Founder’s Landing, Day Zero, 2225.

Dank Alley, Stench Of Urine And Dead Cat

He could move fast for a fat man. He was halfway down the block and turning into an alley behind the place before I got up to speed. I dug in and went after him.

This was getting interesting. On the one hand, I was about to learn something that might be useful, and maybe do a cop a favor — and favors are hard currency in my line of work. On the other hand, I was gonna be late for my appointment.

Oh, well.

Even in Founder’s Landing, back alleys smell of rotting garbage, urine, and a mysterious indefinable pong you don’t get anywhere else. They do their best here in the Imperial State, but some things you can’t change, and one of them is what alleys get used for.

I skidded to a stop behind Carmody, who wasn’t even panting. Don’t get me wrong; the man was soaked in sweat and stank like a wet goat, but his breathing was even. He stopped to glare at me, then whispered something into his wrist com. I started to ease away, over behind some garbage cans — dead cat smells better than sweaty cop — but he grabbed my wrist and growled at me in a fierce whisper.

“Okay, wiseguy; where does it come out?”

“I never said I knew that. All I said was–“

He cut me off with what was probably not an agricultural reference, and I got to looking.

Well, not the back door; that much was obvious; it had been bricked up for years, and so had all the windows. All you could see was a single granite step next to an old-fashioned cast-iron trash bin — the kind that was bolted to the ground, thus equally impossible either to steal or empty. But nobody cared about the trash collector… Hmm.

I pointed to the bin. “Why would you brick up the door and leave that behind?”

Carmody squinted at it, grunted, and loosed my arm. I slipped over to the other side of the alley just as two redcaps hustled up. Everyone hunkered down and waited. Turns out I was wrong; dead cat smells marginally worse. I took shallow breaths and tried to forget that all scent is particulate in nature.

Things were getting loud over at the brothel; nobody can screech like a whore playing offended. I fancied I could hear a muffled thumping from inside the abandoned building, but I couldn’t be sure. A minute went by, then another. Then, with a shout and a loud pounding, I heard the second wave going in at the front of the bolt hole. Any second now…

Ha! I’d guessed right! The whole paving slab under the trash bin tipped up, and two figures slipped out. The bulkier of the two cursed and tried to tip the bin back over the hole; he was only partially successful. Cast iron is heavy. Meanwhile, the small one hustled off down the alley — and smack into the arms of two waiting redcaps I hadn’t even noticed, despite the bright red hats. Carmody and his boys jumped at the big fellow, who ignored them with lordly disdain.

“Unhand her, you brutes! I’ll have you know, that is no way to treat a lady!”

I knew that accent from my Militia days — a Confederate! This was about to get political, and no place for the likes of me. Carmody was still distracted with his capture — trouble getting the cuffs on, looked like. I’d done my bit for Service and State, and didn’t stick around to watch.

Will we learn more about the captured Confederate and his… lady? Will our hero ever make it to his appointment? Tune in next time and find out!

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