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SIM:T'Lea - Dragus

((BOGON SYSTEM – N’DALLIS PRIME – DOWNTOWN DISTRICT))

Weather on N’Dallis Prime was always miserable no matter what time of year it was. Conditions on the planet either climbed to extremely hot, or plummeted to extremely cold temperatures. The only relief came during the final cycles of the pink and orange moons – this was the dreaded rainy season. Blessed by a mild climate, but cursed with torrential downpours, the city itself had nearly been washed out during some of the heavier rains. But so far this year, they had been lucky and the flooding had been kept to a minimum, thanks to a new drainage system that was lobbied by the great Chief Magistrate, Pelco.

It had been raining off and on for months now, and the new drainage pipes were doing a fine job of keeping the water levels moving smoothly under the city. There were still problems though. Specific portions of the downtown district were curiously over-saturated again; mainly the eastside was backing up and that left some citizens with a bad taste in their mouths.

A lot of citizens felt that there was a conspiracy going on in town. It often appeared that the westside always got priority. The conspiracy theorists were correct. The Westside gang had Pelco in their back pocket. But the Eastside, thanks to the turf war, now owned the coveted drug cartel in town. So while one side held political power, the other side controlled eighty percent of the population’s addiction – that included the cops. In that respect being the Alpha Female of the Eastside territories wasn’t all that bad, but T’Lea wanted more.

As the rain continued to pour down, water bubbled out of manhole covers, and small rivers spewed out of the gutters and into the streets. Ironically, in this modern society of ex-convicts, the rainy season saw a pleasant decrease in random violent crimes. Apparently gangs, thugs, and crooked cops didn’t want to get their precious little feet wet in order to do their jobs. But for T’Lea, it was business as usual.

Safely tucked under a full-length black raincoat, T’Lea jogged across the vacant street and headed for the shelter of an old abandoned building.


((CONDEMNED WAREHOUSE))

Cautiously entering the warehouse, the first thing the young, undisciplined Romulan hybrid noticed was the foul stench of rotting flesh and fresh urine emanating somewhere close by. As young T’Lea explored the empty room she prayed that the lingering smell of death was coming from a dead humanoid body and not one of the billion Bogon Rats that plagued the city. Those ugly critters were about the only thing in this godforsaken town that gave T’Lea the creeps. Their little buckteeth, whiskery, twitchy faces -- disgusting… even the dead ones.

MALE VOICE: Did you come alone?

The voice had a distinctive hissing sound to it. T’Lea dropped the hood on her raincoat and turned, trying to locate the direction from which the voice came. There was a torn up, pee stained sofa askew in the far corner of the room, several stacks of empty wooden crates, drug paraphernalia littering the floor, a couple of skuzzy blankets, flattened cardboard boxes, and a few pieces of leftover warehouse equipment that looked like they had seen better days, but T’Lea didn’t see anybody else around.

MALE VOICE: I won’t ask again.

T’LEA: No. I didn’t come alone. I’m hiding three guys under my coat. Idiot.

Swirling around she still couldn’t pinpoint the direction of the voice, and after a few minutes of silence she was ready to ditch this secret meeting for a nap. Not really, but she wasn’t in the mood for games.

MALE VOICE: Move and you’re dead.

The voice was right behind her now. She could feel the warm tip of a weapon pressed against the back of her neck. It was the familiar buzz of a Sentinel’s fire baton fully amped and ready to discharge. Knowing firsthand how painful that weapon was, T’Lea did as she was told.

T’LEA: While I appreciate the need to conduct a thorough search…

She said, feeling the cold, scaly hands wander freely underneath her coat.

T’LEA: … I can honestly say that I would never hide a weapon down there. And you already search it twice.

MALE VOICE: Turn around.

As instructed, T’Lea faced him, unfazed by his harsh orders. Kreez was a Law Enforcement Sentinel, and a Skinth. Skinths were a stalky snake-like species that made up a majority of the police force. And coincidentally a majority of that police force were corrupt.

KREEZ: Did you arrange for a location?

T’LEA: Tonight. One a.m. Oan Street. I’ll deliver him to you there. Xavaan will meet with a regular in the back alley on 3rd and then leave. Give me ten minutes and then start working on Xavaan. Dragus’s one weakness is loyalty. He won’t stand by and let one of his own get the dren kicked out of him.

She gave him a shady look when he didn’t respond immediately. Maybe he wasn’t as crooked as she thought. Maybe revenge wasn’t in the driver’s seat anymore.

