Categories > Original > Sci-Fi1 Reviews
The sequel to Deskjob Blues. They uncovered the conspiracy and are on the run... will they survive? This is an unfinished work originally set in the Particle Black universe. As the project fol...
There are a lot of ways to describe Fester Street. Grimy would be an understatement; "junk heap" would be more accurate. The Daedalus miners, on drinking sprees on their days off, jokingly refer to it as "The Sphincter", because, they explained, the smell was like being close to an anus. The higher-ups in Innomedia, which runs the sector where Fest Street almost spills out of the borders, would rather not acknowledge it existed... except for the occasional human interest and waste reduction stories. Regular residents of New Callisto called it would rather avoid it if they could.
However, for the down-on-their-luck, the outcasts, or simply those who don't want to be seen... they simply called it home.
It might seem surprising for some, but the arrival of the night cycles cast a blanket of silence across Fester Street, broken only by the occasional shout or vehicle passing. The people who called this place home had learned to turn in early and mind their own business when night falls. It was easier to live longer that way.
Four figures made their way down Fester Street and arrived at a rundown apartment building. All were wearing jackets and plain slacks that looked dirtied. The lead figure, recognizably feminine despite her short-cropped hair, checked a note that she held in her hand against the address before nodding to the others.
"It's here. Let's go," she announced.
They made their way inside the building and headed up the stairs to the third floor. One of the four, a tall man with chiseled facial features and a goatee, made a show of pinching his nose. "What died over here?" he said. "Kel, are you sure this is where LC is? I don't think I can stand to hide out in this place as long as he did."
Kel, the woman in the lead, just shrugged. "You didn't have to, Erick, since you knew people in the outside. But he insisted. He said it would be safer if he contacted Gene alone, rather than every one of us at one time."
"Then why did he call all of us up to meet him like this?" the other female in the group, a brunette with shoulder-length hair, piped in. She rubbed her arms unconsciously, as if fighting off the cold.
"He told me that Gene wants us to meet up as soon as possible. Things are starting to move," Kel explained.
"Just Kel now, Leo."
"Kel, you're worried, too, right?" Leo asked. "I heard from the grapevine that they started releasing the new products from training."
Kel nodded. "I heard that, too. But now is not the time to panic. We'll be meeting up with the others soon anyway. Then, we'll know what everyone has planned."
She stopped as they reached their destination, room 313. Kel made four quick knocks on the door, paused, and followed with two more: their agreed signal.
She stepped back and waited. No responding knocks were heard.
"Something's wrong," the brunette piped in.
"He's expecting us, so he shouldn't be asleep," Leo added, feeling uneasy as well.
Kel found it difficult to disagree. She had to risk it. "LC? It's me, Kel," Kel shouted at the door in a loud voice. Still, no reply was forthcoming.
"I'm going in," Erick announced. He removed his right glove, revealing a hand that appeared covered in blue patterns. Erick gritted his teeth and concentrated. The patterns appeared to move and enveloped his hand in a blue aura. As the others gathered around him to hide him from view and scanned the floor for any possible observers, Erick touched the electronic panel at the side of the door and released.
Electricity sparked briefly from the panel before the door lock malfunctioned and shut down. Grim-faced, Erick slid the door on its tracks to open it. Without even turning on the lights, he entered the apartment and saw what was inside. He let out a large gasp.
Kel was the next to enter. "What's ins-- Lance!" Kel shouted.
Their friend LC, formerly known as Lance Cloud, was hanging dead from a rope attached to the ceiling.
"Dead?!? How can he be dead?!" Easter, the brunette, said in near hysterical tones.
"Shut up and close that door!" Kel barked. The command snapped Easter to her senses and she struggled to close the door behind her.
Between the two of them, Kel and Erick had cut Lance down and laid him on one of the tables. Despite the horrible scene, nothing else in the room had been messed up. There were no signs of a fight or forced entry, except for the ones made by Erick.
"There is no way Lance would have committed suicide! I talked to him yesterday and he was fine!" Easter said. The others didn't nod, but the same thoughts were in their heads.
Leo approached the body and frowned at the rope around Lance's neck. "Check out that knot," Leo pointed out.
Kel nodded, recognizing it as well. "Hangman's noose."
Erick was already examining Lance's body, his old training as a field medic took over. "No other external injuries, except for the depressions on his neck caused by the rope." He had opened Lance's shirt. "No gunshot wounds, no signs of struggle, however..." His keen eyes noticed something on Lance's arm. "Needlemark. He might have been drugged or tranq-ed up."
"Definitely a murder," Leo agreed. "Three guesses who ordered the hit and the first two don't count."
"Orion," Kel agreed. She was in shock that Lance had been found. If they were able to find Lance, who was to say that Orion's assassins weren't on their way to their previous hiding places as well?
"I still don't understand how they could have found him," Leo said, echoing her thoughts.
"Not completely unexpected. But the timing certainly sucks," Erick said.
Easter had been pacing the room behind them. She finally spoke up, "His killer could still be around!"
"Not exactly," Erick added. "Judging from the way rigor mortis locked in, I'd say he's been dead for at least 24 sols," he said.
The observation made them a bit more relaxed, but not completely. A moment of silence pervaded the room as each went through their own thoughts.
Erick broke the silence. "So, what now?"
"We go through with the plan." Kel walked over to Lance's bed. She took out a knife from her jacket and proceeded to rip the mattress to shreds. A flat steel disk, around 6 inches in diameter, fell out and clattered loudly on the floor. Easter picked it up and placed it inside an ultraviolet reader that was usually used to detect fake credits. The disk had been featureless, but under the ultraviolet light, it showed a map written in invisible ink.
