Hostages: part 1 of 7

HostagesI realized recently that no stories I’d written have appeared on this site. Time to change that.

Hostages is a short story about officer Sora Kujima, who gets involved in… well, you can read that yourself below, in installment 1 of 7 of the story.

Possible break-in

I really want to tell dispatch to shove it with their ‘possible break-in’. Technically, we’re not on-shift yet, so they can bloody well wait for us to get a coffee. Hisashi decides differently.

“Inspector Hisashi Lin and Sora Kujima, en route,” he tells the radio. “Two minutes out.”

Suck-up.

I look up and mouth ‘coffee?’ Hisashi’s yellow eyes narrow and the scales around his eyes pull into wrinkles. He clicks off the radio.

“Let’s go!” he tells me.

I sigh. I’m not a good cop. I lied my way into the academy, and I cheated on most of my exams. I like being a cop, don’t get me wrong, I just think working your ass off to follow stupid rules should not be a job requirement. Hisashi, unfortunately, not only wants to be a cop, but wants a promotion as well.

I put the flyer into vertical take-off mode and floor the gas pedal so we shoot up. When we’re high enough, I pull the flyer up into a steep arc and points us directly at Xiu headquarters. The hollowed-out asteroid is three kilometers in diameter, the inside surface refurbished as a habitat after the mining operations ended. We’re cops, on a call, so we can take the most direct route instead of hugging the surface and sticking to roads.

Three huge pillars run through the core like spokes through a wheel. I zip past one of them with only a hair’s breadth to spare.

A loud shriek tears through the flyer.

Okay, maybe less than a hair’s breadth to spare. I hope nothing’s damaged; HR might dock my pay. Again.

“Seriously?” Hisashi asks.

I shrug and he gives me a razor-toothed sneer from the passenger’s seat. Maybe I should have let him drive. Thero have far better vision and reflexes than humans. A two-legged lizard race from a world called Griese, the two-meter long carnivores are a favorite for piloting. Then again, Thero don’t have adrenaline rushes like humans.

I straighten out the flyer inches from crashing into the pavement and we shoot through the street onto the Xiu parking lot. The flyer skids to a halt with a moan from the engines. Then, silence.

“Alright,” Hisashi hisses. “Let’s go.”

He jumps out of the flyer, his tail nearly hitting me in the head.

This station is in the dullest corner of the Kyosei empire, with only two apertures connecting it to the rest of the universe, so when something exciting happens people like Hisashi jump on the chance. Personally, I care more about my morning coffee.

I shake my head. “You’re really bent on getting that promotion, aren’t you?”

“What if I am? Special response teams have all the hip gigs and all the cool toys.”

“Yeah, and they get shot at a lot.”

He rolls his eyes as I climb out of the flyer.

“Dispatch, we’re on scene,” he tells his pad, then puts it in his breast pocket and check his sidearm.

My HUD overlays the building with sound and heat signatures. Not many of those. Xiu has isolated their sky scraper like a fort. That’s corporations for you.

We cross the parking lot. No running people. No broken windows. That’s good.

The walls are made of half-transparent aluminum. As we approach I see our reflections. A short female officer with short-cropped black hair accompanied by a chest-high Thero officer with blueish scales. We look imposing. It’s the part of my job I like best.

The doors slide open and our reflections are replaced by a view of the lobby.

On one side is a reception desk, the Xiu name and logo embossed above it. On the other, a row of pillars interspersed with seating areas. Shafts of light make the marble floor glow. The receptionist looks at me nervously from behind her desk. My head-up display tags her as one ‘Andrea Misu’.

“Good morning,” Hisashi greets her as we walk through the door, raising himself up to look her in the eyes. “Aperture Authority.”

Thero are bipedal reptiles with a tail for balance. Normally they barely top around a meter twenty with their torsos horizontal, but they can rise up to nearly two meters.

“Officers,” the receptionist greets us with a bow. “He threatened me, then took the elevator to the top floor. Security went after them, but they’re not responding to calls.”

I incline my head. “We’ll go and check it out.”

“Are you alright?” Hisashi adds.

“I am fine, thank you officer…” her eyes focus on a point above him as she reads her HUD, “…Lin. He made for the elevator and left me alone, officer.”

I nod. We walk toward the elevators, passing one of the holographic projections that flank the reception desk, showing off Xiu’s newest line. The live-size 3D image of a human is staring into the distance over my shoulder. Finely sculpted chest muscles, I have to admit. It’s amazing what they can do these days.

The elevator plings softly when we reach it and the doors slide open. Inside, I see no trace that the perp was even here. I push the button for floor fourteen.

Continued next week…

Author: Martin Stellinga

I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands

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