Canopus Station
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Sleep Walkers

Posted on Fri Aug 20th, 2021 @ 1:43am by Bossa Dieu-Le-Veut & The Narrator & Daihnaa & Stephen Spires

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: LJSM4-34F
Timeline: MD4 01:00

Little more than a hop skip and a jump from Carpathia, The Witch Of Endor had made short work of the trip. Lacking a Slip Stream Drive, it had had to travel via warp speed. But at such a short distance from Carpathia, the trip was little more than a few hours.

Bossa's ship had started out life Raven-class transport, the mainstay of Federation merchant shipping in the core. A trip through a Rish shipyard out in the Persius Straits had remade the ship, elongating its neck and replacing the warp nacelles with more efficient faster drives. She looked like a Bird of Prey with the wings removed, which was intentional.

Bossa wanted underestimation to be the first weapon at a enemies throats. Not that Daihnna and Spires had gotten much of a tour of the ship, with Gul Eye Patch and Bajoran Merc No.2 being very unhelpful cabin crew. They were let out of the locked passenger cabin just as they arrived.

"Welcome," Bossa said from where she stood over a plotting table. Like the rest of the crew she was wearing a ship suit, a sealable space suit rated for vacuum in the case of emergency. But unlike the safety-conscious Federation, these ship suits were embellished with painted on murals and epoxied patches.

And weapons. Energy, kinetic, Bossa herself carried at her hip a boarding axe with a sharp impact tip behind its head.

"The folks that looked up at Messier 4 before we came were helpful in their charts. Long Jump Survey Messier 4: Star 34F. Blue White class star, not something you want to go tanning in. The second closest star to Carpathia. No gas giants, just rocky cinders," she explained. Through the viewports at the front of the bridge, one such ash coloured rock filled half of the screen. "We'll be landing soon, so time I gave you two your marching orders. Because I value this connection, and you sour it for me I'll be most put out by it."

Daihnaa had been annoyed to be locked in with Spires for the trip and the two ship hands were worse than useless. She emerged and listened to Bossa and wished she had been allowed to have her disruptor and laser scalpel. "So, what's the scene?"

"I was wanting to set up an info exchange," Spires said. "Give the Rish tips for easy scores in exchange for their eyes, ears, and whatever else I could squeeze them for. Now we're going to shit knows where." He regarded Daihnaa with a sidelong stare and a roguish grin. "Shacking up with you has definitely taken a turn for the exciting."

"What is shacking up?" She asked. "I have seen no....shack, up or down."

Spires smirked at the little green viper. "Shacking up. Gettin'in bed. Signing on. Joining up. Just a coy euphemism for doing business together." Determined as he was to ride this out without worrying about what may come, he merely chuckled at the circumstances. "Excitement was the intended takeaway. You having fun yet?"

"Loads of it," the Orion female said dryly. "Your definitions need updated, as well. However, what purpose are we serving out here?"

"We're in the middle of a power play," Spires said. "Every wannabe mover and shaker's specialty. If Bossa had any real capability, then she would have skipped the melodrama of hauling us out here and gotten straight to business. Instead she's trying to impress us in hopes of getting a favorable agreement not in our best interests." He smiled. "Don't worry. A journalist is never without leverage. I dealt with my share of Klingon pirates, Ferengi raiders, even big bubbas from your Syndicate back home. Between you and me, these shit-heel hustlers have no idea what they're in for."

"That sounds pointless to me, but I'm game to see what you have going for you," Daihnaa said. She had her own tricks, but wanted to see what Spires was capable of.

Bossa let the two of them continue their little chat as the ship lowered into the atmosphere. Though calling the gauzy sheet of confused nitrogen an atmosphere was being generous in the extreme. It was enough to begin to fuzz the edges of the curving horizon, not that the near white-out effect of the glowering blue-white star wasn't helping with the lighting.

"You two are cute as hell, brings an ache to my jaw with it all," her ark eyes remained motionless. "We'll be meeting with a fellow who used to frequent the Sleepers Bazaar, a mad carnival of revels I'm told the Federation shut down. Trader of sorts takes what I have to offer and is good enough to give as good as I give. You'll like him."