T’LEA: We still have a deal right? I give you the bastard that killed your brother in the turf war and you look the other way when I need you too.

Tired of playing second fiddle to Dragus in his crappy little Eastside gang, T’Lea wanted more, and she had been working her butt off over the past few months to get it -- buying off the right people, doing the right favors, and making the right promises all for one purpose. Power.

One person in the city had enough power to control the entire downtown district, and that person was the Chief Magistrate. Pelco had inherited his position by killing his predecessor and then blacking mailing his political enemies into submission to secure his new title. It was the same game plan T’Lea was going to use, but she need one thing to make it work. Kreez. He had access to Pelco’s Mansion, and T’Lea was betting that Kreez’s lust for vengeance would outweigh his loyalty to Pelco.

KREEZ: We’re still on.

T’LEA: Good. You only get one shot at this. Don’t frell it up.

KREEZ: I’ll be there. You just make sure HE is.

The “he” in question was Dragus.

She cocked her head in assurance of his wishes, and pulled up her hood, ready to brave the rain again.

T’LEA: Oh, hey. Catch.

Kreez snatched a small plastic bag out of the air and examined the contents with a flick of his sensitive forked-tongue. The bag was filled with Peresian Crystal Dust. His drug of choice.

T’LEA: That dren right there will make you feel like a god. Enjoy.

Kreez smiled like a kid on Christmas morning. He was never any good at resisting temptation. Hell, he’d sell his own soul for the ultimate high!

((later))

((BOGON SYSTEM – N’DALLIS PRIME – NIGHT))

Rain water continued to soak the vacant streets – a perfect deterrent for potential witnesses who would normally be on the prowl at this time on night. Everything had gone according to plan since conspiring with Kreez that morning. Xavaan had just met with a regular customer, a Grelod named Reweq, who was in debt up to his uni-brow, and he was now in the process of begging for his life in a back alley on 3rd street.

REWEQ: Just one more cycle. I swear that's all I need. Just one more! Please!

Delivering one final blow, the young Romulan woman plowed her shiny black leather boot into the Grelod’s side, flipping him in the air.

Bloodied, broken and bruised beyond recognition – Reweq rolled over and promptly vomited in an overflowing rain-gutter.

T’LEA: You want to hurry up and finish this? I’m getting hungry.

She glanced over at Dragus who was enjoying the show. There was something about watching T’Lea beat the living hell out of somebody that got him excited. Probably because he knew first hand how that kind of power translated in the sack.

Shaking the fond memories from his head, Dragus got back down to business and knelt beside the barely conscious Grelod where he issued one last warning to pay-up by the new deadline or die. The Grelod moaned an acknowledgment through his shattered teeth and heard the footsteps of his attackers walk away. The poor guy was a pulverized mess, but luckily, Grelods healed rapidly. They may not have been the strongest species on the planet, but by tomorrow Reweq would be as good as new.

T’Lea and Dragus were about to cross Oan Street when he pulled her back around the corner, seeing something suspicious up ahead. Just as she had arranged, Kreez was pummeling Xavaan like a punching bag. Cop brutality was the norm around here. Even a simple curfew arrest could mean a near death experience.

Witnessing the merciless beating, Dragus couldn’t let it go on. He tensed, but before he could slip away T’Lea grabbed his arm.

T’LEA: Don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk.

Not worth the risk? How could saving a friends life not be worth the risk? He scowled at her and moved again, but she pulled him back harder this time. It was all part of her deception.

T’LEA: Dragus! Don’t. Just walk away.

DRAGUS: You know I can’t do that.

He looked back into the street, formulating a plan as the Skinth repeatedly kicked Xavaan in the torso.

DRAGUS: We can both take him. I’ll confront. You come up from behind.

Reluctantly she agreed and Dragus was off in a hurry. He entered the street and daringly engaged the Skinth face-to-scaly-face, at first throwing insults, and then angry fists. But things got ugly fast and soon Dragus was being mauled by the out of control animal.

Where was his backup? Where was his mate? Where was T’Lea? Those were his final thoughts before having his head bashed repeatedly into the side of the Sentinel’s patrol craft.

Only after the Skinth had calmed down did T’Lea finally emerged from around the block, right where Dragus had left her. She’d watched the whole pathetic fight without feeling a thing as her mate was savagely murdered right in front of her eyes. Even the sudden disconnect of their bond the instant that he died didn’t make her flinch.

