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Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

[ Lt. RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | Deck 28 | Vector 3 “The Stallion” | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz 
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[D10|2000] Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

April 28, 2381
20:00 hrs.
Stardate: 57680.35


For days, the clouds hung low over the city and prevented the sun from drying the wet ground with its heavy rain. Only those who absolutely had to dared to go out into the weather that future generations would call the worst storm of the last century. Public life came to a virtual standstill. The harbor was closed and unemployed dock workers, unable to find a place in one of the many bars, squeezed into the narrow doorways near the harbor to find a reasonably dry spot.

A car drove through the rain-soaked streets. Its tires pushed the water to the left and right. Again and again, the driver had to step on the irons to keep from lurching off the road. His windshield wipers could barely keep up and often he was just guessing where he was driving to. One could tell he was an experienced driver because he didn't let himself get sidetracked and steered his vehicle safely through the streets. The elegant car stopped in front of a building with a plain gray-beige facade.

The driver got out of the car, which’s engine continued to run unperturbed with stubborn power. He looked appraisingly down the sidewalks at the dockworkers who were hugging their coats tightly around their shoulders for a bit of protection from the weather. The man was not just a simple chauffeur, no, his broad back and muscles tensing under his shirt and coat, spoke to the fact that he knew how to handle himself in a duel. He briefly adjusted his slider cap, then spat and stretched out a large, black umbrella. In one elegant movement, he opened the door and offered his hand to his passenger.

A delicate, gloved hand placed itself in the man's hand, and he gently grasped it and helped the woman out of the car. She was elegantly dressed. A long, fur-trimmed brown coat, and a matching felt hat protected her from the rainy evening. In her free hand she carried an inconspicuous clutch. The woman nodded her thanks to the driver and asked him to wait nearby. She wouldn't be too long in coming. He nodded and bid her farewell as she changed men on the sidewalk and the doorman with another large umbrella welcomed the woman.

Muted jazz music could be heard coming from the nondescript building, its intensity increasing as the doorman opened the door for the woman and invited her inside. Inside she met another man, the receptionist, who greeted her with warm words and helped her take off her coat. She left him the coat and her hat, as well as her gloves, and waited a moment until he returned and led her with precisely measured steps to the salon of the bar of the 'Golden Flamingo'. There she was alone for the first time that evening. The receptionist led her to the doorstep and then recommended himself with best wishes for the evening.

The woman, now in a beautiful black evening gown, opened her clutch and took out an elegant cigarette holder. From a nearby side table, she took one of the proffered cigarettes and had one of the nice gentlemen present lights it for her. She smiled gratefully and paid with a seductive eye-blink. An eye-blink that she immediately followed up with a practiced glance of her yellow eyes over the guests present.

There in a far corner of the room were a couple of gentlemen in the company of good-looking young girls, enjoying the evening over whiskey and cigars. They were laughing and talking loudly, while on the stage a lone saxophonist was playing, sending out into the saloon somewhat forlorn sounds that encouraged a slow dance. In another corner sat some businessmen, celebrating their business deals.

And in a third corner, in turn, at a small group of tables near a side exit, were to be discovered the Russo brothers who, with their delegation of capos and enforcers, had set up shop in this establishment a few weeks ago. One of the two brothers, named Fat Tony, was holding one of the hostesses in his arms and was visibly pleased with the situation, while his younger brother, Giorgio, was taking in the scenery. Compared to his brother, Giorgio was the calmer, more level-headed of the two, and anyone who caught a glimpse of the two men's demeanor immediately recognized that he was in charge. When their eyes met, the woman turned away with a shy smile.

Finally, she took a seat at the bar. Between a man who belonged to the port supervisors and could well afford an evening at the 'Golden Flamingo' and the representative of a mafia-funded workers' union, the woman found a few free stools. There she could present her elegant, athletic figure, turn the heads of the gentlemen present and freely choose her conversation partner.

