Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Chat' started by Deacan, Feb 17, 2006.
He printed eight copies at a local print shop.
I love your book!
BTW-My 50th post!
“And you know, such a friendship just isn’t for free.”
His hand moved behind his back and produced a long, sharp knife from a place somewhere in his pants. Their victim did not even blink an eye but raised his right hand.
Someone who would have been closely watching the stranger’s face would have thought that he was visibly amused. He motioned his two companions to come closer.
They rather stayed where they were. They did not need to be afraid of being sued for this, the militia rather stayed away from this bar. The stranger looked around the room and he quickly realised that he would have to cope with this problem on his own. He pointed to the guy with the knife.
“It seems we have a problem.”
The guy looked at his friends, then back to the stranger, his grin never leaving his face.
“Just wait and see who’s gonna have the problem now…” He did not exactly manage to finish that sentence.
The victim seemingly conquered suddenly showed unbelievable potential. The troublemaker did not even see for real what hit him. It had probably been the hand pointing at him only moments before. Suddenly he felt pain. The sudden shock was gone in a second. Only now did he realise that his jaw was broken.
He let go of everything; the pain nearly drove him mad. In unbelievable panic, he looked at the man who had been his target a few seconds before.
That man was brawling with his buddy now.
The fight was a short, silent one. His friend saw darknees creeping through his view and gasped for air. The stranger did not let go of him yet. He tried to place a hit in the man’s side. Very well, he managed to do that but he had the feeling he had hit a metal plate. He hardly felt the pain in his hand but he had broken a few bones of his fingers during his last manoeuvre.
Air! The stranger let go of him, he stumbled to the side, fell forward on his knees. His gaze fell on his partner who desperately tried to stop the blood flowing from his mouth.
The knife! He grabbed for it and tried to get to his feet. Breathing heavily, he stabbed the stranger. Meaning, he tried. His arm was blocked, the weapon fell from his hands. A blow hit his chest. A second one only parts of seconds later his neck.
And the world around him turned black… He hit the ground hard directly beside his partner who was trying to get closer to the wall. Blood was flowing from his mouth still. His eyes stopped on his opponent.
His injury did not just come from the stranger’s hand but much more from a heavy knuckledusterknife which he let slide back into its scabbard. The weapon was worked into the arm of the coat, so that it could not be seen. The stranger approached him slowly.
The injured attacker sank further down to the ground and held his hands in front of his face as protection. The stranger stopped in front of him and looked down. Then he grabbed a small multi computer which was fitted in his coat on his chest and activated the emergence channel.
“Two injured at the Sinner’s Inn.”
He slowly de-activated the device and turned away from the blood-stained man. He knew that within minutes both would be on their way to the hospital. And none of them would make a statement. The stranger turned towards the actual bar. No one there showed a hint of interest in the events that just took place. He took a seat on one of the stools.
To be continued. Soon.
So... let's go on. Thanks to Manley!
He took a seat on one of the stools.
“Nice welcome committee you got there."
He let his hand run through his hair. The bartender walked towards him.
"Please eave your trouble outside next time."
He oved his head towards the exit.
"You better shouldn't try that on Crius. What can I get you?"
The bartender leaned in Deacan's direction.
"Usually, you first buy a drink here. After that, the talk's for free."
He put a glass with a muddy liquid in front of his new customer. The customer grabbed it and sniffed it first. The sharp stench definitely did not only stem from the high percentage of alcohol.
He put the glass down and got his computer out again.
"I've just wired you a small sum. For the drink, of course."
The bartender checked his cash register and a wry smiled crossed his face.
"Well, since now you've gt a drink, we can talk. I'm Joe."
He reached for the strangers hand across the bar. The stranger returned the handshake.
"You're looking for work, aren't you? I mean we've all seen your talents."
He wiped his hands on a towel that hung over his shoulder.
"I see. You're someone for the gross stuff."
