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Now Serving Number...

Posted on Mon Jan 27th, 2020 @ 5:14am by Chief Petty Officer Spencer Malone & Lieutenant Commander Talina Sarafian

Mission: Mission 1 - "Pound of Flesh"
Location: Station 314 Chamber of Commerce
Timeline: MD 3

The central admin hub of the station was separated by a vacuous section like the watery moat of a medieval castle. Once the elevators traversed it, the milieu went from (mostly) professional Union officers to a carnival in space. All kinds of shops, stands, and mobile platforms were filled with merchants and pamphleteers hawking their wares and opinions in a confounding barrage of flesh, words, and money. The last bit was a little odd for the currency-free society of the Union, but Station 314 was a crossroads between a number of cultures, worlds, and factions that still utilized currency in their bartering.

Tasked with monitoring all such activities was the Chamber of Commerce, and for some goddamned reason someone had placed it in the commercial block of the station just on the other side of the admin hub. As Talina stepped off the elevator with Spencer at her side, she gave pause to the grand tumultuous commotion that rose up before her. "Is it always this bad?"

"No," Spencer said calmly, tucking his hands in his pockets as they walked. "Sometimes it's worse. Where do you want to start, Sir? Do you like sir? Or Ma'am? Or Captain...?" He looked at her questioningly, his eyebrows raised in interest.

"Boss is fine," Talina said. "Or Chief or Sarafian. And I want to start with whoever is in charge at the Chamber of Commerce. Do you know the way?"

Spencer put a hand out to point the way and headed that direction. "I will take you the most direct route first. We can learn back ways later. Do you really think that all these missing persons are related?" he asked as he led the way through the crowd. Spencer's rather dour and serious exterior seemed to lend itself to moving people out of their way without much struggle, so at least they didn't have to bounce around in the crowd trying to get with they were headed. "So it's an interesting place, the Chamber of Commerce. Big round room... lots of offices. Floor map that makes no sense... you know. Government building." He chuckled. It was a dry noise and seemed to lack humor.

"Our job is to find out what we can," Talina said in answer to his question. Seeing the sign of the Chamber of Commerce offices, she stepped into the lead.

The doors parted to admit the two of them into a crowded line full of applicants, complainants, and assorted vendors, patrons, and tourists. Talina charged forward, cutting in front of a large creature with multiple tentacles.

"Pardon me," she said tersely to both the squid-thing and the mirthless Moclan at the service desk. "I'm UCID Agent Sarafian. Who's in charge here?"

"Now serving number four-oh-nine," the Moclan droned.

"I don't have a number," Talina said.

"You must go to the back of the line," the Moclan said. "Make sure you draw a number."

"I don't need a number," Talina said, presenting her Security badge. "I have this."

"Is there a number on it?" the Moclan asked.

"Yes. UCID Unit 314."

"We have already served three-fourteen. We're now serving four-oh-nine. Please draw another number and return to the back of the line."

Talina set her jaw in frustration, forcing her to enunciate herself. "Allow me to make this clear. If I am not put in touch with your supervisor immediately, I will book you for obstruction of justice and send you to the brig. Do you understand me?"

The Moclan met her stare with one of his own, then caved. He buzzed an intercom. "Director, there are security officers here to see you."

"Send them in."

"Yes, sir." The Moclan deactivated the intercom. "There's a line over there." He pointed to a door on the far side of the oval room. "On the other side is a door. Through that door is another line. You may bypass it for another door, where there's yet another line. Disregard it and go through the service door into the administrative hallway. The director's office is at the end of that hall." Pausing for moment, he drolly added, "there is no line in that hall."

"Wonderful," Talina said sarcastically. "Let's go, Malone."

Spencer shook his head as if he was trying to clear it. "Were those instructions crazy or was it just me?" he questioned. He fell into step next to Talina and continued to look stern.

Bypassing the zigzagging queues through the velvet barricades, the UCID agents made their way to the administrative hallway. Before they reached its end, the director's door opened to reveal a tall, thin bald man with what appeared to be a miniature computer terminal hanging out the back of his head.

"Good day to you," he said. "You must be the UCID agents from the front desk. I'm Director Montague of the Chamber of Commerce. Won't you come into my office?"

Talina nodded. "Lieutenant Commander Talina Sarafian, Chief Spencer Malone. Indeed we will." She threw a glance at Spencer that was more a silent command to snoop while she took point. They followed Montague into his soulless chrome-surfaced office that featured no decor of any kind save for the wall of screens that ran everything from commercial broadcasts to heuristic data feeds.

"Please, be seated. Can I get you anything?" Montague paused near the matter synthesizer in the wall.

"No, we're fine," Talina said, answering for the both of them. "We need access to the station's commercial records, specifically to cross-reference a list of names."

Montague furrowed his brow. "Okay? I had thought your office could do so without my help."

"Normally, yes, but there is no evidence of a crime as yet, we can't gain access to personal and private information without a warrant." She sat upright with a firm posture. "My hope was that we could find your office willing to cooperate without such measures."

"But of course!" Montague smiled nervously and clapped his hands together. "There is no need for a warrant, my dear agent. I was just curious. Allow me a moment to access the database and I'll personally retrieve whatever you need."