"A very good evening to you, lady." the bartender greeted her as he cleaned the bar in front of her with a clean rag. "What may I offer you."
"A dry martini and the time, please."
"Of course, ma'am." he replied, placing an ashtray on the bar. He mixed the drink and poured it in one elegant draught into the cocktail glass, garnishing the drink with an olive and placing it in front of his new guest without spilling a drop.
"Here you go." He then reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a silver pocket watch. After a quick glance, he told his guest the time and then returned to his other activities.
"Thank you." the woman said, taking her drink from the bar. She pushed a strand of her silver-gray hair back behind her furry ear, which twitched gently when she touched it. Then she took a sip of her martini and brought the cigarette to her lips. The smell of nicotine rose to her nostrils, fully rounding out the experience of a smoky bar of the late twenties or early thirties. Again, she let her gaze wander around the salon.

"Earth. Early twentieth century. Not quite what I ordered, but I'm excited to see what the evening brings." Her tail slid gently from side to side as she slowly bobbed the foot of her crossed leg in time to the music.

"So, I'm Lydia Gladstone, a wealthy heiress in search of my missing brother, Jamie. Here at the 'Golden Flamingo'I am now waiting for the detective I've would hire to find him. All this while a mob war rages in the streets and a storm of the century threatens the city." The woman gave a short laugh. "I can't wait to see who's going to play detective."

"Come again?" the longshoreman inquired, confused.
"Oh, nothing." she smiled, showing her sharp fangs, one of which reflected the light in a flash. "Just a little soliloquy."

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #1
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | D. 28 | V. | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Nero

Thick waves of rain slushed in rivers over the protective covering of his black trench coat. Mindful of the ankle-deep puddles populating the rain-slick sidewalk, Cross carefully picked his way around person and puddle alike, trying to keep from submerging his burgundy-colored loafers. Even in a holonovel, wet socks were far from fun. A young Bolian couple, clutching one another under a single umbrella, bumped against Cross in their haste to escape the storm's increasing ferocity. Grunting in response, Cross gripped the edge of his black fedora tighter, angled low over his forehead to aid against the storm’s clutches. A startled city-feral targ darted across his path, nearly colliding with a Ferengi merchant cart idling along the curb while its owner flirted with the Deltan baker under the awning of her shop. Cross paused, smiling to himself when he noted the smokey melodies of smooth jazz coming from within his intended destination.

Undoubtedly it was a trap, whatever the hell he was about to walk into, but pressed for cash like he was, and no other dossiers coming across his desk worth a damn, Cross had accepted the job from his Son’a contact cum enemy cum friend. Ga’ra had told him to rescue some dame at the Golden Flamingo, take her by force, if necessary, to a safe location until her family came to collect her. Apparently, her brother had fallen on the wrong side of Boss Heinthen, the local Trill crime lord who, like Ga’ra, waxed and waned in how amiable he was toward Cross’ existence as he plied his trade on the crime lord’s doorstep.

Stepping inside the anteroom to the Flamingo’s main hall, Cross removed his hat and knocked it against his knee before replacing it. Untying his trench coat, Cross noted that the neckline of his dark brown pin-stripe suit was wet in patches where the trench coat and hat hadn’t been able to protect him, but his hunter-green shirt, beige vest, and maroon tie with golden polka-dots were none the worse for wear. He knew better than to hang his hat or coat in a place like this; he’d lost too many favorites to thieves doing that. Instead, he took the time to shed the sodden coat, similarly shake it out, then draped it over his forearm.

As he was enveloped into the wispy interior of the nightclub, Cross recalled Ga’ra instructions.

“She’ll pretend not to know anything about anything. Typical dumb broad. So find her, tell her who you are, and get her outta there before things take a turn for the worse, ya hear?”

Cross knew better than to trust Ga’ra’s instructions to the letter. He had no intention of merely throwing his coat over the woman’s head, hoisting her kicking and screaming over his shoulder, and marching back into the dark of the night with a storm raging overhead. There was no telling if the woman was the trap or if she was the bait. In truth, there was only one way to find out. With his .38 special still tucked safely in his gun shoulder holster, both of his spring-load knives hidden on his wrist and in his boot, and his cigarette sleeping powder all secure on his person right where they should be, Cross entered the Flamingo and looked for his mark.

