HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

18 ROAD TRIP


Well, this goes about as well as I expected. If anyone’s wondering why I didn’t want to call him, it’s this. Many of the Security Council don’t know me. The few who do are concerned about my illogical methods. Except for Postlethwaite. You see Postlethwaite and I were involved in the same case once and he, seeing the fact that I wasn’t much cop as a heartless killer of targets, financed my relocation to Caldera and my ‘exotic’ set up. OK, it probably didn’t cost him much but he was only a senior IOC agent at the time. The point is that he doesn’t do the things he does because he doesn’t trust me or because he doesn’t believe in me. He does what he does because he’s concerned for me and there’s some times that that’s actually worse for me.

Anyone else I could convince that I need to deal with this situation myself and convince them that the call is just a formality and a ‘for your information’. Not Henry, though. I’m barely through the opening line about Sonia Cala and he’s leaning forward, tapping away on his computer to access the picture my eye camera took of Drummond’s scanner readout. It’s not exactly proof but it’s enough for him to act as it’s me. A founders fee will have been allocated to my account and Agents will be notified with near immediate effect. They’ll be here in a day or so and I’ll have been successful. I’ll have kept Salara alive and I’ll never hear the end of this. I don’t mean people will keep telling me how my actions helped. I mean I’ll never find out what happens from this moment on. So there’s not much choice, is there? I have to press forward. I have to solve this lunacy before they get here to save me.


The ‘conference’ is still going ahead, despite everything. Drummond’s got extra security provided by the local Police for the conference centre and there’s a U.S.C. Clipper – the Fallir I think – providing extra security at the spaceport and customs. What with the size of Equinna firearms, a paradise planet has never been so well armed. I seem to recall hearing that on some sci-fi vid show. It’s corny but it’s apt. As it is, I have a lead, thanks to Dakrin. He popped into the local security cam program and took a peek at the cameras around here for the last few days and he’s found a local taxi picking up a Mican from close to the hotel. She actually hired a cab from here? Unlikely but you never know. The cab may be on its own time. But I’ve got the licence plate and I’m running it on the local database. I sigh. I’m going to need to make this official quick.


Derek’s not entirely happy about the access to the cameras but he’s happy to take me to the cab company offices. He doesn’t want IOC agents here any more than I do. It makes it look like he can’t do his job and that’s lethal in election year. Is it me or does it seem like it’s always election year when Federals visit Sheriffs? I want to go back to being on a beach, sipping cold drinks. Reminds me, I’ve not had a drink all day. Not even Coffee. In that time I’ve met a stone killer, been close to an explosion, wandered around a hundred foot up outside a tower block and identified a terrorist. It’s been quite a day. And it’s not stopped. After half an hour of negotiating their computer records we find out they don’t actually have any records for that vehicle at that time but they give us access to their positioning database and it was last recorded heading out into the wilderlands on the day we mention.


Last recorded. Like that’s not just a bit ominous? There’s a call, apparently, saying he’s ill but who really believes that sort of thing these days? Anyhow, it’s out to the boonies as soon as I get back. Salara’s already renting the car for us and ignoring my advice that she was to stay in the hotel. Dakrin, of course, decided he was driving and he’s got his tongue hanging out of his mouth as he drives at quite an impressive velocity through the politely growing grasses and bushes towards the mountains beyond. “Perhaps we’ll be able to go skiing after,” Salara jokes – I think it’s a joke. “If things are sorted out early enough?”

I tell Dakrin to wind his window up as Salara’s shouting in my ear to be heard over the wind. He complains but acquiesces. “Haven’t you got a sales conference to prepare for,” I ask.

Dakrin groans. “She’s all ready, boss,” he claims. “I learned all about profits and political aims and deals and pressure points…”

“Entertaining him whilst I was out,” I ask Salara as Dakrin goes on, keeping his eyes on the road ahead as we overtake an automated truck.

“Nothing douses amorous intent more than company talk, Harvest,” she tells me as we close in on a small roadhouse. I have a bad feeling about this place.


I was right. A roadhouse on a world where the rich play is just as expensive as the places in the city. And the occupants don’t look any more appetising than your average thug. Although they all have briefcases and their leathers are of a brand that repairs itself when it rips. Their.. Hang on. There’s three auto trucks out in the parking lot and fifteen truckers in the restaurant? Where the heck have this lot come from? I ask the waitress, a Osiran, when she comes to take our order. “Showoffs,” she says, smacking gum in her mouth as she talks, giving her tones a snap and crackle, “they get dropped off here in the morning and stay here half the day, making deals and whatever.” Her forked tongue flicks out as she finishes and launches something that looks like a small piece of carapace onto my shoulder. It’s a good shot in many respects but makes me wonder what the hygiene people would have to say about this. “Whatchawant,” she drawls, digipen ready to take orders. I take a Coffee and a simple Ham sandwich. She asks if I’m sure about the coffee and I nod in reply. Dakrin decides to risk the tea and an unwarranted advance before settling for a prekilled chicken as the live ones are Off. Well, I call it chicken but I don’t think they’re green and quite the size of the things around the back. Salara is going to risk a salad until I remind her that Osirans aren’t great at salads. She avoids the humorously named ‘Purrito’ in case it’s not humorously named. Have the others made a single sound since we came in? Why do I feel that most of these ‘business deals’ are on the illegal side of legal status? I’d say never mind but we are after a terrorist. Salara graciously chooses a steak and fries. I rooster an eye ridge. It doesn’t seem her style.

She smiles. “I’m still Canid, you know,” she confesses.

“Bet you don’t get many Micans out this way,” I say in jollity, looking around at the others quickly.

“You’d be wrong,” she tells me. “There’s been a couple through the last week or so, hun.” I must admit I regret asking her that now. Something in the returning quiet conversation is raising my hackles. “Headed for the ruins, they were. Figure they’re archaeology types.”

I hope she’s right. If she’s not…
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Just for his sake I hope that she is right. Though it would be REALLY entertaining if she wasn't. :lol:
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Oh, the next part was fun to write. Equinna are horse people. Truckers drink strong Coffee. And Harvest, a much smaller person, is about to have a mug of Equinna Truckers' coffee...
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

So basically he is gonna be jumping off the walls and so hyper he looks like he is on something then. :mrgreen:
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

19 DINER


I think we’re about fifty miles from the archaeological ruins right now and I’m thinking we should forget food and get back on the road. There’s something oppressive about the clientele in this roadhouse and it’s not just the way they’re staring at my hat. (I’ve taken it off and it’s on the seat next to me.) Our waitress is pleasant enough but the others are clearly paying absolute attention to everything we’re saying and doing. I can tell by the way they’re all far too obviously not paying attention to us. I decide to check on things at home and on the Hunter Killer Bounty Hunter website and there’s trouble getting on. No signal. The others seem to have signals. I hope no-one spotted me using the wrist computer as it hints at them using a ‘private’ network. I could have the thing scan for it but there’s a chance it’ll tell them if if I find it and I might end up becoming a mouse-kebob on a pike. Or hit in the face by a concrete briefcase and buried up to my ankles in the desert. Head first. I could do without sun burnt paws. Do they have a desert here? Probably on a luxury golf course or something. Oop, someone’s coming over.


A Celican truck driver steps over, keeping dungarees a size too big up by the expeditious application of his hand in a pocket. He’s got the smell of the non existent desert about him and he’s chewing something that patently isn’t a mint. He’s losing a little fur on his head, which may be the reason he’s wearing a baseball cap. Mid fifties, I’d say. He scritches his teeth with a claw. “What’s three tourists doin’ out here,” he asks. “If’n I can ask, of course?”

“Bit intrusive,” Salara replies, “but we’re going to take a look at the ruins. I’m with the University of Pandera and Professor Callis told me to look them over.”

“They’re not looking their best this season,” he opined, giving me an idea that he was being discrete about telling us not to go out there.

“I didn’t know ruins had to be caught in season,” Dakrin remarks.

“I’m meaning the access roads,” the trucker tells us, lying through his teeth, “they’re often unpassable at this time of year. Rockfalls from the hills, that sort of thing.”

“It’s certainly something we’ll need to watch for,” I put in happily as what passes for lunch arrives. This is a Ham sandwich? It looks like a grilled doorstop. And it’s probably just as good to eat. I eye Salara’s steak. If I swung it, I could probably KO this Celican. Dakrin looks at his thawed Chicken and puts the menu up so I can’t quite see what he’s doing. Of course I CAN see the feathers flying in all directions. The Coffee’s truckers coffee. Spoons don’t stand up in it, they dissolve. The sugar’s artificial and healthy and actually dissolves calories as the latest diet craze. Shame it tastes like bananas. They’re working on it. “What you hauling,” I ask as I put three spoonfuls into the brown sludge to make it drinkable. The thing has to be stirred quickly to keep the shine on the spoon.

“Agricultural machinery to the south,” the trucker grunts. “They’re too cheap to use a shuttle so I get the job. Keeps me drivin’, I suppose.” He glances out the window

I glance quickly in the same direction. He’s identified a truck.

“What you drivin’,” Dakrin asks, subconsciously dropping a ‘g’ to fit in with the other. He’ll need to watch that. He’ll also need to watch the feathers up his nose.

The trucker divulges what he’s in command of and Dakrin indicates that the guy might actually be on the level. He knows enough about vehicles to tell if the guy’s on the level and he kind of is. So he’s probably just over here to chat up Salara. Which I can’t blame him for. After a moment, she slips him his reward with a coy grin and he ambles back over to where he’d been eating something that looks remarkably like it had been alive before he hit it with a truck. Roadkill Cafe. Bring your own. He quaffs a beer that has me hoping his truck has auto drive.


Salara manages to spatter me with a bit of saliva as she rips a chunk out of her steak. I drink my triple caffeine banana drink. My tongue survives. The sandwich isn’t bad either. It tastes like something close to ham. The Ham’s artificial. The cheese is unexpected and doesn’t have real cheese in it. The spread’s margarine. It’s an artificial lunch. Whoo, this is powerful coffee.


“What was that about,” Salara asks as we get back into the car and head back out towards the last place the taxi was seen. I’m buzzing. If Dak drives too slow I could probably run. Salara’s keeping me from lifting off, I think. Jittery and hyper alert, I’m looking in seven directions at once to see if anyone’s following us or watching. My eye’s buzzing with the amount of photos I’m taking. It’s going to max out the camera memory and I can’t stop.

“Just a trucker trying to warn us about going on without actually warning us,” Dakrin comments as he starts the car up. There’s helicopters between my ears. They’re not as quiet as shuttles and keep going up and down. I could do with a hamburger or five. That was good coffee. Thank the stars Dakrin had tea. Salara pops me up into the seat and straps me in before putting my hat on and strapping herself in befre Dakrin takes off at slow speeds that actually push the speed limit. She makes me eat an anti-tox tablet and I giggle as I watch birds fly backwards. It’s a quick acting tablet, though, so it should only be a few minutes before I should be coming off the caffeine ru…


Ow. Well, that’s one way to get a banger of a headache. The truck’s gone by, the one the Celican’s driving. And he sounds the horn as he goes. I think my head explodes and I’m surprised when my hands find it still attached to my neck.

“Don’t chase the big rig,” Salara says. Her voice sounds like it’s coming from both sides of my head.

