Founder’s Landing, Day One, 2255

Deserted Mansion, Overgrown Grounds

“Well, now; as I live and breathe. Dear Martin it is, and no mistake! And how are you this fine evening?”

Queen Molly in person. That was all I needed. No, seriously; it was: If she had been late, or if my note to her hadn’t arrived, it would have screwed up my plan. Not badly, but enough.

I put on a winning smile and made my best leg. “Milady Queen! Delightful to see you, as always — truly delightful! I do hope you’ve brought some friends with nice strong backs?” I could just see them moving behind her in the murky night. “Excellent. Do come this way.”

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, 2245.

Tunnel,Dark And Musty

I bet she had a pretty smile, but if so she was saving it for someone special and I didn’t qualify. I tried anyway. “The way I see it, you can hide in the tunnel and hope the cops don’t stumble over it, or you can stay in the District until tomorrow and sneak back into the Zone after all this settles down. I know some people–“

“I just bet you do,” she snapped. “I’ll find my own way, thanks!” And then she started walking — the wrong way, back toward the club. I almost let her go, but good sense prevailed.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, 2200.

The Cypress Club, Broken Glass And Panic

“No, it’s simple, kid,” he said. “We pick up the package, then hop over to the District to pick up the passenger. After that, it’s to orbit and back on a joy ride and we’re done.”

“OahOOOoohhhh! I geddit now! Fine! When we leavin’?” I could have killed him, but I had a job on so instead I finished my coffee. It tasted like dark roasted heaven, which for some reason really pissed me off.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, 2100.

The Cypress Club, Lush Life Playing

“It’s funny; all the big names just vanished all of a sudden.” Eddie’s eyes narrowed again. “Maybe they know something we don’t.”

I had to admit, it seemed likely. There definitely had to be something going on to explain this; then, for another thing, riots just don’t happen all that often in the Empire. Security frowns on them — hard. But what could be behind it all? I shook my head. “Above my pay grade,” I said. “I’ve got a job to do.”

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, Nightfall

Back Room, Smell Of Stale Booze

Gino grabbed me by the arm, gently for him. I stopped; it was either that or leave my arm behind, and I’ve always been attached to that arm. He looked me over carefully.

“You ain’t bringing in trouble, are you?”

I had to laugh. I was walking around the Silver Zone in a stolen uniform and had an illegal assault blaster in the bag at my side. “All the trouble I know of is out here, and it can wait until I get back,” I said. I certainly hoped it was true, and I guess that was enough for Gino, who grunted again and let me pass. His eyes were already back on the traffic.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, Afternoon.

Silver Zone, Sun Shining

I walked out, adjusting my uniform cap, and went in search of someone that valued money over patriotism. You’d be surprised how easy that is, even in the Silver Zone — especially if you listen to the propaganda.

We’re always “marching to victory” and “winning the war”, which might even be true. But after a while you start to wonder just how long the war is going to take to win, or for that matter if we’re even fighting the same one, all these years later.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, Noon

Back On The Streets, Cold Wind

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.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, Morning.

Puddle In A Gutter, Lots Of Pain,

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.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, 0230

In The Shadows, Steady Drizzle

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.

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Founder’s Landing, Day One, 0115.

Old House, Dust, Must, Distant Thunder

“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.

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