The customer looked into his glass for a moment.
"I have enough work. But I'm looking for someone."
Joe's eyebrows went up.
"Well, I can do some listening around. But I'll need a name."
"Santana, Angus Santana."
Joe seemed to be thinking for a few seconds.
"Santana is on Anhur. He's got his office there."
"I know that, too. Thing is, I wanna know if and when he leaves his desk!"
Joe moved closer to his customer. He looked right and left, then at his opposite.
"Listen, I think you're making a mistake. Santana is a senator. He has connections well up to the highest level. You'll die trying."
His customer did not hesitate to answer.
"I really don't care what he believes he is. He still own me my last salary. Apart from that, one of his missions caused my partner's death. He owes me and I don't like having open bills."
"Politicians are all like that, my friend. But I'll see what I can do."
The stranger stood and handed Joe his card.
"You can reach me at that number."
The stranger turned towards the door and left. When he passed them, he glanced a look at the two guys who had very nearly ruined his mood. A medical team was already patching them up.
The one whose jaw he had shattered looked after him fearfully. The stranger turned around a last time, glanced through the room, and left.
Joe looked after him, then he took a look at the card the stranger had left.
"Well, Ser Deacan Tron, I think you got yourself a problem there. Your enemy must not be underestimated. On the other hand, maybe you get us rid of this evil."
He put the card in his pocket, took the unused glass his customer had left, and handed it to his waitress.
The girl took the glass and brought it to the named table.
Here we go - thanks to criticalmass!
The quest for a place to stay led to a quick success. There were rooms aplenty, as most visitors to Hermes never stayed the night. One of the main reasons for this was the fact that some of the guests never woke up the following morning, being dead – which always caused the sternest reactions of concern from the Militia, but nothing more. Everyone knew that the guys in uniform would accept a handful of credits willingly to look the other way, or even to do a little murdering themselves, if the price was right.
But Deacan had no other choice, he wanted to meet some of the other mercenaries which would turn up in a couple of hours. Finally he chose te Free End Motel, which, judging from outer appearance, at least changed the linens after the guest had gone. Anyhow, the wall coating was a different shade from the color of the street grit around it.
The lobby sheltered some young ladies looking for a bit more than a place to sleep, and as soon as Deacan had come to an agreement with the receptionist, two of them already swung in for an approach as if there was no tomorrow. To describe them in terms of salaciousness would be just an approximation.
“Party on, sweetheart. Still room in your bed?”
Deacan pushed her aside roughly without losing stride. There was no time for that now. But the ladies reaction came promptly, the angelic blonde simply reached for his crotch.
“Really, there’s no room?”
Deacan hesitated a moment to think. Maybe the two of them were good for something anyway.
“You want to have some fun? Okay, follow me.”
The two girls, both barely legal, smiled at each other. “Made it”, the blonde said and lightly high-fived her friend.
They followed Deacan into the second level, their heavy perfume mercifully overpowering the other, more basic smells that pervaded the halls like veils. Soon Deacan found his room and opened the door, the girls stepping in first.
Before entering, Deacan drew a deep breath. The girls were in the process of undressing, and doing it with astonishing speed.
The girls looked at each other, shrugged.
“Tell us what you’d like”, the blonde said. “How about…”
Deacan put his Hand on her mouth. He didn’t want to hear what would have come anyway, but the real reason for his reaction was something else. She frowned. He put a finger on his lips. “Shh!”
He pulled his computer, switched to active scan and checked the room. The frame of an outrageously tasteless picture attracted his attention. Deacan took it down and discovered a simple transceiver, easily recognizable as a simple listening device. He was sure that the wire wasn’t meant especially for him; almost all motels everywhere listened in on their clients. Who knew, maybe there was some extra profit to make by paying special attention to the guests?
Deacan simply removed the energy cell and pocketed the memory chip. He scanned the room again, but this time without result.
“Are you done now? Or are we next in line for your little gadget?”