“It’s canines that chase cars,” Dakrin calls back. “I’m only part Canine!”

“And part Feline,” she remarks. I need to remember that coffee. It might do wonders for all night shifts. Perhaps I can stop by there later and get the waitresses opinion? And number? No, forget that one. There’s no future in a relationship between me and her. What relationship? She only served us a meal and coffee. No, wait. Coffee! That’s what I want and what she knows the name of and where to get it and wow, things are spinny.


“Welcome back,” Salara says as I realise she’s put a paper napkin from the diner under my chin so I don’t drool on my suit. My head feels like it’s stuffed with gummibears. “We’re about half an hour out, I think.” An hour. I’ve been out an hour. No wonder my mouth’s dry. We’re still driving through fields but it’s more off the beaten track here. It’s not highways between trees, it’s single lanes between hedges that I can’t see over. Dakrin pulls over. “Are we here,” Salara asks.

“No,” he replies, “but there’s something I think I just saw…” He stops the car in a passing spot and I pour myself out of my seat and relearn how to use my knees. Dakrin’s out and walking back to the nearest corner, where there’s a tree and the birds are chirping with the volume turned up to thirteen There’s a hole in the hedge. We can see the archaological… archiolig… we can see the dig from here. Then again we can also see the ruins of an overturned vehicle that someone’s tried burning and that’s a lot closer to us, down the slight incline. It’s not quite remote out here and there’s a good chance this would have gone unnoticed for days. Because there’s something that doesn’t smack of an accident about it. The charred corpse that’s still in his seat speaks to that.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

What a really entertaining chapter that you posted! Keep on writing the chapters like this please! ^^
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

20 ACCIDENTAL ENCOUNTER

OK, so I’m near a corpse that’s not been picked at by the local animals as it’s a little over cooked right now. It’s quite hard to destroy a modern taxi by fire as this car proves. Much of the chassis has survived, although internal upholstery has gone in the blaze that practically melted the seats. Belts don’t melt these days, being made of a retardant material, but he’d made no attempt to… ooh, a butterfly. Concentrate. He’d made no attempt to get out. Of course he hadn’t. He was dead. There’s no sign of anyone else in the vehicle but I have the feeling things are staged. Maybe, when my brain’s working straight, I’ll be able to figure out why. “There’s no tracks,” Dakrin tells us from closer to the road the car apparently left at velocity. I look up, thinking he’s on to something. “No damage, I mean,” he continues, pointing to the ground. “At the speed to get from the road to the eventual position it should have damaged the ground with the tyres, shouldn’t it?” He suddenly looks a little unsure and I ignore the headache that’s beating a Beatles track in my nut.

“Yeah,” I say, my voice still sandy. “Plus it’s flipped, Dak. It’s on its roof.” I wave a hand and note the wavy lines it leaves behind it. I wonder if it’s that sugar that did it? Or the fact that I’m a FieldMican drinking stuff that’s supposed to keep Equinna awake and perky? Fortunately it’s not affected my brain too badly. Unless I’m dreaming, in which case I really need therapy. Dreaming about corpses and mysteries with a Celican and an Afgar on a paradise planet with terrorists hiding around every corner is more the plot of a Celican bonkbuster movie than my life.

I look towards the ruins. It’s the remnants of a small palace of some sort, laid waste by time. It’s falling down, the stonework buckling and decaying and something’s glinting at us and not in the good way. Not in the way that I can believe it’s all in my brain. “Salara,” I say, “can you call this in sweetie?”

She reacts somewhat and I don’t know why. She covers it well, though, flustering a ‘yes, yes’ and I hear her activating her comm. I asked her to do that because I feel we’re going to have company in the next few minutes and it’s best if the local LEO’s… well HORSIE’s.. heehee… are known to be on their way. It’s an accident scene. Better make it that we think it is anyway.

“Sweetie,” Dakrin mutters into my ear.

“Pardon,” I reply, wondering when he got there.

“You called her ‘sweetie’, boss.”

“Did I?” I think back. Uh, oh. I DID, didn’t I? I blame the caffeine. I can hear vehicles approaching. I THINK I can hear vehicles approaching. It might be the blood in my ears. I twitch my ears. I’m still wearing my hat. No wonder my brain feels like it’s in the shade. I can’t exactly take it off now. Nowhere to hide it.


They pull up and I hear a gaggle of voices. An Equinna, a Canine and… uh, oh. They called her Mrs Cala. The person I was looking for is coming right at us. They’ve reached the gap in the hedge and they’re coming through. “What’s happened here,” Cala asks.

Before Dakrin can drop us in it deeper than we can breathe, I step in. “Looks like some sort of accident, I think.” Perhaps she doesn’t know who I am.

She joins me in looking at the wreck. “Must have been travelling too fast,” she opines. “I wonder who the poor fellow is?”

“Well, no doubt the police will be able to follow up on that,” I offer, making out that I hadn’t done initial checks for a very good reason. I hadn’t done any initial checks. “Looks like he’s been here a couple of days at least.”

“Well, the animals haven’t started on him,” she agrees with the civility of evil ringing in my ears. “What are you three doing out here,” she asks.

“Oh, we, er, came to see the ruins,” Salara answers. “Professor Callis at Pandera U. told me to look them over whilst I was here on holidays. Makes a change from the beach,” she adds.

“I can appreciate that,” Cala says, using a tone that said she didn’t appreciate it in the least. It was practically a snarl of derision. What’s Dakrin doing? He’s moving around behind the Canine as the Canine watches Salara. She’s doing what she can to keep his attention on her, simulating taking a call from the local fuzz – what a ridiculous term that is. We’re all fuzzy. In this case, though, I’m meaning the cops. The Equinna’s watching the road. “I presume you’re going to head back now, after this? I can’t imagine you and your…” she glances over at Dakrin, “...student,” she adds, raising her voice slightly to notify her companion, “...would be heading over there today?” Dakrin puts on an angelic face as the Collian quickly looks in his direction.

“Well, we’d hate to have to return without seeing them,” Salara sighs.

“But it might be an idea,” I add. “I wonder if that diner has rooms?”

“Don’t have the coffee,” she advises. The shakes in my hand agree with her. Does she see those? She has her eye on me, I know. “Although I might have given you the warning too late?”

“Lucky the student’s driving,” I admit, trying to grin. I’m not sure if my facial muscles are working well enough. Or too well. She has experience with the coffee? Oh, yeah, the waitress did say she’d stopped by. The equinna’s moving towards Dakrin… “Speaking of which, I add loudly enough to wobble my own brain, “you should go check on the car, Mister Dakker,” I call, “make sure you didn’t damage anything with that jolt stop you did.”


He nods and begins to turn away. There’s an Equinna blocking him - did I mention him - but he ducks swiftly down to the left and under the hand that absolutely doesn’t try to grab him. He puts on an effortless turn of speed towards the gap in the hedge as things get a little violent and it’s not me that starts it. Salara straight arms the Collian in the face, knocking him off his feet. THAT’S what starts it. There’s no way she’s just a business type. She’s far too cool, calm, collected and hard punching. I have to push Mrs Cala aside as I draw my firearm or Dak’s not going to get much further. Salara kicks her target whilst he’s down as the weapon charges up in my hand and I open fire on the back of the Equinna. Does this thing have a stun setting? Fortunately he’s massive as it means the three of him share a great deal of the same space and I hit him in the top of the back, making him crumple hard to the floor. “This isn’t the way I want to do this, Mrs Cala,” I tell her honestly, “but it’s how they’ve turned out.” I grip her hand and pull her towards the hedge, past the fallen Equinna. He’s moaning so he’s still alive.

“You won’t get far, Mister Moon,” she states, declaring she knows full well who I am. Who WE are.

Dakrin nips back past us and puts his hands in the Equinna’s trouser pockets. “Not after a cheap thrill, boss,” he tells us as Salara joins us, “need his keys.” He grabs the E-Key he was after and tosses it in the air to catch it. “We can’t use ours,” he adds.

“Why not?”

He grins and scratches the back of his neck. “Forgot to fill up at the diner,” he admits. “We’re near out of fuel.”
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Always bad when you forget to refuel your car. That has happened to me multiple times. LOL. Nice chapter though!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

21 ON THE RUN

Their car is bigger than ours. Still, that’s not surprising. Bad guys like driving big cars. It gives them an enhanced sense of their own awesomeness and a place to fit bodies into their trunks without having to raise the seats. I manage to get in without Salara’s help as I follow Doctor… or is she Professor… Cala into the car with an understanding that, if she tries to escape me, I’ll ventilate her shoulder blades.

She’s quite calm about things as it happens, securing herself into the seat as though she was used to doing it herself and not being used to someone doing it for her as she was so important. I take the seat on the opposite side, behind Dakrin and about a foot away from Cala and I flip the gun to my prehensile tail whilst I fix myself in.

“Can you really bring enough pressure to bear with your tail to fire that,” she asks, indicating the gun as I finish and take the gun back into my hand.

“Probably,” I admit, “but I’d not like to find out, Doctor.” I tell her, not letting on that I so nearly dropped the gun. Dakrin’s powering up the car. I hope he really knows how to drive this thing because there’s very little chance no-one was watching us from the ruins so, after a high ranking scout came out to see what we knew got kidnapped by us. Did the Council ever find the Husband?

“It’s actually Professor Detective,” she tells me.

OK, it’s time for it this time. “OK, Professor Detective,” I reply, eliciting a groan from Dakrin as he pushes the car into first and accelerates to sideswipe a Canine who’s just staggered into the road and started to level his weapon at us.

Salara turns around to face me. “You didn’t just say that,” she accuses.

“You didn’t disarm him,” I accuse back.

“It’s my first assault and kidnapping,” she says glibly, “I was improvising.”

I turn back to Cala. “I really hope he’s a bad guy. I’d hate to have to pay his medical bills.”

She sighs. “Have I been captured by a carnival act,” she chastises.

I shrug slightly. My shoulder blades hurt. “You should see us doing handstands.”


I’m not sure Dakrin should be doing sixty down a one lane track but I’m not exactly in a position to argue as Salara does her best to direct him through the t and y junctions back to the main highway and I’m noting she doesn’t seem to have a map. Oh, she’s got an app on her comm. I wonder how far out the Police are? Where IS the nearest Police station? Why don’t they have shuttles and teleporters? Why am I thinking these questions now? Is any of that important? No. Just mental soup. “Why did you have to kill that guy,” I ask her.

“And the attendee at the hotel,” Salara adds.

“I don’t know about the person at the hotel,” she sniffs haughtily, “but that guy was a misogynist pig who overcharged on his fare. I would have had him killed even if he hadn’t seen our people by the ruins.”

“Ah,” Salara nods, “off-season.”

“Off where,” Dakrin says, his face tense through concentration.

“Never mind, Dak,” I say, imagining vehicles behind us and wondering how this seems familiar. Dak skids around a corner and scratches the paintwork on bushes. My teeth are buzzing. I turn back to Cala. “You might as well tell me, you know. What’s coming after our tails?”

She looks peaceful. Serene. In control. Annoying. “If I tell you nothing will the racing driver slow down,” she asks with absolute equanimity.

“He won’t believe you,” I guess.

