Thursday, December 31, 2015


No one had ever said such a thing had existed, but no one had stated the contrary either. Which left him firmly with the conclusion that, though possible for such a thing to be it certainly was not yet. But if such was the case in this instance, what stopped such from being the case with everything?

              He brought a hand up to stroke his face, fingers tapping away against the desk as he considered the possibilities. If such things were true, then there were numerous things that might exist, but had simply not been found yet. In fact, nigh anything was real, and could simply be extremely skilled in matters of stealth and sorcery. How many things had escaped the grasp of documentation because of their quick wit, or agile speed? How many things had been too strong to be recorded, and let into the annals of history, and how many more would remain in the realms of the unknown?

               Part of him was tempted to pick up his quill, which sat at the corner of his desk, and begin penning the numerous possibilities that had yet to be seen. There would be more supplies required for such a task, of course. Numerous pages worth of paper would be needed and easily filled, pots upon pots of ink emptied, candles to burn throughout the late night hours as the ideas came, and foodstuffs to keep him well fed and able! His hand moved as if on instinct, grabbing for the colorful feather, so carefully crafted from some exotic expedition, forcing him to grab it and hold it at bay until he could collect his thoughts further.

             This was no time to begin such a project, not when his thoughts were so muddled and confused. Of course not! If anything, the fact that he had even considered engaging in such was just a sign of how far he had forced his mind to wander, and how desperate it had become to rest. Clinging onto such high fantasies of being able to just create things out of thin air, just because they had not been disproven in existence!

               A chill crept its way down his spine, closing in swiftly on his lower back, forcing him to twitch. How had he even managed to consider such blasphemy? His hands shot to his lips, shielding them, lest he let loose so much as a stutter of the cursed ideas. Even alone in this cramped office someone might hear him, as they wandered down the hall and past his long darkened door. From there it was only a matter of time until word had found its way to the hierarchs, and not long after he would have just been dismissed entirely!

              The very words they would spit at him, the very poison in their voices rang in his head. Lines of how the Historium was not a place for such nonsense, of how if he were to even consider such he might as well be nothing more than a storyteller in a village, cobbling together useless tales to amuse and appease some thirsty crowd. Perhaps an actor who spewed dramatized lies to an audience of idiots.

              He shuddered again, the same chill working its way back up to his brain. These were the things nightmares were made of. Things meant to wake one up in the middle of the night, sweat still beading down their face as the realization of reality slowly swept over them. A hand ran back across his head, though unlike when he had done so in his younger days it found much less hair. This was the work of ruin, and the work he could never commit to, and yet, these thoughts remained.

               “Curses upon you boy,” he muttered to himself, biting his tongue before his lips leapt into a frenzy and brought yet another possibility of undue attention.

               He could still see the child’s smug face, sitting so peacefully at his desk while his instructor wailed on and on about how improper such accusations were. It was beyond his realm of knowledge to assume the boy’s intentions, though. Perhaps he had meant the question innocently enough, wondering if somewhere in the world fantastical creatures could exist. Fish the size of men, who stood with a tall stature and were spotted, wandering this way and that with no need for the water. Birds with puffed feathers colored by rainbows themselves.

              But yet he could not bring himself to cease at the conclusion at the boy’s goals were so noble! He had been standing right there, watching as his own student, the boy’s instructor who was getting so much use out of his vocal cords. Just a few feet away, so it would have been so easy for the young lad to see the looks of horror upon his face as he considered the prospects presented before him. That there was somehow the chance that such things could be.

               His hands found their way to his face, smothering him for a moment, the only source of comfort he could give himself. His thoughts were bound to cycle as such for some time. Any prospects of sleep were bound to be in vain, and any hope of breaking away from this circle now was all but abandoned.

               There was just too much of a chance for him to lay them to rest entirely, yet there was no reason for him to cling to them as he did! Things were discovered all the time, yet prior to their discovery what was the chance they would have been scoffed at! If one were to describe half of the concepts and creatures in the Historiums libraries to those who were alive prior to their induction, they would have received the same cold, disgraceful greeting he would imagine for a playwright.

              Another idea found its way onto the center of the stage of his mind, to which he nodded furiously, as though it were a friend who had just appeared in his chamber to deliver a wonderful package. To banish these thoughts from his mind, they needed to be captured. To be captured, they needed to be written, and illustrated.

               He stood, approaching the door with the stance of one who meant to pick its lock, opening it as though he were a rogue sneaking through the halls. Soon enough, he would return with what he needed, ink, paper, and more. Once these things were banished, perhaps burned even, he could finally let the matter rest.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Highs and Lows

Written while listening to:

She slumped forward against the kolto tank, squinting at the controls slightly. Regardless of anything she had said prior to this point, whether it be to whoever had set her organs straight, the droid in the taxi, or even a few passersby on the way back to Harbinger, there was no way in hell she was okay. One of the multiple reasons she knew that was by the sheer amount the ship seemed to be rocking, even though she was next to certain it was still grounded.

“Harbinger,” she muttered, when she finally managed to process the thought that there wasn’t much of a chance that she was going to manage to operate the tank on her own. “Start evaluation process, prep kolto tank, heavy damage.”

Overhead she could hear some instrument start whirring until it had apparently finished its assessment. Elsewhere some speaker crackled to life, the ship’s deeper tone coming throw, “Tank prep underway. It is assumed that you did not complete capture of present target.”

Resting her head against the top of the panel, she let out a short cough, jerking her head left and right, “No, Harbinger, I didn’t.”

“And it really doesn’t matter either way, now does it?” she rolled her eyes, reaching up into a cabinet, hand patting around until it found its way around the familiar neck of a whiskey bottle.

Plucking the bottle from the cabinet, she shut the door, turning to look back to her companion once more, popping the top off and taking a swig. Once she had downed a fair share from the bottle, she looked back to him, continuing, “I am perfectly fine. It weren’t nothing but a fight. That’s what happens.”

His face happened to have been beet red by this point, whether because he had been hitting the bottle prior to her showing up, or he was getting too worked up. It got rather hard to tell sometimes, depending on how bad he was feeling by the evening, not that she had any room to talk in the alcohol consumption department.

He pointed to her armor, where any number of patches had been recently sewn in, her best solution to the problem of having holes in her armor until she could get someone to properly attend to it. Which only served to remind her that she needed to make that appointment with that tailor. Blinking, she looked back at him rather than through him, raising a brow until he got to his point.