Talina nodded. "I'm glad to hear it, Director." She spared a look at Spencer to see if he'd found anything of interest.

Spencer did not sit down when it was offered, instead he slowly began to make his way around the room, pretending to be interested in what little there really was to look at. He did tap his comscanner and if Talina was paying close attention she would be able to see that his recording light was on. Once he'd gone around the room once, or at least as much of it as he was comfortable going around without disturbing the conversation, he stopped in front of the wall of screens, looking each one over carefully.

When he was satisfied he turned a little, waiting for a break in the conversation and briefly making eye contact with Talina and nodding. "Do you record all of the docking that happens on the station? I noticed some of these are of the docking rings..." Spencer asked.

"Oh, uh... yes and no," Montague stammered. "It's just a random rotation of the standard station feed. Not terribly useful, I'm afraid, without something specific to look for." He bit his lip as if he'd said too much, then let out a nervous sigh. "At any rate, I've got the database pulled up. What names did you need?"

Taline eyed Spencer as she replied to the question. "I have a number of missing persons," she said, sliding a data tablet across his desk. "Whatever information you can give me on these seven individuals would be very helpful."

"Oh... I see..." Montague looked back and forth between the last as he manually punched in their names and searched. "There isn't much on most of them. Four were passing through with no known transactions, but as you know that could mean they only serviced Union vendors and merchants." The director gave a weaselly smile. It was well known that as few crimes as the Union's currency-free society was, what crimes that were committed were also extremely difficult to track without the benefit of a money trail to follow. "Let's see. The Keribexian, Durchfal Sh'nelle, was part of the custodial staff for the station. Parvati Yensen was a palm reader. From her credit report, her stall wasn't far from here." And immediately after saying so, Montague started sweating again. "Not that I knew her, mind you. I don't have much need for the soothsaying type." He finished up. "The last name here is Justin Boggs. Says he arrived on the station two years ago and hasn't done much except get in trouble with Station Security. I don't see a criminal warning on his profile here, so he's probably not a dangerous fellow. Likely a vagrant or some such with nowhere to go except the bottom of a bottle."

With that said, Montague set his screen to idle. "The others on your list arrived on the station but I don't have a record of their activity. You might check with the docking bay folks to find out more."

"Yes, we're covering the investigation from many angles," Talina said, matching the Chamber of Commerce Director's condescension with her own. "If there's anything else you might think of, please don't hesitate to contact me immediately."

"Of course, Commander Sarafian. Good luck to you."

Talina gestured toward the door with her head and exited with Spencer in tow.

"Did you spot anything?" she asked once they were in the hallway.

Spencer shook his head, sort of, it was more of a chin tip and narrowed his eyes. "I'm not really sure, but I'm not sure that there's no control over those cameras like he says there is. For one, that doesn't make any sense. Who makes cameras like that anymore? I didn't see old tech in there... it was shiny and costly. I think what he meant to say was that he didn't have control over them." He cleared his throat and pulled his data tablet from inside his jacket. "I also remember the name Justin Boggs." He tapped on the tablet with one finger. "Yeeeah... here he is. Vagrancy, but he's also been seen a lot with the Rad Ratels and the night they picked him up for vagrancy they picked up a known podder with him. Uh... one Ray Ray Zoom." He snorted and tucked his tablet back into his jacket, looking at Talina.

That was an interesting, but not altogether unexpected turn. Talina pursed her lips and dipped her head in approval. "If we've got sentient trafficking on the station, then the perps are going to have contacts with the criminal underworld and be quick to mobilize. A podder gang fits that profile. Well done, Malone. Let's track down this Ray Ray and see what he's got to say about his old pal."

Spencer pulled his tablet from his pocket again, clicking through it with one finger while he walked. "He hasn't left the station and it says that he's assigned to a room a deck below us. Civilians' quarters. E68. They're single quarters and it doesn't say that anyone else is there with him. He also doesn't have a job assignment."

"Send out an order for Security to pick him up and bring him in for questioning," Talina said. "In the meantime, let's head back to the hub and see what the others have learned, and maybe see if we can turn up any evidence that connects any more of our missing persons with these Rad Ratels."

Spencer nodded, his fingers already moving across the surface of his tablet. "Aye, Captain. Orders sent." He smiled a little at her. It seemed forced. He was already thinking about the Rad Ratels and who all was on that list of offenders.

"I'm no captain," Talina corrected, a wry smile on her face, "but I do like the sound of that."

Spencer shrugged and chuckled. "I actually meant it more in the literary sense, but always aim high." He rubbed the back of his head, sort of embarrassed. "And I did that after I already asked you what you like to be called, Boss." He shook his head. "I can remember all sorts of small details when it comes to the job, but when it's something I personally need to remember..." he trailed off with a snort.

"Right..." Talina grimaced at the man, but then shrugged it off. "So long as you can follow orders, we'll get along just fine."

"Yeah... not really any problems following orders," Spencer said with a deep sigh. He felt like a smart guy just a little bit ago and now he felt like an idiot.

"Glad to hear it," Talina said, clapping his shoulder. "Let's go see what Security has dug up."

Spencer nodded. "You got it, Boss."


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