The blonde seemed to grow angry. She wasn’t wearing much except pantyhose right now, but Deacan didn’t feel like sex right now. Although admittedly both were rather exemplary specimen of the enigmatic female species, he needed something else.
“Come here.” He pointed at a chair.
She followed his command and straddled the chair. He went over and stood in front of her. The other one lay on the bead, watching. Her clothing status was also at zero.
“Listen. To be honest, I won’t have the pleasure tonight with either of you.”
The girl on the bed was first to answer.
“Does that mean you don’t want to, or you can’t?”
Deacan cast a short look at her. “No trouble. You haven’t wasted your time, I’m a rather generous fellow. How about three hundred? For each of you?”
“Yep. And every day. I guess that’s more than you make on any normal day?”
The blonde reached for Deacan’s hand. “What’s all that for? You want to watch us doing it?”
“I’m telling you, this is not about sex. You’ll work for me, or rather, do something for me. It’s simple and harmless. And there’s a bonus if we succeed. Agreed?”
Sunlight sifting through the shutters awoke the blonde, Monica. Jenna was right beside her, still deep in dreamland.
She looked around. Except for the generic furniture, the room was empty; no trace of this night’s customer. What had actually happened during the last few hours?
Damn, Jenna, I think that guy fooled us!”
She shook Jenna, grabbing her by the shoulder. Jenna reacted slowly, stretching her frame across the bed.
“That guy takes off, probably even without paying us, and all you can think of is to ask me the time of day? It’s first the dough, then the bun. So tell me why we did forget that simple rule yesterday evening?”
“Maybe it’s because I have that air of trustworthiness?”
Deacan has appeared in the door. Heavily he went over to the bed, causing Monica to shift closer to Jenna. Pretty late they noted his strange apparel: He was wearing a kind of bullet-proof vest under his coat, together with heavy boots and studded cut-off leather gloves. He obviously hadn’t found the opportunity to shave, and a little circlet of a scar adorned his forehead, another his temple. His long, dark hair fell to his shoulders, framing the face. He approached another step towards the bed.
“I thought you might be hungry. Since you don’t get any chow in this dump, I’d suggest going someplace else.”
Monica reached for her data chip. It was about the same size and build as Deacan’s multicomputer, but only designed to represent the owner’s identity and creditability; just as a combined ID and credit card. She was in the process of checking it when Deacan reached for her hand to stop her.
“Looks like my air of trustworthiness grows pretty thin on this planet. Regrettable, but please check. You’ll see that your credit is in the green again.”
Monica hesitated for a moment – there was no reason to trust him, so she checked her credit rating. Indeed, her host hadn’t lied, the money was there.
She looked at Jenna, who had dug down under the covers again without much more thought about getting up.
“I guess Jenna’s also fluent again, and you’ve gotten her the sum we agreed on.”
Deacan sat down on the bed, reached for Monica’s clothes and held them out to her.
“We were talking about breakfast, weren’t we? Don’t work yourself up, it’s on my bill.”
“If that is so, we’re on.”
Monica took the clothes from him. Deacan got up, pointing to Jenna.
“Wake her up. I’ll meet you in a quarter of an hour in front of this hole. We’ll talk business while we eat, about the job I’d like you to do for me.”
“Say, are you married?”
Monica looked at Deacan. He just raised an eyebrow.
“That important to you?”
Monica tried to get into the tight bodice.
“I thought maybe a guy like you, with lots of money, surely has somebody waiting for him somewhere. Somebody with a child and so on.”
“To cater your nosiness: No. Just wake up sweetie pie over there and come down.”
He stepped through the door and threw it shut behind him. Monica easily heard his footsteps striding away. She kicked Jenna.
“Sweetie, get up. I have a feeling we’re just about to leave this godforsaken place.”
“But we never stayed long in any motel.”
“I’m not talking about the hotel, I mean the damn planet. Hermes.”
Jenna’s head appeared from below the sheets. “You sure?”
“Not sure as in sure. But this guy could be our ticked to freedom. Any place is better than here, believe me.”
“And what do you want to do somewhere else? That job we do isn’t permitted everywhere.”
“Was that ever a problem for us? Listen; get up, that guy – what’s his name?”
“Yeah, right, Deacan. He’s waiting for us.”
Jenna dragged herself up and went into the small bathroom, trying to get her mane of wild hair straight.
“I think I’ll never sleep that long again. I feel shot. For the future, it’s just a quick job and off to the next one, you hear me?”
Finding a room on Hermes was easy enough.
Finding a place where you could eat something without risking your life was a lot more difficult. The risk existed because most pubs were many other things than clean.
After twenty minutes of extended search Deacan found a small bistro in old Crius style, perhaps the cleanest planet in the whole tri-system. There were even real, clean cloths on the tables and the cutlery was not made of plastic.
As Deacan had not settled down like most other privateers, he was dependent on pubs and similar places, he had seen a lot and tried even more.
But the way Monica and Jenna gorged their food was really unique.
“Do you actually chew?”
Jenna looked at Deacan, half of her pasta was still hanging from her mouth.
Monica grabbed her glass. The imitation of orange juice in it was quite a good one. She emptied the glass with hasty gulps.
“Can I have another one?”
Deacan put his own glass in front of her. She nodded thankfully.
“You know, most of the time we don’t have a lot left for food. Money, I mean. Usually we get pulled by suckers with a modified scanner. Like you have. They take your card, the money and if you don’t get lucky, they’re even using you for… you know what.”
Jenna chimed in.
“We’re really lucky if someone buys us something. Happens way to rarely. Problem is there’s too many of our kind here.”
She gestured with her fork.
“Only half of the prostitutes needed to leave and the rest could have a decent income.”
Deacan gestured to the waiter who appeared at the table right away.
“Get us the same again. For all of us.”
The man hesitated for a moment.
“Well, you see, I’d like to point out that you’ll first have to pay for the served meal.”
Deacan touched his coat collar. He did not only wire the sum for the first round but for the second as well. The waiter disappeared to the kitchen with long steps.
“That guy believes we’re broke, doesn’t he?”
Monica looked after him angrily. Deacan waved it aside.
“No, he’s forced to act like this. Everyone wants to see money first out here, even the pubs. And you of all people should know best, shouldn’t you?”
Jenna put down her fork on the empty plate. The she took Deacan’s hand.
“I haven’t had so much fun since… I don’t know. You’re different. Where do you actually come from?”
The mercenary did not want to snub her. He was not different. Maybe not as cold in company with other people. Except… when they interfered. He could take others out without so much as a second thought, not on planets, his membership in the mercenaries’ guild prohibited that, but out in space.
His target did not have a face there, it was only metal, moulded and loaded with weapons.
“I’m from Tersa, the space station.”
His thoughts were still busy with Jenna’s opinion about him.
“Concerning that favour, you could tell us some more now.”
“Alright then. I need you to observes a friend of mine.”
Jenna looked up, her eyes twinkling like she was already burning to go.
“Really? We’re supposed to spy on someone for you?”
“Not exactly. His name is Ferdos. He’s been working as Angus Santana’s secretary until recently. I guess you know him from his election programmes a year ago.”
Monica thought for a moment.
“Do you mean that slippery guy who’s always walking around with that Baron Vonx?”
“I see you don’t only watch offers for scanty underwear. I’ll arrange for you to get close to him. Try to be in his service as long as possible. Oh, and before I forget – frankly spoken, the man’s a pervert. But I guess you can put up with that as long as I pay you.”
Jenna caught sight of the food that was being brought to the table now.
She took her fork again and started gorging her meal.
“How do we contact you?”
Deacan’s hand disappeared in his coat pocket and reappeared holding two small pins of metal.