“Gettin’ stabbed ain’t never been ‘just a fight’ in my book,” he said, frowning when he apparently realized she wasn’t going to explain herself as he hoped she would. “Neither’s looking for a fight, and getting in trouble with Imps.”

Daeria couldn’t help but smirk, bringing the bottle up to her lips again for another pull, “Didn’t get in any trouble with Imps. I mean. Ain’t like they’re hangin’ me for treason or anything, now is it?”

“Yet,” he muttered.

She waved the idea away, even though in reality she had considered the possibility a number of times. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had decided to cut loose ends at the end of a contract, and certainly wouldn’t be the last. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine. Me? I’m fine. You? You’re fine. We’re fine.”

He narrowed his eyes, finger coming up again, this time to point to himself, “I sure as hell ain’t fine. I went to some black market lookin’ to see if anybody knew you where you mighta been, ‘cause you decided to wander off an’ get caught, and couldn’t check-in to tell me everythin’ was fine, so I get to go into a panic over the fact that maybe we’re gonna get some sorta hammer brought down on us.” She opened her mouth to respond, but he cut her off as swiftly as possible, “I got manhandled by a guy dressed like a banana. And I kept lookin’ ‘cause I was startin’ to fear that eventually I’d just be getting’ visited by the folks in shiny suits to be hauled off to some prison camp or somethin’ to do whatever the hell you do in a Zakuulian prison camp.”

Daeria tossed her arms up, walking to the other end of the room to find some couch to crash down onto, drinking yet again from the bottle when she had settled in, setting it off to the side for now. “I don’t get why you’re getting so pissy about this. It’s my kriffing job, idiot. If you haven’t gotten that part thus far, I seriously don’t know what to tell you, besides grow up.”

Red frowned, following, “Then where the hell was this job in the past half a kriffin’ decade, huh? All that time where it was just bein’ creepy ‘round folks, starin’ at ‘em and reportin’ on ‘em, or crawlin’ in their windows to stab ‘em in their sleep? Not this stalkin’ and ambushin’ crap. Nothin’ of the sort.”

“I got bored,” she said, resting back and shrugging, “Gotta keep busy somehow. Zakuulian contract’s a great way to do that.”

He stared at her for a moment, “You got bored. Well, next time you ‘get bored’, lemme know so I can try and stick my head under the dirt somewhere in the hopes of hidin’ out.”

She shrugged once more, “I got no idea what the hell you want me from me. So either spit it the hell out, or get over it.”

“I want to know why you got stupid all of the sudden,” he muttered, falling into a nearby chair, apparently prepared to drop the subject.

The Chiss stared him down for a moment, before leaning forward, “I do shit like that because I have to.” She held up a finger to stop him from talking, knowing full well the sort of comments such a statement would bring on, “I had to do somethin’ like that. I had to. ‘Cause I have no idea if I can anymore. All this time of sitting on my ass and playing fly on the wall and ‘crawling into somebody’s’ house to off ‘em, for five kriffing years, instead of doing the stuff I’m good at.”

With a sigh, he just shook his head, allowing his head to fall backward to stare at the ceiling, “I figured the other stuff qualified for stuff you were ‘good at’.” She just frowned. It was by this point in any conversation involving this subject that he checked out, probably because he didn’t want to consider it in his own realm, or didn’t want to think about her in such away. Either possibility made her want to punch him, yet in some sort of endearing way, were such possible. Perhaps because she hated both thoughts, but also knew that they were necessary, lest this ‘safe’ house become nothing but talk of dark things.

“I kill people,” the Chiss said, almost in a whisper, taking her own opportunity to lean back to stare at the ceiling, “I used to be good at that. For the longest time that was just.” She paused, considering, “That was it. I killed people. And it felt, and feels, so good.” There was no need to look at him to imagine the mortified face he was making, “And sometimes, I just need to remind myself that I can still do that. That I can hit that high at some point. And that means getting stabbed, or shot, or punched, or kicked, or any other thing.”

Her armor clattered to the ground with a number of clangs as she unlatched it. With a few feats of what strength she still had, she finally crawled in the tank. Rolling onto her back, she stared up at the top of the inside of the tank, forcing her breathing to slow as the tube closed itself. It had taken quite a bit of convincing herself to come this far, not least of which was the thought of how long it would take her to recover without it. Even having managed to come this far she still wasn’t okay with it.

She hadn’t been okay with it the first time she’d had to use the freaking kolto tank, and she would probably never be okay with it. It was cramped, and enclosed, and the air was so thick, even if the moments she was conscious in it were short. The thought of it just malfunctioning and not opening crossed her mind, potentially choking to death on something that was meant to heal her. How ironic would that be.

No panic attack this time. That wouldn’t be good. As the kolto started pouring in, that thought seemed harder and harder. No panic attack. Focus on something else. Put on the breathing mask and focus on something else.

She wanted to kill that bastard.  She was going to kill that bastard. Or do whatever happened to be worse, which would probably involve just collecting on the bounty. Screw whatever idiot woman he’d managed to scrounge up, screw every idiot Mando in that kriffing bar.

The kolto was working its way into the tank at a steady pace.

Couldn’t just act so stupid the next time. No acting like a jackass. That had never worked in the past. That was something she had done something like a decade ago when she was still green. There would need to be something more to this, that wasn’t acting like an idiot in a bad holovid.

She closed her eyes, nearly entirely encased in the green stuff by this point.

Of course it would mean another fight, one she was just as likely to lose. So wait, and recover. Don’t go in with armor patches. Take hits on the punching bag again. There was a rhythm to be found here. Something to be recovered from where it had gathered dust.

There was the threat of death, of course. Not that she wanted to die. But if she were to die, what would it matter? Better to go out on that high, than crawl into some corner and let it rot. Better to have to crawl back into the Hell Tank than to never hit those high notes again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Shadowrun: Datastream

Never gonna get used to the feeling. The thought crossed his mind anytime he did the deed, crossing from some proverbial plane of existence into one with far less flesh in it, as someone somewhere had once told him. It had been odder at the time, though. Which was natural when you were shoving moving bits into your brain, or whatever went on.