She looked at Spires.

"He likes to hear himself talk as well," she growled.

Spires flinched at the mention of the Sleepers Bazaar. It took great self-control to fight the palling of his face at the thought of encountering any of the living horrors from that flesh peddling market again.

"Are we here as partners," he asked, his voice even. Perhaps too even. "Or as merchandise?"

"That really depends on how much you piss me off. You dislike Ingram, and that goes a ways with me. But you got a little too much of the Fed on you for me to wholely trust you. The Orion, I know she's her own woman. But you reek of the sock puppet, the mouthpiece of the oppressor state," Bossa said with a shrug.

The pilot at the helm said something in the Rish language, a mix of everything put into a vocal blender and set to 'pate'. It roughly translated to 'We're landing' as the Endor crunched into the surface of the world, rocking slightly on her landing struts.

"Well, you're crazy enough to deal with whoever the hell was behind the Sleepers Bazaar," Spires said, "so you're already my kind of woman. Gets me a little hot and bothered when a strong woman threatens me physically. Kinda' puts me in the mood for the other thing." He winked at Bossa. "Score a third hit and we just might round the bases."

She had heard of the Sleepers Bazaar and now the Orion woman's focus was a lot tighter and her loose and relaxed stance tightened up. She clearly looked like she wasn't sure she wanted to be there now or not. "Spires..."

"Oh don't worry, he's not likely to wind up dead. His sort don't die easy," Bossa said. She barked a command in her patchwork language, and Gul Eyepatch stepped forward. "Follow him to the suit locker, and he'll get you kitted up. We've got a little walk ahead of us, and the air outside is fit for no one but tardigrades."



Even with the suits helmet visors tinted to maximum, the arc welder glare of the star above them nearly washed out everything. But as they bounded from the airlock of The Witch of Endor, boot soles crunching through the thin skin of silica that coated the plane they'd landed on, shapes materialised out of the whitewash.

A jagged, sawtooth edged craft that matched the Endor for size was sat on its haunches. It resembled the Reka shard craft that now infested the Carpathia Systems asteroid belts. Next to that were two tubular craft, which had landed on their sides with clawed landing gear unfolding from their caps. Those were reminiscent of the craft that had brought a representative of the Sleepers Bazaar to the Resolute. Other craft could be seen, hidden in the glare: flying wings, rhomboids, all the shapes that physics declared could be used to fly through space.

All of them centred around what looked like a circus tent of silver foil. As they got closer to it, the foil lining of the tent seemed to ripple, suggesting it was in fact not a sheet but a construct of some sort.

"Stop," Bossa said. She turned to one of her underlings who was carrying a large backpack. They nodded and walked up to the surface of the tent, and stepped through as the material swallowed them whole with only a ripple to mark their passing. Bossa turned her attention to Spires and Daihnna. "Air's breathable beyond the tent's wall, but I'd suggest keeping your helmets on unless directed not to. And whatever you not run. Got me? You make a break for it, and we're all as good as dead."

Spires sighed and shook his head. "This had better be worth it, you moon harpy."

"Shut up, Spires," Daihnaa mumbled into her suit as she followed the others and came to a stop when Bossa said stop. "I plan on keeping it on as long as I'm around Spires. His breath is a bit rancid."

"I doubt the good captain wants to hear about our kinks," Spires said. "Not that I minded at the time."


Bossa's suit began to shake as she laughed, a harsh brittle sound. Still chuckling she stepped through the silver veil and vanished. Stepping through was as easy as slipping under the waves, the material parting and pressing against the suits to keep the atmosphere from escaping or entering the tent.

Almost the moment they'd passed through the spacesuits became baggy affairs, the exterior atmosphere suddenly no longer forcing the material to inflate under vacuum. Environment sensors on the chest packs read an atmosphere rich in oxygen, nitrogen, with a smattering of carbon dioxide and argon for good measure. And it was swelteringly hot, enough that water vapour in the air was condensing into a sweat on the glass faceplates of the suits.

The interior of the tent, apart from being a hothouse, was filled with strange plants in brightly coloured planters. Luminous petals flickered through a rainbow of colours, and they watched as something like an orchid whipped out and snatched a buzzing thing from the air.