“Wear those. Place doesn’t matter. They record every word in a diameter of ten feet. When he’s tired of you, come to me and deliver them.”
“You were talking about a reward, remember?”
“I haven’t forgotten. I’ll get you off this wasteland. You name the destination. Agreed?”
Monica forgot to eat.
“Really? You’ll get us out of here?”
“Yes, I will. And I’ll see to it that you’ll find some decent place and work.”
He looked at Jenna, she answered with a smile. This guy really seemed to be their ticket of here. If all went well. But Deacan did not seem like he would let himself be distracted.
After the meal Deacan arranged an “accidental” meeting between his two girls and his target person. The two girls turned out to act quite cleverly which realistically seen was not that difficult – most men can look better than think, the girls disappeared in their victim’s hotel with him. He did not care what exactly they did there as long as he got the information he needed.
The mercenary himself had a meeting of a different kind.
Hermes was the place of the semi-annual conference of one of the many mercenary guilds and Deacan was obliged to be there. The members of the guild had the right to special missions; they did not only work as a convoy for freighters or controlled several trade routes.
No, their field of work was far more special. It included operations that were commissioned by the CIS, the militia of the Tri system. Normal pilots did not get access to those missions, they had to settle for what the cabin system of the CCN offered.
The CCN, the authority for trade and sales, contracted missions for the protection of freighters flying in their commission. Things did not really get excited during those missions. Those were the missions for the pilots who liked it quiet and civilized.
Deacan had joined the guild about two years ago, before that he had flown as a wingman with the top pilots – for a few credits. They perceived his talent quickly enough so the guild contacted him shortly after that. He had hesitated at first. Reports about dead pilots had been all over the news at that time, most of them had been on missions for the guild.
The growing presence of pirates in the sectors around Hermes and Anhur cost dozens of pilots their lives. On the other hand, the money was attractive. Often enough sums of four or five numbers were to get.
Deacan finally joined the White Wolves, one of the older and larger guilds. He took part in this meeting for the fourth time now, usually, the scheme was always the same. How many shoot-downs, who was missing, new weapons and ship modules.
The last meeting was also about a planned major offensive against the Papago clan with which the CIS needed help. Many mercenaries had come for the advertised bonus but many also overestimated their abilities and their fighters.
When Deacan entered the large and pleasantly lighted hall, he noticed some guild pilots were missing.
They became fewer and fewer from year to year, new and talented pilots were hard to find. The meeting took place in the rented Liberty Hotel for the first time. The exact place was usually kept secret until shortly before the meeting so disagreeable objects could be kept away. Also the place was changed every time because it would have been a big loss for the whole Tri system if pirate clans would be able to execute their plan to kill every mercenary of the guild with one strike.
Deacan found his place quickly and rejected the waiter friendly but decidedly. He was not here to party, he hoped for a chance to talk to the guild leader in private.
That man was sitting at the head of the table as always and studied his pilots’ current reports.
Deacan looked around. Seven seats at the long table were empty and it was unlikely that their owners would still arrive. When the waiters left the hall and closed the doors a few minutes later, silence fell. The chairman, Kyle Ricards, stood. The past years had left his face with deep traces, his little hair grew greyer and greyer.
“My friends. Another half year has passed here in the Tri system. Again we meet to take stock. Unfortunately, it’s become a sad tradition to start with a minute’s silence for our deceased comrades.”
Ricards lowered his gaze. Most of the pilots did the same, Deacan instead looked around. When he found the person he was looking for, he breathed a sigh of relief.
The aim of his interest was named Jake Kenner, he had applied for membership with the guild on Deacan’s recommendation about a year ago and had been accepted. Shortly before that, he had been Deacan’s wingman. During that time, he earned the reputation of a reliable pilot, some people even said flying with him was similar to life insurance.
The minute’s silence was ended by Ricards. He sat down, took his documents, and started with the pilot’s reports. They could not register real success although the shot-downs went up into the hundreds. Strangely enough the pilots did not have problems to recruit offspring. No one here really understood what made a sensible human being risk his head, to fire at the militia, and finally to end as a wanted-note without a real reason.
It took Ser Ricards more than two hours to finish. He wished the pilots success for their work, handed out some lists of wanted persons, and started mixing with the people.
Each of these meetings ended in a little party, there was plenty of alcohol but many pilots avoided drinking as a mission was still waiting for them.
Deacan hustled past the totally over-loaded buffet in Ricards’ direction. Ricards was deeply involved in a conversation with a younger privateer.
Deacan could well imagine what that was about. He did not need to butter someone up, no, he was way past these things. He built himself up in front of Ricards with ostentation so he could not be overlooked. Ricards looked into Deacan’ face for a moment, then he patted his young talk partner on the shoulder.
“Keep it up, my boy. Would you please excuse me for a moment, I’ll be at your disposal again soon. Have fun.”
His look showed how nerve-wrecking that talk must have been. He pointed to the door with his hand. Deacan nodded and moved into the offered direction quickly.
Ricards had some difficulty to follow him as most people were reluctant to let him go.
He managed to overcome the masses and dismissed other talks. He explained he had something important to do. Deacan held the door to a small office open for him. Ricards was breathing heavily.
“Ser Tron, I hope this is important. You know how much my presence here is valued.”
He let himself fall into an antique, dark green leather arm chair. Deacan smiled. He felt sorry for Ricards for a moment. He would never want to change places with him.
Not at any price. He stood in front of the guild leader.
“It’s about Sindas.”
“He’s dead. Like six other men.”
The mercenary believed he heard indifference in Ricards’ voice.
“According to your report, he died during a mission for Telca Industries.”
“Why are you lying? Ser?”
Deacan felt Ricards’ gaze.
“My friend, the walls have ears around here. Watch your tongue. If you don’t, someone might put a price on your head.”
A diabolical grin appeared on Ricards’ lips. Deacan took a step towards him.
“Sindas’ last mission came from Santana. You’ve recommended him, haven’t you?”
“I really have no idea what you want from me. Sindas rejected Santana’s mission. After that, he flew for Telca. This is in every report – in mine and in the CIS’s. You aren’t actually implying that the CIS lies?”
Ricards leant back.
I can do better than that, Deacan thought. He walked around Ricards’ armchair until he stood directly behind him.
“You know I could kill you?”
Ricards did not even look excited.
“You? You’re bound to my laws, the laws of the guild. Every mercenary here would hunt you like a wild animal.
You wouldn’t stand a chance. Give it a try.”
Deacan leant over Ricards’ shoulder.
“I want answers.”
Ricards laughed. Quietly in the beginning but both intensity and volume went up. Enough!
Deacan wrapped his arm around Ricards’ neck whowas trying to fight back but the mercenary did not give him a chance. He pulled the guild leader up from his armchair.
“Talk to me! Sindas died because he was in your way, didn’t he? Where’s his flight recorder? These things can take a crash with a thousand kilometres per second, they can’t be destroyed. Where is it?”
Deacan started choking Ricards harder.
“Why do more and more of the old privateers disappear? Sindas was hardly gone when Ricards contacted me. You’d recommended me, those were his words. Other mercenaries from the guild had worked for him before.
Unfortunately, no one here remembers that. You know what that mission almost cost me? It was’t coincidence that I was attacked by ten Kiowan shortly before I arrived at the target coordinates.
They scanned my ship and attacked only when they recognized my ID signal. I think it’s strange these guys were equipped with Brute rockets mark II. Those are only for mercenary guilds. I know I should be dead.
Sorry that didn’t work out. And now for the last time – talk!”
Ricards gasped for air.
“You aren’t important, Ser Tron! Do you seriously believe anyone has an interest in killing you?”
