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Ens Lexil & Xavier Aldridge | "An Authentic Experience"

Posted on 2016-08-05 01:10 by Lieutenant JG Lexil & Xavier Aldridge
Edited on on 2016-08-05 08:16

Mission: Black, White & Red All Over

“Do you want a drink?”

Lexil looked up from the dancing zone and disco lights which had had her mesmerised.

“HUH?”

Vissa had clearly said something to Lexil but she couldn’t hear her friend over the thumping bass that filled the club. She bent down slightly and cupped her hands around Lexil’s ear.

“DO YOU WANT A DRINK?!”

Lexil grinned and nodded. Vissa lent down again.

“WHY DON’T YOU USE EARBUDS?” She asked incredulously, pointing to the small electronic earbuds that were in her ears. They were noise cancelling devices that selectively turned down the volume of the music while amplifying the sound of people talking and were very popular on the club scene. Alicia and Rosie both turned to stare at Vissa, they were using them as well and could hear every word. Lexil stood on tiptoes and shouted at her reply through her hands, almost blinded by Vissa’s white hair which glowed strongly under the ultraviolet lights.

“TO GET AN AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE!”

Vissa recoiled. As an earbud user Lexil didn’t have to shout at her. But then, the Denobulan could be fairly airheaded at times. She rolled her eyes, just as much at the typically Denobulan response as the volume it had been returned with, catching Rosie’s eye who simply closed her eyes and shook her head with a knowing smile. Vissa waved at Lexil who was still recovering from the sudden burst of bright light in her eyes, pointed towards the bar and started to slide through the crowds of dancing bodies.

Lexil had a good rhythm going. She was a reasonable dancer perhaps made slightly better by that Denobulan propensity towards shamelessness - she didn’t really care what she looked like, she just wanted to enjoy herself. She tilted her head forward and let her hair swing around the side of her face, tunnelling her vision to focus on the spot on the wall that had the best assortment of dancing light shapes, sliding and bouncing at seemingly random angles and in a myriad of colours. She was in her own little zone, feeling the music with every sense. Adding renewed energy to her movement she swung herself into a spin, nearly crashing into the person she hadn’t noticed was standing just behind her. She looked up to his face to apologise… looked up some more and still more, finally arriving at the rather amused features of an extremely tall Cardassian male. Lexil had always thought that Cardassian men looked more well built than they were due to the neck ridges and armour but this Cardassian wasn’t wearing any armour and was clearly extremely muscular and was also extremely tall, being at least a foot taller than she.

“Sorry!” she mouthed, trying not to look too intimidated. The Cardassian simply shrugged his huge shoulders and continued dancing, the typically Cardassian amused smile staying as a permanent fixture on his face. Lexil smiled and followed suit. It was a ‘normal’ smile with teeth, quite a pretty one too, slightly cat-like with prominent canines. The extremely wide close-lipped Denobulan smile her species was famous for was reserved for the people who knew her, despite Denobulans being a fairly common sight around the Federation it was one of those characteristics that tended to incite xenophobia.

“Check out the little Denobulan!” Lexil didn’t hear the comment over the noise of the music but Alicia and Rosie did and looked up to see a group of three human males moving amongst them. They were jocks, most probably from Starfleet Academy judging by their extremely neat appearance and cocky attitude, smiling slyly as they ‘made contact’ with the girls, starting to dance with them in a rather forward manner. Lexil smiled cordially at the one who had engaged her, a well presented if rather boorish individual with a blonde buzz cut. His presence in her line of sight wasn’t ideal, but he seemed to have a few moves and thus far was the only man who had dared to try to dance with her. She pushed a hand up the back of her neck, gathering her hair up and let her elbow move with the beat of the music for a short while, grinning to herself and enjoying the bass that vibrated through her feet before leaning forward and tossing her hair back behind her, loose again as she turned, quickly peering amongst the other patrons in her surprise to see where the Cardassian had vanished to. Suddenly, she felt hands on her hips. In an incredibly racially insensitive act Starfleet boy had moved in close behind her and dared to touch her - a huge no-no for Denobulans of whom it was well known do not like to be touched by people they do not know. She took a very deliberate step away from him and spun around as her temper flared, managing to keep it in check and gave the offender a pointed stare, mouthing “look, don’t touch” with appropriate actions to match. She quickly turned again, glimpsing the look of indignation on his face, as if he had done nothing wrong. Her temper flared again, a fire in her chest that burned with the insult but it was once again dowsed by propriety. She caught sight of Alicia waving her hand and the attached wedding ring pointedly at one of Starfleet boy’s friends. Alicia wasn’t married but wore the ring on nights such as this to show she was attached. Lexil shook her head in annoyance, tossing her head majestically, her hair whipping off her face like the mane of a horse. She was soon back into her stride on the dance floor and for the first time that evening noticed some pain on the bottom of the heels of her feet - high heels always put more pressure on the heels of one’s feet and not being a particularly traditional Denobulan footwear she tended to feel it quite acutely, especially now she didn’t go out so much. She started to think that perhaps they would go soon, certainly the attentions of certain young gentlemen were not adding to her buzz and she was starting to get tired.