There was no missing the shiny fur of the Caitian dame, sitting solitary between two groups. The black down hugged her svelte form and enhanced the myriad of hues in her fur. From this perspective, he could see her profile but not the whole of her face. Nodding to the bartender, who knew Cross’ drink from his regularity to the joint, Cross approached the woman with a sly smile tugging at his lips. When she turned, and he caught sight of what looked like a permanent snarl on her lips due to a scar, Cross paused. There was something vaguely familiar about her. Had he seen her in one of the previous holonovel chapters? Forcing the friendly smile back on his face, Cross nodded his greeting as he edged between one group and the woman, not bothering to fight for a stool when he had no intention of staying long enough to sit.

“Quite a storm out there,” Cross tipped his head in thanks to the bartender, dropping coin on the wooden bar before taking the screwdriver. “Makes one wonder what else may be brewing in the corners of our lives.” Sipping at the screwdriver, Cross studied the woman over the brim of his glass, still getting the feeling that he’d seen her before somewhere. “Vinton Lee Cross,” setting the half-drunk glass back on the bar, Cross held out a hand toward the woman, “private eye and neighborhood problem solver. And you are?”

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #2
[ Lt. RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | Deck 28 | Vector 3 “The Stallion” | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz 
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She enjoyed the slow tones of the saxophonist, who gradually got reinforcements from the rest of the band, who came back from a break. Together they made sure that the tempo of the music increased. More and more gentlemen asked their ladies to dance. The dance floor was visibly filling up. Still sitting in her place at the bar, she let herself get a little carried away by the music and enjoyed her martini.

Finally, a handsome man entered the bar. He was wearing a fine pinstriped suit. He wore his coat over his arm. He obviously did not intend to linger long. She watched him out of the corner of her eye. Pointed ears, head and face clean-shaven. A Vulcan, she wondered. This could get interesting. His line, however, fit the picture perfectly. He introduced himself as Vinton Lee Cross. Private detective by trade. Bingo thought RraHnam. There's our teammate.

She held out her hand to him. "Lydia Gladstone." she introduced herself to him. "It's nice to finally meet you in person, Mr. Cross. I've heard nothing but good things about you and your detective agency." She allowed herself a drag of her cigarette. She looked the man in the eye and searched the archives of her memory for a moment. They had not met before. Still, she recognized him from a dossier she put on to get to know the ship's senior staff. She recognized him as Lieutenant Commander Cross, the ship's chief tactical officer. A smile stole onto her lips.
"Word on the street is you're the best at finding missing people."

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #3
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross aka Vinton Lee Cross | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | D. 28 | V. | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Nero

As she spoke in the humming accent he associated with most Caitians, Cross suddenly remembered where he recognized her. During a recent briefing on the fight in the First City, leading up to the revelation in the Great Hall, this…Lieutenant RraHnam had been a part of the success of that team. Having made the connection of why she seemed so familiar, Cross momentarily paused. Normally, when he shared a holonovel with someone, it was something they started together, with clear role parameters. In this instance, she was poised to be his “mark,” and if he were to follow through with the scene, he would have to potentially get physical with her to complete the story mission.

Gaze moving over her features, then off to take note of the surrounding characters of the novel; he was curious if anyone else had come into the suite with her or if it were just the two of them. While he’d noticed some odd new features to his programmed holonovel, he hadn’t realized someone else had entered the holosuite until now. Perhaps the lieutenant had planned on using the holosuite after him but had decided to enter during his time? Or, worse yet, had he overstayed his scheduled time? So far, she seemed keen on continuing the story, introducing herself according to the story’s parameters and keeping to her assigned character. Perhaps she would be keen on continuing the story even if it required them to be not exactly enemies but certainly at odds with one another.

Cross dropped her hand and grabbed the glass with the remainder of his drink. “Jack of many trades, Miss Gladstone.” Polishing off his drink in one swig, Cross pushed the empty glass away from him before leaning heavily against the counter, his body working as a shield to the men sitting closer to the door. The real threat lay further inside the bar in the guise of Fat Tony and Giorgio Russo. They often did work for Boss Heinthen, and since Ga’ra had ‘warned’ him this Gladstone woman’s brother had fallen on Heinthen’s bad side, it wouldn’t be too crazy a thought if the Russo’s were to try something. Calm gaze flickering back to RraHnam nee Lydia Gladstone, Cross smiled. “Enlighten me on what you’ve lost that you’d like found, Miss Gladstone, and I’ll let you know if I’m the man to help you find it.”