"The Docks," Easter announced. Erick immediately clamped her mouth shut with his hand.
"Are you crazy?" he hissed. "We could be letting the assassin know!"
Easter bit his hand and Erick was forced to release her. "I'm not stupid, you know?" She held her arm up and pointed to a device attached to her wrist. "Do you see this? I picked it up at the black market yesterday. It's guaranteed to detect any tap devices within a 50 meter radius... and it's not detecting anything. We're safe!"
Erick held his hands up in surrender. "Fine! I give up! I was
Easter smirked. "Anyway, it says we're to go to the docks. Third warehouse past the Altaira ship in loading bay five."
Kel nodded. "Let's go."
Across the street, hidden in the shadows, a figure listened into their conversation through radio earphones receiving messages from the taps the assassin placed inside one of Lance's ear. The assassin smiled.
All the waiting had been worth it. Too bad that black market detector couldn't detect taps made in the past three months. Too bad for them, the figure mused.
The figure stood up and raced towards the direction of the docks.
"This is it!" Easter said excitedly. She pointed to an old building in the place described by the message in the disk.
Kel nodded and motioned towards Easter and Leo. "You two keep a look-out. Erick and I will go inside first." Easter and Leo both nodded.
Once the two were inside, Easter motioned to Leo to come over. "Who are we supposed to be meeting anyway?" she asked in a whisper.
Leo shrugged. "I'm not sure but it's either Gene or Lucas."
"I hope it's Gene," Easter said with a sigh. "I haven't seen him in months. Not since everything started."
Leo nodded. "Yes, things were certainly better then..." he stopped as a flickering caught his eye. He motioned for Easter to be silent and walked towards the blinking light that he saw, almost completely hidden from their view by several large boxes. He moved the boxes out of the way and found himself face-to-lighted-display with a bomb. The bomb's display was ticking down eight seconds... seven seconds...
"Jen, run!" Leo shouted. Easter looked at Leo wide-eyed, but ran away. Leo followed behind her.
He bit his lip and choked back the tears as he ran. There was no
A fierce explosion rocked the docks. The figure heard it and nodded. It was over. She stood up on the rooftop where she had been sitting for the past hour and surveyed the area around the burning building. She didn't think she'd have to resort to this as she preferred more personal ways to dispose of them. But she didn't know how many people they were meeting inside the warehouse. As much as she'd love the kill, she wasn't going to be stupid about it.
She wasn't sure she get the right warehouse as well. Just to be
certain, though, she had placed similar traps in the adjoining buildings. The bombs' timers started counting when they detect people entering the door and moving inside. The 22-second delay was just enough to give them time to be sufficiently inside the building when it went off.
No sense in letting the bombs go to waste, she decided. She triggered all of them with a remote control switch. Three more explosions followed. It would at least keep any observers busy and cloud the reason for the explosions...
Wait, what was that she saw just outside the range of the first
explosion? She peered into her scope to see.
Survivors? My, my, well, that was a surprise for her...
It looked like she was going to have some fun, after all.
"Kel! Frederick!" Easter shouted in shock. Leo was dragging her
crying form along the ground farther from the fire and smoke.
"It's too late, blast it!" Tears were also streaming from Leo's eyes. In his mind he replayed the events of the last few minutes but still couldn't find a way to warn Kel and Erick. "Those bastards got them! Jen... we need to get out of here!"
Easter fought to keep back her sobbing. Her left ankle hurt where she had landed on it hard when they were thrown by the explosion and she was propping herself up only with Leo's support. They weren't going to make it far like this, she thought. She concentrated and focused her Peia's abilities to quicken her healing.
A bullet hit her right thigh and she screamed. Panic-stricken by her sudden cry, Leo half-dragged, half-threw her towards forward.
"Stars! It hurts!" Easter screamed.
"Snipers!" Leo shouted. He gritted his teeth and focused. An orange glow surrounded him and seemed to solidify into a large winged disk. The creature did not have eyes or a visible face, but its wings were patterned and luminous as a dragonfly's.
Another shot headed towards them from the unseen sniper. But the
winged creature darted directly in the bullet's path and deflected it.
While his manifestation continuously guarded them from the bullets, Leo struggled and dragged Easter, hoping to reach some place of relative safety. The added strain of maintaining his Peia manifestation was draining his strength. They had no way to fight back, no way to even gauge how far the sniper was stationed. Unless...
Pausing in his trek and concentrating harder, Leo struggled to manifest a second winged disk. He had never tried creating two of them before, but this was a life-and-death situation. He hoped that he would be able to surprise himself.
Easter bit back her screams and concentrated on her healing. She
looked up briefly and was shocked to see the strain on Leo's face. The beads of sweat were rolling down it in copious amounts.
Another orange winged disk appeared in front of them; this one was noticeably smaller than its twin. Leo gasped in pleasant surprise and quickly sent a telepathic command to the creature, "Fly! Find and kill!"
The winged disk immediately zipped past into the air, pausing only briefly to evade its larger twin's path.
The assassin was getting irritated. If only she had another rifle... the twink's manifestation wouldn't be able to counteract simultaneous shots, after all.
After her eighth shot still failed to hit its mark, she decided that it was time for hand-to-hand and tossed her rifle away.
An orange winged creature flew through air directly at her. She
recognized it as the twink's manifestation and evaded the creature's first charge. As the creature turned and made its way back, she was already ready. With a swift slash of her right arm, she brought her blade and the creature together.
The orange creature fell on the rooftop behind her in two equal halves.
Now, it was time for the two to die.