Lexil has just begun to wonder when Vissa would return with the drinks when she felt a hand on her left shoulder. She was already annoyed, getting tired and her normally well organised conscious mind was swimming with thoughts, of what had happened over the last few minutes, on what was to come in her new assignment and a few other feelings of general inadequacy that inhabited her thoughts like a loud, messy and extremely unwelcome roommate. To her horror her unconscious took over in that instant and she grabbed the wrist of the offending hand and as she had done countless times over the last few months she leaned forward, flipping Starfleet boy forward over her shoulder and onto his back. She caught the priceless look of confusion on his face as she felt herself move forwards and downwards, completing the move with her right knee on his chest and her left arm pulled back ready to punch him square in the face. It was at this point that Lexil regained control and rather than finishing the move she simply stared at her target, the look of horror on her own face punctuating two to three seconds that seemed to last much longer. She was back on her feet quickly, too quickly and staggered back couple of steps, being caught by two onlookers who were now part of a large crowd encircling the pair, most of them staring at Lexil herself. Rosie stepped in as the two friends hauled Starfleet boy to his feet.

“You boys are Starfleet, aren’t you?” she probed.

“Yes” one of them replied as Starfleet boy dusted himself off.

“YES MA’AM!” Rosie screamed, having just completely lost her shit. “YOU’RE ADDRESSING AN OFFICER!” The look on her face was vile, Lexil had never seen anyone so short seem so utterly terrifying. Her discourse had the desired effect, the three cadets snapped to attention.

“Ma’am?” one asked, in surprise.

“Lieutenant Rosie McCaffrey, U.S.S. Turing” she announced, pulling her com badge from her pocket and waving it at them in an offhand manner. “What the hell do you think you are doing, coming in here and harassing my friends?”
There was no response.

“GET THE FUCK OUT!” Rosie yelled at the cadets, “and don’t come back here tonight!”

As the three made themselves very absent very quickly Rosie looked around to Lexil to check she was okay, but the more she looked through the crowds, most of whom had returned to dancing, the more Lexil wasn’t there.

******

The cool air was as welcome to Lexil as the lack of sweaty bodies heating up an already warm dancefloor. She had pushed her way up the stairs, past a throng of complaints from those coming down and now released from the club she sat daintily on the sidewalk (or at least as daintily as one can sit on a sidewalk), her legs drawn up underneath her to the left, her shoes and handbag occupying the gap between her right side and her right hand which was placed on the flag stones, slightly uncomfortable against the cold harsh surface of the stone. She gathered her hair up in her left hand and diverted it down the left side of her neck, peeling the bottom layer off her sweaty exposed back and revealing the ridges on her spine to an odd insect or two that were climbing the walls of the club behind her. The music she had been dancing to just a couple of minutes ago was now muffled by metres of brick and concrete but it was an unhelpful reminder of what had just happened. Lexil took a couple of deep breaths of cold air and stared at the window of a cafe opposite that was now closed, only the neon sign announcing its name showing any sign of life, lighting up the area around as it did in garish shades of green and pink.

“It never goes away, you know.”

Lexil looked up and to her left but she already knew who had spoken. The calm purring timbre, the slightly omniscient and belittling tones. The Cardassian looked down at her, maintaining his very obviously superior stance by remaining standing. Lexil stood slowly, reducing the gap between the two. He continued.

“That impulse reaction you had, sizing up everyone in the room within seconds of entering, noting the threats and potential threats in your mind.”

If Lexil was surprised, she shouldn’t have been.

“Obsidian order?” She asked simply in a thin and girlish voice, a sound that paled into inferiority after the rich tones of her company.

The Cardassian smirked. “Me? No. Of course not.”

Lexil knew immediately he would never admit it although she was now certain that’s exactly what he was, or had been. The stupidity of her question simply compounded her self-deprecation about the previous few minutes’ events. The Cardassian regarded her for a few moments before his expression softened slightly.