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #4
[ Lt. RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | Deck 28 | Vector 3 “The Stallion” | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz 
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RraHnam enjoyed the brief confusion reflected in her new friend's face. Cross was obviously trying to conclude whether he knew her or not. If RraHnam had to guess, she would say he recognized her. After all, as Chief Tactical Officer, he should have read the briefings on the action in the Great Hall of the First City. She was certainly mentioned there.

When he let go of her hand and confirmed that he was the man she was waiting for, she put her hands together and placed them in her lap. Her gaze wandered to the stage, where the music was picking up speed. More and more people found their way up the stage and began to play. The initial cacophony quickly turned into a rousing song. She began to tap her foot again in time with the music. For a moment, she just listened to the fast-paced jazz and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the stage, dance floor and tables all around.

"I want you to find my brother 'Jamie', Mr. Cross." She gave him a playful sideways glance. Then she nodded in the direction of the Russo brothers. "My brother means he owed money to the Russos, and when he didn't come home a few days ago, I started to worry. I made some calls to his friends. No one has seen him since they spent an evening together here at the 'Golden Flamingo'."

She tried to look desperate. The part RraHnam played had already tried many things to find her brother but didn't dare approach the Russo brothers without backup. The police could not or would not help, either because they did not want to mess with the mafia or because they were even bribed by them. In any case, it had been pointed out to Lydia Gladstone that her brother was a grown man and that such like to disappear for a few days on a bender. She shouldn't worry. He would turn up again soon. Or maybe he would just want to stay with a sweetheart and ride out the storm.

RraHnam turned to the man in the dark brown pinstriped suit. Tears gathered in her eyes and her pupils dilated. She flattened her ears and her whiskers trembled slightly. She tried hard to put on puppy eyes. "Please, Mr. Cross. I'm very worried about him. I'm afraid something may have happened to him. I'm willing to pay you a lot of money. Find my brother." Then she added "Mr. Cross, surely that should be easy for a man of your reputation."

Lightning flashed and bright light illuminated the curtained windows. Inwardly, RraHnam counted the seconds until the thunder rumbled menacingly. It took less than two seconds. The thunderstorm was directly above them. It drowned out even the jazz musicians, who stopped their music in surprise. Suddenly, worried faces were everywhere. A second flash of lightning. This time directly accompanied by a deafening thunderclap. There was an incredibly loud bang. Some of the guests instinctively flinched. A few of the women cried out in fear. One of the Russo brothers, Giorgio, RraHnam recognized, made his way through the crowd and pushed aside one of the curtains. Cautiously, he peered through glass. It was raining. The sky was dark. It was storming. With a jerk, he pulled the curtain closed again. His left hand slipped into his white jacket, from which he pulled out a small, leather cigarette case and a golden lighter. The man put one of the tobacco sticks in the corner of his mouth and lit it.
"It's just the storm," he then said in a soothing tone. "And we're not going to let the weather dictate whether we party or not, are we?" He pointed to the stage. "Music!"
The saxophonist nodded and agreed with Giorgio. "Of course, we won't, Boss. Come on, friends. Let's celebrate."

Movement returned to the room and people turned back to their interrupted conversations or headed for the dance floor. Things also got lively again at the bar as Giorgio Russo demonstratively pushed himself between RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone and Mr. Cross. As he did so, he extinguished his cigarette in Cross's now-replenished drink.
"Well, pretty lady. All alone here?" he tried his crude pick up line and RraHnam visibly struggled not to just laugh at him. She scolded herself for staying in character and finally pretended to be surprised that one of the villains of the story was speaking to her purely by accident.
"No, not really, Mr. Russo. I have an appointment."
"Argh, come on," he simply waved her statement with his hand. "Whoever it is, he can wait. Come dance with me." he grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the dance floor. RraHnam could only glance at Cross and his drink garnished with a cigarette. Tonelessly, she restated her plea.
"Please help me."