T’LEA: Wow. Nice job.

She grinned and approached Kreez on the sidewalk while applauding the show. Her eyes glanced uncaring between the two dead bodies of her friends lying on the ground. Just then the rain started to fall again.

T’LEA: So, now that that’s taken care of – I’ll need you to hold up your end of the deal in a few days. I’ll contact yo--.

With his snake-like reflexes, Kreez shot his hand out and threw the young cocky woman against the brick building nearby. The impact stunned T’Lea, and the fall shattered her right ankle like glass. Kreez was on top of her in a heartbeat.

KREEZ: Deal’s off!

He lifted her up like a ragdoll and hurled her into the iron lamppost behind him. The dull chime of skull clanking against the hard metal pole rang down the street like a church bell. T’Lea had blacked out for a moment, but when she came too Kreez’s hot breath was right in her face.

KREEZ: Who do you think took over the Westside territories after my brother died in your turf war? Did you really think I would help the Butcheress of N’Dallis Prime, you murdering bitch!?

Barely able to hear a word over the ringing in her head, T’Lea tried to scoot herself up the lamppost as her survival instincts finally kicked in. But before she could get her bearings straight, she felt a tightening around her neck. Kreez had her pinned against the pole and was happily crushing her throat.

KREEZ: That’s right, I’ve known all along. It was you that killed my brother, ripped his spine from his body!

She scratched and clawed at his scaly skin, but it did no good. The Skinth was committed to death by strangulation. Suddenly, he frowned. She was trying to say something. She was trying to beg for her life so he loosened his grip to enjoy it.

T’Lea caught her breath and looked up at him ready to speak.

T’LEA: Frell you!

And she spit in his face.

Snapping his hand closed again, T’Lea suddenly realized that probably wasn’t the best strategic move, but it sure felt good.

KREEZ: If you’re anticipating help, don’t. I cast the Right Of Vengeance, and the Chief Magistrate approved. Your ass is mine.

His declaration meant that he’d informed Pelco of everything she had planned to do. Even if she survived this encounter with Kreez now, as long as she was in the Bogon system she was a dead woman. Bounty hunters would be chasing her through this sector of space until the day she died. And to make matters worse the only person with any sense of loyalty, and any means of protecting her was now dead -- and she’d helped kill him, which was exactly what Kreez wanted. With the two Alphas of the Eastside gang dead, he could easily stage a coup.

Realizing the desperation of her own mortality, a strange moment of calm passed over T’Lea. It was something she’d never felt before. It was acceptance of the situation, and the sudden awareness of total dominion over herself. At the time she didn’t understand the place from which this feeling of peace came from, but looking back on it later she would recognize the seedlings of Vulcan logic, even if it was undeveloped.

In her brief second of enlightenment, T’Lea knew that there was only one chance at surviving this. If she failed, it was over. If she succeeded… Well, who knows…

Ignoring her natural instincts to fight back, T’Lea seemingly gave up and let go of the struggle. With the Skinth’s full weight bearing down on her throat, she then reached out with both hands – one pushing the Skinth’s face away for better angle, the other frantic to find the correct neuro-points to perform a nerve pinch. Time seemed to pass in slow motion as she tried to manipulate his thick, scaly hide, and just when she was about to pass out, T’Lea felt Kreez’s heavy grip falter and then saw the Skinth suddenly fall away.

Collapsing to her knees, she choked for air and rubbed at her strained throat. The nerve pinch had done exactly what she wanted it too do. It had killed him. Skinths had a thick scaly hide for one reason, to protect their fragile neuro-pathways. It was over.

Or was it?

Crawling out of the alley way, Reweq, stood at the end of the sidewalk only a few yards away from three dead bodies, and T’Lea. For a moment he didn’t completely understand what he was looking at, and then as he began to realize what was going on, his expression soon changed. He had just hit the jackpot!

T’Lea climbed to her one good foot and steadied herself against the lamppost. Trying to shake the fog from her head and think clear enough to calculate her next move, she suddenly spotted the crippled figure of a man standing at the end of the sidewalk. She recognized the puffy, swollen face. It was Reweq.

Time stood still as neither one said a word or dared move a muscle. They were both badly injured, and T’Lea was in no condition to dispose of her witness. It was a standoff, until the bloodied Grelod gave her a nasty smile and slowly limped across the street with confidence that she wouldn’t give chase.

As T’Lea watched Reweq disappear around the corner, it suddenly became very clear what she had to do... get help.