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Al-Star Detective: Purple Widow

metaphorical_cowboy's picture

[This is actually a part of a round robin exercise, but since the character's not really used in the rest of the series and I kinda created him, it works well enough as a self-contained story.]

The celebration ends after round six, but I tail College to make sure he gets to his hobo pad in one piece. Tul said he was wet behind the ears, but this kid’s operation was the fetus. Still, an informant’s an informant. Couldn’t have been more than 22d out now and I’ve never been big on chill, so’s I double time it home. Even with routine sanitation crew sweeps, I can only make so many steps before crunching or squishing something.

The transition might escape a tourist, but the place completely changes in terms of graffiti, smells, and noises. I’m in my neighborhood now and my pace slows. It’s a little warmer with all the plant folk ghettos sweating nearby, but running also carries a certain lack of self-respect in some circles around here. While I ain’t made yet, my color’s known enough so’s as to skip most of the local wise guy scene and I see no need to back pedal.

It’s 26:38z by the time I reach my apartment, so we’re tired and everyone’s starving. I grab the paste and spread it over the surface of the new fellas’ tank. Red plankton above a pink ocean and below a strobing sky. It ain’t home, but an early memory of a knockoff’s better than wasting your cash on knock off memories later on. The new fellas are a little slow on the draw, but that’s to be expected. When all you ever have to do is stare at the sky and shoot your stomach upward if it’s brighter than black and darker than pink, thought doesn’t come natural. After eating, I walk over to the little tank and peel a few of the more virginy stars from our limbs. No sense in feeling all their pain as we break off a few of their arms and drop the pieces in the tank to grow into clones. Maintaining maximum gene diversity outweighs any single fella’s protest and once reconnected, their pain gets distributed amongst the whole. If I can keep from having to replace lost fellas, I might even have some back up for this joint eventually.

Follow routine. Hang up the suit. Pull out and date the helmet’s footage. Write down the day’s events in the book and put back in the usual hiding spot. Separate from the skeleton and put it the preservative case. Plop your pulpy selves into the bigger tank to let the unimportant data slip away from memory as the clear larva eat all the day’s waste off of you.

I’m up and out by 7:30a. The place is warming up nicely and you can just barely feel a little bit of static electricity in the air. They’ve got the sky about through with its orange phase and the yellow’s just starting to dominate. Never been big on the representative rainbow they got going on, but there’s enough profit in accommodating the most species possible now to pull the rug from later that it ain’t gonna change. Except for a few fresh exoskeleton molts and questionable silver stains on the wall, the streets are clean. Frankly, it’s amazing that there’s not a mutant plague every week.

Holding a collective grudge against every group who’s ever wronged a good fella’s admirable and all, but it doesn’t pay the bills. I enter the agency office and find Durla-3T wrapped around herself blowing on her latest tattoo. She twists and pulls apart her connecter jacket a little more to show it to me. She explained to me the significance of having certain symbols on certain body segments at some point, but it just looks like tramp stamp #7 to me. I know for sure that her kind tries to eat whatever they diddle after diddling, so’s flirting with the secretary’s kept to a minimum. She hands me the mail. One or two requests for my services, but mostly bills. Apparently, my bills have bills again. I’m a little low on funs right now, so’s anything below second notice in hyper definition red gets deleted and can wait until next week. I toss my helmet on the hat rack.

“Good luck”, she says before buzzing away at the screen with all her digits. I turn to cock an “eyebrow” at her statement while passing through the door blister. The scent instantly pinches the back of my “brain” and I can feel the stupiderness’n. The beast in the red dress’s sitting in my chair with four sets of shoes propped on my desk and ten kinds of trouble on her mind in store for me. Before I can twitch, there’s a blur and I’m on the ground with a heel at my throat. My fellas move around my spine so’s only a few have her weight on them, but it’s still a jolt. She’s clicking away, letting me know I’m a funny guy.

