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Rohani & Khaval | Sharks In The Water

Posted on Tue Jul 14th, 2020 @ 4:46pm by Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: When The Circus Comes To Town
Location: Unnamed Spaceship, not far from Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 242007.14

They were a rogue group, like so many others. A bit on the smallish side, just large enough to avoid being snapped up by the big sharks, small enough not to be an appealing target for others. It also helped that one of their main associated groups (people like them never had friends, only associates) was one really big fish in the pond. Rohani's group occasionally helped them, and in turn, they gave him some extra protection. It was a deal which worked perfectly for both groups.

And of course, Rohani's group had some unusual defenses. All of them had one or more special talents. Telepathy, telekinesis, persuasion, shielding… Rohani's people had it all. And they were all fiercely loyal to him. It was, of course, a forced loyalty, but to him that didn't matter. It worked, and that was the important bit.

But Khaval could sense he wasn't happy.

Not 'sense' in the usual Head way. Rohani was, as always, equipped with psi-blockers. He could read other people, but not the other way around. Even though Khaval and he had been, well, associates, for a long time and had been through many a thing together, he always wore them, even around her. She was glad for that. His mind was a minefield, with a carefully constructed honey pot to lure other heads in and trap them. That was how he bound them to him.

She knew him well enough, though, to know his moods from other signals. The way he moved, his posture, the way he spoke. Was this, Khaval wondered fleetingly, how normies always had to function? She shivered at the thought and pushed it away, then rose and strolled over to Rohani. "What's bothering you?"

"That miserable station," Rohani growled. He didn't have to elaborate. Khaval knew quite well which station he meant.
"We've been over this, Rohani," she said coolly. "Unless something changes, it's too much effort to establish a base there."

He looked up, dark eyes burning. "Yes, yes. 'Too far out of the way, traffic too limited, base of operations of the Cleydinhall fleet, not worth the effort'. I know the arguments. I've made them often enough." His voice was dull, monotonous. Another bad sign, Khaval thought.

A grim smile tugged at one corner of Rohani's mouth. Of course he had caught her thought, mental shields or no. "Ah, Khaval, you know me too well. Yes, I wouldn't have brought it up if something hadn't changed."

"Really?" Khaval had never understood Rohani's obsession with that out of the way hole. Sure, it might be strategically placed, close to a nebula which never had been fully explored, close to two other major powers which would make for ample smuggling oppurtunities and other lucrative activities, but she didn't have to think long to find several other out of the way places which were easier to pick as a base of operations. But it was important to him, for some reason. "What?"

"Have you heard of something called the ' Interstellar Cultural Exhibition and Exchange'?"

Khaval snorted. "Should I have?"

"I doubt it," Rohani said with a shrug. "But this exhibition thingie is a travelling band of people of various races, travelling from station to station to… I don't know, bring culture and stuff to the outlying regions, I guess."

"And you want to use that as a way in." Khaval sighed. "How? Just join their little fleet and convince them that we're part of the crowd?"

Rohani leaned forward, elbows on his knees, hands folded together in front of his face. "I must admit, the thought had crossed my mind. It has a charming appeal, doesn't it? But no. Too much work. Physical records need to be altered, etcetera… Nothing we can't do, but why go through all the trouble just for a little fun? No… But the whole circus will go to the station. There will be more visitors. They'll need extra supplies. They might as well roll out the red carpet and place a sign "Welcome!" on the station just for us."

Khaval started to pace, moving like a caged panther in the small space. "Fine. So we pretend to be a supply ship? Or are we going to be good little visitors?"

"Whichever you prefer, dear." Rohani grinned, but his eyes remained dark. "I don't care which, as long as we're in. And once we're in… we're in."

I've heard that before. Khaval made no attempt to shield that thought. There had been other attempts on Cold Station Theta. One such had lead to the kidnapping of their chief medical officer. The results of that kidnapping had been rather messy for the party involved, to Rohani's vast amusement.

Another group had tried to establish a base of operations on Cold Station Theta and that had ended with a dead operative during a 'spontaneous' brawl. No-one had showed up to claim the Nausicaan's body, which only served to underline the man's failure.

"Ah, but you never heard me say it," Rohani said, dark eyes sparkling. "I want that station. And one day, soon, I shall have it."

This time it was Khaval's turn to shrug. "I'll go make the preparations." She whirled around and walked out. Rohani barely noticed her leaving. He stood in front of the observation window and looked out at the moving stars. There, at the end of this trip, his station would be waiting for him.


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