Even now, that he didn't feel like he needed some atlas to get around or a GPS to give him directions, for the most part, there was still something decidedly unnatural to it. Part of him was okay with that. It kept him distanced from the folks who had decided that this was where they were meant to be. The type to jack-in and log-out from life. The other part wasn't really okay with it, since it meant that this still didn't feel entirely right, even though part of it was routine by now.

As if on cue he pressed himself up against the distorting dark wall of flashing pixels to his right, not allowing himself to move until the floating geometrical mess of an eye that was scanning the area passed him by. Not getting caught this time, because it definitely wasn't worth the mess.

Once the thing had passed, he let himself detach from the wall, continuing on his way. Despite whatever he told himself, he had absolutely no idea how much further he needed to go. Sure he had been given directions, as vaguely as possible as was the norm when getting mail from a stranger involving the opportunity for work. That didn't mean he had gotten much better at judging distant though. Sometimes what he felt was bound to be a walk around the corner was a walk around so many corners it wasn't even funny.

Well. Someone might have found it funny, given that sometimes he felt that those treks probably needed to be made just to gather the most menial of information. Some bookie's real odds, rather than the advertised ones. A piece of security from someone's terminal. So on.

He paused as the path dead ended, a node firmly planted in another wall, which he promptly took to accessing. A bit of struggling with it was all it took, leaving him with nothing more than another address, this one existing without the reaches of cyberspace.

There was a short moment where he could feel his stomach churn, his actual one. Blinking a few times, he glanced around his room, giving his device a small shove away. Even if it didn't do much for his stomach, it always helped his state of mind to keep the Matrix as far away as possible after he was done with it. Soon enough he'd have to be dealing with it again to look at the address he'd found, likely a meeting spot, or another place with another clue to find another address. At this rate he felt like he'd be hoofing it around half of Seattle, just to find some work.

But it still wasn't anything new. Or at least, this part of it wasn't. Not anymore. A number of people named 'Johnson', a number of strange dive bars or upscale joints, and a number of jobs. The job itself was always the odd part. If it wasn't retrieving some freaky item from some messed up hole in the wall, it was dealing with people with names he still found odd, even if he'd had to give himself one.

With a sigh, he stood, wandering off to the kitchen, idly giving the far wall a glance as he passed it. At some point not too long ago the wall hadn't been there, having been ripped apart in a matter of moments by some helicopter at the end of another odd night. Somehow, probably due to the fact that he promised to pay for it and then some, he hadn't got evicted.

Pulling a can out of the fridge, he turned once more, returning to pick up the discarded device. Tossing it back on his desk, he sat down with a sigh. Routine. Open can, take sip, start messing with address, take a sip, get ready to go, chug, toss can. Reaching for the can, he squinted in thought, trying to recall whether or not he had ever managed to scrub the blood from his black coat after the last job.  Either way, there wasn't likely going to be time to correct it, which meant that on route he'd best start planning on the excuse for it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


This is part 1 of a multi-part story. The other pieces may be found in the following places. Part 2:Here Part 3: Here Part 4: Here

He pressed his face up against the glass, wanting to insure there wasn’t anything that would jump out at him. The transport’s inspection had finished hours ago, after its occupants had been evacuated. Or rather, the ones still breathing, save the droids he supposed, were evacuated, while those that weren’t, that was, those among the ship’s small crew, were carried out in body bags. Officially he assumed the ruling would be something vague, or some lingo he had forgotten a few years ago after leaving the force.

Those in the media would twist and bend it into something like “mysterious circumstances”. After they had managed to grab interviews some channels might twist it into some ghost story, or a haunted happening. Eventually an ex-senator who hosted some program about conspiracy theories would probably go on about how it was a Gree plot to overthrow the Republic.

With a sigh, he slid the security card near the reader, getting a faint beep as the door slowly slid open. He sighed once more after he stepped inside, noting how the lights weren’t coming on. There were a few possibilities for why this was the case. It was possible that since the thing was going to be sitting here they had turned off all the breakers for the sake of power conservation or to lock down its components in the chance that somebody in the hangar got in the mood to play scavenger. Another possibility was that somehow the power system was damaged, or tampered with.

Stumbling forward in the dark, he grasped for the box he recalled being close to the door the last time he had boarded such a vessel. His bet on the layout not having changed much over the course of a few years paid off as his hand tapped against a metallic square. Feeling around, he pried the box open, pulling out one of the flashlights he knew to be stored there.

Under the beam of the flashlight, he saw that not much else had changed, meaning this was either an older model ship, or that the newer models hadn’t been iterated on. There was still a number of rows of seats for people to get as comfortable as possible while cramped like fish in a can on their journey between worlds. Beyond them was an emergency airlock at the back, the only other one besides the entrance he had just taken. He slowly walked down the aisle, looking for anything that may have been left behind, not overly surprised when he came up with nothing. People sure as hell wouldn’t want to come back here, and to make sure they didn’t have to it was worth it to grab everything they brought.

Turning around he made his way towards the ship’s cockpit. The door slid open as he approached, though its movement was slow as could be. Emergency power must have been low. The moment he entered the cockpit his attention turned to a panel near the door. Pulling it open he flicked a few of the switches within, clicking his flashlight off as the overhead lights began to buzz. The fewer dark ships he had to wander around, the better.

Once his eyes had adjusted he took a moment to consider the cockpit. There were three chairs, each one of them looking like they were in dire need of replacing, given the wear and tear on them. A few of the buttons on the console were losing their color from how many times they had been pressed by a sweaty finger. But there was no blood. On top of that, there was no sign of a struggle. He ran a finger along one of the consoles, coming up with only dust.

No residue from a potential gas or poison, no sign of forced entry, no signs of conflict, and yet three men were dead. Supposedly the passengers weren’t even aware that anything wrong had occurred, until their transport to the Outer Rim decided to take a sudden u-turn back to Coruscant. When someone had went up to check, as the story went, the person who did so found the three unresponsive and slumped back in their chairs.

He approached a few of the compartments along the wall, pulling it open. Reaching in he managed to recover a pile of chits, and what appeared to be a manifest. Flipping through the manifest revealed nothing of import, far as he could tell. It had all the general stuff, departure times, estimated arrival times, boarding documents, and passenger numbers. He let out a snort, wondering how many crews actually went to this length to have everything so clean and organized.

The chits appeared to be some form of ticket. They had information for each passenger, were easily erased, and allowed for multiple uses. Save for one of them. He plucked it out of the pile, frowning at its cracked screen. Any attempt to see if the thing had juice in it were moot, considering far as he was able to tell, the thing was ancient. Ancient by tech standards, anyway. The other chits appeared to be a year old at most, where this was working its way towards maybe a decade.

Pocketing the device, he walked towards the main console, tapping away until the screen he wanted came up. He frowned, kicking the console. Someone had already taken the security footage, which meant he was going to have to ask to look at it, as well as maybe getting a look at the corpses taking up space in a morgue somewhere.

               Returning to the panel, he flicked its switches off, the power going off with them. This might prove difficult. He’d already had to pull a favor just to get the key to this hunk of metal. To have to ask for two more things wasn’t going to go over well. Tucking his hands in his pocket he began the long walk to the nearest station. There was one thing to hope for right now. That he could convince someone that he would make for a great contract investigator on this particular case.

               The thought left a sour taste in his mouth, but if it came down to it, he’d certainly do it. If anything, for the fact that he might be getting two paychecks out of this instead of one, but also maybe for the fact that it would let him figure out what the hell had happened. Part of him wanted to claim that it was a matter of wanting to get to the bottom of a mystery, but the rest of him knew full well what it was. He just couldn’t stand to look at widow’s eyes and tell her he couldn’t do anything.

Keys to the Kingdom

This is the second part in a multi-part story. The first part may be found here. The third part may be found here, and the fourth part, here.

               The lobby was no longer an obstacle. Once the receptionist had gotten the memo that charges weren’t being filed, and that he was still allowed in the building, she stopped screaming whenever he walked in the door. Anymore the largest response he got out of her was a glance and a grunt. Even the desks weren’t much of an issue anymore. The rookies only knew who he was if they had heard about the incident from someone else and didn’t find themselves in any position to bother, and the majority of the vets had put everything under whatever bridges they may have owned some time ago.

               Every now and then when he ended up wandering through here over a case, he might hear his name called out from across the room. At some point he’d gotten shoved into the same room as the copier and told he shouldn’t come back. When he came back after that one he was nearly cuffed, though there was no way in hell that was legal. Or if it was legal he couldn’t think of a good reason for it, even if he knew full well how many bendable rules there were.

               Today appeared to be an off day for any instigators, meaning he was going to get through without issue. Which meant there was one last trial to overcome before he could move on with his business, and that was Nadine Holton. Nadine, on a good day, could be rather lenient. But as far as he could tell, Nadine hadn’t had a good day in about three years, save for that one day after the Life Day party he had managed to get an invitation to. Even then he thought that was her somehow riding some sort of hangover high.

               He slipped into her office without as much as a knock, knowing full well they had been past the knock-to-enter routine months ago. She sat, typing away at whatever report needed filing next, a number of folders open elsewhere on her desk. If there was one thing he never missed about his job, it was the bureaucratic bits. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he put on his best smile, working over his opening remarks in his head. She beat him to the punch.


               He frowned, bringing his hands out of his pockets, just for the sake of putting them up in defense, as though being assaulted by her words. She sighed, pushing her keyboard away for the time being, turning her chair to look at him. Resting her elbows against her desk, she shook her head, repeating herself, “No.”

               With a sigh of his own he let his arms drop to the side, “Think that’s a new record, Nadi.”

               Nadine pointed towards the door, feigning pride, “Good, means I’m getting more efficient at this.”

               “Not even a little consideration? Allow me to plead my case?” he said, trying to keep some hope in the conversation. He knew exactly where it would go if he allowed her to drain it all away, and it wasn’t anywhere he wanted to be.

               She shook her head once more, still pointing towards the door, “Don’t make me have to get somebody to escort you out of the building again, Elliot.”

               He frowned, “That was one time.”

               “And it took two people, and I’ve seen kids leave a place easier.”

               “Look,” he said, holding his hands up again, trying to get her to slow down, “Just gimmie some morgue access, or lemme look at your list of suspects right now, or hell. I’ll settle for interview tapes. Anything. Don’t even gotta hire me Nadi. Just need something I can go off of right now.”

               She let out a snort, “You can settle for nothing, Elliot. I already let you on the ship, and even then I’m probably gonna get hell for doing that.” She casually flipped the files on her desk closed, which of course was the first time he even bothered to take note of them.

               “Alright,” Elliot said, pointing towards the door, “I’ll walk out here, right now. If you give me the security footage.”

               Nadine frowned, blinking a few times, “There isn’t any security footage.”

               Elliot sighed, “Are we back to the playing dumb act? Of course there’s security footage, those things come standard with security footage, and it wasn’t there, so somebody has it.” The stare she gave him told him enough, “And apparently it’s not you.”

               Her attention turned from him to the intercom sitting on her desk. Pressing a button she leaned in, lowering her voice, though not enough to keep him from catching her words, “Get Simon out looking for the security footage on that ship case.” His eyes narrowed and his lips spread into a grin. She looked back up at him, “Don’t even think about it.”

               He pointed towards her, backing up to the door, “Finders keepers.”

               A snort escaped her as her eyes narrowed, trying to process what he had just said, “That isn’t how any of this works.”

               He only offered her a shrug, pulling the door open once more and escaping back into the rows of desks, making for the front door, his trip a success. Even if he hadn’t managed to secure a second income, this was exactly the trail he needed to get a move on, and if he did find this sort of evidence before the police did, then that very well could be his in, either for finding a few answers or getting the access he wanted. 

Camera Crew

This is the third part of a multi-part story. The first part can be found here, the second part here, and the fourth part here.

               It was during moments like this that he feared he was losing his touch. It had taken him hours to figure out the solution to this particular puzzle, when years ago he swore it would have taken him half an hour at most. He had dwelled on the matter at hand for a solid hour while eating lunch, and then for a good half an hour back at his office. It took a review of whatever he scribbled down as notes to even begin down the right track.

               Maybe that was the issue. Perhaps years ago he was more prone to looking at the facts, whereas now he had let those better skills slip. Pushing the thoughts away, Elliot brought himself back down to reality, where some hapless dock worker was waiting for him to give him instructions. In front of him sat the manifest from the ship, its contents likely one of the last things touched by the now ship’s now-dead captains. Next to it was the pile of digital tickets they had used for boarding. To his right, said hapless dock worker was going to town, rewinding a security tape that showed the boarding from a generous enough angle to let them both get to work. All it had taken to get this far was exchanging a few credits, and letting the guy help him do ‘detective’ work. It would all end nicely for both of them, so long as his boss didn’t find out.

               “I can’t wait to tell my wife about this,” the guy muttered, a broad grin on his face.

               Elliot offered him a smooth enough smile, “I’m sure.”

Once the man had rolled the tape back far enough to the initial boarding, Elliot motioned for him to start it rolling. As each passenger approached the ship in the video, the man would pause to give him time to scramble through the tickets, before matching the two. It was certainly lucky that the dead were thorough in their work while they were alive. Each ticket had the person’s name and a face to go with it, double identification. He wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to slip some fingerprint scanner into the things either. When a person was identified, he tossed their ticket into a pile, making a note in of his own on who remained in the manifest.

“Hold on,” Elliot muttered as he saw the man’s hand reaching to start the video again.

One after another he brought the remaining tickets up, none of them producing a match. Tapping the screen he muttered something about zooming in on the woman in question. His hand continued to scribble away with notes. Red hair, pale, thin, dirty.

“Somebody needs to feed that girl,” his partner in crime muttered, shaking his head, “Looks like ‘er clothes’re about to fall right off of her.” Elliot nodded, taking another look, almost disgusted about how thin the woman was. The only reason he could say he had seen fewer was due to some war documentary an ex-girlfriend had talked him into watching.

Once the last ticket was tossed aside, he frowned. The only thing left was the burnt out husk of a device. If this had been another ship, he would have assumed that someone might have let her onboard, broken ticket and all, but it wasn’t another ship. No, this was a ship with all of its paperwork in order, a fully prepared manifest that this woman wasn’t in, and tickets that had faces registered to them.

He elbowed the man at the camera’s arm, motioning toward the screen, “Got an angle of them boarding?”

The man nodded, tapping the back of his head, “Sure, but you ain’t gonna see nothin’ ‘cept the rear of ‘em.”

“We saw her face, don’t need to check that again. Just wanna see if she gets on or not.”

With another nod the man clicked over to another camera angle, zooming in slightly to get a better view of the ship’s entrance. Outside it waited one of the ship’s crew, still alive and well, taking tickets and tossing them into a basket once he had decided they were legit. A few times he sent people off, having decided that their ticket wasn’t up to standard or that they weren’t up to the ticket’s standards, all the while maintaining the same dull look.

They saw her enter the line, same clothes, and the same red hair. A few of those near her in line seemed to begin shifting around awkwardly, the few in pairs leaning in close to exchange murmurs. It wasn’t hard to assume what they were saying.

When she reached the front of the line, she handed the man in front something, he gave it a glance, tossed it in the pile, and she went in. Elliot kept his frown, scribbling once more in his notes. Something here didn’t add up. He looked up to ask for the man to zoom in on the transaction itself, only to find he already had.

The man’s finger pointed toward the crewman’s face as he took the ‘ticket’ from the woman, a disturbed look on his face as he looked at the flickering image, “Something’s not right with this fella.”

Elliot leaned in, squinting, “Maybe?”

His companion shook his head, zooming in a bit more, “Ain’t no maybe about this, mister. The look in that fella’s eyes ain’t nothing normal.”

Once he caught sight of it, it became impossible to unseen. The crewman had a glazed look to him, staring straight forward as he took the device from the woman’s hands. He never so much as gave it a glance before tossing it into the basket. After the woman had hopped aboard, he shook his head, seeming to come down from some nearby cloud.

“Does she wave her hand or anything?” Elliot muttered, squinting as the clip replayed itself.

“Not doing any of that Jedi stuff far as I can tell. Just hands the thingy to him and goes on her merry way.”

“Skip to when the ship got back.”

The video sped forward a solid day, with people and things zooming by at breakneck speed. The sun came and went only to be replaced with overhead lights that kept the spaceport in plain view. When the ship finally reappeared, the sun was starting to sink once more. There were police officers waiting for it, since at some point it had been reported that those in command of the vessel had passed away, though no one claimed to know any time it could have possibly happened.

As people filed out, some being met by family members, others wandering off to find some other ship to take them wherever they had wanted to go, he made sure to note the same woman as she hopped off, hurrying off, now with a satchel slung under her arm.

“Where does she end up going?”

The man at the controls quickly flicked through feeds, keeping track of the woman. Elliot raised a brow ever so slightly, impressed at how well he worked the cameras. For someone who apparently worked in a warehouse unloading ships, somebody had found time to mess around with the security system.

On the screen the woman skirted through the spaceports nearby allies, passing by a number of shops, all of which apparently helped pay to keep these cameras going. He sighed, noting how she seemed to pause whenever she got close to a dumpster, knowing exactly what it meant for him later on. His new friend seemed to note his expression, offering a polite smile, “The trash don’t run ‘til Friday.”

“How convenient,” Elliot growled.

Rummaging through his pockets, Elliot produced a few credit chits, offering them to the man, along with a smile. The man accepted them, not even bothering to count them out, smiling all the same. As the private investigator began to gather his things, he let out a cough, “Was an honor bein’ able to work with you, Mister Martin. Real exciting.”

Elliot nodded, “And I’m happy I was able to convince you to help, uh.” He snapped his fingers a few times, trying to produce a name, suddenly feeling terrible.

“Stephen,” the man added, appearing happy to make the introduction again, rather than angered at it probably being the third time he had done so.

“Right, Stephen. Was a pleasure working with you, and I hope to get to do it again in the future.” It was the most he could offer at the moment. He wanted to leave, and get whatever he needed to do next done with as soon as possible.
Nadine was giving him a stare. It was the type of stare he had seen from her few times before, but that he knew exactly what it meant. Mostly because it was the same look he would be giving himself in such a situation. Her hand was against her mouth, holding a tissue up against her nose, eyes watering. Maybe he should have given that shower more than a second thought.

With her other hand, she plucked up the disc he had tossed from her desk, slowly looking it over. “Ship’s security footage?” she asked, tissue remaining firmly in place.

He crossed his arms, nodding, “Yep. Plus, I can tell you exactly who you need to identify on it.”

She gave him another look, one that held equal amounts disbelief and trust. It was a cocky claim, but by this point, he knew he had earned some amount of acceptance from her. He would have done the same.

“And how many dumpsters did you have to crawl through to find this?”

Elliot shrugged, “I dunno. Six maybe.” Her brow rose, forcing him to correct himself, “Nine.”

“Then that’s nine different reasons this could have waited for you to take a shower.”

He bit his lip to stop himself from making a smart remark. Instead he put his hands up, making for the door. It wouldn’t take long to run home, bathe, and come back. Doing it in this order just meant that by the time he got back, she would have plenty of time to sign all of the things required to bring him on the case. 


This is the final part in a multi-part story. The first part can be found here, the second part here, and the third part, here.

               Resting the stylus on the desk, he allowed her to take the device. Once she had confirmed he had managed all of the right signatures in all of the right places, she placed it aside, to be filed away later. With it out of the way, she rested forward, her hands coming together, her head resting on them.

               “Had some boys look over that video, and start looking through whatever databases we have access to,” she said after a short pause, still apparently hesitant about working with him. He held off a sigh, not wanting to go through that old runaround again.

               “And what’d they come up with?” he asked, resting back in his chair.

               She clicked at her keyboard for a moment, turning her monitor to face him. A picture, likely taken for an ID or something along those lines, of the woman in question was flickering onscreen alongside a cleaned up version of the zoomed in video.

               “Girl’s only got basic information in our system. Name. Date of birth’s apparently pretty fuzzy, but we got a general age. No workplace on record, no family on record, no sort of government assisted income. So on.”

               Elliot nodded slowly, frowning, “That’d explain why the hell she’s so thin.”

               Nadine shuddered, “Don’t remind me.” Regaining her composure, she went on, “That said, does have a residence on record. Lives on one of the lower levels. Got a warrant to search her house.”

               He nodded, leaning forward now, “Sounds like a good deal then. Can get right on it then.”

               She held up a hand, “Yeah. And we’ll get right on it. But we can only bring her in for questioning at most.”

               He frowned. There should be more than that. Some solid charges laid out. Something. “And why is it only questioning?” he had to bite his tongue to not add more to the question.

               “’Cause the footage doesn’t show much.” She took a moment to pause, watching the look on his face drop. “Most we got out of it was business as usual, before the ship stops. There might be something in there of her getting up when it does, but it’s all distorted. Tampered with, because obviously it was tampered with. She never enters the front cabin that we can see. She hardly don’t have any more interactions with the deceased than anyone else did.”

               Of course it had been tampered with. Even if it hadn’t been tampered with intentionally, it had spent the last day or two in a dumpster. Something was bound to be messed up with it.                He let out a sigh, “So we bring her in and you try and break her.”

               Nadine sighed as well, narrowing her eyes as she looked at him. He knew full well what the look meant. The last few times he had tried, she hadn’t let him go out with the ‘real’ officers, when they went to catch anybody. It didn’t help that he had never taken the time to really glance at the laws to see if it was even alright for her to do so anyway, which meant he never even had a defense for himself. When she finally spoke he let out a sigh of relief.

               “Fine. Go with Roger. I hear anything about you getting in his way, this never happens again.” He was certain that there was more she felt like adding to the end to that, but he didn’t give her the chance before bolting for the door.
               “This is the place,” Roger said, his voice low enough that Elliot hardly heard him.

               The walk here had been quiet, though not the sort of quiet that he hated. Roger apparently didn’t have much to say, so he didn’t say anything. Simple. It wasn’t the sort of thing he’d seen before where there was much resentment, or if that was the case, Roger sure hadn’t shown it. A true professional in his field. That or waiting to let it loose later amongst his buddies. Either way didn’t bother him that much.

               Elliot nodded, approaching the door his temporary partner had motioned to. The area wasn’t exactly in the shinier part of town, and the door looked the part. Rusted and potentially on its second or third different location. Roger came upon it from the right, looking for any sort of card reader that might show what sort of lock they were working with. Far as Elliot could tell, there wasn’t one. In fact, there didn’t appear to be any sort of lock on the door, period.

               Elliot brought a hand against the door a few times, raising his voice, “Anybody home?” A distinct emptiness was all he got as a reply.

               “Pull it open,” Roger muttered, pressing his shoulder against the right side of the door, blaster drawn. He certainly wasn’t messing around.

               With a grunt, Elliot grabbed at the bar on the door, pulling it off to the side. At some point he had to assume it had been able to slide open of its own accord, but its prime had to have been years ago.

               Once it had opened with a terrible grinding noise, Roger turned from his corner, blaster drawn. Slowly entering the darkened apartment, he allowed the blaster to shift to his left hand, right hand patting the right wall in a search for a light switch. Elliot heard the click, but hardly noticed the difference when the lights apparently came on.

               The only reason he could tell they had come on at all was that he could barely notice everything the room now, as opposed to the entire place being dark as a cave. The buzz the lights emitted gave another clue, but for all he knew that was just the buzz from some swarm of insect that had nested inside.

               “Anybody home?” Elliot called out, keeping in step behind Roger, who gave him a small nod of approval.

               The officer let out a sigh, shaking his head. His hand lowered slightly, motioning off to the left half of the apartment. “Check off over there.” With that he moved off to the right side.

               Elliot frowned slightly, noting more dusty doors off to the left, while Roger was wandering through what appeared to be a living area. The first door he found proved to conceal a bathroom when he had managed to pry it open. A quick glance in the sink told him it hadn’t been used within the last few hours, dry as it was. The nearby toothbrush meant it was getting use period, though.

               Next door he found a bedroom, complete with a dresser and bed. Approaching it, he noticed a stuffed nerf, resting on top of the covers, looking fairly new.

               “There a kid living here too?” Roger asked, having appeared in the doorway with little warning.

               Elliot bit his tongue at his first thought, hoping he didn’t jump too much at the sudden noise. Turning around he nodded, “Looks like it.” Glancing over his shoulder he gave the bed another look, “Only one place to sleep though.”

               Roger jerked his head back toward the main room, “Couch in front of the entertainment box. Probably sleeps there.” Elliot let out a snort. He hadn’t heard that one in a while. Roger frowned, heading towards a corner of the room. Elliot stood closer to the door, watching the main room in case anyone came in.


               Blinking, Elliot turned, looking as Roger plucked up something from the ground, looking it over. Elliot paled as he noticed what it was. Holocron. Sith and Jedi stuff. The few times he had ran across them, it always ended with sabers drawn and at least one person missing a bit of their body. If they were lucky. He didn’t know who was living here, but he did know the types who held on to that kind of stuff, and it was generally crazies and cultists.

               Roger smirked when he noted Elliot backing toward the door, shaking his head, “Least we aren’t leaving here empty handed. Got something to hand off to the evidence boys.”

               Elliot could only stare as his temporary partner with something between contempt and terror. As he made for, Elliot was almost certain that he was running the risk of being struck by lightning, or catching on fire from nowhere. What actually happened wasn’t much better, when he thought back on it.

               When he finally decided to fall into step behind Roger, it actually took him a few moments to realize that there apparently wasn’t a Roger to fall in step behind. Once that had registered, it took even more time to actually find where Roger had seemingly materialized, which happened to be a nearby wall.

               Somehow he was still keeping a hold on the little cube, his knuckles going white from how hard he was grasping the thing. The officer let out a groan as he slowly pried himself from the wall, the floor being colored white with all the chunks of paint it was being covered in. Once he managed to get back on his feet, he began staggering towards the door, only to be tossed aside again.

               Elliot continued to inch towards the door, eyes going as wide as they could manage. He winced as he watched Roger hit another wall, right size first, letting out a grunt of his own when he heard what he could only assume was the sound of the other man’s arm breaking. This time the holocron finally fell from his fingers, landing on the floor with a distinct clunk.

               For a moment things were silent once more. Taking a breath, Elliot moved slowly forward into the room. In spite of every instinct to turn tail and run back down the hall and away from this hellhole, he didn’t feel like being the only one to do so. Once he was close enough, he stuck a foot out, nudging the unmoving Roger with the toe of his shoe, holding his breath.

               Roger’s eyes burst open as he coughed, prompting Elliot to stumble back as though he just watched the dead rise. Pushing himself up with his good arm, the officer managed to find his feet, moving towards the door without any hesitation. Elliot followed behind him, pausing once he reached the door to look once more to the holocron.


               He felt a chin roll down his spine. The word echoed through his mind, even though he had nothing to do with conjuring it. It was easily the last bit of motivation he needed to pull the door back shut, lest someone looking for a place to stay for the evening enter. With that done, he allowed himself to bolt down the hallway as fast as he possibly could.
               The door clinked shut behind him once more, though this time he didn’t brother removing his face from his hands. The last hour or two had been spent rubbing his head to get whatever images that were likely to haunt him out of it, at least until he had some nightmare tonight.

               “He gonna be okay?”

               He heard Nadine sigh, allowing a space between his hands to see if she was nodding or not. She wasn’t. “Multiple broken bones, probably has some internal bleeding. A few ruptured organs, maybe. Didn’t really listen to all the medical jargon. Main problem they think he’s gonna have is something screwy with his head.”

               Elliot covered his face once more, letting out a sigh, “Well that’s comforting.”

               “Got some Jedi on it. Matter of waiting and seeing.” He just shook his head, not having much to add to the matter. She apparently took the hint, moving onto the next thing he could hardly focus on.

“Got an APB out on the girl. Probably get some higher up agency involved, might get her own wanted poster.”

“Probably gonna have to extend that to off-world. Probably left by now.”

“We’ve got that covered. We’ll find her, one way or another.” He just nodded. She stood. He could tell that based on her boots clicking as she walked across the floor. Her hand was on his shoulder. “You need anything?”

He finally looked up, pulling his hands away from his face. For some reason, he half expected her to ask him if he was okay. But he knew better than that, because that particular question had died a long time ago. Because she knew he wasn’t okay, and knew it wasn’t worth bothering him with asking about it.

Allowing one of his hands to rest on hers, he shook his head, “Nah. Just need to sleep, probably.”

She let out something between a sigh and a laugh, pulling her hand out from underneath his to pat him on the back, “Then go do that. Come back tomorrow and I’ll make sure you’re getting paid for the last few days.”

               It had somehow managed to escape him just how late it had gotten. When he had left the police station the light had recently left, but by the time he managed to reach his office, he was certain it would be returning soon enough.

               The climb up the stairs was as long as it had ever been. A good five minute march past a number of offices he had never bothered counting, the majority of them dark, save for one or two he assumed were filled with people burning the late night oil to churn out one more report. When he managed to reach his office door, he had to slump against it to take a breath.

               Flashing a card at the nearby scanner, the door slid open, allowing him to enter. He groggily squinted down at the floor when he heard an unfamiliar crunching noise instead of the usual carpet. In his blurry vision he managed to identify some sort of yellow rectangle that had apparently been shoved under the door.

               Bending over he picked it up, impressing himself as he managed to stay on his feet. It took holding it in his hands to realize it was some sort of envelope, a short note having been taped to it. Tearing the note from the envelope, he tossed the yellow thing onto his desk, slowly wandering towards the back room and closer to sleep.

               He could practically imagine some high lifer’s stuck up tone as he read the note, making sure to pay close attention to the curvy writing and personal stationary.

               “Dear Mr. Martin,

                              It has come to our attention that you have recently proved useful in regards to a 
most unusual case, regarding less than normal happenings. My employer is interested in speaking with you regarding a similar issue that has been plaguing their family as of late, and hope you may be able to bring the matter to a close.

               Enclosed in this envelope are the details regarding a meeting place, as well as a few articles pertaining to the matter at hand. Among these, you will also find what we hope will be enough incentive to at the least lesson to our proposition.

               We hope to see you soon,

                              A friend.”

      His eyes narrowed as he let the letter fall from his hands. They continued narrowing as he let himself fall on top of his bed. By the time they had closed, he had already managed to find something resembling sleep, at the least content that he wasn’t going to be starving in the next few days. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015


She pressed her face against the glass, eyes going wide at what lay beyond it. It was completely perfect. It was small, and really fuzzy looking, and it looked adorable. But most of all, she wanted it. No. She needed it. The stuffed animal on the other side of the window had to be in her possession, somehow.

               Not yet.

               Almaria sighed, saying to no one in particular, “But I waaaaant it.”

               And you may have it. Once you have retrieved what I have asked you to retrieve.
               The woman let out an overly dramatic sigh, prompting a few of those walking past her to glance at her with some sense of wonder, but not enough to compel them to stop. Someone talking to herself wasn’t entirely out of the ordinary, even among the Core Worlds. Enough people came and went from Coruscant, even in these lower parts, to create some sense of inevitable oddities.