That was not what Deacan wanted to hear. Unfortunately, their little teatime talk was interrupted suddenly. The young guy from before was obviously tired of waiting, he wanted to continue his talk with Ricards.
It seemed to be important because he even forewent the usual polite knocking. He reacted hastily when he stepped into the room. He pulled out a blaster and aimed it at Deacan.
Ricards screamed at him, “Kill that bastard!”
Deacan did not want to lose control over this situation in any case. He could play this game, too.
“He’s dead when you pull that trigger. Think twice!”
Now Deacan needed some good advice. He had expected to be disturbed.
“I though carrying weapons at the meeting was forbidden! That was your order, wasn’t it?”
Ricards’ face turned blue, his voice started sounding strange.
“Shoot him! Now!”
The boy was obviously indecisive. He seemed to weigh sense and benefits of his actions. But his insecurity could also be a risk. He pulled the trigger.
Deacan threw himself, together with Ricards and the armchair, to one side. Ricards rolled away and tried to get to safety.
Deacan used the armchair as cover. He grabbed his MACS (Multiple Access Computer System, multi computer).
“Start operation Tron one!”
The shooter walked towards Ricards and helped him up. Ricards knew where his target was. He took the young man’s blaster, obviously he wanted to finish this himself.
“Once you were really good, Deacan. You could have come far. Why can’t you leave things the way they are? Is it so hard to shut up?”
He tried to come closer to his target.
“Come out and I’ll finish it painlessly!”
The mercenary looked at his MACS, timing was crucial now.
“Since you’re killing me anyway, why don’t you tell me what’s going on here?”
Ricards fired a shot in Deacan’s direction, dust rose. So the guild leader did not intend to talk.
Deacan suddenly felt a slight trembling in the ground that grew stronger slowly. Ricards also noticed that something was wrong. The furnishings started moving, nothing stayed put.
Loud screeching added itself. Ricards closed his ears with his hands, the noise became unbearable.
His gaze roamed to the window.
A shadow appeared and grew bigger slowly. It was Deacan’s fighter. It hung in front of the window like a vicious angel of revenge.
Deacan gave a last order to the machine via MACS. Two high-energy charges were sent from the fighter. They hit the window and the wall opposite it effortlessly. Thousands of glass shards blasted towards Ricards and his supporter, the shock wave threw them to the ground.
Now! Deacan jumped out of his shelter.
“Computer, altitude minus two metres, turn 90 degrees horizontally!”
The fighter reacted immediately and lost the ordered altitude. Deacan climbed on the windowsill. This was his only chance to get away alive. He turned his head back again.
Ricards seemed to be only slightly injured, he was just getting up. His gaze met Deacan’s. The blaster lay three feet away from him. The hunted mercenary did not want to give him a second chance to shoot.
He jumped and landed on the wing panel. The fighter started swaying under his weight. Only seconds later, the balance returned.
Deacan’s look went up. Ricards appeared at the window, he had the blaster in his hands again and aimed at him. Deacan flattened himself on the wing.
“Altitude plus ten metres!”
There was a huge jolt, Deacan was flattened down while the fighter flew upwards. Ricards did not get a possibility to fire, the hot engine exhaust gas forced him to go back into the room.
Although “go” was not exactly the right word – he was hurled back into it. Half deaf and bleeding from countless cuts, Ricards stood up again. He wiped the dust off his suit. He walked towards the remains of the windows and could just see Deacan fly off.
The young mercenary appeared behind him.
“Should we follow him?”
Ricards turned around.
“Follow him? No way. Don’t worry, he’ll be back earlier than we could like. But please inform our friends out there to have an eye on him. If possible, have him eliminated. Oh, please cancel all meetings for today. And make up something for our valued guests, I don’t think they’ll like my absence. I’m in my office.”
“Shall I call in medical service?”
“Do that. And make up an explanation for this here. I think I can count on you.”
