April 2011 Challenge: “Solly Brin - Final Vendetta”
Submitted for the challenge theme: “With Hate’s Heart . . .”
For readers of “Tales of the USS Bluefin
,” you may recall a shift in the future timeline from the story, “Ghost in the Machine.” From that point, there was a fork in the road, so to speak, of two possible futures for the Bluefin
characters. This is a story from one of those future timelines, or, to quote the immortal Yogi Berra, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
I leave it to you, the reader, to decide to which future this tale belongs. Regardless, you should know that for either timeline there is someone that Solly Brin has very deep reasons to hate.
And payback is a bitch. Especially when seen from Solly’s point of view . . .
Sometime in the early 25th Century
Rigellia City, Rigel IV
I watched you, my cousin, come into the restaurant as I finished my second Tanarian Sling. I wasn’t worried about getting a buzz, though. The bartender is a Ferengi and he adds extra seltzer and lemon juice to save on the booze.
That’s fine with me. I’m not here for the liquor.
Your two goons probably make you feel safe. And why shouldn’t they? Most folks are intimidated by the sight of genetically enhanced, three-meter tall green Orions.
But I guess I’m not most people. Your body guards just make it easier to track your movements. Most folks see a couple of giant, scary security hacks like yours and cower.
Me, I see targets.
I have to hand it to you though, at least you take your safety seriously, unlike those other Ahmet’surs,
particularly Griblorn and Heqlun. But then, they
weren’t expecting me.
Unlike you. You’ve probably been expecting me for about six years, haven't you, Lortho? Or maybe we've both been expecting this for much longer - say 70 years?
Yeah, Mother and I fled our homeworld and lived in a frozen hell-hole that even your kind won’t visit. Too bad for you. If you had sent someone to take care of me and Mother the way your old man killed my father, you could still be back in that gods-awful glitzy fortress on Verex III that the Elix cartel has called home for 500 years. Fat and happy. Looks like you've managed the fat part, at least.
Your old man probably never expected me to survive childhood, much less escape to the Federation and join the Border Service. I guess dear old Uncle Tranji was lucky though – he died of Y’rusan syphilis before I could visit him. Bet you didn’t know I knew that, did you?
A green Orion waitress stepped up to my table again, interrupting my reverie. Honestly, I think my knife sheath contains more material than her entire outfit. She offers to refill my drink and starts to offer something even more enticing, but then she sees the look in my eyes and her smile freezes and her breath catches. Smart girl, this one. Street smart.
I grab her arm and pull her into the booth with me. Nobody notices; hell, roughing up the servers and Dabo girls is normal behavior in this dive. I whisper that I’m not going to start any trouble, at least not here and especially not with her.
She nods and I see relief on her face as I relax my grip on her arm. Good. ‘Course I won’t be getting anymore refills or anything else she has to offer tonight. I can live with that.
I really meant what I told her. I don’t plan to start anything here. That’s why Lortho frequents crowded places like this. He knows that I won’t risk hurting any innocent bystanders. Of course, I use the term “innocent” loosely in a place like this, but I’ve no quarrel with the lowlifes in Rigellia.
My quarrel is with Lortho Elix. My dear cousin has a debt to pay and I've come to collect.
Look at him down there. He’s laughing it up with the Dabo girls, stealing a pinch and a feel here and there like he owns the fracking joint. They’ll put up with it, too, so long as he flashes the gold-pressed latinum and keeps their glasses filled. He thinks he’s safe now, surrounded by the crowds and his over-sized body guards. Lortho, you're getting careless and sloppy. Tsk. Tsk.
I watch from the glass balcony level above the gaming floor, my vantage point a booth in the corner. It’s in shadows, so I doubt he could see me if he looked right at me, but Lortho’s never been terribly bright. He probably thinks I’m light years away right now.
Thinking has never been Lortho’s strong point.
I do feel kinda bad about messing up the upholstery in his limo earlier. Too bad his driver wasn’t more cooperative – it’s a bitch cleaning blood out of Hrunthan leather. At least the driver won’t have to clean it. I left him in so many pieces a transporter couldn’t put him together. All the damn fool had to do was walk away.
The ice in my untouched drink melts and clinks, leaving beads of water droplets on the side of the glass and table. I take the lemon wedge from the glass and chew it slowly as I watch my prey. For some reason, the tart taste of the lemon reminds me of the Bluefin.
I guess it’s ‘cause Cookie used to keep lemon wedges in the galley for tea and such. Gods, I miss those days.
Dammit, now I’m thinking about Joe. I don’t need this.
The last time we spoke was – what? Six years ago, of course. I can still hear him say it: “Don’t go down that road, Solly. Don’t stoop to their level. You’re not one of them.”
But that’s where you were wrong, Joe. I am one of them.
Before I was rescued by my near-father Kaldo Brin (you Humans would say, "adoptive father,") and learned from him things like honor, respect and compassion, I was Solly Elix, son of Tarlo. I took Kaldo’s name – yeah, I know it’s a Human tradition, but I wanted to honor him for all he meant to me and my mother. Deities, I still miss him.
Kaldo was a better near-father to me than I ever was to my K’lira.
Now, as I think of my lost near-daughter, my fists tighten. I feel my pulse quicken. A red haze falls across my vision and everything around me slows down. No, no . . . too soon. Too soon.
It’s battle fever – I’ve embraced it a hundred times before like a familiar mistress. But now is the time for stealth and patience. The violence I anticipate . . . lust
for . . . must wait just a while longer. I close my eyes and slow my breathing. It helps, though I still hear the dull thud . . . thud . . . thud
of my pulse in my ears.
My hand moves to the Andorian knife hidden in the forearm sheath under my cloak. It was a gift from K’lira when I made Senior Chief – just before she graduated from the Academy.
I move my hand away. I won’t need the sharp ceramic blade tonight. This knife is too good for the likes of Lortho Elix. I won’t sully K'lira's memory by defiling it with that slis’jaka’s
blood. Tonight, my hands will suffice.
He’s standing up now – moving away from the Dabo tables. Good. I feel a smile of anticipation on my lips. My hand moves to another inner pocket and caresses the compact needle gun secreted there. It’s for the body guards. No, I don’t plan on killing them, but when they wake up in several hours, puking their guts out, they’ll be unemployed and wondering what in the seven hells just happened. Assuming things go to plan. If not, well . . . that's okay, too.
I watch as the bodyguards (I’ve come to think of them as Tweedledee and Tweedledum from a Terran story I once read to K’lira when she was a little girl) move aside the crowd to allow Lortho to pass.
I toss three strips of gold-pressed latinum on the table as I stand to follow. It’s an overly generous tip for watered down drinks, but the server reminded me a little of K’lira. Too much like her.
Lortho and his goons head out the front as I move toward the rear of the casino. I disabled the exit alarm hours ago.
It’s raining steadily as I slip out the back and into the alley where the skimmer-limo is parked. Lortho is probably pissed that the driver hasn’t pulled up to the entrance to meet him. He’ll be too mad to smell a trap and too impatient to wait on a driver who will never show up in this lifetime.
Sure enough, here they come, making enough noise to wake the dead in Sto'vo'kor
. I wait in the shadows, the needle gun in my hand as Dee and Dum trudge toward the limo. One of them is holding his cloak over Lortho, so the Amet’sur
doesn’t get wet.
I’ve seen rocks with better situational awareness.
Dee is shouting for the driver to unlock the limo. He knows Rigellian curses pretty well, I'll give him that. It’s raining too hard for him to see that the driver has gone missing. He might want to look in the ‘cycler bin. Not that there’s much left to identify as a Rigellian. But then, he shouldn't have provoked me. Not tonight of all nights.
Dum is still behind Lortho, gamely holding his cloak over the boss, for all the good it's doing in this downpour. I take aim and squeeze. The dart hits Dum in the throat and he goes down like he’s kissed a Capellan Powercat.
Lortho still hasn’t a clue. Now he’s cursing and kicking Dum in the ribs. I guess he thought Dum tripped? What an idiot.
Dee is just standing there with his mouth open. This is just too damn easy. I put a second dart in him and he slides down the side of the limo, landing face-first in a puddle of water. He might drown. Too bad.
Deities! Lortho still doesn’t know what’s going on. I walk out of the shadows. Maybe I should just tap him on the shoulder.
Lortho finally turns to face me. How ‘bout that? He actually has a disruptor pistol in his hand. Maybe he’s not quite as dumb as I first thought.
Nope. He forgot to prime the firing diode. Too bad.
Elix points the useless disruptor in my face. He sounds more angry than frightened at this point. Lortho always was a bully when he thought he had the upper hand. He made a hobby out of abusing women – especially women with green skin.
Like K’lira. Can't think about that now.
I step closer and pull a cigar from my cloak – a Ferengi Macanudo. When I light it, I see the change in his expression. His gun hand suddenly begins to tremble. How sweet - he recognizes me. I'm touched.
“Solly.” His throat makes a funny clicking noise – kinda like my lighter. Interesting coincidence, don't you think?
It’s a pretty good cigar for a Ferengi-made Cuban clone. Too bad it’s raining so hard I won’t be able to enjoy it very long. I blow out a plume of smoke in his face.
“Lortho,” I reply. “Time to pay the reaper.”
He looks perplexed and says something I don’t quite understand, although I get the jist of it. He manages to steady his hand enough to pull the trigger, which accomplishes nothing. If he had waited another five seconds, he could have taken my head clean off. Lortho was never much on patience. Me – I have all the time in the world.
I grab his disruptor hand, twisting it backwards until I'm rewarded with a satisfying crunch of bones, then I kick him in the crotch. Hard. He goes down in a stinking puddle of filthy water. I don’t think his custom-tailored suit will ever be the same. At this point, I don’t think he cares too much.
A clap of thunder drowns out his high-pitched keening. He’s curled up in the fetal position, trying to protect the remains of his mangled male organ. The mewling abruptly ceases as I kick him in the kidneys and lift him up out of the slimy pothole by the neck.
I see it in his eyes now. They are wide and bright, and communicate his feelings quiet well: Fear. Understanding. Resignation. Yet, there’s still a spark of the old hatred burning in those yellow eyes.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lortho’s hands frantically claw at me and he kicks wildly as my hands tighten around his neck. He's taller than I am, but I work out a lot, so I manage to keep my grip. My knuckles pop and my arm muscles burn but I can feel the fading thrum of his pulse through my fingers as I crush his trachea. As his eyes begin to bulge and turn glassy, I think of my near-daughter.
Gods, how I miss you K’lira.