Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
Timeline: During Shore Leave
Heavy tendrils of fog enveloped the city of San Francisco in a down gray blanket that limited both sight and sound to no more than three meters. Fortunately for Ben Gates, he had a good sense of direction. Even though he had not been on those streets in years, he knew where he was going, he'd been there before. Besides all that, it was only a kilometer from the transporter station that he had stepped out of.
The Midnight Sun was not the kind of bar he normally went to. The patrons were more to his brother Kyle's tastes than his own. In fact, he had only been there once, with his twin, on a dare. But, he had an almost eidetic memory and remembered the way. It had after all been quite an interesting night and they had shared, had more fun than he cared to admit. Especially to Kyle.
But that had been before things had gone south between them, while they were still relatively close. He didn't know why Kyle had asked him to come this time, but he knew it wasn't for fun or because he needed a wingman. If Kyle was reaching out to him, it couldn't be good.
He didn't know why Kyle preferred men while he liked women, probably just genetics, but it didn't really bother him. That wasn't the reason they had grown apart. They had grown apart because Kyle had chosen a dark path, a path that had gotten him into trouble and would no doubt one day send him to a penal colony.
The Castro district wasn't a sketchy area, wearing his uniform wouldn't have caused him trouble, it might have even scored him some points if that had been his goal. But he'd left it behind nonetheless. The neighborhood may not have been rough, but if Kyle had made the wrong kind of enemy(and what enemy was the right kind?), he didn't want to do anything that would draw attention to himself or his twin.
He turned off of Castro Street and crossed Eighteenth passing a score of mostly men that the fog had transformed into dancing wraiths. He paid little attention to them as he began a slow steady stride up the steep hill.
Even in the grey whiteness, he could see the large, somewhat garish sign with the rainbow-colored lights that spelled out M I D I N I G H T S U N As he got within ten meters he could hear the sound of some techno-pop song that he felt sure even Kyle would have dismissively labeled as too gay
The room, which was typical of most bars regardless of its place in time, or the orientation fo its clients, was dimly lit. Neither he nor Kyle had any telepathic ability, except with each other. They could sense each other's presence.
Kyle was definitely inside. He couldn't get an exact location, but he didn't have to. His brother knew that he was coming, so he wouldn't be on the dance floor, which meant he'd be somewhere near the bar.
Despite the weather, or perhaps because of it, the bar was close to capacity. He found Kyle, just as he thought he might, sitting at a table near the back exit beside a tall Andorian man with curly white hair, piercing blue eyes wearing a cadet uniform.
When Ben approached the table the Andorian cut his gaze between the identical twins and his eyes lit up in anticipation.
"Not a chance in Hell," Ben said reading the lascivious look the cadet gave him. Kyle whispered something in his ear and the Andorian stood and walked away.
Ben sat down shaking his head. "Is he even old enough to drink?" he asked his twin.
"He chatted me up, I was just being nice," Kyle replied with his signature smirk. "I'm not the Gates that goes to bars to hook up."
"You can't tell me you've never."
"Maybe not never but rarely," Kyle admitted. "So, I hear you got a new assignment. How do you like it?"
"I don't know yet," Ben replied, I haven't made it there yet, I still have another week. It's going to be different though. The Lincoln is a Sovereign-class ship and my new ship, the Asger, is a Norway class."
"So, am I supposed to know what that means? You keep forgetting that I'm not a Fleeter like you."
"The Asger is about half the size of the Lincoln About the same speed but more agile. There were three Security Investigation Officers there, on my new ship, I'm the only one.
"A lateral move really I was the most senior of the three of us there. On my new ship, I guess you'd say I'm the star."
Kyle shook his head, "I could never play by the rules and color inside the lines as you do. I don't see how you do it."
"Because it's the right way. You're problem Kyle is that you always took the easy out. Life gets too tough for you, you just run away. You've been doing that since three days after we graduated. Not a word, you just took off."
Kyle shook his shoulders. "I didn't just run away. Okay, maybe I did in a way, but I was just a kid back then, and, and I was hurt."
"I know dad can be a dick sometimes but he was trying. At least there at the end."
"Dad is a dick most of the time. He did sort of try. When he was sober anyway, but I'm used to him. Mom was the one he hurt. Me, I knew he was a bastard before I knew I was gay. I got used to it."
"He wasn't the one that hurt me. Wyatt dumped me the day after graduation. He had moved on. Which would have been okay, or at least less like being kneed in the balls, if he'd moved on after, not during."
"He cheated on you?"
"Did, I not just say that?"
"That's another one of your problems, "You know my four fs, right? Find 'em, feed 'em, fuck 'em and forget 'em."
"I know but those are your rules, not mine I can't see how you can think like that.'
"So," that's why you left. I'm sorry. What can I say? Life sucks, sometimes. But you've been gone almost eleven years. And what you've been home four times?"
"I've been talking to mom four or five times a year and dad at Christmas, Easter, and his birthday."
Kyle rolled his eyes. "Seriously? How many Father of the Year awards do you think he earned?"
"I don't know," Ben retorted, "How many Son of the Year awards did you earn? You say you've called them so much. You may have in the past, but not lately. I talked to mom, about two hours ago. I had to drag it out of her, but she said it had been six months since she's heard from you. And you haven't even bothered to stop by since you've got home. How long has it been since you've been here?"
"Ten days," Kyle responded, "but it's not what you think."
"It never is," Ben responded, "so, tell me what it really is."
"It's not that I don't want to go home, I can't go home. Not without putting them in harm's way."
"Who have you pissed off this time?"
"The Ryan Grayson, the CEO of Galactic Communications one of the largest contractors with the Federation? What did you do, get his son pregnant?"
"This isn't funny. I'm dead serious. Why do you think I had you meet me here?"
Ben gave his brother an incredulous look and was about to come back with another smart ass remark, but something in the eyes that were so like his own stopped him.
"Seriously, why would Ryan Grayson want to hurt you?"
In the back of the bar, a slender woman's form moved through the cigarette smoke and fog machine fog. Casting tantalizing glances at anyone who caught her eye while keeping an especially close eye on the table by the door. She said nothing, but her smirk spoke volumes. Slowly, she closed the gap between herself and that table, the cold weight of her blade at the small of her back keeping her focused. There was work to do tonight.
Kyle wasn't trained like his brother was, but he had pretty good instincts and normally, he would have spotted a woman in a room mostly filled with men, but he was too absorbed in his story to notice her. Ben did notice her his eyes drifting over her. He wasn't expecting danger, not in such a public place, so his only thought was too bad she plays for the other team. He had no idea then, how prophetic his thoughts were.
"Look. I know we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things and you don't like my methods. But this little Utopia of ours where everyone is supposed to be equal always a Utopia. Sure no one is in poverty and all that is fine and dandy. Everyone has enough. The trouble is some people are more equal than others."
"Now, I don't really give a rat's ass about that. If someone wants to work and take chances and become more equal I'm all for that. But Grayson is different."
"Different how?" Ben interjected.
"He's a greedy son of a bitch and he cheats at Strategma."
"Strategma? What were you doing play....."
"For God's sake will you quit trying to analyze every fucking thing? Just shut up and listen, "Kyle responded. "Look I caught him cheating at it. Why? Because I'm good at the game and I recognize cheating when I see it. So, I thought it only fair to cheat the cheater. Just not playing that game, he would have caught on."
"So I got him on what used to be called the Spanish Prisoner scam."
Ben was not a stranger to con games, he just saw them on the other side that this brother did, he knew the Spanish Prisoner often involved a romantic side.
"Wait, Grayson is gay and you screwed him?"
"Yes, sort of anyway, and no not exactly."
"You mean he..."
"I don't think you want the details. Didn't I already ask you to shut the hell up?"
"Anyway," Kyle continued pulling out a data stick, "I don't know all the details, but all those communication and security systems he's selling to the Federation at basically his costs. Well, he's not doing it out of the generosity of his heart. He's doing it so he can sell a back door hack to the highest bidder."
He handed Ben the data stick. "There's the proof."
"Kyle if you have proof, you've got to go to the Federation."
"And wind up in a penal colony? No thank you can play the hero."
"I'll cover for you, you won't be arrested. You know, I always cover for you."
In the back of the bar, the woman had taken a seat across from a young human woman, her stark white hair and skin and completely black eyes a stark contrast to the the other woman's dark hair, pink skin, and light blue eyes as she traced her finger along the woman's jawline and whispered unheard promises of a daring good time in the rooms above the bar if she'd have her. Her lips curled into an almost predatory smile, her all-black eyes hiding the fact that she wasn't looking at the woman at all, but rather Kyle and Ben in the corner.