“Well there’s seventeen cars with about thirty Wolves coming after us, then. I’m sure they’ll go easy on you if you let me go.”

“Not a good idea,” I retort as Dak swings the car to the left. I can see the main road in the distance. Or it might be the golden road to the Pearl city with the way my ward is going. I hope there’s no hill to come because, if there is, we’re going to fly. Unlike earlier, this time I’d hit my head. “I think I’ve got an idea on what’s going on,” I state, “but I’m still coming down from a Coffee and sweetener high. Any chance you could clear a few things up?”

She looks at me and smiles quite sweetly. If she wasn’t co-founder of a murderous criminal empire I might be fooled. If I was into women who could be my mother I… well, I wouldn’t be. I don’t like my family, except for one sister who’s a colonial deputy governor and meets me in secret once every few years so I don’t spoil her chance of the top job. But I’m not fooled, despite my headache. “Any particular subject?”

“Well, the car bomb that killed the Farna tech representative comes to mind. Nearly came to my head too.”

“Oh, so the cab DID come to the hotel in the end,” she replies. “I’d begun to doubt that little plot was going to work as it hadn’t in the first couple of days.” She looks a little serene. “That was merely to ensure the conference – conference,” she repeats with venom, “it’s a sales meeting. Nothing more, nothing less.” She looks at me coolly. “Monta, Raicarra, Fawren, the rest..?” She glances at the back of Salaras’ head here. “The companies are dividing up the pie in the new colonies, Mister Moon. Hers included. We’re helping in the positioning by clearing the path.”

“For Monta,” Salara asks.

“If you wish,” Cala says, tilting her head slightly. Non-committal. And still unafraid as Dakrin almost T-Bones a hatchback as we hit the main road.

I raise a thumb towards the scene. “This road is empty,” I ‘tell’ Cala. “Nothing for miles in either direction and we almost crash? What’s the likelihood of that?”

She nods. “It does seem rather absurd.” Dak pushes the car up closer to a ton. “This may be where the road ends, though, Mister Moon.”

“You say that like I haven’t got a gun on you,” I tell her.

She appraises me. I probably come up short. I usually do. “You’ll see in a moment.” She’s actually amused.


Ten minutes or so later we’re flooring it close to the diner.


Oh, look. The four trucks that we last saw there are all on the road. And they’re heading straight for us.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I just love the fact that he casually is saying that there are 4 trucks that are gonna go and plow into them at that moment. Great job writing this again!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

22 TRUCK STOP

OK, four trucks coming at us and Dakrin’s speeding up. He’s playing chicken with them, I think. I wonder what my epitaph would read in the press. I wonder if the last line will read ‘died flattened by a quad of juggernauts. Leaves one grieving sister, friends and a landlady who we can’t find for a quote.’ It’d be a small ceremony, I’m sure. Tasteful if they don’t go by my will, which makes reference to dancers. The sides of the road are pure grass verge, thick and lush and very hard to drive through for any length of time. Salara’s holding her breath as death approaches at a hundred miles an hour. “They do know you’re on board, right,” I ask Cala.

“Depends on who told them what,” she replies. Her tone indicates that she’s not quite sure herself. “If they’re ours, of course,” she adds, trying to cloud the issue. I don’t believe they’re racing trucks. No flame decals for one thing and racers are very unlikely to stop for hours in a roadside cafe for another. They’re getting really close…

“Dak…”

He continues to look ahead, stone faced. “Don’t… disturb me… now, boss…” he gets out before we…


...pass between two of them with inches to spare on either side. I’ve never been this close to wheels and they keep blasting noise around me, setting the bells going in my brain again. I don’t know if it’s Daks skill or if one of the truckers parted at the last minute but we pop out the other side of the trucks and Dak keeps the pedal down, speeding us from the group as they slam on the breaks and start turning. I’m thinking we’re out of danger for now. I’m probably wrong. The Police haven’t turned up to the reported ‘accident’ yet. Either they’re some distance away or they’re not coming.

“Want the good news or the bad,” Dakrin says as soon as his jaw unclenches. I think there’s claw marks on the steering wheel. “We can outpace them,” he grits, “but not for more than half an hour. We’ll be out of fuel by then.”

Oh, yeah, THAT’S what this reminds me of. The last time with Calavix. The main difference is that that was at night and this is early evening. It’s been a busy day. I need to make a call so I extract my comm and use my tail to dial.

“That’s quite impressive,” Cala says, watching my tail tap buttons with unconcealed amusement.

“Thanks,” I tell her drily as the comm connects to a local supermarket. I hang up and try again. “Engaged,” I tell her. Why am I excusing myself to her? I make sure I get the number right this time. I tell the person on the other end that I need to speak to Derek on a point of urgency. I state it’s kinda life and death and he agrees to put me through after blocking a few times and getting me to tell them that is was, actually, a life and death thing and I wasn’t using hyperbole. I regret using that word. For a moment I think I’ll need to define it. But he puts me through and I manage to give him a brief synopsis of the situation. I have to include the fact that Professor Cala is not only on the planet and wanted by the U.S.C. but she’s right here in the car with me under ‘arrest’. He reminds me that it’s just a citizens’ arrest until logged and only I could manage to annoy an entire criminal gang by grabbing their leader. I have to agree with him and hang up.


A second call to Bulldog follows and I can hear Dakrin grumbling about the fuel situation. We’re going to need to find some place to hole up, especially if that shuttle I can see in the distance isn’t the cavalry. Well, not OUR cavalry anyhow. It’s coming in low over the road. How low? Well, about eight foot up right now. It’s not a customary cruising height for those things and I’m pretty sure the guns aren’t commonplace either.


They come down, almost touching the ground, in front of the car and Dak figures it to be for warning shots so he takes to alarm, swinging the car around in a way that makes it near inevitable that he’s going to lose control and flip us over and over. “Couldn’t they wait,” I ask Cala quickly.

“Like I know,” she replies. “They’re not mine.”


The words strike home as my brains try to leave through my left ear. I’m thankful I’m strapped in right now. This lot aren’t hers? Oh, look, I can see the trucks behind us as we travel in a mad spiral of circles; like demented ice dancers. Why haven’t we flipped yet? Why am I asking that? Why haven’t they fired yet? Why am I asking THAT? Would anyone notice if I threw up? I KNOW why I’m asking that. The word slows as the car buries itself in the grass verge and things go black for a few seconds. I can hear firing. And explosions.


The Professor makes to escape but the door’s jammed enough for me to retake the initiative and slap her back against the seat as Salara brought herself around. There’s no sound from Dakrin in the drivers seat. Because he’s not there. Celican speed, I think. He’s out of the car and opening the door to check on me. “I’m fine,” I tell him. “Get her.” I indicate Cala and he moves around to the other door and doesn’t open it.

“Boss,” he calls, inviting me to join him in having weapons pointed at him by people in stealth outfits. They don’t look the sort of people to have cocktails with. They move with precision and flair, despite their heavyset physiques. I can detect they’re Felines and Celicans, mind. Because they’re not wearing headgear beyond black band goggles. As one of them yanks the protesting door open, their leader approaches and I realise I know him from somewhere… Larius Brack, Bounty Hunter.

“Long time, Harvest,” he says, sweeping the goggles from his Celican face. His teeth are still glistening with saliva. He does it just for effect, I think. A little spray of mist before coming over, I think. “Nice finders fee for this one, yeah,” he asks, practically wrenching the Professor out by her arm. “Makes up for the charges my lot just used on them trucks.”

“Not bad,” I admit carefully. This one’s a dangerous type, ready to kill if you disagree with him on anything important like bounties, tactics or who controls the vid remote. “Nice timing, by the way.”

“Figured you’d like that.” He throws her to a Feline who sprays her with something that makes her go limp and carries her to their shuttle. “Now we have the capture bounty,” he adds, gallantly helping Salara out despite the fact she doesn’t want his help, “I can be gallant and offer you a lift back to the city?”

“I suppose we can accept,” I grumble. Dakrin looks at me so I take him and Salara aside. “I know this guy,” I tell them. “Dangerous but honourable. Despite bounty stealing.” I shrug. “If he wants us dead, he could do it now. But he knows the steal means he owes a debt so he’s paying it now. Besides which,” I add as I begin to back pedal towards their shuttle and point to the skies behind them, “there IS another reason. I doubt those shuttles are his,” I add, turning around and running from the three incoming vehicles.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Hope that he can run very fast then. No way he can outrun three vehicles. LOL
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Well, he only had to get to his 'friends' shuttle.

23 SHUTTLE

Brack’s spotted them too. He practically has his ship up off the ground before I’m on board. Salara and Dakrin both have to jump in behind me, with one of the merc squad helping Dakrin in after Salara grabs my hand and almost pulls me back out of the craft. Thankfully I’m holding on to a railing with my other hand and pull her in. The hatch closes behind Dak, catching the hairs on the tip of his tail and pulling a few out to an accompanying yelp before we take seats. “Always the fun with you, Harvest,” Larius calls. “Do you ever do anything that doesn’t result in chaos?”

“I’ve had plenty of non chaotic cases,” I claim, being pretty sure I’m lying. From the look on Dakrins’ face, he’s even more certain I’m deluded than I am. He might be right. We select our seats as Larius speeds up the take off. I’m kind of sure the sounds I can hear from outside mean someone’s shooting. Story of my day, really.


We take seats next to each other in the middle of the craft, half the mercenary group behind and half, obviously, in front. Cala’s in one of the front seats. I glance to Salara. “So, you handled yourself well back in the field,” I tell her complementarily.

She smiles slightly at the compliment and her tail wraps around my waist. “Nanny Lorin insisted I learn self defence,” she states politely, “I found teachers to keep it up.”

“Great,” I say, “another thing I need to thank her for.”

“Would you like me to leave you two alone tonight,” Dak cuts in cheekily.

A voice chimes in from the front asking, in a way that’s not asking, if I’d like to come up front. I think Larius wants a word in private. I’m right. The door between the two sections closes behind me as I take the co-pilots seat.

“What, no co-pilot,” I ask.

“Wouldn’t trust any of them who could, pal,” he tells me, turning sharply to starboard and making me thankful for seatbelts as I hang on to it to stop from getting thrown into a bulkhead. The shuttle settles and I take the co-pilots seat again and strap myself in. “If they could fly this thing they wouldn’t need me, would they?”

“There’s something to be said for that. How did you find us?”

He taps a console on the dash. “You’ve not changed your comm in ten years, Harv,” he reminds me. “I still have it logged. Soon as I heard you’d claimed the ‘founders fee’, I knew you’d go after her and get in over your head.” here it comes, I know… “Mind you, lots of things go over your head, don’t they?”

“Ha ha.” he twists the shuttle sharp to port and puts the nose up. “Thinking of firing back,” I ask.

“Can’t,” he confesses. “The weapons were impounded on Frarana. I was planning on using a bit of the bounty on her to get them back.”

I laugh. “You took weapons to Frarana? A religious commune colony? Bit of a risk wasn’t it?”

He rolls his eyes. “Tax and bureaucracy as a religion. Sheesh. The bounty wasn’t worth that much in the first place. So,” he continues, changing the subject with all the subtlety of a wrench to the back on the head, “what are you planning to do with your finders fee?”