"Ah, Captian Bossa. Its good to see you again."

The voice which came through the comm channel was instantly recognisable. Perfect dictation, elegant verbiage, the woman voice had ushered in the rise of Presidents and the falls of interstellar empires across the length and breadth of Federation space.

"We also see that you have brought two new guests to our humble paradise. On behalf of the Nexus Five Confluence, I and my kin welcome you." The voice of Kelly Amberlee, media darling and anchorwoman of the Federation News Network chirped in their ears.

Spires halted in his tracks and grabbed Daihnaa's arm. After muting the comm channel, he put his faceplate against hers and shouted loud enough to transfer his voice between helmets without being overheard. "This is not good," Spires said. "She's FNN. Another of me. Whatever this means, it can't be good."

The Orion woman listened to what he shouted at her and gave a nod. "If this gets us both killed, I'll sell you to the Federation!"

"If this gets us killed, then I'll see you in hell," Spires replied before breaking contact and resuming their stride behind Bossa.

A scrabbling thing came out from behind one of the planters. It was best to think of it as a thing because trying to attach anything else just broke any sense of logic. At first glance, you would be mistaken in thinking you saw three mangy junkyard dogs fighting over a chunk of rotting meat, their heads together as they fought over their prize. Long powerful limbs scrabbled in the loose rocky soil, taunt pale skin revealing coiled black muscles beneath. They even had tails, each tipped with a glowing luminous tip.

Except this wasn't three nightmare dogs fighting over a bone.

It was one singular creature.

It came to a scrabbling halt before them, its three chests heaving as a guttural burble of sound erupted from it. The three tails stretched and coiled together, their three glowing tips directing their attention to Bossa and then Spires and Daihnna.

"I wish to first assure you that I mean you no harm," Kelly Amberlee's voice said, overlaying the broken sewage pipe burble of the thing before them. "I understand that my species appearance can be unsettling to mammalian bipeds, but I assure you that you look as frightening to me as I do to you. So in this, we are equals."

If equals meant we have three heads and bodies with a single consciousness running things while looking like that, Daihnaa mused. I'll pass., She gave a smile. "I'm Daihnaa. This is Spires."

"A pleasure to meet you," the thing said. It scrabbled forward, its 12 leg's somehow mincing together in such a way as to not get tangled into knots. The cojoined tails directed their attention to Spires, the glow dim enough for him to pick out the fact each tip was part of a compound eye. Probably very good peripheral vision when separate, but better definition when focused on a single target. That didn't stop the tips occasionally flicking left or right nervously. "And Mr. Spires we know very well indeed. Your reports to the Federation News Network were thoroughly in keeping with the highest standards of information dispersal. We have made something of a study of them, as well as other networks that Captain Bossa has provided in trade to better our communication. If time allows I think there are a few of my compatriots who would like to ask you questions concerning the ongoing political tensions on Canopus Station. Where there is tension, there is a need. Where there is a need, there is opportunity."

"...Kelly?" Spires heard his voice crack a little but he didn't care. That this monster was speaking with the voice of his sometime rival was something his normally quick wit was struggling to process.

"So what kind of opportunity are we talking about?" Daihnaa asked, wishing things appearance wasn't so raw.

"The Confluence prides itself on meeting the unique needs of our clients. Weapons so that they can gain a more advantageous bargaining position with their fellows, Prior artefacts and the locations of their seeded caches, and intelligence of course as well as a range of pharmacological items of various potencies," the creature stepped back or walked forward it was hard to tell with that weird body symmetry.

As they walked through the humid fog of the space, other creatures like their guide could be seen. Some were smaller, skittering, though most seemed to of the same size. They wore no clothes, though their bodies were marked with oddly symmetrical scars and blemishes that could have denoted rank or standing. Here and there an odd member of their race could be seen with a missing leg or eyestalk.

"Captain Bossa has been kind enough to supply information on your colonies climate and geology, a desert moon with a deactivated Prior world flower," 'Kelly' said. "I think we have the beginnings of a relationship. We have something you need that will provide you leverage, and you have something we need that you are not using."

