There was a sudden loud bang and the front of the Tevarin’s head exploded. As it slumped to the ground, Mary got up and saw Daniel standing behind her, holding a smoking pistol in his hand.
“Well, the agreed call signal worked”, he said, “Who is this Chris Roberts guy anyway?”
“He was a brainy kid I went to school with. I don’t know what happened to him though. Said he wanted to be a Wing Commander or something…”
At that point, the door to the shop crashed open, revealing a very angry Donald Hood. He turned around and saw the dead Tevarin on the ground, then noticed Daniel’s weapon.
“What did you just do with...” he started to say, then Daniel shot him in the head. Donald’s body collapsed to the ground, twitched a couple of times and was still.
“What did you do that for?!” Mary screamed, “He was completely unarmed!”
Daniel holstered his weapon and looked down at the second person he had just killed in the space of a few minutes.
“He knew that we’d stolen his client list and he’d have told everyone he could that he was blown. Including our assassin. Also, to be quite frank, the galaxy is better off without him and his garden gnomes. Now let’s get out of here”, he said, trying to sound as cold as possible and not entirely succeeding.
He started to walk out of the alley, then stopped.
“If Sunita asks at all, Donald shot first”.
As soon as she’d heard the gun shot, Sunita Kumar had taken advantage of the distraction and ran out of the shop as per the previously agreed plan. She found a public toilet and gave her mouth a through rinse out. With soap.
Her mind wasn’t entirely focussed on what was going on with the rinsing though. Having heard two gunshots in quick succession, she was naturally very concerned about Mary.
She then made her way back to Tuskegee Airman, fearing the worst. Seeing Mary in the medical bay, being treated for her injuries by Becky (who had learnt a decent amount of medical knowledge growing up on a farm; she had helped cattle give birth after all), was a massive relief.
It then became a case of working their way through the data to try and find who the likely candidates were. Having found the bullet casings on the beach gave them a clear and obvious product to look for, allowing them to eliminate the people who had, for example, only bought anti-tank missiles or items only suitable for use by spacecraft.
They soon managed to get their list down to three people who had purchased the particular type of round.
“Well...”, Mary said, “We can probably eliminate the mining corporation from the equation pretty quickly. So we’re down to some antique collector named Llewellyn and an independent concern by the name of Whoops A Daisy Trading. Fortunately, we’re got a security camera photograph of this guy stored with the records…”
She pulled up the picture, which was of a bald African man with very bushy eyebrows and two missing teeth.
“He shouldn’t be particularly hard to find… but we’ll need to locate him. Sunita, do you fancy going with me to hit up a few bars. Even if we ask around, we’ll probably draw him out even if we don’t find him usually”.
Sunita and Mary found their way into a dive known as the Smelly Shack, which didn’t look like a shack but was most definitely smelly. Custom meant that they were going to need to have a few drinks and sources in bars were very wary of people who didn’t drink alcohol.
After three strawberry beers (Sunita didn’t know this was a thing, but clearly it was), their drinking companion of choice, a Banu merchant, gave them what they needed.
“He’s called Mr. Jones. He’s staying at the Kiddie World Convention. Strange that such a big man likes the things of infants…”
“What’s the Kiddie World Convention?” Sunita asked.
“Basically, a lot of adults decide to act like children for a weekend. There’s big slides, ball pits, swings, all that. Plus, there’s a lot of drinking involved, which is even stranger…”
Mary wrote this down on a pad of paper. She didn’t want to forget the information under the effects of alcohol.
There was certainly a lot of that involved. Around drink number six, things become a bit hazy…
The following morning, Sunita woke up with a pounding headache, a dry mouth and a general desire for the sweet embrace of death.
She opened her eyes and took a look around. It was clear that she was not on her own ship, or indeed in the hotel. There was the distinct smell of spaceship around, so she figured that she was on Tuskegee Airman. Probably in one of the guest cabins.