I could tell him anything and he’d probably believe me but I suppose he could do with the truth. He’s less than a friend but more than an enemy and it costs me nothing to admit the truth. “Oh, spend it whilst I keep doing my job. I’m Salara’s helper for a security sales symposium that’s taking place. Professor Cala was a suspect in a fair few things that have happened over the last few days but it seems she’s only responsible for half of the events, not all.”

“Need any help?”

“There’s no bounties in it,” I say, half lying. I note Henry’s not tagged Balbury as ‘found’, even though he actually is as I had the recording from the bug to show him. He probably knows the same as I do. Balbury’s already gone. He’d know I’d have to tell the IOC about him so he’d shifted away to a safe house as soon as he could afterwards. Heh. He might be in my first hotel. “And it could well incur the wrath of a major munitions manufacturer in time. Probably better to get her…” I held on as we banked sharply across the road we were shadowing. It was the direct route back, of course.

“Shuttle UZ492B to Darena Core control, over,” he says, holding the communications tab down so I can hear the voice on the other end respond. “Yes,” Larius says, “I’m coming in with an official bounty but we are being pursued by armed shuttles…” He grimaces and almost bites his tongue as a shot impacts somewhere on the shuttle, shaking it hard. I think the Fraranans also impounded his shields. The voice on the comm says they’re relaying the request to the local militia and the U.S.C. Vessel. Oh, right. I’d almost forgotten the Fallir was up there. The odds just turned in our…


...Well, within the automobile. They’ve hit the engine. We’re losing height and speed and we didn’t have enough of either to begin with. Oh, look, we’re about to hit the city. Quite literally, too. Oh, the locals are going to love this… “Could you try to avoid rush hour,” I ask as we come in low over vehicles that are now trying desperately to be somewhere else.

“Do my best, little bud,” he replies, turning starboard to try to get to the coast. Oh, look, I can see the beach where this started. Well, we’re still losing height but those glints in the… Ow, I bit my tongue. Fortunate I didn’t do much damage as we get hit again. Those glints in the sun are hopefully a sign of the cavalry. It’s certainly got the people pursuing us in a bit of a tizzy. They’re circling to run away from the incoming fighters. Oh, I think as they strip past us on their way to attack intruders, it’s the Militia. Obviously the Fallir’s Starlancers aren’t up to date. Or they’re not coming. “We’re not quite going to make the spaceport,” Larius claims. “Better tell them back there.” He opens the door again. “Sorry about the turbulence, people,” he calls back. “We’re having a bit of engine trouble. As in we just lost our engine and we’re about to crash land. If you’d all care to hang on to something, I’ll try to put us down as gently as possible…” He pushes down and lowers us towards a golf course that’s about to have a new bunker stretching from hole 4 to hole 16. I hope there’s no lakes.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

It will be really intriguing to see how the golfers react to a bunker blocking the holes for their game. Impeccable work as always Welshy!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

24 CRASH

Ouch.

I think that’s the best word for it, slamming as we did into the road, skidding along for five hundred yards, crushing a bus stop with no-one waiting as the bus service hasn’t started yet (it’s for the tourist trade), bouncing off a small house and coming to rest on a small, grass, verge rather too close to a cliffs top end than I care to approach at speed. At least we missed the Golf course. We’d probably have been fined for vandalism and barred from membership.


When crashing, grit your teeth. It stops you biting your tongue off. It’s something they tell you on every shuttle journey in those terrifying hazard announcements they give you just before they lift off and just after they’ve sealed you in. I’m just about uninjured with the exception of whiplash that I’m going to try to ignore as much as I can because I’m the hero of the story and heroes are stupid. I would have slammed my face into the controls several times – like Larius did – if I’d been much taller. I can still taste blood in my nose. It’s interesting. It tastes like Pollasta. I remove the seatbelt that’s going to leave a mark and gingerly stand up as the floor shakes. The windscreen’s cracked and a lot of metal’s buckled around here. And things are sparking. I check on Larius’s pulse. He’s bleeding from the nostrils but he’s alive. “Anyone awake back there,” I ask shakily.

“I am,” says a voice. It’s one of the mercs, I think. My vision swims for a second as I turn too quickly. It’s a Feline male.

“Help me with the others,” I ask as I check on Dakrin and Salara. Both out cold but alive.

“Little trapped,” the Feline claims, indicating the buckled buckle.

“Hit your head,” I ask. “You’ve got ten knives to hand, haven’t you?” I check on Professor Cala. She’s taken some broken bones and I’m actually thankful she’s out cold with drugs. She’s not going to enjoy that broken clavicle when she comes around. Nor the broken toe she only sustained because someone accidentally trod on it whilst checking she was alive.


There’s knocking on the door outside. Well, we weren’t knocking from the inside and there’s knocking so it has to be coming from outside, doesn’t it? The door’s a bit broken so they’ll need to cut it open. Dakrin’s coming around and complaining of a headache. Now he knows how I was feeling earlier. I release him and he catches on to the fact he’s broken – or sprained – a wrist and yelps out for a medical pack. The Merc tells him there isn’t one. After all the expense of buying the shuttle, Larius couldn’t afford one. Dakrin looks sorry for himself but holds still as I take the belt the Feline rendered and affix the wounded arm to his side tightly. He goes to look at the door to see if he can open it. Break the code, open the door. Simple as.


Three other mercs are awake before Salara comes around and opens the seatbelt. She steps up and checks herself over for wounds. It seems she’s OK, I check the back of her neck. It’s all fine. The door opens slightly, under Dakrin’s ministrations. About five inches. Not enough for anyone to get through – not even Fieldmicans are that trim – but enough for several sets of fingers to get into the gap. Normally that wouldn’t mean anything but these are Equinna fingers. They’re attached to Equinna arms and Equinna muscles and this isn’t one of those shuttles where the door slides into the wall. It uses hydraulics to open and, if you want something with Horsepower..? Well, ask an Equinna, I tell myself as the door protests its way open. It took four of them, one holding the ship in place and three on the door itself, to open the door and we blear at the faces looking in at us.


The Medical Officers from the ambulance step aboard as a gaggle of Police keep the nosey parkers back away from the crash site. Had we hit any vehicles? It didn’t seem so but I can only see as far as I can see and there’s a lot of dust and debris bringing down the house values. I step out with Salara and she keeps me upright as a knee buckles. Derek’s steaming over at a rate of knots. I hold up a hand. “Before you start,” I say before he starts, “it’s all to do with the active bounty captured by ourselves and Larius Brack’s team. The old Mican female in there. She’s injured but you need to get her in custody IMMEDIATELY and contact the U.S.C. that you have her.”

“What..?”

“Now, Derek.”

He looks stunned. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered him to do anything before and probably would never have the courage to do so again. He needed to get it done was all. He accepts that and details officers to go in the ambulance with her. Seriously, how big ARE those things? Five Equinna can fit in one! Salara’s refused to be seen by the medics and keeps pointing to me. I don’t know...Hmm, I’m bleeding. I was wondering what the warm feeling on the back of my head was. Must have cut it on the seat or something. Oh, great, it’s stained the inside of my hat.


Derek takes us aside and drives us to the Hospital as we’re not leaving Dakrin or, indeed, any of the others as they share my absolute ability to cause mayhem in a nunnery – Derek’s words, not mine – and we settle into a room with one door as he gets a recording device and some fluids for us to replace the fluids we discharged before he took us into the room. Well, it’s been a long day. My head is stitched – just a gash, apparently – and my hat’s on the table so Salara can fuss over me a little – my idea, not hers. “Are we really going to give that pirate equal credit,” Salara demands. I get the feeling she doesn’t lose many boardroom battles.

I shrug. “We’d never have outpaced those shuttles,” I remind her. “He did kinda save our lives and he now has to get his transport repaired.” I chuckle slightly. “At Darena Core prices as it’s not exactly spaceworthy right now.”

She sighed politely. “I suppose we do owe him that. He’s not getting involved in the rest of this, is he?”

“Maybe after he can walk,” I remind her. “But we do need to do things quickly now.”

“Why so?”

“Because they know we have her. All of their plans are now in jeopardy. Either they’ll junk them or…”

“They’ll activate them early.”

“Mmm. We need someone to watch what Monta do. Do you still have your comm?”

“I do and…” she paused. “He’s a long time getting that recorder…”

I nod. She’s right. I open the door.


I can hear weapons.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Hope that Harvest is prepared for whatever they have. Something tells me things are gonna start to get harder.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Sometimes you gotta be the hero...

25 MEDICAL EMERGENCY

Salara doesn’t quite know what to do. I, unfortunately, do. I don’t have a weapon on me at the moment as Sheriffs don’t much like people to have weapons on them when in hospitals so the smart thing would be to stay here. But that’s also the stupid thing. One door in, one door out. If they come for us we have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Chances are they’re after Cala and chances are it’s her husband behind it, either in person or in declaration. I check the way is clear and direct the pair of us to a nurses station. “Hi,” I say to the worried – well, more petrified than worried – Raitchian nurse hiding behind the desk. “Can I ask for your help?”

She shakes her head. I heard the new guys in the neighbourhood, from that planet Karen or whatever, shake their heads to mean yes. I don’t think she’s practising that so I put my hand on her arm. She flinches.

“Listen to me,” I say urgently. “I don’t think they’re coming this way but you need to see if we can get out.” I look her in the eye. I can see there are people in each of the five rooms. Kids, parents and other adults. “You need to get your patients out.”

“But… but I don’t… I don’t know if I…”

“Then help me do it,” Salara says, being as firm as she can be. “I take it you’re going to try and get Dakrin, Harvest?”

I look at her, somehow seeming to stand tall and proud despite being hunkered behind a desk. “Well, I would kinda miss him,” I reply, downplaying my concerns for the idiot. “If police and U.S.C. security forces aren’t here by the time you get out? Call them.”

“Yeah.” She scoots forward to give me a kiss that makes me deaf to the gunfire for about twenty seconds. “For luck,” she says.

“Guh,” my mouth says, not translating the declaration of thanks my brain had planned. First… What’s first? Oh, yeah! A weapon! “There, um, any medical supplies around here,” I ask, fully aware of the stupidity of the question. “Um, Scalpels and other cutting stuff?”

She indicates a drawer with emergency equipment in it and I take a metal scalpel and a small bottle of sanitizer from it. I’d much prefer bleach or something acidic but beggars can’t be choosers and this stuff’s got alcohol… ooh, and Aloe Vera… in it. I can see Salara wonders what I’m going to do with the things. It’s simple…


Two floors up and I’m close behind someone involved in the assault. I’m pretty sure he’s not one of the Sheriff’s force as he’s not an Equinna, he’s not wearing Police armour and he IS shooting at them. And he’s backing towards me. I duck into a side room… which has three children in it, trying not to be scared as terrifying events go on around them. I smile a hopeful smile. I’m not totally sure it works considering the wounds of the last few days so I raise my hat to be polite… and remember someone’s wrapped a bandage around my nut to keep the back of my head in. I just urge them to keep down.