"What do we have that you need which we aren't using?" Daihnaa asked. Her senses were tingling and something that was useful to her would be valuable to her.

"You have access to a dormant Prior world flower. From what we know the Reciprocity of Carcosia has deactivated it for you. They dislike Prior machines, you are lucky they did not seek its destruction. That would have gone poorly for you." the alien creature was joined by a second. And whilst it spoke in the elegant tones of Kelly Amberlee, a guttural growling bark snapped out of it, cowing the second creature and making it scurry away. "We have the means and ability to remotely tap into the deep systems of the world flower. It is a potent power source. All we require is the placement of a power tap that we can provide to you: place it where we direct, and the Nexus Five Confluence will be in your debt."

It stopped, scrabbling around so that some randomly chosen 'front' was facing them.

"In exchange for this small service, we would be willing to give you this," 'Kelly' said, gesturing to a device that was clearly not of their manufacture. It was as large as a cargo crate, but shaped like a barrel or jet engine made of milky white glass and fine ivory blades. In fact, there seemed more blades slowly spinning within it than were perhaps possible to fit inside of it. "A working Prior pass key, liberated from the husk of a Myriad thorn ship caught in the Web Fields on the dark side of Messier 4. It is how they gain access to the Whisper Gates that orbit every star in this cluster. This particular passkey has been set for ten activations, after which it will need to be reset by ourselves. A full instruction set, and the particular settings to lucrative worlds within the cluster will accompany it."

"And what's your price after the ten activations?" The Orion asked.

"And how is whisper gate technology more desirable than warp technology?" Spires asked, finally finding his voice. By now it was clear to him that this Confluence monstrosity had merely borrowed Kelly's voice but it was no less unnerving on his ears.

"Time, and stealth. With warp travel you need to pass from there to here, and in doing so blaze a trail across the stars for all to see. The Myriad are phobic of warp travel, it displeases them. They see it as a fire that draws the ire of something dark and dangerous, it is why they go to such lengths to kill that technology where they find it. With a Whisper Gate you pass from one gate to another instantaneously. In fact you arrive slightly before you leave, but that merely nudges causality instead of breaks it." 'Kelly' said, smoothly selling her wares. "As for our price to reset the device, that is something that could be negotiated after you have experienced the utility of it. After all, we were able to set up this outpost almost on your dor step, and yet your military does not know of it. Ask us how we did this?"

The creature stroked the passkey.

"All of Messier 4's secret passages open to you and you alone, for a simple act of allowing access to something you have never needed."

Stepping back to let Bossa and the eldritch abomination continue their bargaining, Spires took Daihnaa by the hand again. He pressed their helmets together so they could converse in private without being over heard.

"I think that barking clusterfuck is talking about the ancient tower down on Carpathia," he shouted through their adjoining faceplates. "Trust me when I say we don't want to go anywhere near that thing. Bad shit happened the first time and I got kidnapped by a slave-trading chode. We need to get out of Bossa's deal."

"Why don't we think about what they're talking about," the Orion woman shouted through her facemask. "We can turn that into a sizeable empire in no time."

A guttural bark came from 'Kelly', its three tails braided together and glowering at a more mangy looking scrabble-mutt. Their host barked again, this time the loud clacking of teeth or a beak punctuated this. But the mangy one crept closer, edging towards Spires. The moment it tried to reach out with one of its tendrils to touch his suit's glove, 'Kelly' lashed out.

How ever they looked on the outside, the interior morphology was worse. The savage kick with two of 'Kelly's' legs ripped open one of its torsos, spilling steaming offal and viscera onto the floor. The other scrabble-mutts nearby froze, their attention on the mortally wounded member of their Confluence. Though it seemed they had been demoted from 'member' to 'dinner'. Four of them landed on the keening scrabble mutt, jerking from side to side as vicious-looking beaks in their underside snapped and ripped at the still howling thing.

Within seconds it had been torn apart, its various sections dragged away to be fought over by the smaller ones. All that was left was a stain like grape jelly smeared across the floor.