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #5
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross aka Vinton Lee Cross | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | D. 28 | V. | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Nero

Cross glanced toward the Russo brothers before looking back to the whisker-trembling Caitian dame in front of him, “Hate to be the bearer of bad news, Miss Gladstone, but if your beloved Jamie owed the Russo brothers, it likely he’s wearing weighted boots, and dancing a jig at the bottom of the river with the merfolk.” Wrapping his fingers around his drink glass, Cross began to idly twirl it as he glanced between the amber liquid and “Lydia Gladstone.” Sighing, he added, “I am more likely to find his body than I am to find hisself unharmed, and I’m willing to do that but-“

The deafening thunderclap interrupted their conversation and the general din of the joint, remaining tentatively on edge until Giorgio declared it time to party. Having already prepared himself for a potential fight with the man, given the intel Ga’ra had given about the deeper layer of issue between Gladstone and  Boss Heinthen, Cross kept his cool when Giorgio inserted himself in the scant space at the bar between Cross and RraHnam. He also chose to ignore the not-so-subtle aggressive play from the gangster when he dropped his cigarette into the remains of Cross’ drink. While Giorgio pulled the lithe woman onto the dance floor, her plea echoing off her lips and into Cross’ ears as she passed by, Cross re-studied the bar’s occupants. There were too many Russo thugs to take on by himself, but if he could get a diversion of some sort, he could grab the dame and split. Ultimately he’d been employed to secure the woman, and if he could find her brother at the same time, that was two payouts to just the one.

Twisting his body to face toward the port supervisors’ crowd further up the bar, but with his voice dropped low and accented to sound more like them, he left the comment, “Can’t believe they let this riffraff into a quality joint like this one. They should all be tossed into the gutter where they belong,” next to one of the workers’ union gents just seconds before he knocked the remains of his drink forward down the bar, shifting his body away from the bar—and from between the two groups—just as the glass hit the arm of one supervisor and spilled over the cuff of his tailored suit.

It was a predictable descent into the bedlam he needed from there. The union members thought the supervisors had insulted them, and the supervisors thought the union members had taken the first steps to violence. Slipping a few bills into the hands of one barmaid as he moved closer to the stage, Cross bid her scream loudly and intentionally drop the tray of dirty glasses. This was the catalyst the moved the supervisors and union workers past verbal barbs to fisticuffs, and as the Russo thugs moved in to break things up, Cross made it to the back of the bar where the breaker switch was located. Of everyone in the bar, he knew RraHnam would have an advantage over the sudden change in lighting if she could get free from Giorgio. Catching her gaze, Cross smirked before flipping the breaker. Next, he tipped over the table closest to him. He indiscriminately threw a chair across the room toward the front window, smiling with satisfaction when he heard a few curses and then a crash over the ruckus the continued fistfight was making.

Moving just inside the narrow corridor from the main barroom back to the kitchen area, Cross crouched next to the wall. He’d give her a few seconds to see if she could get free on her own terms before he swooped in for an attempted rescue.

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #6
[ Lt. RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | Deck 28 | Vector 3 “The Stallion” | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz 
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Giorgio spun her around and pulled her in closer to him as they opened the dancefloor. His nicotine infested breath mixed with the musk of his cheap aftershave stung in her sensitive nose. RraHnam’s whiskers twitched. She felt disgusted although she smoked herself just moments ago. She wanted to break free from him, to kick him in the shins, but she stayed in her role and mimed the fragile sister. The woman who couldn’t hurt a fly and needed protection everywhere she goes.

The Mobsters face came closer to her. As the music changed, he pulled her into a slow dance and forced her to snuggle up against ho his chest. “Your brother owes me a lot of money, Ms. Gladstone.” She suddenly straightened up. Giorgio Russo knew who she was. He knew who she was, and he didn’t want to hide it. It was the first card he played. No, it was the second card. The first card was that he pulled her of all people onto the dancefloor to be somewhat alone with her. No one would dare to interrupt her dance and to anger their boss. RraHnam weirdly liked it. Although his breath was unpleasant, she liked how the story of the novel picked up. She was alerted and intrigued to find out what was coming up.