You want a nasty blade? Take the one you’ve got and add stuff to it. In this case, smearing hand sanitiser and… ooh, cough medicine? Can I get the cap off in time? Yup. Hand sanitiser and Cough medicine to the scalpel blade. The attacker’s almost made it to the door now. He backs in and makes to shut the door except he doubles up in pain as someone stabs a coated scalpel blade into his lower back. He calls out in pain, doubly so as I pull the thing out with a trail of sticky stuff now coated in red glinting in the artificial light and thrust it up into his hand. The shot goes somewhere above my head and into the wall behind me as he underestimates my lack of height. It won’t last. The Celican might have dropped his gun due to having a knife in the wrong side of his hand but he still has the hand that slaps me around the face, bruising my face and splitting my lip as I spin away, pulling the blade out in an extremely erratic manner as no Horsey cavalry rides to the rescue. They’re probably trying to figure out what’s going on. They’ll be here in a moment. A moment too late.


I don’t go down. The slap wasn’t that strong and I do know how to ride a blow, even when my head’s on fire and my arm wants to split in two and I slip between his feet and put an elbow into the back of his knee, bringing him down towards the ground where I can punch him in the back of the head. Should have used the scalpel but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be fair play. Not to mention the effect it would have on the kids, seeing someone stabbed in the head. And I can see them watching with unblinking eyes. My dance partner growls and reciprocates my elbow, smacking me in the nose and making me smell my own blood and feeling the crack of my own teeth. Well, they’re supposed to do that. I spit jagged bits out to the floor and jab the blade into his spine and twist it around to see what damage I can do. I think I get the target. I aimed for the one to the left of the central Celican as I see about ten of them at the moment. He freezes up and his back involuntarily arches as a roar of pain escapes his lips. He drops to his knees as a Sheriff’s officer appears several times at the door. “What kept you,” I breathe, looking an absolute treat, I reckon, with blood from my nose, head, arm… “I’m… not staying here,” I add, picking up his weapon at the second attempt. “One down.” I swallow and check the weapon. I almost drop it once. “What, um, happened anyhow?”

He tells me of how they’d almost been set up when the gunners had struck, coming in through the accident and emergency entrance that the Police hadn’t used because Cala was an important prisoner. With that delaying the assaulters, they’d managed to contact the Council ship and get the Professor and the two wounded Celicans up to the bay on the ship – Derek’s idea, I suppose – but they hadn’t been able to spare any security to protect the hospital. He didn’t know why. There were still a few assailants around, fighting Derek’s forces.


But Dakrin’s safe. He’s not here. My turn to get out now. But I can’t. I can hardly bring these kids with me and I’m not leaving them here as the Deputy steps on the Celican to stop him trying to move.


Half an hour later and Derek’s got prisoners. Three of them survived the defence and he’s annoyed as two of his didn’t survive the attack. He’s appreciative of my efforts but I get the clear impression that, once I leave Darena Core, I’m not going to be allowed back. Apparently the reason the Fallir couldn’t supply any security is that they were busy attacking the ‘unknown groups’ base at the ruins. Which are now extremely ruined. And the other Cala wasn’t there. He wasn’t here, either.


So where is he?
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This is starting to get far more intriguing than I could have ever thought! Great work once again!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

One thing I sometimes like doing is indicating Harvest is lucky to win fights. It can't ever be too easy for him as he's a small guy without much power, despite all his training. And he doesn't go for kill shots most of the time.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I take t that means he is reluctant to kill anybody unless he really has to. Shows that he has a heart.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Exactly. Plus Private eyes that drop bodies willy-nilly get into big trouble with Sheriffs...
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Pretty sure that he doesn't want to get in trouble (or even more trouble) with the sheriffs as that would definitely end up ruining is private investigation career. :|
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

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26 IN THE CENTRE

Bulldog’s not impressed. Bulldog’s not happy. Then again, neither am I. It’s been a long day and I mostly just want to sleep. But it’s far too important to check out the conference centre and security right now. In the last twenty four hours or so there’s been an attempted hit on at least one of the guests here, a corrupt employee and a car bomb all attached to a conference that’s stubbornly refusing to move from the most impressive conference centre I’ve seen in a good long time. Of course, I’ve also been involved in two shoot-outs and an abduction today but he’s not annoyed about that. He might, however, be a little bit narked that I survived. Chiefs often are. And I’m not counting out Calavix just yet. They have more than one base, I’m sure of it. They also, probably, have more forces than a ten person squad from a clipper ship can deal with if they are to carry out the assault this conference(!) demands. Bulldog’s right. They’re still a threat.


So we pass through the main doors to the auditorium and I can see all the booths laid up, ready for use. Bulldog lets me know, in no uncertain terms, that he’s on top of this. The room was set up under his direct supervision by trusted staff, the Sheriff’s department was providing extra muscle for security to go along with a squad of Wolven he’d hired based on his knowledge of them from his time in the milita, there were roadblocks being set up and automated anti-shuttle defences in place. In short, there was nothing for me to do here. He’s probably right but nothing breeds over-confidence more than arrogance and, like most Wolven, he’s as arrogant in his own pride as anyone I’ve ever met. I run through that last line again, just to make sure it makes sense. Yeah. Mostly. He’s decent enough to ask about my wounds though. He’s almost slavering as I tell him but does offer the services of the hotel medical centre. Funny how he didn’t offer that after my first encounter with a pistol butt. Of course, he does have other information for me. “The security agent Mister Penwick organised will be here tomorrow,” he tells me. “A Canid called Barwick.”

I look up from underneath a desk that has a conspicuous lack of gas cylinders attached to it. “What’s your opinion of them?”

Drummond looks around from where he’s examining a pipe with the detached look that pretends he’s not interested in any of this. He is, though. “I don’t have an opinion. Records indicate he’s good, though. He comes highly recommended by his company.”

“I don’t care what they think,” I reply, checking out the view from behind the secured ‘glass’ windows. “I don’t know them. I know YOU. And I’m pretty sure I can’t take a specialist.”

“I’d be pretty sure you couldn’t take a toddler,” he retorts with a snort. “But I’d be wrong, wouldn’t I? You saying you trust me, ‘Bulldog’, to do my job?”

I bonk my head on the underside of the latest desk. “Oh, so you heard about that, huh?” Ow, but that hurts. Even through the hat.

“I’m not offended,” he claims. “Much.”

“Heh.” I poke my head out. “It’s a compliment. In the books, ‘Bulldog’ Drummond’s a rough, tough, unhandsome, intelligent brute of a Private investigator type.”

He snorts again. “I’ll have to read them someday. I take it you’ve found nothing?”

“Of course not,” I claim, having taken account of the large, open, vista outside and the views over the city, out to sea from one side and towards the plains from the other. I give passing thought to where the anti shuttle weapons are and how Bulldog’s arranged it so they don’t shoot down innocent drones but it strikes me that there probably aren’t any innocent drones in this area. Much too middle class for the kids here to play with. I know something’s missing. Something I need to ask him about. But I can’t think what it is. Perhaps I’ve been hit on the head too many times today?


Salara stopped for groceries on the way back here and I’m a bit confused as to why but she’d insisted she needed to do something normal today and I’d spent the time watching for assassins amongst the Frozen Dinners and bottled sodas. The reason becomes obvious when I traipse up to her penthouse and wave a hand at the guard on the door. I’m too whacked to speak much, I think. I flap a hand and he announces me so the door gets opened. As I walk in, the Holochef’s doing things with knives that would make me fret if I weren’t something of a professional and he weren’t… wasn’t, I mean… a preprogrammed, uh, program in a locked off computer. Salara greets me and gives me a hug as soon as the door closes and I have passing thoughts worthy of a guy but unworthy of a gentlemican. I hold her gently… Well, I hold her shoulders anyhow, I can’t get my arms all the way around her back. She picks me up. I’ll find it embarrassing later. I can get my arms around the back of her neck and I think she needs this as much as I do. More so, even. She’s had the adrenaline rush fade for a couple of hours. I’ve had it fade a couple of minutes. She needed someone to hug. “Are you alright,” I ask her ear. (It’s nearer to my mouth than the rest of her.)

“Just let me hold you a few moments, Harvest,” she asks, her voice on the verge of breaking.

“We’re fine,” I tell her, rubbing cheek to cheek. “We’re fine.” I rub the back of her neck and she pulls back slightly before returning to the embrace, holding me tight enough for me to forget all my injuries as I’m probably a minute away from crush damage. I can feel her eye water on my neck. But she’s not sniffling. At least there’s that. Longfur Canids are awfully noisy snifflers. Full suction noises worse than a vacuum cleaner. “Dak’s fine too,” I tell her. “I checked in with him on the way up.”

She pulls back with me still a willing prisoner of her embrace. She’s preparing to kiss me. I can see it in her face. I wonder if she can see the desire to accept such an assault on mine? I hope…

“The meal will be ready in three minutes,” says the Holochef, speaking its first words since I came in. I hate him. It breaks the spell and Salara decides to put me down and get freshened up.

I glare at the artificial being. “You couldn’t have waited two minutes,” I demand.

“What,” he replies smugly, “you are the one who got me shot in the head!”

I think about protesting but eventually have to laugh. He’s right. “All.. all right,” I say, wagging my finger, “but THAT was your revenge, yes?”

“Revenge,” he replies, “is a soufflé. If you put too much in, it flops.” The oven dings. “And there is the food. Go sit at the table. I do not think I should risk you lifting the plates.”

NOW I’m insulted. But he grins and the food is good.


I wish I knew what I’d forgotten, though.

(('Bulldog' Drummond' is the star of a number of English 'Noir' style thriller novels in the 1920's by the author Herman Cyril 'Sapper' McNeile.))
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I'm sure that what he had forgotten will end up coming back to him at the most inopportune time. That s how it usually works! Marvelous chapter!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

One of the remaining mysteries is who fired at them on the beach. In the next part I don't reveal who but I do provide a huge, subtle, hint as to a minor character we met in one episode being involved at someone else's behest.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Will definitely be on the look out for that! Everything just sounds really good!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

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27 PHONE HOME

If you think about things you can’t work out, the answer often comes to you in the middle of the night as your brain works things out without the massive drawback of you interrupting it by actually thinking of things. I’ve often dreamed of falling off a cliff, which isn’t always what you think it is. I spoke to a teleport operator once, who lambasted those shows where someone teleports a person who’s plummeted a thousand feet onto a pad and he lands hard on the floor and gets up and walks off. If your body’s fallen a thousand feet, it’s not going to matter if you stop now or in a thousand more feet. He told me the correct thing is to reverse the falling form so it’s actually facing the opposite direction. See the impetus will still force the body down, no matter what. But, for a few seconds, that down is now up. It cancels out after a few seconds and you’re falling again but now only a few feet. It’s just a change of direction that can save your life.


What’s that got to do with anything? Not sure but it’s something to think about. My mind actually has me thinking about the beach and the bullet and the fact it now has the words ‘she needs protection’ written on it in Mican. It’s a large bullet in my dreams, the sort of ‘bullet’ that’s fired from the barrel of a tank. It might as well have added the words ‘take the hint, Mr. Moon,’ on it for all the subtlety it possesses. Something I can’t see pulls at my tail. It feels heavier than usual. Ah, the bullet. I look in towards the squiggly, out of focus signature on the bottom of the bullet but, as expected, I can’t work it out before Dakrin runs over and smacks me in the face with a Wok that he’s somehow pulled from his bathing trunks to wake me up.

It’s two in the morning and I’m lying face down across Salara’s sofa. Salara’s awake. I can tell that from here. My middle is across her lap. Great. She took first watch. She’s been attaching ribbons to my tail. Cheek. Can’t totally say I blame her. We both agreed I needed sleep last night. We also agreed that I shouldn’t be in the bed with her but out here in the main room, in case someone got past the guard outside. And both being in the bedroom was also out in case we got ‘occupied’ and ‘distracted’. Her words, not mine. But they WERE my thoughts, though. Apparently my body had given up then and passed out. Thankfully I slept on my front. Across her lap might well have bent me out of all proportion if it had been on my spine. Now, what was I thinking of? Oh, yeah… “So, your turn to sleep,” I advise her, whilst wondering where the ribbons had come from. She’s been watching a film with the sound muted and subtitles set to canid.

She strokes my head. Has she plaited my headfur? “How do you know I didn’t,” she asks.

“I know you’d try not to,” I say, swinging around to sit up. “Now,” I press gently, “you’ve got this ‘conference’ tomorrow. You need your sleep. I’m on the job now, Salara.”

I can see her mulling it over. She leans down and kisses me goodnight. Well, right this moment it’s an excellent night. After a minute, she lets me go and stands up and stretches provocatively and languidly before wishing me well and heading towards the bedroom that I checked over a few hours ago. Great, Dak’s going to smell her all over me. And me all over her lap.


I do a little conference checking before I turn the comm system on and make a call home to my, uh, ‘landlady’, who just happens to be the head of Mican Intelligence in the patch - unconfirmed, of course. I need to tell her what’s been happening that’s delaying my return home for a while. I have the comm linked to my earpiece so it’ll be as quiet as I can make it.

She answers before it buzzes twice. <”Mr Moon,”> she says simply, not giving me a fake smile to sooth my mood. <”Are you enjoying your holiday?”>

“It’s certainly become more… of an active camping trip these last few days,” I admit, wondering why I didn’t get myself a drink before I called. She has one to hand. She shows it by taking a theatrically grand draw from an over-sized mug extolling her as ‘The universes greatest Grandma.’ I wonder if it’s part of a cover or the truth or if she just wanted a prodigiously sized mug. “As I think you might have heard?”

The screen flickers slightly. <”I had heard things, Mister Moon? I trust you are all alright?”> I tell her that Dakrin’s being treated in the medical bay of the Fallir and that she can tell Miss Lorin that Salara’s perfect.. ly alright. She smirks as she catches my lapse. <”I’m glad you’ve found a lady,”> she states lightly before taking another sip. <”Even if it is just a holiday romance.”>

Now it’s my turn to smirk. This is what the call’s been about. The thing that had been bugging me. Oh, so it did have something to do with cliffs; not falling. “Do you know,” I ‘told’ her, “that someone took a shot at us mere moments after we met?”

She looks shocked. It’s a good look on her. She puts a hand to her chest. <”Goodness,”> she exclaims, <”Who could have done that?”>

I tell her I don’t know when, in fact, I’m absolutely sure of who it was now. This holiday’s been a set up from the get go. And the conclusive bit of knowledge that proves it – although I can’t PROVE it proves it – is the non appearance of Fawren technology at this conference. All the major companies are here. Except the Mican one. Heads of state and diplomats are coming in from across the patch. Dozens of them. Hundreds, even. And only the ones from Mican colonies seem to be missing the early events due to ‘transport issues’. It’s almost like they’ve been warned of danger and, unlike a fieldmican with a malfunctioning danger sense, they’ve taken her advice. “I was a bit surprised to see Fawren isn’t here,” I goad. “I’d have expected them to put on a better showing than ‘teaming with Monta’.” She stiffens slightly. I don’t think she knew about that bit. I press it home a little. “What with Monta having so many links in the area I suppose it might make sense. Provided they’re all above board, I mean.”

<”Indeed,”> she intones with a tone of voice that doesn’t just crack nuts but crush them to powder. I get the distinct impression Fawren will be backing out of this Monta deal in the hours that follow. Possibly in the minutes that follow.

“I have a feeling Monta won’t come out of this smelling of roses,” I add. “And it might affect their partners.” I sigh theatrically. “If I had shares in Fawren I might sell.”

<”I might understand that,”> she tells me, finishing her drink. <”But I’m in it for the long haul. Have fun, Mr Moon. Bring me back some of that Equinnan Coffee. Trucker strength. And unplait your headfur, you look ridiculous.”> The line goes dark and I decide to get myself a drink. I’m halfway through the ordering when I think of the last thing she said and put a hand to my head. Yup. Salara did.


Then I think of the second to last thing she said. How the..? Did she KNOW?
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Good job at writing this chapter here! It came out very magnificent!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

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28 BREAKFAST

Seven AM on the morning of the first day of the conference and last minute shenanigans are going on. Bulldog’s still furious that he hasn’t caught the would be assassin from my first day here and I can’t tell him that, if Balbury’s telling the truth, there’s nothing of him left to catch. Except, perhaps, an eyeball. I can see him roasting his staff over their uselessness as Maltar approaches our table, behind the protection of the guards at the restaurant door. He moves silently but had the attention of half the delegates as he stops by our table and pulls out a chair. “Is this seat spare,” he asks.

Salara looks him over coolly. “Yes,” she says with exaggerated politeness. “Our Celican colleague is recuperating from his exertions elsewhere. You may sit, Maltar.”

I have a feeling I’m not going to be too interested in the things they’re likely to discuss but, before he gets into the conference business, he turns to me. “In case you’re wondering,” he says quietly, “Jessica doesn’t know anything about the person who was staying in our third bedroom.”

I look a little surprised. “Did anyone use the second bedroom,” I ask.

To his credit, he laughs. “Yes. Business first, Mister Moon. Pleasure later. And the third is now vacant, as I’m sure you’ve guessed.”

I must say I had. I’ve mentioned that before so I won’t mention it again. I’m also pretty sure Lappara aren’t involved in the attempt on Salara in the hotel. With HIM involved, neither Salara nor myself would have survived.


As the talk turns to co-operation and alliances, I took a look at the others. The Raicarran lip reader, who must also be a linguist skilled in a dozen languages, studiously avoids my eye and appears to be concentrating on the Equinna group. I wonder if she’s got a hidden camera on her? I’m pretty sure I would. The old Cat, Henrietta, is the one I think organised the attack. Her ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ efforts are too impressive. She smiles slightly at me. Very pleasant. Her muscle in a suit is busy trying to eat his breakfast and talk at the same time; to scathingly sour looks from her. He’s betraying his stupidity. Time to set a cat amongst the pigeons. Heh. I made a pun. I mouth a ‘hello’ to the Raicarran and make to stand “I’ll be right back,” I tell Salara and her current ‘friend’ before heading over towards the leader of the litterbox.

She puts a hand out to stop me being crushed with a hand and invites me to take a seat. “What do you have to say, Mister Moon,” she asks.

I keep my voice low as I talk. “There’s no evidence that you hired the person who attacked Salara and myself in her room and I have nothing recording on me but, if you can tell me why you did, I can tell you something interesting about today. Practically life and death, in fact.”

She looks at me with a stare that could set fire to water before activating a small device they make. I know this one. It’s an electrical jammer. Range of about six foot. No eavesdropping. “If we were to have organised something like that,” she confides, “it would almost certainly have been to move the events to a location we control and in a way that would have narrowed down the opposition, Mister Moon. My colleague would have dealt with him, earning us credit. Your arrival would have forced us to change our plans, of course…” She waves a hand. “If we had done something like that, of course. Which we didn’t.” She leaned in closer. “Does that assuage your curiosity?”

I sit back slightly. “Somewhat,” I tell her. “So long as that’s stopped now. Because I have a secret for you. Mican intelligence believes the conference is about to be hit today. That’s why Fawren aren’t here and why the flights have been delayed from every Mican colony in the patch.”

She looks serious. “Why haven’t they informed… oh, they’re playing the game.”

I shake my head. “I doubt the colonials know why the flights are delayed. Believe it or not, our Colonial government ministers are mostly honourable.”

“Mmm,” she replies, “like your sister?”


She’s done her research. I’m more or less the black Sheepmouse of my family. Most of them, and it’s quite a large family, want nothing to do with me. A disgrace to the family. An insult because I didn’t follow the chosen path laid down for me. I wanted more and ended up in more trouble than the other fifteen combined. Collia, though, was warming to me. Like an iceberg drifting towards the equator. She talks to me on occasions. It’s usually when she wants something. She’s in government in the patch and… well, krikk, how didn’t I think of this? She’s a defence secretary. She’s literally in charge of buying weapons platforms. She’s one of the ones coming here. I’m suddenly happy that the flights are delayed. I nod to Henrietta and leave so she can do whatever she’s planning on doing without my knowing about it and head back over to Salara. Yup, a small finger point and smile from the Raicarra table. I’d told the reader to watch me before I went over and she’d done so. So now Raicarra were warned too. I sit back down at the table. “I take it Jessica’s the tech in your crew,” I ask Maltar.

“Why,” he replies without confirming, putting his black furred chin on his similarly coloured fist and making himself harder to read. His ear twitches.

“Because I need to speak with her about a hole,” I confess. “Shall we head up to your room?”


It takes five minutes to get up there and he unlocks the door to escort us in. It’s clean and has been cleaned. After passing by the room I was in a couple of days ago, we enter a comfortable suite with a cream suite and a small control centre where Jessica’s sitting behind two computers, where she’s tapped into the surveillance cameras. “Is no-one playing fair,” Salara asks.

“Everyone’s playing unfair,” I tell her. “It’s the only way to keep things fair. Figured it had to be you, Jessica,” I tell her. “The third – whoever that may have been – didn’t have any headphones or microphones in the room he never left. Had to be you on ‘overwatch’.”

“Aww,” she pouts, “I thought I was doing so well.”

“Fooled me,” Salara says smoothly.

“Me too. Mostly. Very earnest, though.”

She shrugs. “My first time playing a role. Was I too..?”

Maltar interrupts, fearing this might go on quite some time. “What is it, Mister Moon?”

“Calavix are coming,” I tell them straight. “I believe they’re coming today and I think they have a way through Drummonds’ security. It probably means there’s a hole in the security programme. I think someone needs to take a look?”

She rolls her eyes.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

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29 CONFERENCE

The morning’s here and so is the sales conference. They’re all set up in the centre. From where I’m stood, next to Drummond, I can see Raicarra, Felas Tech, Lascarra, Farna, Canis Tech, Monta and so on. Everyone major and minor except, of course, Fawren. When I say major, I note, of course, that they’ve all sent minors if they could. I note the Human from Farna tech has the hint of red lips under her eyes and recall that they can’t hide their tears as well as most of us. She must have liked the victim.

Salara’s here for Ayston tech, of course. She insisted and neither I nor the bodyguard her Uncle sent – who turned up an hour ago and complained of the THOROUGH examination Bulldog put him through – were able to convince her otherwise. He’s acting as her second. The musclecat’s on his own and straining that jacket at the seams. The Raicarran’s looking terrified and about sixteen. Maltar’s not here, of course. Apparently he caught a ‘stomach bug’ at breakfast.