“Is that any way to treat your landlord”, the dame asks, raising me back up and dusting me off. It’s a little hard to keep my thoughts with the pheromones telling me to focus on her words. Massaging the fellas constituting my neck, I tell her I’m up to date on the rent, which is actually true this time. She claims my chair and desk again. There’s a skewered fella wiggling on her heel. Majority vote says that’s unfortunate situation he’s got going there.

“If you’ll remember, part of our little agreement for your little agency was that I would occasionally call upon your services. Surely you’re not too busy that you can’t do a small favor for little ole me?”
“Of course, I’m just not used to you actually showing up. I gotta ask. What and Why?”
Twisting her leg around, she plucks the unfortunate fish from her shoes and holds it just below her lip.
“I may have a little marital spat. A surprise to you, I’m sure, but some can even tire of a dream girl.”

Something about her squeezing the poor bastard into lipstick suggested a nightmare punch line was ill advised. At least he hits the finish line.

“If it were one of my girls, no discounts, it’d be forgivable. However, a little bird told me he’s skipped a few meetings to have dinner with some young new blood duchess. The kind rich enough to not have accidents.”
“And you don’t want what happened to his first wife to happen to you?”
“Allegedly, but yes. Since he’s taking over for daddy as Chief of Police soon, I’m sure you can appreciate why I came to you with this little request. There’s a bit of a reward as incentive, but I’ll ask you to not try my patience. There’s actually a dish I tried on Armon Se that used you as base. It’s been so long that I can’t fully recall the taste though. Capiche, my little detective.”

She swallows the fallen fish’s corpse and gets up, blowing a purple kiss. I casually lean against the wall until she’s gone, then bolt for the window and open it. It was bad enough that I didn’t have a choice, but I can respect the squeeze. I didn’t need some spider lady’s love farts telling me that I wanted to do it. Durla-3T hands my helmet to me and my system gets flushed to where I’m thinking straight again. I didn’t even ask for any funs for the job.

“Sorry. She writes the credits.”
She’s right, but it doesn’t do much for my mood. Day’s gone from the moons to the roots and it’s only 8:45a. With the job requests in hand, I go for a walk. It’s a little windy and in passing through, it makes this light wail. Nothing about it’s particularly moving, but I don’t care for my future city crying. I sit as the usual thinking spot. Except for the rare jogger, nobody comes to the parks in the morning, so’s it’s a good place to think. I check the requests. One’s for a missing necklace and the other’s some mom looking for dirt on the daughter’s boyfriend, whose some private school principal’s son. No reason a fella can’t juggle.

I’m working for a skirt I tried to put away who wants me to sneak on a cop who pulled a quick one on me before. Tracking Officer Arachnid takes priority to stalking punk kids, but check’n on Daddy’s Little Boy gives me an excuse to be at the blues. Upper folks get the warning system for offenses, so any off the record evidence to dangle over his head might be held at the station. Still, assuming Purple Lips is on the up and up is a big one so’s a red light establishment visit’s in order. The jewelry thing can wait and if it doesn’t solve itself by the next day like they usually do, I might throw my hat in. I scratch down a few notes and go about my way.

Being less than naturally than vertebrate, I walk instead of catching something to the blue station. Mode never gets old to me. Doesn’t hurt that at least one informant should be out and about around these parts now. I go through the alley and come up behind his store. Everybody knows a fella like Ergyxylplyck, an otherwise friendly guy who never amounted to more than a middleman selling wave drugs to college and high school kids. He’s low ladder, but tossed some info that helped me stop a jackpot kidnap/ransom situation, so’s shielding a few charges and passing a little credit’s been worth his hit or miss rumors. Imagine my surprise when I sees a pair of Entarians carrying a body bag out the back of the storage facility into a UE loader. Looks human shaped. One of them notices me and squawks at the other before setting the bag down and walking my way. The endangered species badge doesn’t count for squat with them, so’s I open the vest strap to show the investigator’s badge and when that doesn’t stop them, I flash my starter pistol. He backs up.

“What’s all this, then?”

More squawks. I point the gun at Righty then at the bag. Thank goodness for guns because there’s no way I can afford any other kind of universal translator. He opens the bag and stands aside. It’s a little hard to identify with all the burns, but it ain’t College. Random shmoe, so’s not my business. I didn’t even hear Lefty move when the punch lands. The waxy wall softens to absorb some of the force when I slam into it, but we’re already feeling beat. Righty darts for the gun, but we yank out the glove harnesses from the inside and I sling our arm at him. Leaving fellas with anything more than simple commands is guaranteed for failure. Eat.
We get lucky and most of them land near the head. Entarian skin’s pretty tough, but once you can wedge between the scales, it’s chicken. Eyes, ears, and nose are nothing but jelly though. A few even landed in the mouth, so he’s not even screaming. He could probably scratch the ones on his eyes, but looks like he might be in shock. Lefty freezes for a second at the sight of his friend. Croc just fell into a horror movie. Our head twists to side as the helmet slides off. The alley’s got the perfect shadow and light to where you can just see the tooth on the end of each wiggling extended stomachs. Throw in the little wheezing screech we can make and if you don’t know that we’re squishable and edible to nearly everything, it’s like seeing the boogey man for the first time. Tourists. Needless to say, I take the window to kick him in the crotch a couple of times. We gather up all the stray fellas and start reconnecting. The two wiseguys’ll both live and Righty’ll probably regrow his eyes in a week. We just beat two things that with a little experience, should’ve otherwise stomped us to death. Feeling pretty boss.

Ergyxylplyck’s floating through and checking all storage when he sees me come in. I make sure that he sees me cleaning my gloves. Nothing wrong with reminding informants about confidentiality agreements.
“Expanding into new enterprises?”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that. Boss said he fell in the machinery. Natty sitch.”
“Shady funeral for natural causes. UE doesn’t rent vans and Entarians don’t work for human companies. Pretty fish, Ergyxylplyck.”
“It’s all I know. He said it was a one time insurance thing. Honest.”
“Harmless enough, I guess. Heard some duchess bait’s look’n to one up through the blue family. Thoughts?”
“News to me, but the blues just bought half a dozen new drivers last week. They don’t look special, but a client was complaining about how they’re two shades shy of military grade and he didn’t get one.”
I pat Ergyxylplyck on the tentacle joint and slip him 200 credits. His face avatar looks surprised.
“Tell the boys to respect when they see orange again. Some of that’s for the mess. Keep your peeps clean.”

Ergyxyplyck looks around the corner and sees the misunderstanding. I’m already walking away.
“Jeez… You can’t just run around and do this kind of stuff. Trashes the whole scene.”
“New to me. Besides, I’m a good guy. That means I can kick your head in front of your kids until you don’t have any teeth, then make a foot in mouth joke and leave for martinis. Laughs all around. My ends get to justify my means. Otherwise, what’d be the point?”

That little bioluminescent facial display of his changes from concerned to disturbed.
“I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

I make it a point to not be around when the bruisers come to, but after dozen blocks I’m just walking casually. He gave me a bit to think about, but I looking to repeat the consequences of putting squares through circles for the sake of connecting pieces. It’s around 11:00a, so’s morning shift’s just ending. Officers Ernenez and Meeg’re are probably just reaching the taps right now and I still got a little bit of cred with them. I pick up one of those meat ball fluffs from a vendor. When I first got here, eating solids in public was a fiasco. It’s alright for things to eat with their eyes and for shadow critters to absorb a meat’s “secondary soul”, but suppose’n a fella wants to empty his colony out onto a table and filter through a platter he paid for, blues get called. After that, a fella wises up. We disconnect my glove and a few fellas slip their stomachs through into the cup. I have to slow my pace down since we have to move around each other so’s most fellas can get a little something. We’re pretty decent at it now, but there’s still a hint of zombie shuffle to it.

The sky’s mid-green by the time I hit the blue station. They got that gelatin elf guy up front. Considering his color and face symbols, it looks like he’s already having a bad day.

“Cha here fer”, he asks, leaving a light ringing in my head.
“Look’n to run a name, minor stuff. Ernenez and Meeg in?”
“Meeg’s oof seeck.”
“That’s unfortunate. Put my name on any cards go’n his way. This whole scene should be over quick.”

He buzzes me in. Danny looks less than impressed with my visit but buzzes me though the waiting hall. I’m not a big fan of him either, but I respect a guy who’s not in anybody’s pocket. I pass through the blue bar’s door but it doesn’t feel like I got scanned. I don’t recognize most of the officers here, but Ernenez at one of the booths chatting with some mergal. The place is swimming in working girls. Hardly a surprise, but having this many tens around is fish. Purple Lips didn’t drop off ladies from her good club when I was around. They don’t even have cupless drinks here. Ernenez don’t smile when he sees me, but he doesn’t pull his pistol either. That’s more than I can say about a few of the other blues. Nothing pointing at me, but a fella notices when a few holster buttons click. I ask the legs if she minds me borrowing her mark before slipping her a 50 credit. She looks irritable but it’s worth a little bit of her time. He calls me a buzz kill then he tells me he loves me when I slip him a few 100 credits. He sniffs it, but I grab him before he eats them. He groans.

“What kind of monster invents edible money that tastes good?”
“That’s nothing, Ernenez. The real big credits actually evoke religious experiences. Hell, that’s why they don’t even spend the stuff until the credit’s lost its potency.”
“I seen money that big. No beggars. With all the business folks moving here, pay outs’s crazy. We’re even tech muscle’n some of the mobs. We’re get’n ours and even clean’n the streets a bit. You ain’t gotta be blue to appreciate the sich”, Ernenez says before belching bright enough to light the hallway for a moment.
“With a police chief like that, who needs a union, right?”
“He’s great too, but it ain’t even him. It’s his gunner. Boy’s got busy bros off world or something. Sympathetic to the plight and hungry about the contracts. All that and the chain still busts his balls. Don’t get me wrong. I’m devout and all but when GoArmesh got around to that species, he was kind of dick for making the males half the size of ladies. The country club’s built for weary business men but he's gotta be feeling like a prisoner by now. Here I am babbl’n. What’d you come here for again?”
“Client wants me to dig on some punk kid. Kinda class. Dad’s a principal so’s a pinch of sway.”

Ernenez shrugs his shoulders and we go to the file room. The door there definitely works and I get scanned. If you ain’t blue or prepped, this room’s a murder on the senses. The labels blur and the new distorters even trash localized tactile stuff. The engravings fell funny. A fella couldn’t even recognize for sure the pen he brought with him. If this room weren’t such a business spot for upper community, they’d probably have it so’s a fella couldn’t understand a blue in here. The officer runs the name, but the warning file’s timed out. Would be my luck that the blues actually followed procedure. Never cared much for the warning system. When any dirt gets deleted after five years, longer living species get the upper hand. I know folks that don’t naturally live ten years.

Next comes Principal Pops, who’s got a count of drug holding, probably for said punk. It’s about to run out, but it might be enough to spook a dad who can make it tough for a kid. The Soundwave’s kid stuff, but half a pill of Bang’s no joke. Anything that actually forms your hallucination is serious business. That the form’s quantum stability is temporary and too weak to affect anything doesn’t stop freak outs. GoArmesh forbid that somebody take something before slipping Bang. I tell Ernenez that it’ll do. I give him a 20 credit to get Meeg some soup and tell to keep me looped.

I snag another meat fluff and relax a bit before hitting the mom’s place. She’s midclass human, but I get the hint of a few implants. Judging from the posture, she’s probably a nagger. She looks over the contents and cocks an eyebrow my way.

“The job was to dig on him, not the dad. Making it hard to justify paying you.”
“I got what there was to get, ma’am. I’m thinking dad covered that time to prevent mini-him’s secondary offense pool from working against a promotion or something. Mention PTA, ‘Think of The Children!’, and the son’s relationship in the same sentence. Should stick. If he gets wise, call me.”
“Don’t suppose you could just goon him?”
“Talk to somebody else. Stimulate’n conversation and all, but matters are call’n my name. So’s if I could get my pay, I’ll be on my way.”
She looks me up and down.
“Dame, if you’re sizing me, better get your eyes or brain checked.”

She doesn’t reply but hands me the credits. I doubt I’ll be getting patronage from her, but I got the job mostly done so I at least deserve most of the pay. Instead she got an attitude and I’m walking away full. On the plus, pieces are coming together. A new duchess and off world money come together at the same establishment through the same guy don’t exactly sound like a coincidence. If at possible I want to avoid the country club. The memory’s a little hazy. Privacy field cut out my helmet’s recording and my notes were destroyed in the blaze. Somebody torched us good. The dress was ashes and whatever girl’s skeleton we were wearing was singed beyond restoration. Thankfully, the home address was one of the memories saved by the survivor cluster and we were able to join with a batch of new fellas. Since red light girls tend to visit the country club, there’s a slight chance a few might be able to part with the know for a few credits. Pretty good alternative. Of course, Purple Lips was kind enough to not give me the ID on that little bird.

A blue sky’s just starting to peak when I hit the scene. It’s Purple Lips’s good club so’s I have to bribe the bouncer to get in. Seeing my reflection in the door filter makes me realize my suit’s not what it was. The dirt repellent coating’s starting to rub off, leaving little brown spots all over. I don’t think the fabric can even self heal anymore since there are too many scratches to have just been from today. Not a classy look for a fella aiming to move up. Still, I’ve got enough credits to direct the eyes away from the body. A fella would be hard pressed to get bored around here. Holograms of the available girls are everywhere. This place is gimmick heaven. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the girls were actually labbed up specifically for this. It'd be hard to tell though. Not much difference anymore between a girl who gets work done and a girl who is the work. They say some working girl gene pools don’t even resemble their respective species anymore.

I try romancing the hostess but she glances at the bouncer. He doesn’t say anything or move but that new power armor shine lets me know the score. I remember the mer gal from earlier so’s I ask for something more of the gilled variety. The ones not working currently entertaining appear. They appear in great definition, but not hyper definition. There’s probably some kind of separate fee for that stuff, but it’s pointless to me. Our mind can recognize the additional information layered in the light, but it just doesn’t set off that mild euphoric synthesia that it does for some folks. Of the available fresh fish, two fit the description. The water suits complicate the situation a little since they can distort colors a bit. Skirt #1 is the right shape, but with darker colored stripes. Skirt #2 has the right colors and a clearer water suit, but she’s got the frills growing. I think the frill cycles can sometimes start quickly and neither acted like they remembered me, so’s I buy time with both. Not a single look was given.

We get a room and they go straight for the Jacuzzi. I sit next to but not in it. With a pink ceiling, there’s a mild chance I’ll start being stupid. Too much like home for my IQ’s taste. I make sure they can see my credits and ask them which one of them were with Officer Ernenez today and they both raise their hands, looking surprised at each other. I forget which species can actually shoot darts from their eyes, but thankfully it ain’t these fillies. I specify the times and Skirt #2 raises her arm with a grin. I snap my fingers to get her attention.

“Blues must be do’n good to get classy gals like y’all. I’d peg the country club as more of chill spot.”
“What do you want, dick” Skirt #2 asks. Skirt #1 goes to move, but I grab her lightly. There’s no way this place ain’t got eyes, so’s I have to be delicate about the sich.
“I want to know about the police chief’s son in law and the duchess. Lot of credit going blue and a lot of busy men visiting. The environment’s kinda used. No business is explicitly booming. The culture ain’t exactly charming. Even if you assume two bad things cancel each other out, this place is still the roots. Scene’s fishy… No offense meant. Way I figure, a silky aquanaught or two like yourselves might be around enough to fill in a few blanks. I can make it even more worth your while.”
Skirt #2 laughs, saying “You don’t have enough credits. The mistress would have my hide in a less than metaphorical sense”.
“I’m working for your mistress. Check’n around. Standard private dick stuff.”

Skirt #1 takes one of the smaller credits and nibbles on it. I wanna say they’re tetle berry flavored but I make it a habit to not eat away my earnings. She freezes up. She’s probably checking my story with Purple Legs over some local implant com. The life snaps back into her and she finishes the credit and starts on another.

“Well, I’ve heard the sea docks get mentioned once or twice on the hush. The duchess and her daddy own a supply sea vessel. The soon to be chief tends to be here when other blues are around, but I’ve seen him slip out at least once. I’ve only ever seen him and the duchess together over a meal or two, but one’s only ever around when the other is. Make of it what you will”, says Skirt #1.
Skirt #2 says, “Don’t know if it matters but a class john yesterday bragged about being a teleporter specialist. Said it was a down low thing. Had a lot of her pheromones on him.”, then helping her self to a credit.
“Must have been rough to deal with him. Guess a dock number and a time would be ask’n too much?
Skirt #1 makes a think’n face and says, “Not really. Pheromone blockers are pretty standard in this business. We’ve even had a few of her kind coming in and try’n for freebees. I don’t remember if it was the john or one of the business gentlemen he was chatting with, but I heard thirty-eight get mentioned twice. No clue about the time. I was kinda occupied. Good tippers, the lot of them.”

I place a decent credit stack next to each of them and leave. Guess’n she’s probably the bird. Doesn’t matter. Walking’s great and all, but the dock’s too far, so’s I catch a ride. Most of the people on board are also wearing suits. Except for bottom feeders, I can’t imagine anything consenting to breathe this mess. My helmet’s listing off everything in the cabin air. I haven’t even had it check some of the stains and it looks like this place has had few matings, births, and deaths within the day.

When we reach the stop, I practically jump out of my seat onto the exit platform. Sky’s dark indigo by the time I’m a few blocks from the docks. Chances are that they’ll wait to do anything until after dark. As I understand it, it makes it look like a standard drug deal. That way’s the blues can occasionally catch a small time dealer and not have the means to approach anything bigger. Makes them look good and not corrupt at the same time. If dealers play nice, they make bail or end up with a job or something. Vaguely remember some reporter about to name some specific names. All they found was his hand. Heard the hand couldn’t remember so’s well and booked it off world soon after. Point being, I’m on the tadpole side in this area and act’n a fool’s a quick way to not showing up on the news.

Figured I’d scope the dock a bit. Assuming police chief Jr. even is chasing dat epigyne, I’m probably not gonna get any proof first night. Guy’s bright enough to make sure he’s noticed by his men. Still, he’s only been spotted with the duchess, so’s who knows. The helmet’s got pretty good distance so’s I only need to find a warehouse roof top or something. I snag some kind of bird drink for the stake out. Bad idea. Makes a few of us jittery before we toss it. We’re getting impatient, so’s I buy some calming pills and some water. Hardly a snack, but we need a cool head.

About the same time I’m in decent view range, the helmet cuts off. Boats with a privacy field don’t come cheap. This complicates things. I notice that the name on the ship is blurred out to me. This complicates things further. We have to be smart about this. I look around and notice some spray paint underneath some kiddie graffiti. They’re for bigger species than I, but they’re pushing empty. I’m actually able to color a fair chunk of my front blue. Pretty thin layer though. The back’s kind of a mix of anything but orange. The sky’s got just a bit a violet. The sky doesn’t actually influence the color of anything, but the psychological factor fudges it a bit. The blues got a guy with a suit sort of ish like mine. Kinda on the crooked side. Decent chance I can get on and maybe snag a shirt of his with her lipstick or some other halfway sign. This plan can work.

