A group of spacers saunters onto the bridge. “Oh, good, they’re still—Who is that?” the Weequay in the lead says, noticing that two unrestrained beings, one in the ship’s uniform—are standing at one of the waist-high navigational consoles.
From body language and clothes, Tcho guesses that the newcomers are not crew members. Adalat must be working with a criminal organization. That would fit what Kerr-Lonn-Ny overheard about a delivery. Disposing of a vessel this large—or its bevy of wealthy passengers—would need to be handled by a syndicate. These thugs are probably here just to verify that all the crew members are still unconscious.
Forgetting the packet of communication system instructions, Tcho grabs the captain by the collar of his jacket. It is too late to try to yank him into hiding, but another approach has occurred to him, one that might get more actionable information. Tcho knows the names of several mutineers and has, in fact, already played the role of crew member. He has just enough details to make this work. “I found the captain wandering around the bridge! I thought Adalat was supposed to deal with this. Do you guys know what her status is?” he asks the newcomers self-assuredly. There is no time to explain this plan to the captain, but Tcho figures he can smooth it over later.
Rowan does not handle violent surprises very well. “Wh-what’s the meaning of this?!” he stutters, stunned by the betrayal.
“Gah! Adalat screwed everything up. I’m beginning to understand why she didn’t get that promotion,” the Weequay, says. “Fine, fine, just hand him over, and we’ll clean all this up.”
“What? Hand him over to you, so you can get the credit? I don’t think so,” Tcho objects. “I’ll come with you guys.” If this gambit can reveal the hideout of whoever is in charge, that will make apprehending them much easier. And while Tcho could let them take the captain and then just follow stealthily, he would much rather avoid that if he can.
“Yeah, yeah, just keep him out of the way while we tie these people back up.”
“Oh, they’re still out like lights,” Tcho says hastily, hoping to dissuade the thugs from dispensing anymore drugs. “I checked them. Whatever you guys gave them is really good.”
Tcho’s medkit is still sitting out on one of the consoles, creating the impression that he is a medic. That fits with where the other mutineers have connections aboard the ship. “Yeah, your buddy FX-72 cooked up some nasty juice,” the Weequay says. “Let’s go.”
“What?! You’re on their side?” Rowan gasps.
As they move through the ship’s corridors, the captain looks for his opportunity. When they pass a public comm unit mounted on the wall, he makes a break for it, jerking out of the traitorous Pantoran’s grasp and dashing over to it. Though the movement was frantic, his delivery into the device is calm and self-assured. “Attention, security staff. This is your captain speaking. If you happen to encounter Ensign Adalat—for those of you who don’t know her, she’s a two-and-a-half meter tall Frozian with a constant scowl and light brown shading—please restrain her. But this is a cruise ship: no lethal force. We don’t want to upset anyone. Remember, the passengers still need to enjoy their ride. And I need to question her. Subdue her and bring her to my office.” That is the most secure location Rowan can think of at the moment.
Tcho was not expecting the move and loses his balance a bit, still off-kilter from the earlier scuffle with Adalat. “You got a hold of him or not?” a Nikto growls, yanking Rowan away from the comm unit before Tcho recovers enough to get there. “We should just knock this guy out.”
“Hey, he’s my prisoner. Good job with the officers on the bridge, but this one is my capture,” Tcho tells the thug. “Besides, aren’t these comms cut? What’s the big deal?” he adds, supplying more inside-sounding information to keep his ruse going, though he is pretty sure they have moved out of the sabotaged section by now.
“Whatever, pal. It’ll be fine. We’ve got it under control, and him, too.” The Nikto jostles the captain, and the third spacer, a human, steps up to slap some duct tape over the man’s mouth to prevent any shouting if he gets away again.
“You just follow along,” the Weequay who seems to be in charge tells Tcho as the human liberally tapes the captain’s wrists, too.
The thugs do not respect Tcho, but as long as they continue to not suspect him, he is fine with that. He keeps a close eye on them as they continue, trying to suss out who they work for. Syndicates set themselves apart in various ways, tattoos, terminology, names, and so on. When Tcho realizes which one it is, his concussion-induced nausea doubles. Zann Consortium, here? How bad this is for Tcho personally depends a lot on who is in charge of the operation. The Nikto has made a comment about Zann footing the bill, suggesting that these folks are just low-level minions at best, or possibly contracted hirelings specifically brought on for this job.
With the captain no longer in his control and Zann now involved, Tcho decides to risk calling in backup. The thugs are paying more attention to Rowan than they are to him, so this is a good time to act. Tcho hangs back a little more and slips a hand into his pocket, dialing swiftly and then doing his best to muffle the commlink’s speaker. The person on the other end of the line needs to hear him, but the last thing he wants is for her boisterous greeting to carry. JT told Tcho that her focus as a vigilante is organized crime; it is time to bring in the Blue Streak.