Kate was not going quietly. She was struggling, while Lia lay limply in another officer's arms.
The Dantari had placed the group under arrest and transported them to their ship for questioning: Kate, Jon and Lia McFerren, and their strange, unexpected guest, who went by the nickname "Sweetie".
More questions arose afterward - not exactly questions the Dantari might have asked, given the circumstances. The lead Dantari officer scratched his long, pale snout, eyes hidden by a pair of goggles of some sort, going over the sensor scans of the group. Kate McFerren had had a dubious substance in her system, in dubious amounts, a too-obvious result of prolonged ingestion, when the Dantari Regional Authority intercepted their shuttle, beyond the edge of Federation space. Yet that didn't match the scans, now. Her system was clean: No trace of illegal substances. And the youngest of the human trio exhibited peculiar signs of stress, indicating a telepathic connection.
A raspy sigh escaped the Dantari patrol commander, as he was not sure what to charge them for, now, following their arrest. The short obese blond human was not human at all, according to the scans. She had been whisked off to the Dantari infirmary, with Lia, the former with signs of low blood sugar.
The Dantari officer faced Kate and Jon, and said, "Explain what happened, and why you are in this area."
"We are moving house." Jon, the male spoke. "We rented seats on an automated shuttle to Amethyst where we have property."
"This isn't the Federation. Amethyst is expensive," growled the Dantari officer. He slowly began to move the talkative Jon away from his wife.
"Our daughter makes a very good legitimate living in different types of holographics," Jon returned almost thoughtlessly.
"And the woman with you named "Sweetie"?" the officer asked with careful neutrality.
"Don't know where she blew in. She just turned up. I was hung over and rather busy pukin'. Didn't notice her until Lia was fixin' the toilet." Jon circled his left ear with an index finger.
"And if I asked your wife what would she say?"
"Not sure, but she didn't like her though. I know that much." Jon grimaced as his sour stomach turned.
"What made you think Kate disliked Sweetie?" The Dantari's nose twitched.
"Kate didn't like her all up in Lia's business. She even got near the toilet to back the weirdo off. Kate got all up in Sweetie's business, got any closer well... A cat fight might have started."
"What do you know about Lia's condition?" The officer suddenly switched gears.
"She needs to see her tutor. Her name's t'Ran."
t'Ran did not want to be married. Now she was not. Now she was free. She glanced at the dead body of her husband, bond to her in childhood, and a freezing smile slipped across her features. Her clothes were returned to their rightful place, on her body.
A burn phaser that she bought on the black market came into its one designated use now, destroying her husband's mortal remains. She then slid into that deep, deep corner of her mind that was so beautiful. Lia.
Lia was not conscious. Nor was she on the shuttlecraft. She was in a sickbay of some kind. She had withdrawn into deep trance, cradling secrets. Gently, t'Ran probed the mind.
(*)Up front, a proximity sensor had sounded an alarm. A male voice followed, on the com-system: "Shuttlecraft, name of Slagg. This is the Dantari Regional Authority. You are harboring a wanted fugitive. Cease your propulsion and prepare to be boarded."(*)
How the fire of the pit did Lia end up with a fugitive in a shuttle chased by the Dantari of all races? Her parents were stupid but she didn't give them that much...
(*)Lia took a furtive look and pulled a fast one. She sent a tiny gifgram to the other ship warning that she was under direct threat and was increasing speed to another warp, please assist - Lia McFerren.(*)
That was a neat trick, complemented tutor to tutee.
t'Ran created an electrical fire in one of the antique fans to burn any evidence she left behind. It was a slow starter. She calmly and evenly strode to her ship, taking off leisurely. As she left the system, she saw the little hotel explode and felt a surge of excitement.
She used the guidance system within her mind to send her where she needed to go.
Dantari police officers
-- "Crafty" (Sandy) (with partial intro by Todd)