The Good Times Are Killing Me
Posted on June 2nd, 2021 by Jack Leirone
Three hours out from Refuge
Liv and Emari had been in there a long time. Pushing an hour, now. Security detail for a job like this shouldn’t have taken more than five minutes, tops. Help secure the area, help look for unaccounted-for casualties, keep an eye out for anything suspicious (whatever that may be). Done. Cut, print.
It had been a long time since Jack Leirone had done anything even remotely resembling Security work, but those old synapses fired all the same. Captain must have a real doozy in his playbook, he thought. Bummer I can’t offer my expertise.
Hour and two minutes. Hour and ten minutes. Holy shit; hour-twenty.
Two minutes before the hour-and-a-half mark, Liv and Emari jetted out of the captain’s ready room and made for the turbolift.
Jack got up, jabbed the call button.
Captain said, ‘C’mon in.’
Stepping inside the ready room Jack said, ‘Quick word, Cap?’
‘Sure, Jack. Make sure it’s actually quick, though.’
‘Aye, sir, quick and candid, if you’ll permit me.’
Captain Jason Ziredac could say more with his eyes than he could with his mouth, and that was saying a lot. He twitched his brows up, kept his lids at 75%, took a moment to scan Jack for any sort of body-language tell. Buttoned-down as Starfleet was, there were some moments that always reminded Jack of his old days, out in the dark.
Jack sat in the opposite chair, gave a performative half-grimace. ‘I’m not gonna insult you, myself, or the rest of the crew by pretending not to see what your ulterior intentions are at Refuge.’
‘I should hope not,’ Ziredac said. ‘We were on our way here before this went down. I wouldn’t insult any of you either by trying to make it seem like we’re just here for support against the Xovul.’
‘And I wanna say that I don’t necessarily blame you. Your sister’s… well, she needs help.’
‘She needs to be apprehended, Jack. You don’t need to sugarcoat it.’
‘And you don’t need to forget, Cap, that she needs to be apprehended in order for us to help her.’
‘Thing is,’ and Jack leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, ‘I know you know what kind of place Refuge is. I know you know what kind of people Venya Kashar and the Queen are.’
Ziredac waved a hand, ‘Yeah-yeah-yeah, the whole don’t fuck with Venya thing.’
Jack increased his lean, squinted a side-eye, brought his voice down to a smarmy whisper. ‘So why are you about to fuck with Venya?’
‘One of these days, Mr. Leirone, I hope you’ll tell me how you seem to know what I’m up to all the fuckin time.’
Jack never said it, but the response in his head was always, You don’t wanna know how I know. ‘I’ve been in Starfleet almost as long as you, Cap; I know a thing or two about a thing or two.’
‘To answer your question, I’m not about to fuck with Venya. I’m about to do business with her.’
Hearkening back to his pre-Starfleet days was a knee-jerk in too many situations. Symptom of aging, that: the twitchy penchant to chime in on everything with a raspy, Back in my day. Jack had seen—sometimes firsthand—those caliginous dealings between the upright Starfleet paragon and the tricksy web-spinners of the underworld. Some panned out, but not all. Far more often one side ended up a few miles up Shit Creek when all was done.
Oh, if only he could trust that Ziredac wouldn’t throw him in the brig the second the words left his teeth, Jack would weigh in as the best adviser the Captain had right now.
Instead he leaned back with a 500-word facial expression of his own. ‘Well, this I gotta see. Can I come with?’