The ship guard looks me in my colony’s face and goes for his gun. I’m faster and he goes down. He’s lucky I’m a good guy. I usually keep my pistol on stun. It actually looks like no one heard, so’s I dump him into the water. My hands are twitching though. Probably some later effects from the drink. Won’t be buying that again. In any case, he looks like a water critter. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Not all ships are the same, but I actually got some pretty decent experience as a sailor so’s finding the VIP quaters is gonna be easy. That is until the goons pop out from the corner and start shooting. Probably silent alarm triggered from the guard going unconscious or something. I tagged in the arm and we separate the dying patch of fellas and throw them in the water. I’ve seen worse on-the-fly funerals. I duck for the second round of shots and blast one goon in the face. Stun to the face or throat causes some funky damage. Can even kill sometimes. I don’t hold the sich against them but if’n it’s between me and them, it’s gonna be them.

I make it to the quarters and blast the door open without checking if it’s unlocked. This is my crazy face. I hold my breathe and look around. I see two scare spider folks in bead. I yell “Hizzah” and kick would be chief in the face and grab the duchess by a chunk of hair. After putting my foot against her head I send her flying off the bed. Being unconscious, Chief Jr doesn’t put up much of a fight when I pull out some of his hair too. After that, I’m haul’n. I have just committed several kinds of stupid. I’m shooting at everything in front of me as I’m running with a clump of bloody hair. Except for the doors, I’m kinda wasting my time. Rich boats don’t sink. I think I tagged the guard that tagged me earlier.

By the time I’m off the boat, there’s about eight guys shooting at me. A few tags, nothing significant, but that’s going to change soon if’n I can’t ditch them. The shoulder takes a full shot and it feels like our collective metaphorical nuts have been kicked. For a moment, I’m just running because I’d been running the moment before. It takes a moment for the surviving fellas in the blast area to overcome the shock and remember to remember. We’re starting to slow down and tire out. All things considered we’ve done well for a largely sedentary species. Still I ain’t look’n for runner up in life.

A few things click and my IQ makes an appearance. I take a left and my hail space mary is potentially confirmed. The drug dealers all look at me like they’ve been caught with their pants down. At the tops of my metaphorical lungs, I yell “Your payouts are late, punks! This is what happens when you screw with blue! Give em hell, boys!”

I scream a battle cry and gesture to the guards to follow me. The fact that most of their shots were at me doesn’t make a difference as soon as I shoot a flunky dealer. I take one to the helmet as I run through their ranks. Only one of them chases after me. Bigger fish to fry I guess. I turn a corner then shoot the straggler in the knee when he shows. I make sure not to be around when the actual blues show up. I’m several blocks away before I hear a pulse cannon go off. Any faster travel’s not worth the risk. It’s night by the time I’m back at the agency. Durla-3T gives me the look. As soon as I go in my office I throw the hair pulp onto the desk. Purple lips’s lips aren’t purple anymore and she looks like she just lost her clicks. She goes to say something and I make my feeding sound. Add in the background static from damage to the helmet and it’s a little intimidating. She separates a few of the hairs from each other and leaves. There’s a small stack of credits.

I go home. I follow routine. I sleep. Next morning the news says they’re holding a ceremony. Looks like drug dealers attacked a class ship. Parked at the wrong place at the wrong time. Chief Jr and the duchess were apparently shot during the fight. They show a bit of the funeral and I see former Purple Lips crying on the shoulder of the duchess’s daddy. Some CEO for a UE subsidiary. Looking at how hard she’s holding his hand and the fact that the attack happened a ways from the ship, I’m think’n I’ve been played.