“I will say this to you, little one. Don’t try to be what you think they want you to be. Or some ridiculous exemplar of the profession. Being yourself will make you far more effective than trying to be something you are not.”

Lexil looked up at him for a few moments and blinked once alongside the tiniest of nods. She understood. The Cardassian smiled at her.

“Good luck.” He said simply and turning quickly he set off across the street. Lexil watched him for a moment before bending down picking up her shoes and handbag. When she looked up again the Cardassian was gone.

******

It was thirteen minutes past two in the morning and Aldridge was running. Not the planned exercise kind but the kind you do at thirteen minutes past two in the morning. The scared kind, the frantic running for your life kind. As he turned down an alley he could hear the thumping of the music from inside the club. Without warning he tripped over himself and was sent flying to the floor with a thud. He scrabbled around as he winced with pain and heard it. Over the thudding of the music, footsteps. Calmly walking closer. His breathing intensified as his heart pounded in his chest, he managed to pull himself up. No time to dust down. He didn't want to turn around, face the horror behind him. But it didn't matter, a loud crack of metal against bone sent him tumbling to the floor once again.

The two men bore down on the reporter like heavy rain on the sidewalk. Beating him, breaking bones and really not letting up. After a few moments one of them looked around and nodded as the other crouched down, emptied Aldridge's pockets and pulled out a blade. Aldridge was doubled over in pain, curled in a foetal position and unable to fight back. The punctured lung was causing him to gasp for breath, but he managed to spit in his attackers face.

"Stop fighting the inevitable."

"Y... You won't win..."

"We already have." The attacker said as he forcefully pushed the blade into Aldridge's kidney, the blood spattered before running onto the sidewalk.

Lexil froze. Her ears weren’t tuned into a new and unwelcome sound she had just heard, or thought she had just heard. As she went over the situation she desperately tried to replay that sound in her head. The audioscape of the city around her, the dull pounding music of the club below, taxis buzzing down the main street that intersected the road she was on a few hundred feet away, the chatter of patrons and doormen at the club entrance at the other end of the building all went on as normal, mocking her, demonstrating clearly that she had been mistaken. Just as she began to relax and consider the possibility that she had indeed been wrong she heard it again; the dull metallic thump, repeated, again and again, this time accompanied by cries of pain. It was a male voice, probably human. This time Lexil was able to glean the direction from which these worrying sounds had originated, an alley that ran between the club and the next building along, a taller darker rather more foreboding entity most likely given over to corporate or commercial offices. She rose onto the balls of her stocking feet and silently padded to the corner of the building and after carefully placing her shoes and handbag on the sidewalk and relocating her hair from her left shoulder to her right knelt - anyone looking her way would be looking for people at head height, rather than lower down. She briefly considered using the mirror on her compact to look around the corner but in the low light the mirror could easily reflect, being more obvious than a small segment of Denobulan. She took a quick deep breath and slid her left eye past the edge of the wall, gaining sight of the group, towards the opposite entrance to the alley, one of whom was on the floor, all silhouetted in the light of a small lamp that lit a service entrance to the office building a few feet behind them.

As the blade was pulled from Aldridge's side the man got up. "Let's go. We've sent our message."

"What's that?"

"Where?"

"Over by that wall."

The man with the knife scoffed. "You're just imaging things or it was a cat or something. Come on, we need to leave before anyone arrives."

With that, the two attackers vanished from the alleyway and back out into the main street as if nothing had happened. Aldridge had never felt quite this alone before. He'd always expected to die for a great story but not like this. The searing pain and cracked ribs made each gasping breath more difficult than the last. Everything around him was getting harder to focus on. 'This was it, the end,' he thought to himself as he tried to yell for help but managed nothing more that a strained gasp.

No sooner had the two men left than Lexil pushed away from the wall and gathering her belongings quickly set off running down the alley towards the stricken body that was becoming more still with every passing second. She dropped her handbag and shoes on the pavement by her as she arrived and knelt down next to him, leaning across him to check the pulse from his carotid, which was slow and weak. She looked into his face, his eyes were still moving and fixated on her as she leaned forward into his line of sight.

“I’m here, you’re not alone” she said to him softly, squeezing his shoulder gently and trying to hide the fear and adrenaline that was all she could feel at that moment.

