Entering the main deck of the Tarantula from the shuttle bay area was a little un-nerving. The level of activity was high, with dozens of people heading one way or another. Archer wasn’t sure of what direction to go.
There were no signs indicating “Visitors” anywhere to be found. Archer found himself being a little annoyed. But then again, he realized, everyone here was here for a purpose, a job, and would presumably know where to go.
He scanned the area and caught sight of a neon sign. He headed in that direction. The sign materialized into a bright display announcing “The Web.”
Chuckling at the sign’s sense of humor – What else would you call the bar on a station nicknamed the Tarantula, Archer thought. He opened the door and went in.
“Hi welcome to the web, my name is Circe,” said a pretty young woman at the bar, sliding a napkin towards Archer.
“That’s a fairly mythical name you have, Circe,” Archer replied.
She smiled, “Not as mythical as being the Captain of the Argo II.”
“I see you do your homework here,” Archer replied being caught off-guard.
“It’s a small station, Captain Archer. Everyone knows what going on here. What can I get you?” Circe reached up and pulled two glasses of the rack.
“You can tell me who I should talk to about SMS-347.”
Circe mixed one drink and then another, “Oh you mean ‘take me to your leader’ kind of thing?”
Arched couldn’t help but smile at Circe’s banter. “Yeah, just like that.”
Circe finished the second drink, put then on napkins and slid them both to Archer. “He’s sitting in that booth over there, and that’s his favorite drink. I made you one too.”
Archer took the drinks and headed for the booth. He stopped and looked at the man sitting there. “Apparently, I’m your waiter,” he said.
The man smiled and stood, took a drink and shook Archer’s now free hand. “Circe is like that. My name is Thaddeus DeVrey. I’m the Deputy Director of the MMA.”
DeVrey motioned that Archer should sit.
Archer sat. “Director DeVrey, I am here to investigate what happened on SMS-347.”
“First of all, Captain, call me ‘Thad’ every here does, and they have no idea who ‘Director DeVrey’ is. Second of all, I am sure that you believe that’s why you’re here.”
“You believe otherwise?”
DeVrey smiled. “I believe there are circumstances that have not been adequately explained to you or your crew. I will save my suspicions when we get to know one another better.”
Archer was caught a little off-guard by DeVrey’s candid talk.
“Did you know any of the crew at SMS-347?” Archer asked.
“Yes, Hal and Betty were here all the time. Betty and Circe hung out a lot, complaining about Hal and me. They were great people. We would have done anything to save them.”
“You sure they’re dead?” Archer asked.
DeVrey nodded. It seemed to Archer that he tried to hold back some emotion, they must have been friends.
“Do you have any idea of how?”
“No,” DeVrey answered after clearing his throat. “No idea at all. Hal tried to transmit something to me before everything went dark. It wasn’t complete though.”
“Can you tell me what you did receive?”
“All I was able to make out is ‘They’”
“Like, ‘They are coming’?” Archer asked.
“Yes. Just like that.”
“We found some papers that said the same thing.”
“You did, or your space marines?” asked DeVrey
“My crew did.”
“I wouldn’t expect any detective help from the marines, Captain.”
“What do you mean, Thad?”
“They are hear not to help solve the mystery, Captain. They are here to cover it up.”
“Cover what up?”
“The killing of the crew. And they are going to take over the station, and perhaps come after this station too.”
“Aren’t you being a little paranoid?”
DeVrey took a drink. Archer could see he was a little conflicted, probably on whether or not to trust him.
DeVrey leaned in and talked in a low voice, “We found something, Captain. Hal and I found something.”
“What?” Archer asked.
DeVrey sat back in the booth. “Hal and I both reported out finding to our governments. Both our governments were in negotiations about it. The company funding SMS-347 broke off the talks, Hal and his crew are dead, and there are marines getting ready to lock down Hal’s station. The fact that you don’t anything about this, Captain, means there is some sort of cover-up.”
“I guess it is all about what you found, isn’t it?” Archer asked.
DeVrey nodded, “You’re right, Captain. Would you like to take a trip?”
“I can’t tell you exactly, Captain. I just want to show what we found to you. So, you will know what this is all about.”
Archer though about it. He didn’t fully trust DeVrey, there was something he was not hearing from him. On the other hand, DeVrey’s conjecture about what might happen was plausible, depending on “the find.”
“How long will it take, Thad? I’ll have to let my crew know, so they won’t worry and get the marines agitated.”