Sunshine Can Melt Ice

OFF: Challenge post AHOOOOY!

ON:

((Medbay, USS Endeavor))

It happened from one moment to the next. Zazi had gotten out of the medbay, Jenny shakily following her as the red alert had been shut off. No Borg in sight, but that didn't mean they would let their guard down.

Zazi steadily clicked her heels as she hurried to the turbolift, a grimace set on her face, nearly grinding her teeth. It was like one bad thing after another, and if she wasn't so certain, she'd assumed she had made some cosmic entity furious with her to bring this all down.

"Doctor, do-do you think this is the best thing to do?" Jenny panted as she hurried to keep up with Zazi's furious pace.

Zazi hit the button to the turbolift hard, swinging her head around at Jenny. "If this is some game or some training mission, then it's a damn foul one. I've lost several patients, been attacked by myself-a clone of myself, at that. Had to fend off the Borg by standing there, menacingly behind a barrier." She dragged a hand over her face, the turbolift opening as she marched in.

"And the Captain has yet to answer my calls. I'm furious, Jenny, and if it means having to go and chew a hole into the Bridge, then so be it." She let out a furious breath, crossing her arms as Jenny joined her in the turbolift.

Jenny seemed abashed, ducking her head with a sigh. "I-I know, Doctor, it's just...everything's been a little...much lately." She sighed, leaning against the wall. "...normally when you sign up, they just feed you the normal 'meet new worlds' line, not 'see traumatizing events over the course of a day and act like it's okay'. Too long?"

Zazi let out a small laugh, leaning next to Jenny and bumping their shoulders together. "Just enough, I would say. Any-" The lights flickered and she stopped. They both looked up, tense, as suddenly the turbolift slid to a stop. Zazi gulped. "Okay...just...stupid thing, it's probably something in engineering."

Zazi slowly approached the panel, tapping at the screen as Jenny held tight to the side. Nothing happened for a moment, eerily quiet, before with a screech the turbolift started to descend wildly.

Jenny screamed as she nearly floated with the speed of it, hands scrambling onto the wall of the turbolift as Zazi yelled, "Hold on, hold on, we'll be okay, we'll be-!"

She awoke with a start in her bed, wheezing as she felt remnants of a headache slipping away. The tap of rain on her window echoed in the room, and she sighed, relaxing into the bed, raising a hand to sweep over her face, tear streaks drying on her face.

"That damn dream again..." she muttered. For a moment she stared up at the ceiling. It was old, and creaky, and there were about fifty girls in here on cots themselves. She didn't think anyone else had weird dreams, like her. Or if they did, they never talked about it.

None of them were close, not like her and Sunshine.

She tilted her head on the scratchy pillow, looking morosely at the empty cot across the way. Sunshine had disappeared only a few days ago, but it was the danger of the job. Sometimes you just get a bad roll of the dice.

But not Sunshine. Sunshine always seemed to get the best ones, and it didn't help she radiated happiness, perking up even the saddest gal around. But she didn't come back, not after a day, not after the next day.

Some folks just got addicted to Sunshine's everlasting happiness. She didn't blame them. But this was too long for it to be a visit.

Zazi shuddered under her thin blanket, shutting her eyes. She couldn't focus on that right now. In the morning...in the morning...

------------------------------------------------------------------

The next day it continued to rain. Zazi figured it was a fitting atmosphere for how she felt the past few days. Dressed in her...regal best-a red corset neatly fitted, a semi short skirt that bloomed outwards, and her ever present heels-she started off on her walk.

She had a destination in mind, of course. The Great Detective Avakhon. He was sharp, dedicated, and always found his targets...for a price.

A price that Zazi had managed to squirm free of many a person's loose pockets, a price that she herself had tucked into a secret panel on her corset, on her stomach.

Her heels clicked loudly down the alley, some citizens not paying attention, a few eyes straying her way, while others turned their backs to her.

She didn't care. This wasn't about them. This was about her, and finding Sunshine.

She had to climb a small winding staircase up a small set of apartments. Of course he lived where he worked. She wouldn't have doubted him otherwise.

She approached a dark door with elegant writing on it. 'Avakhon Khinsharri, Private Eye' it said. Zazi hesitated, twisting her fingers together, she wore fingerless gloves that went up halfway of her biceps. They were black and lacy, and her favorite.

She shook herself out of it. No, she had to be better than this. She didn't earn the title Ice Queen-or if they were particularly cruel, Stain-for melting in the face of what she had been aiming for. She gave a quick knock.

"Come." came the voice.

She pushed the door slowly. The room was dark, lit by a lamp on the desk. Hm. How appropriately threatening. Perhaps he used this for his own advantage, making folks uneasy and willing to spill more than they cared for.

He wasn't the only one who used people to their advantage. She had a bit of respect for him in that moment.

He had a knife in hand, fidgeting with it, the sharp tip digging under his fingernails and flicking it out, before he slowly shut it, leaning back in his chair. "Think I know what you're here for."

Zazi scoffed, her hand fluttering over her chest as she leaned against the door. "I'm offended, darling. I assumed I was a woman of many secrets." She gave him a sensual smile, but he didn't appear to rise to her bait. Pity. He was a handsome man, but all the same, this was business, as was everything in her life.

Avakhon nodded. "You are, Ice Queen. Titles like those only belong to certain women, in my line of work. Sit. Need a light?" He motioned to the chair in front of him, flicking open a lighter.