Lexil turned and popped open her handbag, removing a dark patterned silk scarf which after a couple of frantic seconds was balled up. She felt the man’s side next to her as he gasped for breath and quickly locating the source of the blood with her hand in the dim light applied the scarf as a compress. Next out of her handbag came her Starfleet badge which she moved to press against her chest with her spare hand to activate.

"No...." Xavier rasped clutching her wrist with his blood stained hands, "they'll hear... They'll," he grimaced in pain as he tried to meet her eyes with his. The searing pain in his side made Aldridge want to pass out. He couldn't yet, just a few more moments. He needed more time. "They'll kill you, do you understand, they will hunt you," he spluttered blood onto the sidewalk as he gasped for breath again.

"Run. Faster than ever, run to Amelia Waterhouse, trust... No one... It was the fox, somehow he got out." The hand that had been clutching Lexil's arm went limp as it dropped to his side. This was it for the old man, he'd seen governments toppled, reported on mass murderers, the syndicate and corrupt Admirals but this was how his story ended. Bleeding out in the gutter. For a moment the alleyway was still, save for a slight breeze rattling a metal shutter of a store closed for the night. "You must tell Amelia... Rik... Verity is... Alive." He coughed and looked at his Samaritan one last time, and the look of distress on her face, "I've had a good life kid, this... Is how my story ends." He grinned and laughed as the lack of blood caused delirium to set in and motioned for Lexil to release the pressure. "Go... Now." He said as the last moment of breath left his body and the light of his dark eyes faded for the final time.

Lexil stared at the man for a few moments, open mouthed. The sound of his laboured breathing was so obvious now only by its absence and gave way to the sounds of the city, bringing with it a strange calm inside the Denobulan. There was a part of her that wanted to panic, but it was a part that was very well controlled. Her trademark clear headedness and her intelligence training now took over. A year ago she would not have considered his warning could be true of anyone in the Federation but what she had seen, what she had been trained for, mission reports, examples, exercises has shown had that the Federation that she thought she knew, the Federation that was shown to those outside of it was not the only Federation, there was a darker side to it and a darker side to Starfleet that she was now beginning to be aware of. She still wasn’t fully convinced of his warning, but she would investigate as best she could before making a decision on what to do next.

In carrying out her next actions Lexil didn’t know herself. The very fact that she did not call the authorities straight away and let them deal with this meant she had changed, and she was different now from the Ensign that had graduated from Starfleet Academy only a year previously. But this didn’t trouble her, she knew the limited numbers of Denobulans in Starfleet by their very nature were perfect for intelligence work and she was one of those few. She stood, and taking a quick glance down the alley in both directions hoisted the back of her dress and slipped off her tights, the front of which were covered in blood. She pulled them off and after removing her compact pushed them into her handbag as she knelt by the side of the body again, careful to avoid the pool of blood this time. Compact safely stowed in her bosom she removed the silk scarf from the man’s wound, squeezed out the worst of the blood and it joined the tights in her handbag, the lining of which she noted with a tinge of regret had been transformed from a luscious soft pink to horrible crusty russet. She popped the com badge off from the front of her dress. It couldn’t join the other items in her handbag, she may need it in time. Regarding the bloody fingerprints on the front for a moment she gently pressed it into her cleavage and out of sight, before scanning the dim light of the alley once more. Lexil didn’t believe in any gods or higher beings but she was certainly lucky, a largely untouched pint of beer sat by the side door of the club that led into the alley. Soon the worst of the blood was washed from her knees and her hands, enough that she wouldn’t attract immediate attention. She took a pace back towards the body but stopped in her tracks. She wanted to close his eyelids but thought better of it.
“No, no” she thought to herself, “they’ll know someone was here.”

The compact was quickly retrieved and Lexil checked her reflection under the light of the lamp above the side door of the office building. A couple of smears of blood on her left cheek were quickly dispatched and taking one last look back at the body she reached up and smacked the plastic covering of the lamp which came away easily. In her adrenaline fuelled state she made short work of the wires and the light blinked out. Her best chance was for the body to remain undiscovered as long as possible. She had to get to a data terminal- she had limited access to Starfleet intelligence databases and might be able to find out who Amelia Waterhouse was. Tiptoeing to the edge of the alley she first looked left towards the entrance of the club which was, mercifully, quiet and then right finding an empty Street. She walked out of the alley as nonchalantly as possible and, focused on the next patch of shadow beyond the street lights walked quickly into its depths before breaking into a run.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Ensign Lexil
Stellar Cartographer
USS Joshua Norton

Xavier Aldridge
FNN Reporter

 

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