Part of USS Eagle: Mission 2 – Red Heaven

Didn’t See That Coming

Lextis III
January 2401
4 likes 612 views

Lori stopped beside Nessa on an old wooden bridge over a small river in the park where they first met.  It was hidden in a small wooded area, so she was suspicious, as the place gave them privacy to talk without anyone hearing or even knowing they were there.

“I discovered this place when Dex and I first came to Lextis,” said Nessa.  “The sound of the moving water and the birds chirping relaxes me.  I come here to think.”

Lori and Hok had been working undercover for nearly a month.  There was tension and mistrust at first, and Lori had seen only Nessa's hard side, so meeting her on the bridge was unexpected.

"Do you like to spend time in nature?" said Nessa.

“I don't usually get to do that,” said Lori.

"You should make the time."  Nessa leaned on the railing, her gaze faraway.  “Do you miss Betazed?”

“No,” said Lori, dipping into her cover story.  “Without telepathic abilities, I never fit in.  It was best for me to leave.”

“I suppose I can understand that.  Maybe you should go back someday.  I'm sure your family would love to see you again.”

Lori shrugged.  “Maybe one day.”  She also leaned on the railing.  “I don't mean to ruin your moment, but why did you ask to see me here?”

Nessa smirked.  “Business.  Of course.”

Nessa was a criminal peddling drugs that caused deaths and ruined lives, but she was allowing a softer side to be revealed and Lori felt a twinge of guilt for stepping on it.

“When you first got here, you didn't need to be empathic to know I resented you.  Gia still dreams of punching you in the face.”  Nessa chuckled.  “It turns out I like you.”

“It's nice of you to say that, but why are we here?”  Lori didn't want to be emotionally hard like that, but she couldn't allow her true personality to get in the way.

Nessa sighed.

Was Lori seeing a tiny moment of regret?

“I asked you here because I want to offer you a deal.”

“I'm interested.”  Lori genuinely was.

“Bral has been a big help running the finances.  You've been excellent at learning the business.  The two of you make a good team.”  Nessa turned to face Lori, leaning on the rail with her right elbow.  “I think you and I would make a good team, too.”

“Oh,” said Lori, taken aback.  “Oh.  I'm sorry, but I don't go that way.”

Nessa got a surprised look on her face, followed by a hearty laugh.  “You're beautiful, but I don't go that way either.”

Lori's face grew warm with embarrassment.  “I'm sorry.  I misunderstood.”

“Yeah, you did.”  Nessa was still smiling, but that quickly faded.  “I meant a business team, a partnership.”

Lori wondered what that meant, though her gut was saying it wasn't something she would like.

“Dex and I have been together for a long time.  When we first started, it was difficult.  We made mistakes and lost money.  When we figured things out, the money started rolling in.”  Nessa paused.  “Now that we're successful, he's been spending more time enjoying our gains and less on good business.  I don't have any objections to having fun, but he's beginning to get sloppy and careless.  I'm afraid he's going to do something that will get us arrested."

“Go on.”  Lori didn't like where this was going.

“I want you to help me get rid of Dex and you take his place.”

In training to go undercover, there was an intense course on the discipline of controlling facial expressions and body language.  Lori learned that well, but in this case, her shock showed across her features.  She said the only thing she could think of.

“Get rid of how?”

“How do you think?”

Lori felt sick to her stomach.  As a doctor, her life was dedicated to saving lives.  Now, her undercover persona was being asked to take one.  Distraught, she cleared her throat before speaking.

“I've never done that before.  My employer always had someone else for that.”

Nessa chuckled.  “That's noble of you, Kavi, but you're in the drug business now.  The blood of every overdose victim is on your hands as much as anyone's.”

Lori wanted to throw up.  She and Hok were on Lextis to find the supplier of the red heaven drugs, but every day that passed without them doing that, more lives were destroyed.  Maybe blood was on her hands.  Would replacing Dex be how she would finally finish the mission?

“If I agree, how would we do this?”

“There are people in the organization that are loyal to me.  One order and it's done.”

“We would be equal partners?”

“Yes.”

“And Bral stays on the payroll?”

“If you want him.”

Lori's mind was churning.  Of course she couldn't be part of murder.  She needed to buy some time so she could pass this along to her handler.

“I need to think about it.  I should tell Bral, too.”

“Of course, but don't take too long.  The offer won't be there forever.”

Lori nodded.  “I won't.”

During training, Starfleet Intelligence emphasized how far into criminal acts the assignment could go.  Hok understood, and Lori thought she had as well.  Apparently she hadn't.  Trying to calm herself she listened to the water and the birds.

“You're right, Nessa, I need to spend more time in nature.”

 

Comments

  • Oh man! The stakes are slowly getting raised and the temperature is rising! I like how this post slowly amps up the pressure bit by bit until both reader and character are like, "Oh god!" at what is being truly offered. Loved the internal thoughts and the tension building this story does in the larger mission.

    January 21, 2023
  • I may be a little late to the party on this saga but I loved this. Not what I was expecting after the first opening paragraphs. Nature, R&R, taking a moment basking in the greenery....then boom planning a murder. Very twisty-turny and well well written. Can't wait to see what's next :)

    January 24, 2023