…continued from part one…
With none wishing to stay there he was free, and could see the security detail surround the leader of the Talarian delegation, and attempt to escort him and his entourage safely from the room.
Regardless of the congestion and the distractions, his trained eye was immediately locked straight on the line of fire. He drew his weapon and followed it back to the shooter, who it appeared was dressed as one of the waiters.
A bit obvious, he thought, and a bit careless of the would-be assassin to stand in plain sight firing like that. Still, this wasn’t the time to be thinking; now there was fun to be had.
He saw ‘Jade’ with her weapon drawn, his target not for work but for play. He smiled and was soon by her side and they both fired rapidly in changing directions, as the spray of weapons discharge seemed to be coming now from multiple angles instead of just one.
“What the hell happened?” Michael shouted to the shaking ambassador, ignoring ‘Jade’ for now as if he’d joined her for no reason of all.
“I don’t know, they came from nowhere!” Braylan called back, quite sobered all of a sudden.
“I wish they’d go back there!” ‘Jade’ shouted, and with a cry of frustration she fired her weapon again in a revolving pattern. With her accuracy, and the mysterious dancing man in the tuxedo’s as well, after a moment the assailants slumped to the ballroom floor, dead.
A brief smile crossed his face before he turned to his second target. “Are you all right?” Michael asked her, and ‘Jade’ dismissively waved him off.
“Forget me. The Ambassador.” She looked Braylan over and was relieved to find he’d only been grazed by a shot, showing the beam of the phaser had glanced his temple as she’d thrown him to the ground. “Sir, are you all right?” She asked Braylan, as she attempted to help him to his feet. Blakeney stepped in and assisted, purely in the interests of being a gentleman, of course.
Seeing an opportunity here, Michael swept his hand up toward ‘Jade’s’ face, not quite touching her cheek, but bumping his fingertips against her ear.
One nearly imperceptible move later, he had the wire she was wearing in his possession, and she didn’t even realize it.
He waited until she automatically pulled away from his grasp, and dropped the earring surreptitiously to the ground. With one step forward he ground it into the grand marble floor, and the device instantly ceased transmitting.
“Who the hell are you?” She demanded angrily. He merely grinned at her.
“Michael Blakeney,” he said, offering his hand. “Starfleet. As are you.”
“That’s a bit of a broad brush to paint with, ‘Starfleet’.” She frowned, choosing to ignore the offered hand for now. “Could you be a bit more specific please?”
“All right.” Blakeney held his finger up in a gesture telling her to wait until they’d handed Braylan off to a detail of uniformed security guards to be taken to safety.
He knew they’d have to make statements describing what had happened, so they’d be going nowhere for a while. He took in the room, and the aftermath, hoping his heart rate wouldn’t go down for a while following all the excitement.
This is what he lived for.
No one wanted to stay in here given the state of the place, so it wasn’t long before they were alone. He looked at her, now quite sure of whom she was, and gestured for her to follow him over toward another large and leafy potted plant.
“Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney,” He said, extending his hand to her and bowing gallantly. “Temporal Investigations.”
“Like hell you are,” Gem scoffed, never one to let the wool be pulled over her eyes. “I’ve never heard of you or seen you in my life, and I know everyone.”
”Do you?” Blakeney seemed truly amused by this, though he knew she had perfectly good reasons to doubt him. “Know everything and everyone,” he paused for effect, and then leaned in close. His breath was warm against her skin as he whispered into her ear. “Gem Lassiter?”
Her lips parted in surprise, but she managed to remain silent as she considered what, if anything, she should say in reply to the man who obviously had her at a great disadvantage.
One thing was for sure, she didn’t trust him, and how quickly she stepped back away for him made this very clear. She didn’t go far, just made sure she was out of reach.
“How do…” she started but realising she already knew the answer that he’d give she stopped herself. She angrily huffed, turned her eyes from him, and then back to him again. “If you’re a fellow agent,” she stressed that she wasn’t going to be convinced of that simply because he knew her name, “then why wasn’t I briefed on you being here?”
It was of course a trick question, she knew there could be other agents working the room that she’d not been told about, and it was one that Michael quite easily knew the answer to. Ever since its inception, there’d been one phrase uttered more in the halls of Temporal Investigation than any other, and he invoked it now as his easy reply.
“Need to know.”
It was exactly what he should have said, but she was still sceptical. Something felt wrong about him. Her careful study was quite a contrast to his relaxed, though professional, manner. It was very frustrating, but she couldn’t pin point it.
“I’ll need to see your credentials,” she demanded, not quite ready to give it up yet.
Michael was happy to oblige, removing a small PADD from his pocket, they were valid credentials, and hadn’t been hard to get hold of. Gem examined it, and it appeared genuine, so she knew unfortunately that she’d have to accept them. “These appear to be in order,” she reluctantly admitted, still studying his face out of what she convinced herself was doubt of his true intentions.
It didn’t make sense, Temporal Investigations was still a small organisation and all agents came to know each other. Besides, she knew better than anyone all the hard work and discipline it took to succeed in the department and one look at this man told her that neither hard work nor discipline were exactly his strong suits.
