((Great Cabin, Labyrinth’s Scream))
::Thertas narrowed his eyes, drawing in a slow, deep breath and then exhaling it with just as much restraint. He moved the blade away from Lena's neck and released her, breathing out a huff that sounded suspiciously like a curt laugh when he spotted the disruptor in her hand. Moments ago, it would have been pressed against his belly, and he hadn't so much as noticed. With a sly twitch of an eyebrow toward the pirate captain, she stowed it away, and he too returned his ushaan-tor to its sheath.::
Thertas: Not the kind of life for either of us. ::He leaned over, picking up the datapad from where it had fallen.:: And what will this Starfleet-sponsored retirement cost me?
::Lena dabbed her fingertips at the pinprick of blood on her neck, examining the crimson glisten of her fingertips with a kind of detached interest. Just enough to make his point without causing any real harm. She had no doubt the harm would have become very real, if their answers hadn't been to his liking. But she wasn't fool enough to walk in with them if they hadn't been.::
Josett: They'll have questions about the Syndicate for you, I'm sure. ::She jerked her head toward Bear and Valesha.:: And these two want what that courier is hauling.
Thertas: That's not mine to hand over.
O. Marshall: It’s not theirs either, if we’re splitting hairs.
::Although he had no idea what it was the courier carried, showing that hand in a situation where the Captain had a tendency to get twitchy with a knife was a bad move. Bear felt the shift of Valesha’s arm against his back, weapon within reach, however the threatening atmosphere that had wrapped around them like a thick blanket of smoke and deception had started to fade, crystal skies on the horizon.
::The prospect of whatever it was tickled the inside of the blond human’s mind, like poking his brain with soft fingers. Why would they want it? How did Lena know they wanted it? The questions floated through his eyes with immediacy, even if briefly, for those who cared to look a little deeper.::
O. Marshall: Simply a matter of reappropriating resources, from one businessman to another. ::He paused, a quick and evaluating look toward Lena, before returning to the Andorian.:: Where’s the courier now?
Thertas: He has a suite in our passenger cabins, for himself and his guards. He has the run of the ship, but he rarely ventures out.
::The danger seeming to have passed, Valesha dropped her hand back down to her side and slid out from behind her human shield. Her narrowed eyes were filled with suspicion, and she made no attempt to hide it. It didn't offend the Andorian — on the contrary, his mild, knowing expression indicated that he might even approve of her overt scepticism.::
Sienelis: Just like that, you're going to tell us everything we need.
Thertas: You have something I want. So far, the price is reasonable.
::That only provoked the question of what would happen when the price became less so. Questions flitted through Bear’s mind at the prospect of what the courier was carrying, and where he could hide it. On his person? In his suite? Bear glanced at Lena again. Was he supposed to know what they were after? Did she think he did?::
O. Marshall: Then we need a way of coaxing him out of it. ::He tilted his head to the side, thinking about it.:: Or a way in there that isn't through the doors. Or both.
Thertas: That is your problem, not mine.
O. Marshall: Is that so? ::Bear exhaled through his nose; a snort of amusement or derision.:: You want to get out of this into the cosy bosom of Starfleet, we’re going to need help. Like it or not, it’s your problem too.
::Thertas raised a white brow in the trio's direction, lifting the datapad as he spoke. It was hard to decipher the small text from a distance, but there was a clear schematic image of a Federation starship tucked amongst the words.::
Thertas: I thought my problem would be the fact that a Sovereign class is coming our way, and if my crew realise that, they're going to want to shoot at it.
::Valesha winced, though she caught the sigh before it got too far out of her lungs. The idea that the Gorkon was hot on their tails was simultaneously a relief and a terror, knowing that the only person likely to welcome her back was an Admiral bearing an expression of distant, polite regret, directing her straight back into a brig cell.::
O. Marshall: Neatly put. ::Crossing his arms, Bear glowered somewhere in the middle distance.:: A Captain needs to keep up appearances on the bridge. If anything, the courier would suspect something is amiss if you’re not.
Sienelis: Shouldn't be easy for them to figure it out. It's not easy to see anyone coming in Ma no Umi, and they'll have to be right on top of us before anyone would be able to tell what kind of ship it is.
::Which, if played right, they could turn to their advantage. He couldn’t quite put his finger on how yet, but they had some measure of time before the hulking Sovereign and indomitable Admiral were near enough to make discovery a real possibility. A sinking feeling in his stomach persisted at the thought of what could happen if they failed.::
O. Marshall: Will he know we’re onboard?
Thertas: He might. He's cautious. I wouldn't put it past him to have stationed one of his men in the shuttlebay, or paid someone off to keep him informed.
O. Marshall: That rules out one of us posing as one of your crew, then. ::He scratched at his beard, never quite finding the time to shave.:: Would he appear for a Captain’s dinner?
::The Andorian smiled, and Lena grinned at him in turn when he caught her eye. It was clear that the pair were sharing some silent joke.::
Thertas: If only to try and figure out what I'm up to.
O. Marshall: That’s ideal. ::His words were more optimistic than his facial expression.:: An ambitious Syndicate member isn’t going to refuse, will likely take some of his guards with him, then all we need is a cat burglar and a Romulan cloaking device. ::A prickling heat somewhere in the region of his stomach, Bear ran his hand over his face.:: It could be worse.
Sienelis: When did you become an optimist?
O. Marshall: I have a healthy regard for life. Have done for a long while. ::He shot her a commiserating look over his shoulder.:: This or penal colony. I know which one I’m choosing.
::The Romulan frowned in answer, crossing her arms over her chest, lacking any kind of retort to a quip that cut a little too close to the quick. Thertas cast a thoughtful look in Bear's direction, the comment noted and sent turning over in his mind before he replied.::
Thertas: Lena, find them somewhere to stay. ::He looked at the human and the Romulan.:: She can be your go-between, if you need it. No one will think twice about one of my favourites paying me a visit.
::Bear nodded, his arms still crossed, feeling the reassuring weight of the phaser tucked in beside his ribs. If ever there was a time to keep it close, resting on a ship full of pirates was it. A look crossed his face and he glanced at Lena.::
O. Marshall: What do you get out of this?
::She smiled at him, her usual cheer back in evidence once again. It was as though she hadn't been held at knifepoint at all, the blood scabbing at her throat the result of some inoffensive, unremarkable accident.::
Josett: Would you believe me if I said the satisfaction of a job well done?
O. Marshall: No. ::His eyebrow ticked up, amusement evident.:: But you make it look convincing.
Josett: Why, thank you. ::She breathed a quiet laugh, patting him lightly on the chest.:: Don't worry, little spoon. It's nothing that will get anyone here into trouble.
::He nodded, glancing back at Valesha, then back to Thertas. In another life, he could see the man in a Starfleet uniform, red contrasting nicely with the blue of his skin, and wondered what had made him walk a different path. Finally dropping his arms, he exhaled a breath, and offered his hand to the Captain again.::
O. Marshall: Here’s hoping this works.
::The Andorian pirate took Bear's hand. The shake was just as firm in its encore, though considerably briefer, and it was only a moment or two before their hands were returning to their sides.::
Thertas: If it doesn't, we'll all be wishing we'd chosen the penal colony instead.
O. Marshall: Comforting thought, Captain. ::Smile still there, albeit thinned, he exhaled and looked at the hybrid.:: Ready when you are.
::That almost ever-present smile lingering, Lena dipped her head in a respectful goodbye to the Andorian pirate.::
::And with that, Lena stepped backward and then turned on her heel, marking their exit from the grand cabin.::