Many years ago when I first started to write stories I tried my hand at writing a couple of Sci-Fi type stories. Looking back on them now gives me a few twinges of embarassment but there were some good bits in there that I liked enough to steal some parts to put into a more recent story – “A Small Victory”. Anyway, I thought I would have a go at using what I’ve learned about writing in the intervening years and re-edit them in an attempt to make them a bit more palatable for general consumption.
To be honest, this is more of a noir-ish story dressed up with some sci-fi window dressing cribbed from things like Star Wars and Blade Runner. The original draft was written in 1996 and clocked in at just under 13,000 words! By removing part of it to use in “A Small Victory” and deleting a lot of the uneccessary words (I was guilty of a lot of “over-writing” when I first started!) I’ve managed to trim that back to just over 7,000. It’s still not great but hopefully, it’s at least readable…
The Inspector’s Visit
Kai woke suddenly. The first cold grey fingers of dawn were beginning to filter through the window shades. He rose from the bed and began cleaning his gun. He found solace in the simple repetitive movements. His fingers moved automatically allowing the last vestiges of the nightmare to drain away.
The window afforded him a good view across the wide boulevard to the Governor’s offices. It had been one of the main reasons for choosing the hotel. They were in the heart of Uhaed City, the bustling capital of Tzutz-Ophi. From here Governor Acaquar ruled the local planetary system like an old style King maintaining only the thinnest veneer of legality in the.
He left the hotel and caught an anti-grav bus into the commercial sector. He got off at the terminus and walked the short distance through the bustling streets. His first point of call was a drugstore. Inside, he bought the basic components for a simple disguise: some hair dye and sundry cosmetics with which he could subtly alter his features. The key to a good disguise was to change the simple things, the style of your hair, the way you moved – the kind of things that people tended to notice when they passed you by in the street.
He hailed a hover-taxi to take him back to the hotel and wait for nightfall. The taxi’s droid pilot was a simple machine, unable to discriminate between the emotional states that exhibited by the galaxy’s wide variety of “biologicals”. Its programming was restricted to asking simple questions designed to ascertain the destination of his passengers and to indulge in some rudimentary conversation. This passenger was not especially communicative and therefore did not require the implementation of his “small talk” program. Being a logical machine, it therefore chose to ignore him and continued to steer the cab efficiently to his instructed drop-off point. It signalled a turn and continued silently computing the fare.
He left the hotel just after sunset. He made his way to the city’s amusement quarter, the place where humans and aliens of all races went to have their various pleasure requirements satisfied. He was dressed in smart but simple clothes chosen with an eye on blending in to the background.
The night sky was filled with brooding clouds. A light drizzle began to fall making a soft hissing sound as it splashed onto the streets. He saw the militia patrol standing on a street corner keeping an eye on the passing revellers. Their officer was talking loudly to a group of companions, commanding their attention with a lurid anecdote about his exploits with a local dancing girl.
‘Excuse me Major, I must speak with you,’ Kai said. He had deliberately misread the man’s rank insignia in order to massage his ego. The officer turned to look at him. His face bore the typical look of contempt that Kai was sure all military types had trained into them at the Academy.
‘What could you possibly have to say to me that I might be interested in?’
‘I have information about a possible plot against the Governor’s life.’ He watched the Captain’s eyes widen. Kai looked around. ‘I do not feel safe discussing it here.’
‘Wait here,’ the Captain told his men.’
The rain was falling harder. It lashed against the streets, gurgling noisily as it streamed into the drains. Kai led the Captain into an alleyway. Their path was lit with garish neon street signs. The Captain was looking at Kai with an air of suspicion.
‘All right man, out with it! I’m in no mood to fool around.’ He said, looking around at the dripping walls. The gun that had suddenly appeared in Kai’s hand focused his attention.
A bolt of energy lanced from the muzzle of the gun and struck him in the chest. The look of shock remained frozen on his face as he crumpled to the dirty floor of the alley. He lurched forward, reaching out an arm towards his assassin. His fingers managed the barest touch before Kai stepped backwards out of range.
Kai scanned the entrance to the alley. He hoped that the noise from the clubs and bars had disguised the sound of the shot. He needed to move quickly before the rest of the patrol came looking for him. Crouching by the still warm body, he opened up the man’s smouldering tunic and began to search for his Identity papers. He could feel the rainwater soaking into his clothes as they met the puddles collecting on the ground. He spared the corpse another glance as he pocketed the papers. The rain fell into the man’s lifeless eyes and ran down his face in rivulets that looked like tears.
He stooped down and grunted with effort as he shouldered the corpse, hoping that the recently deceased officer would be mistaken for just one more drunk carried home by a conscientious companion.
The crowds of revellers had thinned since Kai had first entered the amusement quarter. Those that remained were too intoxicated to spare Kai much of a second glance as he stumbled back into the street, waving for one of the cruising cabs to pick him up. After a few minutes, one slid smoothly to a halt in front of him. Kai piled his silent burden into the back seat and climbed in beside him.
‘Good evening Gentles, where may I take you this fine evening?’ said the droid pilot, running his “For Hire” introduction tape.
‘Just drive,’ Kai instructed the automaton, his mind racing. He needed time to consider his next move.
‘Certainly Sir. Where would you like me to drive to?’ replied the droid, seeking some further clarification.
Kai gave him the address. The droid’s glowing photoreceptors regarded his other passenger for a moment.
‘Thank you, Sir,’ the droid replied, turning his head back to face the controls and beginning to pull away from the curb. As the cab rejoined the central traffic flow, he spoke again. ‘It is my duty however, to make you aware that my company imposes a substantial penalty payment should your companion decide to regurgitate inside the vehicle.’
Kai laughed, the tension draining from him as he did so. ‘Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem,’ he said sitting back in his seat, able to relax a little for the first time that night.