Lost Blonde (cont)

“The governor and his immediate staff look after admin and senior security positions but the penal block, catering, and medical departments are run by your people. That’s why I need you to find some old friends of yours and have a chat.”

Triton Bliker’s gold-flecked brown eyes stared warily at Craddock sitting behind his desk. ‘Blink’ to Craddock and precinct 51 colleagues, was a naturally suspicious man. Orion, his home planet, had been colonized by Craddock’s ancestors hundreds of years ago. The Governing World Council of senators on Thorus began modernizing and educating a society they found to be backward by an estimated hundred years. Two penal colony’s were built on Metron, one of the three moons around Orion – Metron open facility I for white collar offenders and Metron II maximum security.

The Orians were promised homes on Thorus but the council limited the number of residential registrations to Orians employed in local government only. It was also an offence to have mixed relationships and marriage due to physical differences between the races. As Orian’s infrastructure and technological advancement developed, its people began demanding independence or integration with the Governing World Council. For several years, a small group of sympathetic Thorus terrorists had been causing damage to government buildings and Craddock was at the forefront of tracking them down.

Blink’s sympathies were with his own people but he valued his job. Married and the father of a boy, he lived in downtown Tranquillity thanks to a few favors Craddock pulled in from City Hall. Loyalty to the police and especially to Craddock was solid. Loyalty to the cause back home was something he was born with.

“You want me to shake my boys down?” Blink put a hand on his head and adjusted the black wig.

 Craddock motioned to him to pull the wig back a bit. He always found it a little disconcerting to look at the man when he did that. Orians were smooth-skinned and hairless. Without eyebrows, Blink looked distinctly conspicuous. Craddock once advised his sergeant to lose the wig but was told forcefully to mind his own business. Despite the man’s sensitive and sometimes insubordinate nature, Craddock liked the man.

“As far as the break is concerned I’m gonna’ be very surprised if this turns out to be anything other than an inside job.”

Blink placed a hand on the desk and bent his seven-foot frame to look over Craddock’s shoulder as a holocaust the port security service had sent was loaded into the holoprojector. A large cube of recorded three-dimensional images popped up above the projector.

“This is the ship coming back – the one Elsinda was supposed to be on.” He tapped Blink’s hand. “Go around the other side and look at the rear of the passengers coming toward me. You never know, if Despy did get past security he could be hiding behind a group. Bloody security only has one camera on the exit ramp, stupid bastards.”

They watched for several minutes and then played a second holocaust. There was nothing.

Craddock took the electronic key file Hayes had handed him earlier. “Let’s take a look at Johnny’s record.”

A wide screen on the office wall lit up as Craddock pushed the key into a slot on the desk computer consul. Johnny Despy appeared as an unshaven, long-haired lout. Below his mug shot was a long list of offences, dates, and sentences. Craddock studied the list for some time.

“Can you see anything unusual about that?” he asked, pointing to the screen.

Blink shook his head. “Nothing unless you're looking at the little shit’s hair.”

“In the seven years since his first conviction, there’s no record of an attempted escape or violence while serving his time. Inside he’s been a good boy and been released early each time. So why escape now? He only had a year to go.”

“Elsinda,” ventured Blink. “That little cow causes trouble just looking at a man.”

Craddock grinned. “Well, if she didn’t get the flight back I guess she’s living it up in the Shadows. My bet is Despy’s with her.” He pulled his jacket off the back of the chair as he stood. “He may have abducted her – the forthcoming marriage etcetera. Whatever, let’s get this afternoon’s flight and book in with the Metron governor so we can get an early start tomorrow.”

They walked out of the building and across the concourse to the Skyway carport, one of two hundred that stood as part of the integral structure of the transport system. Each Skyport was a terminal where carpods could park or change tubes and direction. The passenger bus and taxi service was fully automatic and operated on a raised level within each tube. Passengers could get off at each stop and shop in the Skyway mall or walk the precincts to their workplace. Several tubes ran out of the city to large industrial facilities such as power, water, and manufacturing factories – all situated out of sight the other side of the low-lying hills that looked down on Tranquillity. Two dedicated tubes ran back and forth to the spaceport where a regular shuttle service took visitors, prisoners, and workers to Orion and Metron.

Like the rest of the system, expansion was needed as the population grew – a population that grew twice as fast as the Orians who were limited to two children while Thorens were not and cross breeding was against the law. It was another piece of legislation that Craddock found himself having sympathy with the terrorist group over. Many other laws needed changing, the most notorious one being the new amendment to the mental health act that decreed all those declared incurable of mental illness by the age of thirty should be euthanized. Orian, on the other hand, had no such law and a lot of the mentally ill, especially the criminally insane, ended up in the Shadows.

Accompanied by Blink, Craddock crossed into the mall and took a glider up to the Skyway port. The surroundings were a far cry from the ‘Shadows.’ He remembered the shock as he visited the sleazy lawless shanty town that had gradually spawned and expanded outside the prison walls. Always in semi-darkness because of Metron’s orbit pattern between Orion and the sun, the place was a festering watering hole for dangerous men, some of whom had left the penal facility and found life close by a profitable proposition rather than returning to Thorus. Bars, prostitutes, drugs, and gambling ran twenty-four hours a day. A police force of Orians kept the peace, or what there was of it but there were just as many thugs with uniforms on as there were lawless inhabitants. Craddock detested the place.

The Skyport terminal was empty of travelers. The early morning and midday penal commute were over and it wouldn’t be busy again until the evening rush hour. The mid-afternoon flight they were catching would turn around for the rush hour. Blink collected their boarding slides while Craddock made a few inquiries with security about Despy. He was assured that Despy would have been stopped should he have tried to enter the port – just what Craddock expected but it was worth asking a few questions and letting them know he was on the case and might want to talk to them later.

The two hundred seat cabin was almost empty except a few businessmen and a couple of prison guards returning to duty. A short buzz on the intercom announced a one-minute warning before take-off.

Craddock pulled the strap across his body and leaned back into his seat. He rubbed one of his knees as a sharp stab of pain coursed through it. His mind wandered back to the day he had come face to face with terrorists inside one of the power plants that serviced Star City. It was the closest he had come to arresting the leader of the group of activists, Dirk Skaggs, an ex-interplanetary trooper with a long record of violence. Injured and left for dead, Craddock had made it a personal promise to himself to track the group down and bring Skaggs and his organization to justice. The group was sympathetic to the Orion cause but had turned to murder in recent months. Three Senators were dead, and being pulled off the hunt for their murderer had annoyed him. He would be thousands of miles away from the action and looking for a damn blonde. He closed his eyes as the ship lifted off its cradle and put the blonde out of his mind. The two-hour journey afforded a welcome chance to doze.

Next chapter


This is very convincing. I presume slides are our equivalent of money. It's great to have created a new kind of currency along with travel and social system. This is a good story. It feels expansive. I like the concept of rush hour in space. I wonder what the social impact would be of always being in semi darkness on Metron. Hmmm interesting.

Thanks. I am finding this very challanging but rewarding. What I am attempting to do is not only create a unique world but transfer ourselves, our language, and our social and cultural problems we have today and have them as part of 'tomorrows world.' My main character is modelled on a 50's American detective. It sounds weird but I like the way it is working out. We'll see.

I really enjoyed reading this. Definite SciFi. :)