Derek’s marshalling his people outside the centre, providing escorts for the bigwigs and trade envoys incoming whilst the Fallir provides security at the spaceport itself. Bulldog’s hired guns are surrounding the place. Deacon – that’s the bodyguard – is doing the same as I am; checking out the scene. And he doesn’t have a hat. Just saying, I’m cooler. Jessica’s in my ear, telling me that she’s found some sort of worm in the security system that she and Dakrin – when did he get back? - have already hacked into and she’s looking to see if she can backtrack who’s responsible. I slip out quietly from the room, heading for the lobby and the stairs.


I just dodge the first of the arriving delegates, from Rayvon, a Raitchian colony that made the news when their finance minister was exposed for fraud last year, around about the time they nearly had that war with Micanna. And now he’s here. Guess you really can’t keep a bad Rat down for long. On the other hand, no-one knows a con like a conner… connor... conrat? Never mind. Doesn’t really matter. Conman’s ubiquitous, even if the Humans do claim they invented the word. He’s got his own guards with him, two of them. They’re objecting to the weapons check but accepting it at the same time. Something to do with the Wolf glaring at them from the other side of the room. All the cars and shuttles have had a proper going over too, learning from the tragedy of Farna tech. No-one’s hiring local and whoever’s in charge of the Fallir’s security contingent hopefully isn’t letting them get picked up by unsecured people. Did I mention that before? Hmm. Busy thoughts. I press the button to call the elevator. Normally, I’d take the stairs but… a dozen floors? I sigh. The stairs are still a better idea. No-one can lock down the stairs between floors. And I feel the computer link to Calavix – for it is still them foremost in my mind – is somewhere in this hotel.


I’m gone by the time the elevator gets to the lobby, doing my best to run up the well carpeted stairs without tripping and falling flat on my face and, possibly, shooting myself in the leg or abdomen if the landing jolts my gun. And then Salara would kill me for ruining my outfit. Wait, if I’d be dead, why would I worry about Salara killing me?

“Any news on who’s linked in,” I ask my invisible assistant. Yeah, I’m not calling Jessica a partner. And I’m not out of breath either. Just like I wasn’t on the beach.

<”Are you out of breath,”> Jessica asks as I pass floor three. <”The access is coming from a room on the fifth floor, by the way.”>

“I’m not out of breath,” I lie, feeling the strain in legs that aren’t built for this sort of thing. I stop on floor four and deign to take the last level by elevator. I get in and press the button for floor five and get out five seconds later without getting my breath back. Which, uh, I hadn’t lost anyhow. Interesting. No-one connected to the conference is listed as being on this floor so who… Meh. Doesn’t matter. “Can you be more specific, Jess,” I ask, hoping no-one can see me talking to invisible people and dripping drool down my jacket.

<”Yeah,”> she replies, <”you’re close by. Ready to kick the door in?”>

“Drummond gave me an override key,” I tell her. “Besides, I’d break my foot on these doors.” Seriously, who does she think I am, Dakrin?


I figure I know who I’m going to find on the other side of the door as I carefully use the card Drummond reluctantly gave me to open the door. Thankfully it doesn’t beep and I’m able to close it with a near silent sound. I’m not going to get so lucky with the next door. It’s a handle and pull type. Before I open it, I close the link to Jessica, send out a single ping call to Drummond and reconnect to Jessica as I move towards the bedroom. Yeah, the keyboard warrior’s in there, beginning to direct proceedings. He’s talking of team one being in position and team two being ready to move. It’s like he’s orchestrating a video game.

“Can you cut him off,” I hiss into my comm.

<”Not without warning him,”> she replies. <”Whoever it is, they’ve had a lot longer to set up than I have!”>

“Do what you can. In three… two…” ‘Whoever it is’? Doesn’t she know, I ask myself. Ah, well, she probably doesn’t. Someone’s not at his post this morning. I had to press the button myself. I get my weapon out and swing the door open as the computer links fizzle out and the elevator operator turns a shocked face towards the door and lurches for the weapon he’s got sitting on the bed next to him. The headphones rip from his head and the computer they’re plugged into as he moves, the microphone catching him on his feline nose and ripping the computer off his desk before his face wins the fight with the punishment of ripped nostrils. “I don’t want to kill you,” I tell him sharply, “but I prefer not having holes in myself so I will if you insist,” I tell him, moving towards the weapon whilst firing a warning shot to make him realise he was outgunned. He twists like only a Cat can and dives at me. I drop my weapon, roll with the impact and kick him over my head. He lands on his feet in the entryway and dives back towards me. I slam the door in his face, catching his arm painfully. He yelps in pain as I let go and sweep my gun back to hand with my tail. He swipes at me but I duck back, out of the range of his blades. He keeps up the attack but I manage to grab his arm and get inside his arc to elbow him straight on the top of the heart. He gasps and his claws flex in and out on reflex as his eyes bulge. I stamp on his foot as I’m wearing boots and he’s not wearing foot protection of any sort. Well, he was in his bedroom. He’s not easy to put down, this cat. But he is hopping. So I pull out his other leg and he slams, chin first, into the floor as Jessica keeps asking me if I’m alright as Drummond forces the door open and demands the return of his card. I apologise for my tail and gesture to the captive. “Your security’s compromised, Drummond,” I gasp.


Something outside starts firing.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

30 LAUNDRY

We move over to the window. There’s a smoking wreck on the main road into the complex, a truck that had clearly ran one of the PD checkpoints, judging by the mess it had made of the cars and the wounded police pulling themselves up from the verge behind the mess that was beginning to pump out smoke and flame to obscure the view. I glance to Drummond. “Is that a force field,” I ask.

He growls. “It should have crunched the lorry, not blown it up.”

I nod. I know where he’s going with this. An explosion of such magnitude… “They just blew the shield and blocked the only way out, didn’t they?” He nods. He’s grinning. “And you knew they’d do something like that, didn’t you?” He’s chuckling. My hand inches closer to the gun I’d just re-holstered.

“Standard procedure,” he grouses happily. “Good to know they’re using standard military tactics.” He pointed to where five shuttles are heading in. “This might be fun…”

“Or not,” I muse. Why would terrorists use sledgehammer tactics like this..? “In the days before we got here…”

“Oh, peaceful days.”

I decide to ignore the interruption. “...what sort of things were you investigating?”

“Minor things mostly. Some disputes between staff, one with gambling debts, an illegal access. All dealt with. When did you know about chummy here,” he asks, pointing at the other guy in the room.

“Well, I knew someone had breached your cyber security,” I advise. “Because my assistant got into the top level security CCTV system you’ve got here with virtually no trouble…”

<”I am NOT ‘your assistant’”> Jessica demands from her room.

“Dak’s not that good,” I tell Drummond. (And, of course, my assistant on another floor.) “Someone had to have left a hole in the system.,” I add as one of the parked vehicles in the hotel lot turns into a surface to air launcher by dropping a holographic rear half and spitting missiles at the incoming. “And these guys aren’t… Are illegal access things usually dealt with by the house detective?”

He grunts. “Not with this going on. Found a Mican waiter taking a crafty puff in the laundry room. He got dismissed for it.”

“Bit stupid when you have an outs… Let’s get down there.” I lead the way, brooking no argument from him as he follows, leaving one of his deputies to take the liftboy into custody. Great. The place has gone into lockdown. No-one in or out and no working lifts. I KNOW they’re elevators but I’m saving time in using the word. I’m NOT saving time in using the stairs, I’m sure. I’m leaping down as fast as I can. My paranoia-sense is going off like no-one’s business. We might only have minutes. Or seconds even. Hopefully they’ve planned this too well, though.


What are the security in the centre doing? Probably getting the delegates and the guests into a secure area where they can better protect them. Where they would have taken them when the attack started. WHEN the attack started. We may well have forced them to move their attack up slightly and that might be our hope. “Jessica,” I say as I vault past level 4, “can you access the secure areas of the hotel?”

<”Like the laundry,”> she asks in a way too chirpy manner. <”Nope. But I can lead you to it.”>

“Sounds fair,” I reply, thinking that’s a good idea as I don’t actually know the way to the room.

Ground floor. Or first floor, depending on whose terminology you’re using. I call it the lobby floor. Guards are setting up. Wolves everywhere. The receptionist has obviously been advised I was coming as she holds a door open so I don’t have to try to go intangible to get through it. “Down there, third on the right,” she tells me, neglecting to mention the closed door that I almost charge into at full speed. I punch the release button and the door opens slideways. I slip through when it’s half open and catch my hat as it pops off. I return it to my head and continue running, following my assistants directions.


I pull up short as I get to the door I need through and start as I see Drummond there, picking his teeth. “Should have waited,” he tells me. “Got the Fallir to teleport me down.” I say nothing. I hope it comes off as grouchy, not knackered. He opens the door. “What are you looking to find?”

“I’ll know when I see it,” I tell him. Doesn’t everyone rely on that cliché? It’s certainly an easy one to use. |There’s industrial scale machines in here and, like I figured, an industrial size ventilation unit. “And I’ve just seen it,” I add, indicating the ventilation system. “Where’s the hatch?”

“Why do you..?” The light hits his eyes and flashes that his brain’s just caught up with my paranoia. “We caught a Mican. You think he could have fitted in there?”

I nod. “What’s a crush for a Wolven and impossible for an Equinna is a room with an en suite for a Mican,” I advise him as we check the seals. Yup, these have been turned recently. The screws aren’t tuck tight to the panel as they would be after months of non movement. ‘Bulldog’ can move them without even bothering to get a screwdriver into play. He’s ripped them out before I attach my comm unit to my headband and turn its light function on.


There’s definite hand holds in here, a feeble ladder scorched and scratched by the steam over the last year or so. Or by the air being pumped in. How would I know which? Neither is on at the moment. Credit Bulldog with the smarts. He figured out what I was thinking and shut the things off. I wonder which way I’m going. Jessica can’t direct me in here but I’m making progress due to a peeved Wolf bellowing instructions as loud as he can. Someting sounds like it’s happening outside. The place shook a little. Oh, look. I found something in the vent.


Oh, fun. It’s a gas bomb.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

31 CHEMICAL STRIFE.

Well, I can hear the delegates close by as I take a few seconds to examine the time bomb. Is that Salar… No, Harvest, now ISN’T the time to get distracted! Pay attention! It’s a simple device that I can tell is a chemical bomb due to the fact I can see the nozzle and the three phials of green liquid that I can’t identify as, y’know, I’m not a scientist in any way, shape or form. It’s got to be a time bomb as there’s no sign of a timer as this isn’t a movie and there’s no need to create tension here and there’s no way to get a comm signal in here to detonate it, as I know from the fact that Jessica can’t talk to me. On the plus side it’s quite light and seems to be movable. I wonder how long I have. Probably just minutes. Time to do something stupid. Something desperate.


I grasp hold of the killer gas supply unit, turn around in a tiny space as only a tiny Mican can and scrabble back towards the way I came in. The thing’s buzzing and I’m having to avoid pressing down the nozzle to avoid a cloudy death. Why don’t I try and defuse it? Why don’t YOU try to defuse it? It seems to take half as long as it took me getting here to get back and it probably proves the old saying fear lends wings to the hands and knees. Or something similar.


