Concurrent with A Visitor
-= A Busy Street, Betazed=-
Rada’s current goal was to remain as still as possible in the hope that he may be able to convince the local population that he was, in fact, a statue.
He could feel them all around him probing into his mind; everywhere he looked was another Betazoid struggling to penetrate his mental defences. The nice ones were so uncomfortable as to quickly run away. A small crowd had however begun to surround him and appeared to be studying him as a genuine curiosity, tilting their heads from side to side and stroking their beards if they had them, they appeared to be having some kind of telepathic debate about Rada’s possible origins.
A particularly stout man appeared to be describing to all around a procedure which would allow a Ferengi to be made to look like a Terran; this seemed to be his explanation for why they found Rada’s thoughts and emotions to be constantly slipping away from them. Rada was glad that he had never gone to this man for reconstructive surgery because if he was correctly interpreting what was from his point of view a mime act then the only medical tools this man thought he’d need were a hammer, a chisel and a roll of duct tape.
The others seemed to be dismissing these thoughts on the grounds that this was not what reading a Ferengi was like. Rada would have pointed out that he was Angosian but he was sure that that would just throw more confusion into the mix. For now they seemed to be content to just stand around him. Rada had tried several times to excuse himself and to move away but whenever he did the crowd would move with him.
He’d actually had a nightmare almost exactly like this once; the only difference was that that time the crowd was smaller. Realising that no one was going to believe his statue act he returned to darting his eyes around everywhere in search of a familiar face, occasionally his eyes would briefly meet those of one of his observers and they didn’t even flinch, there were few things more painfully uncomfortable in this galaxy for Rada.
*Where are they?* he kept asking himself, the swarm of Betazoids showed no response so he could at least be thankful that he was still in some degree of control.
The communiqué had requested him to be at this exact spot at this exact time to meet ‘an old friend’. They didn’t leave their name but the use of his old academy nickname was enough to convince him that he somehow knew them. If this really was someone who knew him then he had to assume that making him stand in the middle of what must have been one of Betazed’s busiest streets was their idea of a joke. He wasn’t sure he knew anyone with this cruel a sense of humour.
“Hey Red!” came the call and Rada breathed a visible sigh of relief that he could be getting out of here soon. He turned to see who was calling him. The crowd blocked his view of the man and Rada didn’t recognise his voice. Rada observed some strange looks on the faces around him and then almost instantly they began to leave. Rada couldn’t help but notice that they seemed worried.
The man’s face was now revealed to Rada, he seemed familiar but Rada didn’t remember from where. The iris' of his eyes clearly indicated his Betazoid ancestry but his skin seemed unusually tanned. He was certainly not a large man at almost a foot shorter than Rada but he displayed the confidence of a man who felt he could control any situation. He had a large welcoming smile on his face and his arms were extended in a gesture indicating he expected a hug. He was a young man, roughly Rada’s age which would make perfect sense if they’d attended the Academy together. Rada still didn’t recognise him, though.
Rada didn’t think he would forget this man. He wore felt hat with a white band around the base and a navy double-breasted suit with two parallel columns of buttons on the coat. These buttons were something that Rada did recognise; they were each made of different rare elements notable for their distinct colouring and the fact that none of them could be replicated.
The clashing of different colours did nothing to improve the appearance of the suit but were a clear and ostentations indicator that this man had a lot of money; far too much to have been made whilst serving a career in Starfleet.
“Red!” the man yelled again cheerfully, Rada noticed his speech was slightly impeded “Come here you old bastard and give your friend a hug!”
Before Rada could object the man had his arms around him and was hitting him harshly on his back. Then he span around to beside Rada, all the time keeping one arm on his shoulder.
“How’ve you been? How’s life on a Starship treating you? They feeding you well?” the man fired question after question without ever pausing long enough to allow an answer. His eyes were shifting rapidly around the emptying street for some reason.
“I…” Rada began as he tried to bring up as gently as possible that he couldn’t remember this man’s name and hope that when he heard it he’d remember the man himself. Unfortunately he didn’t get a chance. As soon as the immediate area was cleared Rada felt something pushing in his back and the man began to whisper in his right ear.
“Listen very carefully; I currently have a Type-II hand phaser set to kill positioned directly behind your pulmonary organ. If you don’t do exactly as I say then I will not hesitate to turn you into a pile of ash. Do you understand?”
Rada nodded that he did and began to put his hands up. Typically he’d consider this to be the perfect time to take on another role and to ‘calmly’ talk his way to safety. A perfect strategy if not for the fact that this man clearly knew him and was unlikely to fall for the reliably old tactic.
“Don’t do that!” the man viciously spat and Rada returned his hands to his side.
“Good,” said the man through a forced smile. “As far as anyone watching is concerned we’re just a couple of old friends.”
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Alchemy NX 53099