Michael didn’t miss her doubt, but he chose to ignore it. His mission was complete and so it was time to play.
“Naturally,” he replied as he returned the PADD to his pocket. He feigned a serious tone, suggesting, “But your credentials still need to be discussed. Might I suggest we do so over dinner?”
Now she knew he couldn’t be an agent. She also knew that events were being monitored by a device in her earring and so everything he was saying to her should also be being said to people with the ability to disprove it.
She didn’t realise, of course, that Michael had taken precautions for that fact.
She reached up to feel for the device, to try to determine if those on the other end were still receiving, but all she found was the bare skin of her earlobe on the side where her earring had been.
“Have you lost something?” Michael inquired as she began a visual inspection of the floor around them. “I think you left your shoes back there a ways…”
“I’m not looking for my shoes, I lost an earring.”
“Did you?” He asked innocently, as he casually lifted the sole of one of his shining black wing-tips from the ground and kicked the earring, still trapped beneath, behind the large planter beside them.
“It must have come off during all the commotion.” Gem muttered. “I have to find it.”
“That important is it? Heirloom perhaps?”
“Something like that.” Gem turned and, looking down at the floor again, found the item that she sought.
The remnants of it, anyway.
Unsure what she should do now, she tucked the pieces into the small handbag that had been dangling from a strap on her wrist all night, and surveyed her options.
Whoever this guy was, until she was entirely certain that he wasn’t in some criminal way tied to the attempt on Braylan’s life, she had better not let him out of her sight.
She looked up and realized that he’d disappeared. She began to panic, but to her surprise her reaction was more than the strictly professional fear that she may have lost her target.
It was only after he reappeared a moment later, holding her discarded high heels in his hands, that she realized that she’d worried, just for an instant, that he might vanish as mysteriously as he’d appeared and she would never see him again, or find out where he’d really come from.
“So then. Won’t you reconsider joining me for dinner? Work here seems to be finished.”
My work is just beginning, Gem thought. As she looked him up and down once more she concluded what she’d already suspected that he was not the type of man to whom dinner simply meant dinner.
After the start of her night spent with the ambassador she was not keen on the idea of spending the remainder of it with a man with similar ideas and faster hands. He may have been younger and with a charming smile, but Gemini Lassiter had never put much stock in that type of thing.
Being wined and dined was not part of her training and she felt a complete waste of her time and skill. She’d never really seen the point of it, spending all that energy on getting dressed up and preparing just to be stuck in a busy restaurant and eat the same food the replicator could have made her at home. Many craved the excitement of the atmosphere, but she was not one of them.
Yet at the moment it was her job, so it was something she had to do. She told herself she’d just have to get on with, needing much less convincing than she was used to. This Blakeney held no more significance than any other target, and she’d been in this position before, so was confused as how she couldn’t immediately find the words to respond.
She’d hesitated and that was enough. All the confidence dropped from his face. He fixed his jacket, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, and his smile had soon gone.
Michael Blakeney was not a man used to feeling rejection and he didn’t like it one bit. What was worse was that she’d hesitated, like she didn’t want to offend him with the truth. He dismissed her from his mind immediately. There were plenty of other women in this city who’d be happy to join him and he’d have more fun seeking them out than he could have here.
“You know what? Forget it,” he said more defensively than intended. “If you’re not interested then that’s fine with me.”
Gem was confused because this feeling was so unexpected. Though rarely lost for words, she said nothing as he turned away. The way he walked from her was different than before, his steps less smooth and each more deliberate.
Watching him step outside, using his credentials to get past the security, Gem suddenly felt very stupid. She couldn’t afford to let him simply walk away before she knew why he’d been here, so she decided that she’d have to follow.
As she emerged from the back exit of the building, not the type where dignitaries would go, the world seemed to change in an instant.
This was the alley behind the building where the cold blowing wind drained her of any heat the warmth inside had bestowed. The outdoor temperature had been comfortable earlier on, but the rain had brought cold and was unlikely to take it away again nearly as quickly.
With the door’s rapid close it was suddenly dark. The single light overhead was insufficient to let her eyes reach into the distance. Immaculate floors were replaced by concrete wet from recent precipitation as the inside’s ever-present murmurs were muffled into silence.
She brought her arms in tight around her chest to try to make some shielding against the wind’s whipping lashes. She slipped back into her shoes, as uncomfortable as they were, hoping they’d provide some elevation above the water. As she stepped from the light her eyes began to adjust and she could make out his figure in the distance.
He was standing with his back to her and couldn’t hear her far off footsteps approaching. She yelled to him, but it was too late as he dematerialised before he’d had a chance to hear it.
She quickly, almost desperately, fumbled through her handbag for the tool she needed. She brought the scanner, TI tech, to the exact spot he’d been in order to trace the path of the transporter. She shook her head then shook the scanner, there was clearly something wrong with these readings.
She adjusted the settings but the readings were the same, they claimed no one had transported from this area in hours.
Director, The Alchemy Project
And former TI Agent
Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney