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Searching for Karjan

June 06, 2011
by wert

2

I stood there for a second my jaw slack with shock. I realised that this might be considered suspicious so I tried to turn it into a smile. The Zionite looked repulsed so I quickly stopped, settling into hopefuly a more business like face. I tried to sound steady:

“Of course gentlemen, I’ll be happy to show you my, um, humble abode” I mumbled.

They immediately all pushed past me into my apartment and began rifling around amongst my things. One Canthin roughly tipped over my bed and looked underneath. One of the other Canthin moved into the kitchen and I sidled after him in order to see what would happen. To my surprise Karjan was no longer in the room. I quickly realised he had somehow squeezed out of the tiny window above the fridge. It was still open and a draft was coming in from the street. I went over to the fridge and pretended to get a beer. I offered one to the lumbering Canthin brute behind me and as he grunted angrily and turned away I took that opportunity to close the window. After more anguished ruffling and mess making from the brutes and their Zionite captain, I was summoned into my living room.

“Humph, well we’ll be keeping an eye on these premises and if the criminal returns we will be onto you both. Harbouring a criminal is a grave offence”

“But what criminal Mr Zionite sir” I replied, petulant, but he and his cronies had stormed out.

Sighing I got to work sorting out my apartment righting the bed and picking my things up from the floor. The flesh bar upstairs had turned up their music and the incessant electronic beat was beginning to give me a headache. I headed back into my kitchen and got myself a glass of water. As I drank I thought about Karjan. What had he got himself into this time? We had all heard about some of the stuff he had supposedly done during his years in finance but there were special laws for that sort of thing. Bankers were generally exempt from such basic galactic laws such as fraud and perjury (or at least they were until the collapse) so it couldn’t be any of that stuff. I wondered what he hadn’t told me. I needed another drink. As I poured the amber liquid into the glass I lit up another prohib and wondered what to do. I needed to find Karjan, for one thing despite some bad feeling he was still the oldest friend I had. But how to find him? If he was telling the truth he had no way of getting off-world anytime soon, his ship was docked in orbit and out of gas. But he could be anywhere. I decided quickly that if I was going to do anything I would have to get out of my apartment and start searching now.

So, I headed up the short flight of stairs that linked my basement to the alleyway outside and from there I strode meaningfully out into the street. Fortunately this little backwater where I had found myself wasn’t the largest burg I had ever been in. Most of the area was storage for the multicorp. Something told me Karjan wasn’t going to be spending the night hiding in an metal crate. It wasn’t his style. So that left the parade of shops, the shuttle dock and the plethora of app buildings (apartments I mean). The apps would be difficult to search and looking in all the shops would be long and tedious task. So I headed to the shuttle port.

Unfortunately Karjan was nowhere to be found at the shuttle port. I did catch sight of one of the Canthin waiting in the recreation lounge but I managed to duck behind a Cula vending machine before he spotted me. As I headed back home I looked in the shops that where still open but Karjan was nowhere to be seen. The café-bar where we had talked earlier that afternoon had closed for the night- the windows were darkened.

I returned home dejected. The red flashing neon of the flesh-bar seemed inviting in the cold night air. I checked my pockets, I had enough money. As soon as I entered the sweaty smell of the bar assailed me, I had to squint to see in the low light, and the pumping music momentarily deafened my ears. The bar was half full at best, a number of patrons sat at tables each with a female of their same species. I took the crumpled money out of my pocket and handed it to a Herreni in dirty white suit. He showed me to a table. The Herreni presented me with a menu of sorts. On it where a list of names, Cassandra, Marvette Florente etc. etc. I was just scanning the list when I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned in surprise behind me was another man dressed in the standard white suit of a flesh-bar compere. His face was shrouded in shadow.

“Karjan is not here Jac,” the mysterious creature said “You must ensure that Galean and his cronies do not find him, they are not good people Jac not ISF either. You must stop them.”

And with that and without me able to get a word in edgeways to ask the mysterious stranger who he was or how he knew Karjan he was gone. I would like to say he disappeared in a puff of smoke but what actually happened was more prosaic. Just as I was about to speak there a sudden spluttering from the bars sound system and then both the sound system and the lights cut out completely. I was left scrabbling in the dark. I heard the voice of the stranger behind me:

“Take this, I hope you don’t have to use it”

I felt the stranger slip something into my hand. Then the lights snapped on. I whirled round but there was no one there. The other patrons and I looked round confused. I looked down at what I had been given; it was a ISF issue laspistol. It seemed that things had suddenly gotten very serious.

part 2
unfinished
science fiction
Searching for Karjan
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