Cr:01.06 – Newly promoted Commander Whyte wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing as he sat nursing his glass sitting in Quark’s Bar on DS9, watching the other patrons as they came and went about their collective and possibly dubious business. The Admiral’s aide had said this was one of the best places to hitch a lift to the Gamma Quadrant and The Reach, as the only other ship fitted with Chozo jump-gate technology had already left the Sol system with some very high ranking officials on board.
“I suppose her Captain wouldn’t really want another passenger to add to the security mix,” he noted.
“Probably not,” the Aide agreed. “Your best bet would be to go via DS9 and the Bajoran wormhole. The barkeep there is well known for getting the impossible for a price,” the Aide grinned.
“So I’ve heard; Quark the Ferengi. Nice fellow!” he quipped.
“One other thing, Commander; I’d go in civilian dress, if I were you; preferably as a trader type.”
“Understood and thank you, I think.”
Thus that was how he’d ended up here at Quark’s Bar awaiting the arrival of the Ferengi’s associate – whoever that might be, Charles thought with a grimace. He not only dressed as the Aide had suggested, but also sported a few days growth of beard as well, in order to hide his refined looks. It irked him to dress so shabbily, but tensions in this area were still tight, due to the fact that some rebel Founders had appeared to infiltrate DS11, in the Gamma Quadrant, obviously intent on regaining their former holdings there by pretending to be persons they were not. Trying to upset the balance of power in that Quadrant and undermine the Federation’s and Starfleet’s credibility and trustworthiness. Although this insurrection had come to light some five years ago – 2388 – it was still rumbling a bit even now; people within the area both sides of the wormhole did not forget or forgive easily, thus suspicions still abounded here around DS9.
A shadow of humanoid form crossed his table, thus he looked up to find a human male dressed in even rougher gear than his own looking down at him, two glasses filled with a green liquid in each hand.
“You look in need of company, My Friend,” the male said and sat down opposite Charles and put a green glass in front of him.
“Company perhaps,” he responded and took the glass. “What is this?” he softly asked, giving it a sniff.
“Karvino,” his nameless companion said. “Better get use to it, I happen to know a certain ‘Friend’ of our joint acquaintance has a particular liking for it,” he added, taking a sip of his own glass. “I can’t say the same though, cheers!” and downed the drink in one go. Charles eyed his fellow a moment and then shrugged and did the same. The taste was tart but not unpleasant.
“Why do you not care for it?” he asked curiosity getting the better of him.
“No bite – alcohol,” he grinned. Charles didn’t comment as he wasn’t a drinker himself and usually steered clear from such liquid, deeming it as trouble feeling it could impair ones judgement. He was going to introduce himself, but his fellow growled a soft warning, hauling Charles to his feet leading him out of Quark’s.
“Not here, too many unwanted ears around,” he whispered. “Now we’d better get our cargo loaded or we’ll be late for our drop-off,” he said more loudly, than Charles thought necessary, yet he sensed the wisdom in the man’s words as the patronage shifted around them as they left and headed for the nearest cargo-bay.
The cargo that the Rogue was carrying seemed sparse within the ships spacious cargo hold, but Charles – known as ‘Karel’ – the Old Dutch form of his name – worked with Hawkes’ small crew turning his hand to what was needed to keep the ship flying and on schedule. Only he and Captain Hawkes knew who he really was and where he was actually heading. They both knew it would not be an easy journey, as any number of things could go wrong and then they’d both be in trouble. Hawkes made sure they stayed on his normal trading route and spoke to the ships that crossed their path with his usual humour and banter, so for the most part they felt safe. It was on their four day from the wormhole into the Gamma Quadrant, that Hawkes’ three man crew confronted him about Karel.
“We’re not stupid, Capitan,” the burly engineer said, being the spokesperson for the three.
“I know that, Chief,” he sighed. “What’s on your minds, Guys?” he asked casually, silencing them for a moment.
“Who is Karel?” asked the wizened communications man, come cook.
“Karel is Karel,” Hawkes shrugged.
“Oh don’t give us that, Capitan. He doesn’t always answer to that name. So who is he?” the Chief demanded. Charles sitting at the pilot controls within the small bridge area, looked round at Hawkes, wondering what the trader would do and say, knowing that for better or worse he’d been fully enrolled onto this vessel, her journey, her Captain, along with these three and whatever it threw at them.
“Guys, the less you know directly the better for all of us; including Karel.”
“Captain?” Charles said, his tone asking what he could not really say. Hawkes silently nodded. “Karel is my name,” he said softly having taken a deep breath before speaking. “It’s an old family language version that I haven’t heard in a very long time,” their new hand said quietly. “That is all I can tell you at this present time. As the Captain says it is in everyone’s best interests, that that is all you know,” his tone sincere.
The silence that followed his words was deafening within the small area, of the Ju’Day class vessel’s bridge with Hawkes and Charles wondering how the three would take his revelation. These three had only been with Hawkes for less than half a year, so weren’t fully converse with their Captains ways and quirks, or that of their vessel either, so they waited with almost baited breath.
“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place!” piped up the lanky member of the three.
“Just don’t pull anymore surprises on us, or we’ll jump ship!” noted Chief. “At space dock of course,” he added sheepishly.
“Of course, Chief,” laughed Hawkes. “Now how’s those engines of yours?” he asked pointedly. The big man grinned and disappeared back into his domain to tend to his ‘babies’ as he called the Rogues engines. Only the wizened cook-cum-communications man seemed unsure, giving Charles a pointed look, but then he just shrugged his shoulders and got back to work in the small galley. Charles knew he couldn’t really breath easy until he finally arrived at Rivendell and took up his new posting; he turned back to the pilot controls entering the revised navigation data and set them on their way again.