By Christina Moore
Note: Many thanks to Miranda Fave for allowing me to use his character, Beatrix "Beks" Knight, in this story.
Beatrix Knight, called Beks by those closest to her, said a final good night to her crew and headed into her cabin. She was exhausted—mentally more than physically—after having come close to catching up with the assassin known only as Talon, just to have him slip through her fingers. Again.
The bastard is always a step ahead of me, she thought bitterly as she shrugged out of her weapon harness and hung it on a hook by the hatch. As she was sitting on the edge of her bunk to remove her boots, she glanced up absently toward the tiny desk on the opposite wall and sat up straight when she noticed that the message light on her computer was blinking.
Beks frowned, then stood and stepped over to the desk. Her hand hesitated over the control—there were very few people to whom she had given her personal message code; everyone else she knew used the Étoile Cheval's general messaging code when they wanted to hire her and her crew for a job. Sometimes even her closest friends used it, unless the matter was confidential or personal.
It was with that thought in mind that she pressed the keypad to turn the computer on, then typed in the password to access her inbox. Beks drew in a sharp breath and dropped heavily into the desk chair when the face that popped up on her screen was that of her old friend and protégé, Jodhaa Ra'kir.
"Hey Beks," the red-skinned Orion began. Her expression was light—she even smiled. Beks took that as a sign things were going well for her and smiled as well.
"Sorry to take more 'n half a year to check in," Jodhaa was saying. "I'd say I'm surprised you haven't called to harass me for not calling sooner, but you didn't know how to get a hold of me, did you? Kinda worked in my favor, that, but I'm sure not knowing how I was getting on in the big ol' 'verse by myself probably had you tearing your curly hair out."
"Damn right I was," Beks muttered aloud, though she smiled as she said it. Jodhaa knew her so well.
"Don't worry about me anymore, Boss. I'm fine. Well, maybe not quite a hundred percent yet—there's days I miss the gang so much I can't breathe. But I'm getting better at controlling it. Getting stronger. And no, I haven't been alone all this time. I was, for the most part, up through the middle of May by your calendar, but that was about the time I hopped a transport to Glintara to see our old buddy Varrk, and I met this Andorian trader there. Guess what he happened to have for sale Beks?
"You guessed it, Boss—I got me a Va'leh!" Jodhaa exclaimed softly. "She's about as old as the EC and it took nearly everything I had to get her, but one look and I knew I had to call her mine. To call her home. She's squeaky and a tad rusty, and not everything works as it should, but I don't know if I'd feel the same about her if they did. Lyriq's her name—spelled with a q, not a c—and she reminds me so much of the EC. In all the good ways, I promise. I'm looking back at that day of hell less and less now, and doing my damnedest to only look forward. In fact, I'm on my way to completing my first cargo run for the Feddies."
Jodhaa paused, her expression now telling Beks that she had probably been thinking of whether or not she should say something. It was a look the seasoned bounty hunter knew all too well, having known the Orion for more than ten years now.
"I'll be honest with you, it hasn't been entirely smooth sailing," Jodhaa went on, then in clipped sentences she recounted how she'd met her pilot and engineer, Purnima Chvatal—a green Orion female; and Lucas Peck—a Human male. Peck, she said, was a Federation Marine with a past he had yet to disclose, and Purnima had a past she couldn't even recall, having apparently suffered some sort of accident that had left her with amnesia. After verbally introducing her to the crew she'd hired, Jodhaa went on to tell her about how she'd signed up to be a courier for the Federation, and had offered passage to Cardassian space—since she was going there anyway—to what she'd thought was a Klingon monk-in-training.
Jodhaa's ruby-toned skin deepened to crimson as she angrily spoke of how "Kresh" was really Gary Vernon, a Maquis operative who'd planned to steal not only her cargo but also her ship, leaving her and her crew stranded. As luck would have it, however, the real Kresh had shown up, and with Vernon distracted, she and her crew had managed to retake the boat. After a brief, tense negotiation, the Klingon commander had agreed to haggle jurisdiction over the prisoner with Federation officials.
"And believe it or not, the real Kresh actually let us keep the bar of gold-pressed latinum Vernon stole from him along with his identity—which you can be darn sure I'm gonna put to use replacing my bad compression coil once I've dropped my cargo off on Orias."
On the screen before her, Beks watched as Jodhaa sighed heavily and ran a hand through her hair. "Anyway," she went on, "I figured since I've got me a ship now, and I'm out among the stars again, that it was high past time I let you know that I'm all right. And I am, Beks, I promise you. I'm gonna be just fine. You better be too, or I'll hunt you down and whoop your ass back into shape, you hear? What kind of former partner would I be if I didn't make sure the boss was doing as good as me now we're each on our own?
"I hope you're doing good, anyway, and I'm sure you've got good people helping you out 'cause you'd never settle for less. Take care of the EC and call me back sometime, will ya? I haven't been lectured on my impulsiveness in a whole eight months now," Jodhaa said with a laugh. "See ya, Beks."
After the screen froze at the end of the video, Beks realized she was smiling. Kissing the tips of her right fingers, she touched them to the screen, feeling relieved to know that the young woman she'd come to love as an adopted daughter had done all right for herself. She'd do better as time went on and she established herself as a captain in her own right, and gained confidence in herself, her ship, and her crew.
With a sigh and a stifled yawn, Beks saved the message and switched the computer back off. Seeing Jodhaa so happy and excited for the future reaffirmed the fact that she needed to locate Talon and put an end to his reign of terror once and for all.
She would not stand to see her girl's newfound happiness destroyed.
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