Suddenly, two brutish looking forms stumbled into the bar, an Andorian and a Human, both looking like they'd been through more fights than they cared to admit.
"No. Out," The Bartender said, flatly. The clientele were already shifting away from the two. "Now. I'm not going to ask again."
"We're looking for someone," The Human gruffed.
"Look elsewhere," The bartender replied, sharply. "Out of my bar, now."
"Once we find him," The other replied, simply.
The white woman smiled as she watched; cheap distractions were so underrated. Now she just needed to wait for her quarry to flee.
"Shit," Kyle whispered noticing the men as they walked in. I think those are Grayson's goons. I say we kick their asses like we used to."
"These guys are likely to be a bit more dangerous than a couple of High School wannabe thugs. We could probably take them, but we'd be drawing attention to ourselves. Is that really what you want to do?" Ben whispered.
Kyle shook his head.
"Then let's go quietly, out the back, before they spot us. There is a back door here isn't there?"
Kyle nodded quietly got up. The two brothers got up almost as one and Kyle led the way down a narrow corridor and out into a narrow street that was little more than an alley. The fog had not lightened if anything it had grown even thicker.
The woman in the back of the club leaned forward and kissed the woman across from her passionately, then pulled back slightly, "I'll be back... Be ready for me," She said, her tone leaving nothing to the imagination. A moment later, she disappeared out the back door as well, walking silently into the fog like a ghost. She hadn't gotten a good look at the man *with* Kyle, but she knew Kyle's face in a heartbeat. She double-clicked the subdermal vocorder embedded in her neck to tell the other two to begin pursuit of their prey. There could be no witnesses.
The back door of the club slammed open, making a neon flashing spear into the fog, and the two goons ran out, "That way!" They yelled, rushing in the only direction the brothers could have gone. Both crossed their boss on either side, and she was fairly sure that they didn't even see her in the fog. Her feral smile curled tighter... just as she was hoping.
"This street cuts over to sixteenth, "Kyle informed his brother, we can take it down to Castro where there's going to be a crowd, even at this hour."
"We better get there soon, or we're going to have to see if you're still as good as you used to be."
"I'm better and these guys are amateurs. Still, they could get lucky, especially if they have weapons. It's only a klick. We can make it.
"There they are!" Came the voices, dangerously close behind them. "Don't let 'em get down toward Castro. Get 'em!" The other yelled. Surprisingly, the large thugs were fast for their size and had already gained considerable ground.
It had been years since the twins had seen each other but they were both scanning the ground in front of them as they ran, looking for weapons. But they couldn't find any.
Kyle stopped turning to face their pursuers, figuring it was better to face their enemy rather than being attacked from behind. Ben stopped an instant later and turned around as well.
"Hey, Look Chaka, they want to fight," The human said, grinning with broken teeth. "You wanna fight, boys?"
"We'd prefer you walk away so we don't have to kill you," Ben said, "I mean do you know how long it's going to take me to fill out all those PADS? You know I'm Starfleet right?"
"You ain't Starfleet," The Human replied.
"Hey, Bruce," Chaka said, nodding toward the other Kyle, "It's the same guy, Bruce."
"Huh?" Bruce looked over at Kyle for the first time, "Oh fuck me... you ass holes cloning each other now?" He asked.
"We're twins shit for brains," Kyle piped up. m "Now just walk away while you're still able. Let Grayson come after me himself if he's man enough."
The two looked at each other, then back at the brothers, "Who's Grayson? We don't work for Grayson," they said, simply.
"Wow," Ben said without glancing at his brother. "So, who else did you piss off?"
"No one," Kyle said, "honest."
Then looking at the two hired hands he said, "Then who are you working for?"
"Someone who wants you dead," The Human replied, grinning. "Kill 'em, Chaka," He said, and the Andorian rushed forward, a wicked dagger appearing out of his jacket.
It was clear to Kyle that they weren't going to be able to talk their way out of this one. So, he launched what he hoped would be a preemptive strike. He took a step forward and aimed a roundhouse kick at the speaker's head.
Ben followed his twin's initiative, but instead of a kick, he threw a punch towards Chaka's solar plexus.
With a surprising amount of dexterity, Chaka tossed the knife from one hand to another as he ducked the punch and kick, throwing an uppercut toward Kyle's groin while kicking out at Ben's stabilizing leg in a hope to upend him. He flipped the knife around in his hand, ready to slash with it as soon as he regained his footing.