               With another sigh, Almaria turned from the window, continuing down the street. Every now and then she would be prompted to take a turn, winding herself further and further down a back alley, until she was properly delivered to her destination which, as was plastered in fading neon above its door, was a pawn shop. Despite her feelings regarding the smell and the look, not to mention all the scary strangers she had seen on the way here, she knew she had to go in. That stuffed animal was counting on her!

               There was a beep somewhere in the back of the store as she walked past the sliding door. Shelves lined what little space there was, packed to the brim with odds and ends from places she could only dream of seeing, or look up on the HoloNet. Skulls sat alongside ancient technology that had probably been outdated before she was even born, with no rhyme or reason to what was placed where, or at least none that she could decipher. Just past the shelves stood a rusting metal counter, smaller bits and bobs, ranging from small keychains to even smaller chips, resting and gathering dust.

               An older man emerged from some back room, pushing his way through a few protocol droids that stood guard along the back wall, their positions fixed as though they were mannequins rather than machines. With a cough he rested against the counter, squinting at the young woman who had just wandered in.

               She offered an awkward smile, which he returned in kind, motioning her towards the counter. Letting out another cough, he waved a hand around the shop, “Anything I can help you find, miss? Or are we just browsing this afternoon?”

               Almaria took a moment to consider the ‘we’ part of his question, before nodding. “Yes. Uh. Yes, I’m looking for something.” She rummaged around in her pocket, pulling out a flickering datachit and offering it to him.

               Keeping his polite smile, he took the device and giving it a look. When he frowned, she mirrored him, tilting her head to the side, “What?”

               He quickly made to return the datachit, motioning her towards the door, “I’m afraid I don’t have anything by that description here, miss. Perhaps try further down the alley.”

               He’s lying.

               She shook her head, “You’re lying.”

               The shop keep stared her down, eyes narrowing. She had the impression that he wasn’t only looking at her, but seemingly through her, as though to someone standing directly behind her. He bit his lip, arms crossing, “Perhaps you have an order number, and I may check in the back to see if I have it on one of my storage racks.”

               One hundred and forty-five.

               Almaria’s head tilted to the side, “Maybe one hundred and forty-five?”

               The man’s face paled in the short time it took him to turn and head into the back of the store once more. A multitude of sounds filtered in through the open door, among them the sliding of boxes, the opening of latches, and even what might have been the clicking of locks. When he returned he held a box under his arm, setting it on the counter. The box was lined by a distinct band of metal, a keyhole on the side facing her. He rested what she could only assume was the key on top of the box.

               She made to test the lock, before he slapped her hand.


               “Don’t,” he said, holding the key out to her, “Do not open this, unless told otherwise. Now get out.”

               Frowning once more Almaria tucked the key into a pocket, lifting the surprisingly light box off of the counter and walking out the door.
               She wormed her way under the covers, the stuffed nerf in tow, smiling as she felt the sheets tuck under her. At the foot of her bed yet another holocron was hoisted into the air by some unseen force.

               This one is interesting, though I am afraid it might bore you to sleep.

               She nodded, looking up the ceiling. She knew she shouldn’t ask it, that she might get in trouble by asking it. But she just had to know. She wanted to know.

               Not now.

               Almaria let out a sigh, “When?”

               Sooner than you may think. 

Bedtime Stories

Boom! She let out another giggle as the anthropomorphic nerf took another blaster bolt to the face, rocking back and forth a bit as she sat. Ooo! She knew this part, she knew this part so good she could repeat it word for word without even watching, and even do all the voices, because the voices were some of the best part.

               “That’s gotta burn,” she said with a snicker, following along with the nerf’s personal nemesis, Theodore the Tauntaun as he gave a glance to the ‘camera’, its exaggerated cartoon eyebrows giving a wiggle.

               It was hard not to feel bad for the nerf, though. Sure it was mean, and selfish, not wanting to share whatever it had right now, but still getting shot in the face with a blaster couldn’t have felt very nice, and that made it kind of sad. That didn’t mean she wouldn’t laugh when the same thing happened again in a few moments.

               Click. Her lips pulled down into a pout, arms crossing as she stared down the now blank screen. Shooting a look over her shoulder, she let out an exaggerated sigh when she saw that her bestest friend was playing invisible again.

               “Heeey,” she muttered in a whine few would have not considered annoying, “I was watching that! It was only gonna be on for a few more minutes, and then I was gonna go to bed.”

               Sleep. Now.

               The words echoed in her brain as they did when her friend had decided she didn’t want to be seen. Behind her she heard the buzz of the light as it was flicked on in the background. Sighing once more, Almaria rose from the floor, dragging her feet as she went where directed.

               Was this a good day?

               Now onto the usual questions for the evening. She gave a vague shrug. “I dunno. I guess,” she muttered in a dismissive tone.

               You promised not to lie to me.

               The water in the sink turned on, the facet turned by some unseen force, as she plucked her toothbrush out of the cup and began cleaning her mouth. “Em nawt lyeugh,” she said through the soap, giving another shrug. Spitting into the sink, she began the slow sulk to her room, frowning now, “I guess not. Somebody made fun of me again.”

               I told you to stop listening to them.

               “That’s haaaard,” she said, letting out yet another whine, “I’m always too big for stuff and people look at me weird and they’re all mean about stuff, and then they don’t care that they make me cry, and then they just get even more mean.”

               Do you want me to talk to them?

               “I dunno,” she said, now with a more withdrawn shrug, “Maybe.”

               We can talk to them tomorrow, if you want.

               Almaria bobbed her head, looking amongst the small cubes that lined one side of her room, before picking one up and setting it at the edge of her bed. Crawling in under the sheets, she felt the unseen presence slowly move the sheets under her, squirming playfully as it did. Once she saw that the cube had been picked up, she rested her head back, staring at the ceiling, trying to keep still, despite her excitement.

               Ah, this one. I enjoy this one.

               She gave another nod of the head, smiling wide. Blinking a few times, the smile faded as quickly as it had come. “Hey,” she muttered quietly into the empty air, the lamp in the room switching off.


               “Am I too old for stuff?”

               You can never be too old to do anything. People just like to think you are.

               The smile returned as she nodded once more, “Okay.”

               Now. Close your eyes, and listen.