I had places to be, but good God did I need a nap. Ah, well; no rest for the wicked, and the good don’t need any. I hung a sign on the door and left a quick note for the receptionist telling her I’d be away for a bit. Maybe she’d miss me. I also dropped off a check for my rent in advance, because you never know.
My next stop was the local precinct. It doesn’t do to skip out on a guy like Carmody. Besides, I wanted to see the effect my uniform would have on him. From a perverse sense of cruelty, I stopped at the desk sergeant to ask after the condition of Cadet Greene’s uniform; he grinned evilly and said he’d look it over personally when the Cadet came in. Life’s all about the little details.
She frowned, then nodded. “That’s plausible. It’s the sort of thing you’d do. And of course I believe every word you ever tell me.” There was a flicker of a smile, and then back to the scowl. “But that won’t help you.”
As they dragged me away, I realized once again: Sometimes, being too clever just gets you in more trouble.
It was time to set some things up, and maybe grab a quick bite while I was at it. Fortunately, I knew a place to do both. And they never closed.
In every city there’s a place like this, where the down-and-out congregate. Even the Robots had their own version, a particularly brutal type of scrapyard where cannibalism was a way of life. It doesn’t matter how tight the regulations; people still need a place to be once society has finished squeezing the life out of them. Here in Founder’s Landing, it’s The Forum. Diogenes would feel right at home.
“I see; that’s fair enough. Very well; another fifty thousand added to the initial deposit, available immediately.”
Quick decision; no consulting anyone. That meant he was my principal; either that or he was a person so highly trusted it made no difference. More importantly, he wasn’t government. No bureaucrat ever forks over money without whining.
We fenced a bit more for the look of the thing, then shook hands. I took the case and left the way I’d come.
There was a light in a ground-floor study, the flicker of a fireplace. Solid construction; the floors didn’t squeak and the door opened silently. My employer didn’t look up from the papers he was studying at an old-fashioned desk; I decided not to bother him. I went over and sat in a comfortable-looking chair, trying to look like I’d been there all along. I gently cleared my throat.
The effect was all I could have hoped for. His eyes bugged as he stared at me. “H-how–?!” he gasped.
In my line of work, it’s all about making a good first impression.
“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 didn’t stick around to watch.
My brother-in-law is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces. When a disaster (natural or otherwise) occurs in the world, Canada sends aid; and so, my brother-in-law is often among the first on the ground. He specializes in fuel calculations, equipment distribution, and the surveying of travel routes. It is likely that he choses which type of toilet paper is required for each situation, but in the end, it is all logistics and one of the most crucial positions in the military.
It was a dark night in Founder’s Landing, capital city of the Republic back in the olden days when there actually was a Republic. Now it was just another population center, the hulks of decaying and long-unused civic architecture bulking vaguely in the gloom.
At night it was always dark, here on the edge of the nebula known as the Lesser Ephebian Cloud. Only four stars near enough to be visible in the galactic murk and no moon to speak of, just a space station. Most people didn’t care, though; what with the curfew in place, no respectable Citizen would be out on the streets at this hour anyway. Not that I was all that respectable, but with my hat on I could pass — in a dim light.