“What is wrong, Ms. Gladstone? Surprised I know you?” He smiled and revealed some teeth typical for omnivore creatures with some incisors in the front, sharp fang like teeth in the sides and a glimpse of molars in the back. It was a wide smile. Sincere yet hideous at the same time. He continued. “I know a lot. In fact, I know everything in this borough. I know that your brother was hauling in twenty crates of whiskey of one of the finest blends for me and a couple dozen bottles of wine. Chateau Picard to be precisely. A load worth serval ten thousand dollars. And I know that he over there” he pointed to his much larger brother “will likely punch your sorry ass brother to a pulp if we find him with neither my money nor my booze.” Her spun her around once more. “And since he fucked off, I guess you, Ms. Gladstone inherit his debt.”, he whispered into her ears.

Meanwhile RraHnam could see Cross preparing a distraction. She could guess what he was up to, so she braced herself as Russo continued to present his demands. “You know, Ms. Gladstone… although the theft of your brother puts down my mood, I feel generous today.” Another spin. “I’ll offer you three days to get me my merchandise or my money. What do you think?”

RraHnam swayed from side to side with the music and lead by her dance partner Giorgio Russo. “What sum does he owes you?”, she asked with the most flimsy voice she could muster, but he laughed short and dry. “Thirty-three-thousand-nine-hundred-forty-five dollar and seventy-three cents, including interest and late fees.”

The Cait stopped for a brief moment and astonishment paired with mimed panic crawled up her eyes. ”Thirty-three-thousand-nine-hundred-forty-five dollar?” she whispered silently, just audible to Russo who had put his cheek onto hers. “And seventy-three cents, yes.”

“What if we can’t pay or bring the cargo?” RraHnam asked. “Then, Ms. Gladstone.”, he said softly and turned with her in his arm, to present his brother again. “Then my brother Anthony will handle you both. Once… and for all. Trust me, that’s something you don’t want that to happen. So? Do we come to an agreement?”

Suddenly the lights shut down. It became dark. A ruckus occurred at the bar. A fistfight started between the unions and the supervisors. Things were thrown. One of the big windows was smashed in, but RraHnam was aware of what happened. She caught Cross’s smirk and knew what would happen next. The Caitian closed her eyes, just milliseconds before, to allow her eyes to prepare for the darkness to follow. As she opened them again the chaos broke out. She smiled and broke away from the mobsters embrace. She slapped him and due to her claws injured him just enough to left bloody claw marks but not enough to seriously hurt him. “I’ll take your three days, Russo, and I warn you to never threaten my family again.” Then she kicked him in the shins and ran away to the bar where Cross waited for her.

“Follow me, we need to get out of here asap.” She grabbed Cross’s arm and dragged him to the broken window. The howling winds and the lashing rain greeted them on the street. “Quick, into the Alley. My drivers waiting there for me.”

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #7
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross aka Vinton Lee Cross | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | D. 28 | V. 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Nero

Cross allowed her the momentary lead as they maneuvered through the broken window onto the street. Off to the right, he heard the tell-tale pitter-patter of spats running on pavement. It seemed some of Russo gang had been outside waiting by the getaway cars and, having heard the ruckus, were running to their boss’s aid. His hand against the curve of her lower back, Cross pushed not so gently against RraHnam, encouraging a faster departure. The head of this new wave of ruffians spied their flight and already had his pistol in hand, slowly pursuit just enough to take aim.

“Excuse me,” Cross murmured just milliseconds before he shoved RraHnam into the alleyway and likewise twirled in after, the brick wall across from them shattering as a bullet wedged in, approximately the same height and location as where Cross’ body had been just moments before. “That your car?” Cross nodded toward the luxury car idling just outside the alley entrance to the club. “You sure know how to blend in, don’t you, Miss Gladstone?” Cross allowed the sarcasm to seep into his voice as he pulled out his pistol, adjusted his stance, and returned fire back down the street. Based on the grunting masculine cry, he figured he’d at least injured one of them.

Not wasting more precious time teasing her about the less-than-low profile this type of vehicle allowed in this part of town, Cross followed RraHnam, sliding into the leather-clad backseat right after her. The car took off, tires squealing, moving at a surprising speed, given the room they had to maneuver in. His eyes still trained on the corner where the ruffians would soon come rushing around, Cross didn’t see the new threat, though he easily heard the gun cock, accompanied by a self-satisfied chuckle from the passenger seat up front.

“Hand over the gun, Cross, real slow, or else the dame gets it.”