This was confirmed when the door to the cabin opened and Becky entered, holding a tray. The tray contained a cooked breakfast, a very strong cup of coffee and a fizzing glass of something that was almost certainly intended to aid with the intoxication of last night…
She got up to a seated position and noticed a pile of dried vomit up against one wall of the cabin.
“Was that me?” she asked Becky, “If so, I’m really sorry about that…”
“It was, but you’re forgiven”, Becky said, placing the tray on the bed. Sunita started eating the meal. It tasted very good or as good as you could get when your mouth was like that.
“Did we get the required information?”
Becky shrugged slightly and handed over a notepad. The handwriting was barely legible.
“Can you read this?” she said, “I think that’s a ‘n’, but I can’t be sure…”
Sunita took a look at the paper and started to try to piece together Mary’s chicken scratch with her memory of the previous night.
“Where’s Mary?” she asked Becky.
“Sleeping it off… Apparently she used to be much more able to handle her liquor”.
Was she writing this with her weak hand?
It took a few painful minutes to piece the relevant information together.
“His name is Abraham Jones. He’s nearly 2 metres tall, African in appearance and is built like a brick… something house…”
“Well, he’ll probably not be that hard to find…”
Having dealt with her hangover as best she could, Sunita had changed into another outfit, this one to go to the Kiddie World Convention. She was wearing dark blue shorts and a green football shirt, under which was a white bikini. A pair of strappy sandals complemented the look.
“He’s got VIP access to the Convention and will probably be found in the VIP Lounge of this. You can get in with a VIP ticket, but you have to do something first”, Becky said.
“What do I have to do?” Sunita asked.
“Well… prepare to lose your dignity…”
“Sunita Kumar, it’s karaoke time!”
Karaoke? I don’t know who invented the idea, but I’d like to go back in time and punch him in the face.
Sunita got to her feet and walked over to the microphone, wondering what monstrosity she was going to have to sing. She looked down at the virtual screen in front of her as the music began to start.
I know this tune… it’s rather a good one…
She smiled and started to belt out the tune.
Her name was Lola, she got Ebola
With vomit in her hair and loads of real pain everywhere
She would be nauseous and be real gross-us
And while she fought the bad disease, her friends divvied up her cheese
Across the iso-ward, the stiffs were turning cold…
The diverse crowd weren’t exactly booing at this moment…
His name was Davies, he got some rabies
He’d been bitten by cavies in a pet store, said Mavis
Someone started to clap.
In the D-Ward, the Viral D-Ward…
The hottest spot north of Wisconsin…
In the D-Ward, the Viral D-Ward…
Viral infections were spreading like presents
More people started to clap.
Her name was Asia, she was contagi-a
With Marburg, measles yeah and salmonella, it’s not fair…
There were increasing cheers as she finished…
Don’t go to Maine!!!!!!!
She took a bow and smiled as the crowd went wide. The MC walked over and shook her hand.
“The ‘Maine War’ song is such a catchy tune for such an unpleasant event in our history and you really gave it a wonderful go. Can we all agree what she is?”
“VIP! VIP! VIP! VIP!” the crowd chanted.
Well, that’s one phase done.
She stepped down, collected her ticket and then decided to go play in the ball pit for a bit before making her way to the VIP area.
As Sunita clambered into the hot tub in the VIP area, a waiter came over holding a tray full of glasses of coloured liquid with umbrellas in them. She looked at them and picked the light green one. It tasted distinctly minty, more so once she had drunk it. She looked around discreetly, finding that a 2-metre high man was harder to spot than you might think, especially with some many other people around, many of them in limited attire and some of those pretty handsome…
However, she wasn’t going to have to wait for long. Soon she got a glimpse of 160kg of pure muscle heading her way, dressed in a big pair of black shorts that wouldn’t be out of place in a boxing ring.
He looked at her face and the waterproof plaster on her right shoulder, then moved over quickly to her.
His large hand moved over to her head and shoved her face into the bubbly water…