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Lt. Ravenscroft - The Scent of Jasmine


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((Unknown location))



((Several days later))



::How long had he slept? How many hours? How many days? He tried opening his eyes, fearing the glare of light would burn them, but they only saw a soft red ambience all around. His neck hurt when he tried to turn it to the side, the ligaments and tendons taut with strain. He winced, closing his eyes momentarily. When he opened them again, he took half of the room he was in into view.



He was on a four-poster bed lined with burgundy satin sheets and draped with matching heavy drapes. The faint scent of jasmine lingered in the air, as if left behind by a retreating visitor. The walls were plastered with ornate wallpaper, of various motifs and of various red hues. On the deep brown wooden bedside table a single white candle burned radiantly, casting mirthful shadows across the room, its wax spilling over like ivory locks. A vellum-bound printed book lay beside the candle, but from his position, Emerson could not read what was inscribed on the cover. He turned his head to the other side, a slow and painful process. He tasted crusted lacerations on his lips with the tip of his tongue.



A man sat in a chair beside his bed.::



MAN: Hello.



::He was Gabriel. He recognized the voice. He remembered it despite bloodied, swollen and tattered ears. He also remembered the words that spilled out ice-cold from Gabriel’s mouth.



“My name is Gabriel. I am here to take care of you, Quinn.”



His heart pounded furiously inside his chest like a bat that had flown in through an open window and gotten trapped inside a room. He struggled to speak, his throat parched and raw as if he had swallowed brambles. A few helpless words escaped his bruised and bloodless lips.::



RAVENSCROFT: I.. am not.. Quinn.



::Gabriel sat with one leg crossed over the other in an enormous Louis XVI chair adorned with intricate upholstery. He was as calm as the candle-flame, barely flickering. His black hair, slicked back and greasy, and his black suit, pants, tie and shoes made his milk-white alabaster skin almost glow in the gloomy red room. His voice, when he spoke, was just as smooth as his youthful skin.::



GABRIEL: We know. Please accept our apologies for the error.



::Emerson felt the life-force sucked out of him. The room grew frigid in a heartbeat. Surely this must be a vile dream, he consoled himself in vain. The pain, oh the excruciating pain, all that pain.. simply because they thought he was his dead brother? His mind threatened to whirl out of control, out of sanity, almost.. but his dead brother’s name anchored him to reality.::



RAVENSCROFT: What do you want.. with Quinn?



GABRIEL: It does not matter now.



::The man’s face was a statue made of marble. His sharp black eyes were just as cold and emotionless. Emerson tried to push himself up, up against the headboard. Every muscle and bone in his body screamed with agonizing pain.::



RAVENSCROFT: It matters to me.



GABRIEL: ::sighing deeply:: Suffice to say, your brother owes us.



RAVENSCROFT: ::gritting his teeth through the pain:: What do you mean? Owes? You mean owed.. He’s.. dead. ::It hurt even more to hear himself say those words.::



::Gabriel stood up, lithely and silently and turned his back to Emerson. He was a small man, slim and light-boned. His tailored clothes fit him well.::



GABRIEL: Your brother is not the man you think he is, Emerson.



RAVENSCROFT: I asked you, what do you mean? ::The strength of his voice was returning, rapidly, fueled by anger and confusion and a severe lashing of long-forgotten memories.:: Why are you after Quinn? What has he done??



GABRIEL: I have told you, Emerson. It does not matter now. We will continue our search for Tarquinn Ravenscroft. I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience we have caused you.



RAVENSCROFT: Sorry? You’re sorry?! ::He forced himself silent by biting down on his tongue. After several seconds, he exhaled, long and hard.:: I told you, Quinn is dead. You’re wasting your time looking for him.



GABRIEL: ::stopping to turn his head, just slightly:: Is he, Emerson? ::He turned back and continued towards the door.::



::His heart stopped. What does the response mean? Is Quinn.. alive? Who is Gabriel and who are “we”? He had questions, many questions, spinning and roiling inside his mind like a storm of moths under a full moon. But only one came out of his mouth.::



RAVENSCROFT: Why haven’t you killed me yet? ::His voice was flat and cold, devoid of all life and hope.::



::Gabriel opened the door, twisting the brass Victorian doorknob, the hinges squealing and whining like piglets led to the slaughterhouse. He stopped at the doorway. Turning, he cast Emerson a deadly gaze. Deadly, because of the faintest flicker of a smile on an otherwise cold statue.::



GABRIEL: You are no longer ours to deal as we please. You belong to the lady now. She procured you from us with a handsome price. Seems like you are just as desperately wanted as your brother. Good day, Emerson.



::He slipped out the door like a shadow, leaving it ajar and leaving Emerson frozen in a state of bewilderment, still plagued by a swarm of questions. And amidst that daze of confusion, he heard the distinct sound of soft rustling and light footsteps striking the floorboards, drawing closer to the doorway. It was a familiar sound, a sound from the distant past, a sound he could not quite place yet was right there, dancing and teasing on the tip of his memory.



The scent of jasmine grew stronger, wafting into the room, stirring shadows and memories and turning his blood to ice. For once, the candle-flame trembled, terrified of things yet to unfold. He remembered now. He remembered all too well. He remembered the sound of rustling taffeta and chiffon, the bewitching scent of the midnight blossoms.



He remembered her.::



TBC


================================


Lt Emerson Ravenscroft


Xenolinguist


USS Atlantis


NCC-74682



as simmed by


Captain Raj Blueheart


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