Cross was slow about twisting his body to face the front of the car, gaze taking in RraHnam’s state first before centering his scowl of annoyance on none other than Ga’ra. He didn’t need to interrogate the man to know what had happened. Ga’ra had sold them both out, likely taking them to Boss Heinthen himself for double the reward, one for turning over Cross and the other for turning over RraHnam as Miss Gladstone.

“Don’t you get tired of playing the two-bit backstabber?” Cross flipped the safety, then twisted the gun so Ga’ra could take it handle first. “Isn’t it time you played the loyal sidekick or downtrodden hero instead?”

“Hero’s don’t get paid in anything but lead.” Ga’ra snorted.

Cross exchanged a look with RraHnam, curious if the Caitian had anything helpful hidden somewhere on her person that could prove timely for their new pinch.

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #8
[ Lt. RraHnam a.k.a. Lydia Gladstone | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | Deck 28 | Vector 3 “The Stallion” | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Ellen Fitz 
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“You sure know how to blend in, don’t you, Miss Gladstone?” Cross said sarcastically.
„Sorry. I didn’t plan to leave in this kind of hurry.” RraHnam returned between two short breaths. She was a good athlete and a trained soldier. She knew the moves, yet she instinctively dodged as she heard the holographic gun in Cross’s hands fire. With a short glance over her shoulder, she could see the Grunt dropping his weapon and holding his leg. Cross had hit him, but he made sure they didn’t lose pace. He pushed her into the back of her car.
“Hit the pedal, Sam!”, RraHnam ordered and froze as she spotted the stranger sitting next to her driver.
“Yes, Ma’am.”, the human said and as he was becoming aware of his second passenger he continued. “And I a have to apologies, Ma’am. He caught me by surprise.”
Sam brought the car back to the road and drove off into the rain, leaving the Russo goons stumble out of the pub into the bad weather and in search for the escapists. Both men, Cross and the stranger seem to know each other and not in a good way. Given that the stranger extended his gun for a greeting, that was a given. Nonetheless, there was a cold between those two. The only exchanged platitudes. So RraHnam opted to ease the scene a bit.
“Would you please be so kind, Mr…”
“Ga’ra.” he rumbled.
“Mr. Ga’ra. Would you please be so kind and give my associate the address to where you should bring us.”
“Of course.” he said but didn’t advert his gaze from Cross. “Twelve fifteen Baker Street. No deviations, you understand?”
Sam nodded shortly and took a sharp right turn. He stepped onto the gas pedal but maintained a constant speed. No one would assume they where kidnapped. RraHnam took a glance to the side. Cross seemed to have fixated onto Ga’ra and would use every chance to jump at him. She could feel him and smiled slightly.

The car drove through the traffic mostly undisturbed. Now and then Sam had to stop on a red light, but over all the traffic was fine for a friday evening.
“Sam, how’s your shoulder? Did he hurt you?” RraHnam asked and remembered a discription of her chauffeur. He was former dockworker and lost his job as a heavy steelbar broke his shoulder. She knew that the character of Sam then opted to become a driver and that his shoulder would cause some pain from time to time. So the question seemed as she would care for him. At least she hoped that would be the case if anyone was listening. Truth was, she gave him a sign. She knew his left shoulder was bad but Ga'ra sat right of Sam.
“No, Ma’am. Everything’s fine.” A slight nod accompanied his words. He knew what she was up to.

RraHnam grabbed her clutch and opened it. “Ah ah ah!” Ga’ra said. “Hand it over. I don’t know what you pocketed there.”
“Oh!” RraHnam said with a played lightly frightened cry. “I just wanted to check my make-up.” A blatant excuse, given her fur didn’t need any makeup but it fitted her role.
“I don’t care what you look like, and I don’t think the Boss cares. Hand. It. Over.” He pointed his gun at her and added a sugary “Please.”

RraHnam looked scared onto the gun and stumbled over her next words. “O…okay. B…But please, put the gun aside.”
A selfish grin stole his way into Ga’ra’s face. “Not gonna happen, Miss Gladstone.”