Ricards pointed to the destructed furnishings, then he walked out of the room with a limp. He knew the problems had only just started.
Deacan was not sure whether Ricards would make him a “wanted” report so he avoided to land directly in the space port of Hermes.
Instead, he landed outside the city, exactly on an old excess depot of the CCN. His fighter did not stand out between the old space ferries and transporters.
After climbing out of the cockpit, he activated his MACS right away. He wanted to see the news channel and whether his name was in the game. He was also interested in how much he was worth for Ricards – if shooting him down was authorised.
Surprisingly, there was not much. There was a short report about the incident but it said there had been a plasma explosion. No one injured. He did not even find his name in the current “wanted” files.
Ricards seemed to be afraid that the CIS would be interested in this thing. This meant Deacan could do without hiding. He switched his MACS to data transmission.
“Localise Jake Kenner’s fighter, ID 3440-A.”
The device reported readiness a moment later.
“Jake, this is a record from Deacan. Sorry I had to leave so suddenly but the circumstances… well, let’s say they forced me. I’d like to meet you. I’ll send the coordinates with this record. Come alone. It’s important. I can only wait till twenty-one hundred hours. If you read this message later, please contact me via MACS.”
Deacan finished the recording by switching his MACS off. Now he could only wait. And hope that his old friend was still the one he knew from years ago.
His doing nothing took two solid hours. Then his MACS reported the arrival of a ship. One pilot was on board, a male one. The ID signal told Deacan that it was Jake.
He sent him a note revealing the best landing position. Deacan watched the ship land. Dust and dirt landed on him as the ship slowly approached the landing point and descended until it reached the ground.
The pilot climbed out of his cockpit. He jumped down the remaining six feet to the ground. That looked rather clumsy. Which actually was not surprising as he was used to touch solid ground from a ladder – with some dignity and style.
He also reacted accordingly angry.
“Listen, Deacan, the next appointment’s gonna be at the space port, you know? I’m getting dirty here.”
He pointed to his bright trousers while his mimics and gestures underlined his displeasure. Deacan swallowed every remark he had on his tongue.
“Well, how did you like my little scene at Ricards’?”
Jake looked at him interrogatively.
“What do you mean? I thought you’d left just like that. I mean you were already gone when there was that fault in the plasma line.”
The privateer shook his head.
“Forget that nonsense Ricards told you. I need your help, Jake.”
“How deep are you into the dirt if I may ask, Deacan? You’d never ask for help. So what’s the disaster?”
Deacan turned around and walked a few steps towards his ship.
“The disaster’s everywhere, my friend. Things have changed, and very fast. Even in our business nothing’s as it should be.”
He turned around again, threw a glance at Jake. He looked like he did not understand a single word of what Deacan was telling him.
“Jake, explaining the whole thing would take too long. Just this much – trust no one, stay away from Ricards and take care for whom you work. I guess you won’t have problems to follow that for now.”
“Are you trying to tell me where to eat?”
“This isn’t fun, Jake. Believe me, if today had gone differently, I’d be dead by now.”
Jake looked bewildered.
“What? Are you kidding?”
Deacan walked over to him and laid his hand on Jake’s shoulder.
“How often have I saved your butt? Now please do something for me this one time.”
“Alright, if we even then?”
“Agreed. And now listen.”
Deacan needed about an hours to bring Jake up to date with what he knew. Jake listened carefully which he usually did not do. He even cut out the stupid comments which he normally threw out in dozens.
He understood the seriousness of the situation very fast, also that he could be the next on Ricards’ shoot-down list. He did not take notes as these could – if found – do him more harm than good.
He said goodbye to Deacan, they made a new appointment for another meeting in a few days’ time. Then he went back to his ship, climbed into his cockpit with Deacan’s help and left the place. What he was supposed to do was not exactly unperilous but important.
Not only for Deacan but for everyone in the Tri system, he had understood that much.
Separate names with a comma.