I’m bouncing off the walls as I get Drummond to call out the way to come. He can’t get in here himself so he flashes a light rather than deafen me by shouting in an echo chamber. It’s quite sweet how he thinks of me. Was that a hiss? No. Well, if it was, it was just a tiny one. Wow. Smells rancid and a lot like Malteria, a Celican poison which is about seventy percent lethal if exposed to it for more than thirty seconds. It works on various species to various deg… how am I going to get this thing down the shaft? “I found it,” I call down. “It’s a chemical bomb. Ack!” I flinch back. He just dazzled me with his light.

“You alright,” he asks.

“Half blind! And carrying a chemical bomb.”

“Wh… WHY ARE YOU BRINGING IT WITH YOU?” Wow. The whole hotel – and conference centre – is going to hear that coming from the vents. I’ve already heard it four times.

“Because it’s going to release any minute, there’s no way to disarm it and you need to catch it!” I swing it so the thing’s over the shaft. He protests but he seems to be on the same chapter as I am. Hopefully the same page as he puts his arms into the gap and twists so he can see. “Ready,” I ask.

“Drop it,” he growls. So I do.


Time seems to freeze as the device drops away from me. In my mind it begins to turn and twist as it drops into the gloom, away from my pathetic little hatlight towards the awaiting mandibles of a crusty detective whose catching abilities I don’t know. He could be a professional goalkeeper. Or he could be an amateur striker being forced to go into goal in a cup semi-final because all the regulars are out injured. Or the thing could go off and kill the pair of us. I’ll be down the ladder lickety-split but I hope the situation’s been resolved by the time I get down there. It certainly will be if Bulldog drops the catch and the phials smash or he applies too much pressure and the phials smash or… well, generally, we’re dead if the phials smash. I wonder if Dak knows how I feel about him? The brother I never had. As in one I might want. I’ve left a lot of stuff to him and I’m betting the bed will be well used. Several times a week, probably. Dakrin Investigations. Yuk. I need to survive this. Am I holding my breath?


About a second after catching it, the arms vanish from sight and I start on the downward trajectory. I know what I hope Drummond’s up to. If he’s smart, he’ll have thought of it too. I’ll find out when I get down there.


After I get down to the hatch level, I have to reach over and grab it as no-one’s helping me out. That might not be a good sign. I scramble through, looking for the worst. Drummond’s standing there, next to a washing machine and wondering how to turn it on. I was right. We’re on the same page. Pity it’s not a Washing Machine instruction manual. It makes me think about Wolven cleanliness but it also makes me think he’s clearly never had to use a laundrette. “Third button,” I tell him. “Any time. Then press the button with the right facing triangle on it. Quick.” The thing’s beginning to mist. The gas is dispersing. It’s a bit sealed but the first person to open it will get a lethal poison in the face. Even one fatality is too many and Drummond gets that. Which is why I hope he won’t bill me for what I’m going to do as soon as the cycle begins in earnest. The churning and complaining from Drummond almost masks the churning and complaining from the machine as it powers up the water cycle and he washes his hands with a fervour in the sink. That’s some strong smelling soap he’s using as I get around the back of the machine. Malteria is still dangerous, even in water. So we can’t let this get into the water supply. Drummond removes his shirt to expose his scarred, ripped and rippled chest muscles and stuffs it into the grating to block it as I disconnect the outflow piping from the machine. This water’s not getting into the sewers. “Reckon we should get out of here,” I ask.

“Only an idiot would stay,” he grunts. “Amazed you’re not volunteering.” We leave. Quickly.


There’s still fighting going on outside. No rest for the wicked. But I’m not going out there. Drummond’s thinking of it but he’s got Raicarra shields, Lascarra anti-aircraft weaponry, Monta rifles, Ayston armour… And all paid for by the exhibitors. I point that out to him and he chokes a laugh. “Strange how things can go when they all work together, yes?”

I stop as a thought hits me. “Have we been played,” I ask. “Was this all to get Calavix here so they could be destroyed?”

“One,” he says as the doorman hands him a shirt with a floral covering on it, “who are Calavix? Two. No. We had knowledge of their attack – thanks to you…” I can hear the teeth grinding and sparking as he says that. “...and I happen to only hire the best and equip them with the best. It’s almost like I work for a hotel with near bottomless pockets on a colony world with near bottomless pockets. Wages are always object but, here? Money isn’t.” He puts the shirt on like it doesn’t make him look like a flowerbed and takes a weapon out. Is that MY gun? He grins tightly. “Think you’re the only one with swift hands? Go be with your girlfriend.”


And he leaves me so he can charge into battle. Brave idiot. I go the other way.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Such a nice job on the chapters that you have written Welshy! Glad I was able to catch up on them!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

32 TO CONCLUDE

Well, things go easier when delegates are petrified. Drummond’s annoyed at the fact that all the forensics came back the morning after the need for them expired and Derek’s counting the cost in wounded but Calavix has been destroyed, their operatives at the back up conference site have been arrested and my account’s looking a lot healthier. Oh, the sales conference went well too. The defence systems worked and colonies are quite eager to beef up their own defences and that includes my own sister, who’s rather surprised to see me when she arrives and it takes a few minutes and support from Salara and Drummond to convince her that I actually had something to do with sorting out the situation. I don’t know why Wolves get so protective of me, I really don’t. But it helps. Anyhow, Collia’s colony has, for some reason, arranged to do most of its business through Ayston. She also told me I was batting above my weight. Drat it. I know she’s right. Both physically and mentally. But she’s here and she’s agreed not to tell the family that I’ve disappointed them again by being a hero and she was smiling broadly as she said it so I think she gets the ‘joke’. Being a failure relieves me of all pressure that could be applied if they knew I was any good. Oh, well. We had dinner on the second day, with Dakrin finally getting released from the Fallir he got to shake her hand and I got to jab him in the ribs when I saw a certain familiar smile creep onto his face. No dating – or just bedding – the bosses sister. Unwritten rule. Anyhow, I think he’s got a different target in mind.


Jessica’s free to wander the halls now the conference is over and she’s sitting in the penthouse main room, looking around. “Is that a real Tyrgon,” she asks, looking up at a painting that looks a bit like a lighthouse crossed with a half dozen marbles.

Salara, clearly a little enchanted by this Lappinian agent – for I think she is – chuckles at her acknowledgement of quality. She’s wearing a sleeveless shirt tonight, letting her arm fur hang free as she puts her cup down. She nods in appreciation as Dakrin wonders how to put his hand on Jessica’s leg just below her sleek, green, dress without it seeming too much like a come on. “It is,” Salara tells her. “My Uncle met him during his ‘Beadelaire phase’. They hit it off so we have a few of those around the place.” She ponders for a moment. “I hear you gave Harvest a fair amount of help during the attack,” she prompts.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say…”

I interrupt. “You saved us minutes when minutes were all important,” I tell her, wondering if I know where this is going. Turns out I do.

“I would,” Salara enthuses. “The Hotel has a few other paintings in storage. In case they ever have someone staying who doesn’t appreciate the artist so they can change them out. If I have a word with the manager, I’m sure he can be convinced to let you have one. As a friend?”

Jessica’s practically bouncing with enthusiasm now, sitting bolt upright on the edge of the sofa and clapping her hands together as her eyes go wide and starry and her mouth hangs open. “Really,” she asks happily.

Salara smiles genially. “Really.” She stands to go and arrange things.

“So,” I goad, “I take it there’s been no sign of the ‘third’ person in several days?”

She looks a little abashed but I’ve caught her on the hop. Heh. “No, he’s gone,” she replies, before realising she just gave me information. She slips to a horrified expression as she sees mine.

“Don’t worry,” I breeze, waving a hand. “I won’t press. It’s not really important, is it?” So Balbury’s got insiders at Lappara and he’s keeping them separate. If one hand doesn’t know the other exists it won’t hide its true actions from it. It also means she only contacted us because Balbury wanted us to meet. “But, if you could give us the camera back?”

She looks a bit bewildered until she recalls the little bug she ‘expertly’ hid exactly where Balbury wanted her to hide it. “Oh, yes! I can get that back to you later,” she blurts.

“No pressure,” I assure her. “You can give it to Dakrin later,” I tell her, making Dakrin choke on his drink.

“Figured that was going to be the other way around,” she replies, knowing full well what he’s choking at. It leads him to splutter.

“Just so long as you enjoy yourselves tonight,” I say, prompting them to stand as they remember they’re going down the nightclubs. I stand as well and put 500 credits on Dakrin’s chit. Should get him a few drinks anyhow. “Remember to have him back before two,” I tell her.

She bends over and kisses my cheek. “Thanks, Dak’s dad,” she says seductively. It might have worked if she’d called me his brother but his dad?

“Go on,” I gesture towards the door.


“Where’d they…” Salara starts to ask as she comes back in to the room. “Oh, right.” She put the comm away. “They’ll let her look tomorrow.” She slides onto the sofa next to me and drapes her arm around my shoulders. “So we have the evening,” she says invitingly. I close in for a kiss but she speaks again. “One thing I don’t get,” she says, still looking in my eyes and trapping my soul in the twin stars. “Who shot at us on the beach?”

“I have a suspicion,” I tell her. I give a quick peck kiss before going on. Just in case it’s my only chance. “My landlady is rumoured to be important in the Mican Intelligence Services and she knew about the Equinna Coffee incident.”

“How does that..?” Salara put the facts together in her beautiful mind and blinked. “You think she has someone on the planet?”

“I’m certain of it. And, when we met, he – probably a certain Celican trucker – encouraged us to work together.”

“Because Nanny Lorin and her talked?” She breathes out before taking hold of the side of my face with her padded fingers, the long fur on the back of her hand shining gently as she brought her face close to mine. “We’ll have to thank them, won’t we,” she asks before pressing lips to lips and strangling my tongue with hers in a way that makes fighting fun. I seem to have my hands around her shoulders as she envelops me in a hug. I think I practically vanish under her Afgar fur as we ‘tussle’ for a few moments. I let her win, of course. We break so she can get some air. I’d say our hearts were as one right now but the truth is that mine’s still a bit lower than hers, even though we’re sitting down. “Shall we… get something to eat,” she asks with a grin. The holochef’s still annoyed at me.

“If you turn that thing on,” I tell her, batting her nose with a finger – that she licks – “I don’t think I could forgive you.” A peck kiss again.

She sighs. “Perhaps we should book him for breakfast,” she asks. Seems like an idea.


A few hours later, we’re both just about awake, lying in the bed together but leaving just the one impression on the mattress, hem, hem. I kiss her. “What do we do after the holiday,” I ask, stroking the side of her head as she holds me in place with a languid arm.

“Dunno,” she admits. “Ayston’s looking to open an office on Pandera.” Ooh, that’s a fun place to squeeze. “I could always influence them to go to Caldera? With a… Operations manager?”

“Sounds like an idea to me,” I admit.

“Good.” She laughs and I feel it through our pressed chests. “Could do with seeing Nanny again.” She kisses me again.


Just for once, I don’t care where my hat is.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Once you stop caring where something is, you end up finding it in the end anyway. At least that has been my experience. LOL Good job!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Writing up a new story with the IOC crew from Pandera. When Adriette takes pity on a streetkid, she gets the team in a lot of trouble.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Oh I am sure that is gonna be really wild and a total mess! I will be living for it!
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Re: HARVEST ON HOLIDAY

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Gonna go and take a look right now! I'm sure it will be really great!
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