“Okay.” RraHnam sighed. Then, with a flick of her wrist, her clutch flew into that grin. Sam got the sign and elbow checked the gangsters back of the head. The car swerved. She tried to keep the balance and launched onto the hand holding the archaic weapon. She could see Cross joining the fray and a lucky placed Karate chop later, the gun changed its owner, just as Sam was able to secure Cross’s gun. Luckily no shots were fired. Despite his gangster attitude, Ga’ra had trigger discipline.
Sam brought the Car back under his control and RraHnam got back onto her seat. “Okay. So now, please someone care to explain.”

Re: Day 10 [2000 hrs.] - Holonovel Club - Book 1: Storm of the Century

Reply #9
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross aka Vinton Lee Cross | Holosuite 2 | Below Decks Lounge | D. 28 | V. 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Nero

He’d been impressed with Gladstone’s cunning, sending the subtle signal to her driver via her question and then pelting Ga’ra with her bag. It hadn’t solved all their problems, but at least now Cross had his gun back, and both he and Ga’ra were equally armed and equally dangerous while Gladstone’s chauffeur continued on his way to the address Ga’ra had supplied.

“I’ll come clean if you will,” Cross winked at Ga’ra, watching the Son’a grimace in response. “Miss Gladstone, you are aware, I’m sure, of Boss Heinthen, the Trill crime lord who exerts a considerable amount of influence on this part of town. Your brother seems to have fallen on the wrong side of Heinthen’s attention and, as such, is on the lam from his goons. At the same time that you are looking for him, to save him from the clutches of the likes of Heinthen, your father has put out a contract to protect you from yourself.” Cross didn’t look at the Caitian as he spoke, his peripheral vision noting both her responses as well as the passing scenery. “Ga’ra here gave me the contract your father put out, that of protecting you from yourself, and now I’m curious if Ga’ra accepted Heinthen’s contract, that of using you to get your brother to come out of hiding.”

Ga’ra was prevented the opportunity to answer when Sam suddenly slammed on his brakes. While Ga’ra bounced off the windshield, swearing up a storm in his native language, Cross reached out and used his arm like a brace to keep RraHnam from faceplanting against the back of Sam’s seat. Instead, she pressed into his chest while his back bounced off the passenger’s seat, all of them settling awkwardly in the bucket areas in front of the seats when the car stopped.

“What the hell –“ Ga’ra’s irritated voice died out and was replaced with a breathy pant, “Fuck, Cross, it’s Forester’s guys.”

Cross hoisted himself off the floor of the car, helping RraHnam do the same, before glancing through the windshield to the reason why Sam had slammed on his brakes. A barricade of burning tires and various bit of rubbish was strewn across the road. Standing just in front of the fire were a half dozen men armed to the teeth, each bearing a badge pinned to their chest. While a detective would normally welcome the sight of fellow officers of the law, Cross felt his stomach churn at the sight of these particular men. They were crooked, almost more so than Heinthen and Ga’ra, and they got their rocks off in torturing the innocent.

“Get us out of here!” Cross and Ga’ra growled to Sam at the same time.

Just as Sam put the car into reverse and slammed on the accelerator, the cops let loose a hailstorm of bullets, riddling the car with their ire. He heard the sickening sound of bullets entering flesh and glanced up to see Ga'ra clutching his chest and leg while Sam also let out a cry of pain, though he continued to reverse the car and swerve to go back the way they came. He managed to get the car turned around and started back the same way when his body gave, the last of his life leaking out with a breathy sigh.

"Miss Gladstone, I hope you know how to drive." Cross leaned forward and opened the driver's side door, mercilessly pushing Sam's dead body out before slamming the door shut again. Ga'ra was surprisingly still alive so Cross hauled the Son'a into the back seat while crawling into the front. All the while, Forester's men advanced, the car shivering from the barrage of bullets. Holding both his gun and Ga'ra's, Cross rolled down the passenger side window and returned fire, hoping RraHnam got the message and got them the hell out of them fast.



Cross and RraHnam exited the holosuit some hours later in a cloud of exhausted mirth. They'd gotten their asses handed to them a time or two but had come out winning the day. They made a good team and Cross figured that would probably translate to actual missions as well. With a promise to reconvene for the next chapter of the novel at a later date, they adjourned to their respective corners of the ship to recover.

FIN

 
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