She waved her hand, slipping into the chair, one leg kicked up and crossed over her knee, slipping a long cigarette from seemingly nowhere. She leaned up, letting the flame catch onto it and drawing in a long breathe, letting out a puff of pink smoke. "Delicious. So, you think you know me so well? Tell me what I'm here for, Detective."

Avakhon shut the lighter, letting it fall to the desk as he leaned back, spreading out his hands. "If I'm honest, you're most likely looking for an old flame. Perhaps a child?"

Zazi laughed, puffs of smoke puttering out of her mouth as she coughed, holding the cigarette for a moment. "Oh that's a good one! I'm not merely called Ice Queen for my skin, honey."

She took another drag, tapping the ash into the little circular he had on his desk, looking serious for a moment. "One of my partners has gone and disappeared. Ain't no one care about us, except each other, and a sparse few people. Last I heard she was with a gentleman, but usually she's back by now."

Avakhon nodded, lacing his fingers in front of him. The mask he had on, if it was a mask, hid his expression from her. It was...irritating. Almost.

"I see. Hard to track down girls like that. Sometimes a man has enough money and charm to lead them away from that life. Sometimes they-"

"I know," she bit at him, sinking back into the chair, not seeing that she had stood up quickly. "...I know. But I have to know. It's the not knowing that's killing me, Detective. I'm a woman of knowledge...and I need to know."

And...she was the only one who would mourn Sunshine, if it came to it. The only one who would gather up her old nurse's pin from the bedside table from when Sunshine's life was good and wasn't crashing around her, and she'd take it and bury it near that one tree in the park that she liked the most.

Avakhon started to talk and she focused back in, chewing the tip of her pipe. "Well, you know how much it'll cost you. I don't work for free, no matter how pretty my clientele." Zazi smirked at him, finishing off her smoke with a small puff of air in his direction.

"Don't you worry, hun, I have it. Here." She slid her hand into the hidden spot on her corset, dragging out the bundle of bills. She had separated the money, not wanting him to get dollar signs in his eyes.

She tossed it onto the desk, letting him snatch it up and count it, nodding as he stuffed it into his breastpocket. "You've got yourself a detective, miss. So, tell me the last place you saw her, what she looked like, her gentleman friend."

Zazi nodded, sitting up, her long legs sliding out before her, crossing them again. "She's tall, a tad gangly, like one of them pick pocket boys. She's beautiful, though. So, so white, 'like a porcelain angel' is what many a person called her."

Avakhon had taken a pen and a notepad, scribbling it all down as she talked. "Her eyes though. They're right scary. Pink, or red, I dunno. Doctors call it a name, but we don't care." She played with the pipe of her cigarette nervously. "I had to save her from some travelers sometimes, calling her a devil and other horrible names. Ain't right."

Avakhon merely nodded. "It isn't, no."

Zazi sighed, tilting her head back against the chair. "She used to be a nurse, yanno? Before the wars and such, before her husband went and locked her out, before a lot of things. Sometimes she likes to wear the nurse outfit. People find it endearing, you know?"

Avakhon grunted. "If she's still wearing it, it'll be easier to spot her. And her name is Sunshine."

Zazi huffed, rolling her eyes. "It ain't but we don't give our names out. Prevents...intimacy."

"Hm. I'll need her name though. In case I call a Sunshine who isn't her."

Zazi scowled, tapping her foot on the floor for a moment. "Her name's Jenny. Don't know her last name. Ain't important, not in what we do. Sunshine knows that. Think she shed that name like a bad sunburn."

Avakhon nodded again. "And, where did you see her?"

"Near the docks. Tall man, cloak, top hat, normal appearance to what usually comes there." She shrugged. "He seemed caught by her, also normal, but like I said, ain't seen hide nor hair of her since."

Avakhon flipped his book shut, nodding at her. "I see. Again, it could be your...friend may have been seduced with money and talks of marriage, and I suppose I can't fault her for it."

Zazi gritted her teeth. Sunshine wouldn't just do that to her. They had been through too much for her to just...just leave Zazi in the dust, wondering if she was dead or living.

Avakhon continued, ignoring her irritation. "But I'll start digging up what I can."

Zazi harrumphed, getting up and smoothing her skirt down. "I suppose that's all I can ask. Thank you. I'll be back in a week."

She started for the door, and he called her name.

Her hand stopped above the doorknob, wondering if he wanted more money. She rolled her eyes. Men, never stopped wanting. "Yes?"

"I just wanted to warn you. Constables have been seeing a lot of dead working women in alleyways. They're not sure, but it's sent a few of the public into a right panic."

She gripped the doorknob tightly, taking in a breath. "Y-You don't think-"

"No," he cut her off, taking out his knife as if bored and started shaving down his pencil again. "At least, not yet. The police and I work in tandem. What they know, I know, and vice versa. I just wanted to warn you." He flicked the knife. "Didn't want a dead client on my record."

"How courteous of you." With that she swung the door open, slamming it behind her as she clicked her way down the stair case, fuming at his nonchalance, and worry settling in her gut.

Someone was killing folks. Word hadn't spread out to the slums, not yet, but it would. No wonder she'd been getting eyed up more when she walked into town late in the afternoon. People were afraid.

She gulped, twisting her fingers together, staring up at the sky. "Don't you worry, Sunshine," she whispered. "I'll find ya, and if I gotta, I'll avenge ya."

Zazi Sh'viakrik - Zazi, aka Ice Queen, aka Stain
Jenny- aka Sunshine
Avakhon Khinsharri- Private Eye, greatest in all of the country

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