Bruce stood back, for now, laughing to himself, watching the fight unfold. He always did love setting Chaka loose.
Neither twin had time to wonder why Bruce was sitting back. They were too preoccupied. Kyle did manage to avoid Chaka's counter-attack barely, dodging to one side. And, he managed to stay upright and not slip on a piece of lose pavement that almost caused his foot to slip out from underneath him.
Ben's Starfleet training had honed his natural talent and he managed to dodge the attack more effectively than his brother. He pivoted, stepping towards Chaka and brought his hand down in a knife strike trying to disarm the larger man.
Out of nowhere, Bruce tackled Ben, moving him away before he could take down the Andorian. Chaka stood and stalked toward Kyle, knife still gleaming in his hand, "C'mon, pink skin. Let's play, huh?"
Kyle didn't say a word, he'd been overthinking things and that had come to an end. He feinted another roundhouse kick at the Andorian's face, but at the midpoint of his kick, he snapped the foot forward aiming for his chest and not his head.
Bruce wrestled himself on top of Ben and drew a fist back to punch him in the face, pinning him to the ground with his body weight.
Ben had been expecting Bruce to attack, just not the timing or the way he'd done it, so he had been caught almost completely off guard. He'd been taken down way too easily. The only thing he managed to do was get his arms up to defend himself.
He struggled to free himself.
Bruce wailed on Ben, trying to find clearance to his face, but only colliding with braced arms... the man squirmed under him, and Bruce lost his balance for a moment, just for a moment...
Ben took advantage of the momentary distraction and brought his knee up sharply attempting to connect with Bruce's most private and sensitive of areas.
And connect it did. Bruce let out an "HOOOOOO" and clutched at his groin while tried to fight doubling over.
Nearby, Chaka and Kyle were locked in a grapple. Kyles kick had sent him staggering backward, but he had recovered and lunged right back in this time missing the knife, which was a bonus for Kyle at the moment.
"I'm... going to... KILL you..." Chaka grunted, annoyed by the pink skin's scrappy nature. He could easily overpower him, but couldn't seem to get the leverage to do so.
Ben took advantage of Bruce's discomfort and brought his knee up in the same location for a second time.
Ben may have gained an advantage over his opponent, temporary as it might be, but Kyle was in a far more precarious position.
Kyle landed a flurry of punches into the Andorian's middle. There wasn't much power behind them, given the close quarters, Kyle just hoped they would have some effect on his opponent.
Unfortunately, they did not. The Andorian took his suddenly freed hands and snatched Kyle by the neck, lighting him up off the ground with a wicked cackle.
Ben was having a bit more luck as Bruce succumbed to the need to double over on the second knee to the groin and toppled over on the ground.
Kyle realized his mistake an instant too late as he was lifted off the ground. Then to make things even worse Chaka started to squeeze and he saw stars as oxygen started to leech from his lungs.
Ben saw his brother in trouble and moved behind the Andorian and threw a kidney punch his direction.
Chaka faltered but didn't drop Kyle, instead freeing a hand from Kyle's neck and swinging a fist backward toward Ben.
Kyle had been struggling less and less as the Andorian was literally choking the life out of him. When Chaka dropped one hand away, he was finally able to get some much needed air into his oxygen-starved lungs.
Chaka's aim was just a little off, or perhaps Ben was just agile enough, but the Andorian's fist connected with his shoulder instead of his face. He took a half-step back.
Kyle took advantage of the momentary distraction and reached down to try to grab each of the Andorian's antennae.
The Andorian's eyes grew wide as he felt the hands clamp down on his antenna and abruptly looked back at Kyle, his face actually pleading as he let go of the man's throat, letting him drop, and trying to reach up to wrest his arms off of his antenna.
Kyle showed his attacker no mercy. He held on to the left antennae and yanked as he fell backward onto the ground.
The next noise that came out of the Andorian's mouth was something between a shriek and a cry, as, with a sick pop, one of the antennae was ripped off, blue blood spraying through the air. The other just got a jerk, but even that would nothing short of excruciating. Chaka fell to the ground, wailing, writhing in pain.
"Chaka! No!" Bruce screamed, trying his best to straighten up and move to his partner, "You damn bastards!" He growled, reaching behind him and pulling out a phaser, swinging it to bear on the brothers.
Both twins flung themselves at Bruce at the same time just as he fired. Kyle was hit and fell to the ground. Then everything went black and he knew no more.