but you tend to only ever skirt the law. Tangling with T'Hos is pushing it and there is no playing 'I didn't know any better' card because his reputation precedes him. So spit it out before I have to pull your tongue out."
"Molly I never did buy your hard ass act."
She slapped the desk hard causing her tumbler to spill over. "Don't play me Paul! I never had cause to mean it with you! But my God if you've gotten tangled up with T'Hos ..." Her words trailed off disbelievingly. "Out with it Paul. I'm growing tired of this whole situation. You. McGregor. T'Hos. Georgetown. Bloody woolly brained men." She righted the tumbler and then massaged her temples.
"Sorry Molls. You're right I've done something dead stupid. I didn't know who it was I working for in the first instance. I only worked it out on the grapevine afterwards when word about the attack fed out onto the frontier."
"McGregor will be happy to know we're the talk of the border! What did you do?"
"I ... I ... I helped give passage to a man and some others from one of the frontier worlds to here. I helped them get security papers. Basically I helped T'Hos and his men to smuggle onboard SB49."
"God you damned cursed fool! When McGregor hears this."
"Why does he have to hear about this?"
"He's meeting with the commodore at this moment to discuss the security findings concerning the attack. Paul you could find yourself arrested for aiding and abetting."
"I didn't know it was T'Hos at the time. I just worked it out afterwards."
"That makes it fine and dandy! You knew it was illegal regardless of whoever it was. It was this kind of stupidity that made me put pay to our marriage. This is just typical. Rash, stupid, greedy, money grabbing opportunistic stupidity!"
She stabbed an accusing finger across the table at Paul seated now uncomfortably on the couch. "Don't even dare. You knew you'd be caught out somewhere in the end. So you decided to fess up - but you fess up to me, knowing that I'd cover your back."
He quietly pleaded, "So will you?"
"Damn you Paul. Haven't I risked enough in my career for you? I'm paying for my mistakes but it seems as if I will forever have to cover for you so that you never have to pay for your mistakes." She stood and paced the small confines of her executive office.
"This is it Paul. I'm not going to cover for you."
"No, you don't get to beg of me. People on my ship died. We almost all died a horrible, horrible death at that man's hands. In addition, you bought him the golden ticket onto the starbase. McGregor is probably tearing Georgetown another A-hole over the whole debacle. No, you tell me everything now. Any and all information. T'Hos is still out there. And you can bet your sorry, sorry ass that we are going to hunt him down. So now, you get to really fess up. I'll grant you a reprieve of one day before I inform McGregor. So you may run for the hills."
"If you tell him, that's it, Molls, there's no coming back into Federation space. I'll be as good as one of those Orions, Fien or Ferengi that you hunt down."
"Quite frankly Paul, that's the company you belong to! I'm telling McGregor everything. Whatever he chooses to do with it is his decision. But I warn you, tell me everything or I slap you in chains right now myself. If you give us enough information to act on McGregor will be blinded to your ... crimes ... just so he can chase down T'Hos. Therefore, I want all the rumours, all the hidey-holes T'Hos retreats to and where he resupplies. Do you understand?"
He nodded. His face dejected and shamed. "I do."
Molly hid her own shame and disappointment. Instead, she displayed her anger, her face contorted in restrained fury. "Time to spill the beans."
"You realise ... I could be signing my own death warrant if T'Hos ever learns of this."
"You signed mine when you smuggled him aboard the spacebase. In addition, do not worry about T'Hos. We do not intend letting him getting away. So the better your information, the more likely he'll never have to be a concern for you."
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