"MY...apologies," 'Kelly' said, curling one of its legs under itself, using its beaked maw to lick the blooded claw tip clean. "A minor disagreement of client ownership. Had that one seized your hands and marked you with its scent, I would have little say in protecting you from the predations of my fellows. We are most jealous of our trading partners."

Daihnaa looked at Spire with a WTF look on her face, which seemed to be common among different species and meant the same thing. "I say we get the hell out of here before that happens to us," she shouted with her helmet against his.

"Bossa said if we run then we die," Spires said. "After that shit show we just watched, I believe her. Let's promise whatever it takes to get the fuck out of here and then never come back!"

"So. You grant us access to the World Flower on Carpathia, and in return you get the PassKey and a set of combinations to lucrative markets and opportunities," Kelly said. It then raised one of its clawed feet, the wickedly sharp dactiles retracting into the soft pads of its paw. "I believe in your culture, it is customary to seal a compact with the shaking of a limb?"

"Not mine," Daihnaa said. "Spoken deal or a written contract and a spot of blood."

"Gentlemen's agreement it is!" Spires said. "Which is to say... we'll do it. Now maybe show us the door...."

"Of course," 'Kelly' said. Its eyestalks turned to regard Bossa. "As always, a pleasure. Our business is yet to be concluded, but I can certainly provide you with more time to provide compensation now that yo have brought more trading partners to us."

"Greatly appreicated," Bossa said with a slight bow of her head.

"Then I bid you all good day," 'Kelly' said, not bothering to turn around and just ambling off. Bossa gestured for them to leave, slowly


Back in the airlock of the Witch Of Endor the trio were met by some of Bossa's crew. They were strapping down a grey box, its four corners spiked with vicious-looking hooks. But apart from that, featureless and without ornamentation.

"Thats for you," Bossa said as she unlatched her helmet, using it to gesture at the grey box.

"For us?" the Orion asked as she removed her helmet.

The smell that assaulted her nose when she removed her helmet was...unique. The primary ingredient was ammonia, with a smidge of methane. Making a nose searing stink that really cleaned out the sinuses so that you could really appreciate that rotting skunk funk.

"Yup," Boosa said as took a mask from one of her crew. "You made a deal with the Scrabble Mutt. You take that thing down to Carpathia, to the 'World Flower', that fancy white tower, and leave it there. Mutts'll do the rest remotely. Now, you'll want to put that suit in this here bag: you'll need it again when you meet with them so that they 'know' you belong to that 'Kelly' person. If you don't...well you saw what they did to one of their own."

Spires scoffed. "Yeah, like I'll ever set foot here ever again."

"Oh you will," Bossa said with a grin. "See my continued access to this little freakshow is contingent on that. And if I to keep you as a guest of mine to facilitate that, well we Rish are known for our hospitality. And we do have something of a reputation among some for seducing the landlocked with tales of the wandering stars we walk."

One of her crew thumped a heavy sledgehammer into the deck plating.

"So you'll be joining me again once you've done what was asked of you. Trust me, this is for the best. Starfleet is no friend to any of us, and good allies in our corner is exactly what we need. Not gonna let some ground humper get in the way of me providing for my folks future," Bossa said flatly.

"You can suck my dick," Spires said evenly, "because I don't respond to threats. If you're going to kill me, then kill me, otherwise don't insult my intelligence with petty violence. Your gypsy gangster shit isn't half as scary as some of the criminal element I've rubbed shoulders with, so you will speak to me as an equal or you can fuck off right here and now on that sledgehammer handle."

Daihnaa stepped to the side several steps. "I don't know him that well," the Orion said.

"Oh I know, but you have to work with what you've got, no one to blame but the Maker of Ways for giving you a bum hand like this," Bossa said with a well meaning shrug before returning her attention to Spires. "As for you, I'm not threatening you. Broken bones and sore heads make for poor partners. An inside scoop on actual news in Messier 4, not just the sanitised tripe that you're fed by Ingram and his lackies? Not to mention being able to make the news, that's got to be tempting."

"Fine, fine! Why are we still standing here?!" Spires said. "This is all shit we can hammer out somewhere other than Cereberus' lair!"


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