Title: Falling Angels
Chapter: 8 of ?
Fandom: The Chronicles of Riddick
Synopsis: Riddick reaches the gateway station above Pynchon, but a surprising complication stands between him and his quarry.
Warnings: Harsh language, graphic violence/gore, murder.
Locked Room Mystery
“The Dark Queen is Risen! She is coming!”
Riddick glanced over at the ragged-looking man with the placard, PREPARE! FOR THE GATES ARE BREAKING, and shook his head. He turned his attention back to the customs agent. “Get a lot of those around here?”
The agent, a heavy-set woman in her mid-fifties, rolled her eyes. “Can’t get rid of ’em. No papers, no sponsors… no passage back off the station… there are some local charity groups that keep ’em fed, and all, but mostly we’re just stuck with ’em. Your dog’s quarantine papers look to be in order, Mr. Toombs. Do you have anything else of a biological nature to declare?”
“No ma’am,” he told her, his imitation of Toombs’ timbre and accent flawless. He wasn’t getting caught by a voice-printer twice. The vocal modulator was hidden by the high collar of his shirt, tight on his throat but infinitely more comfortable than a prison collar. He silently blessed the damned merc for springing for such excellent equipment; the forged paperwork for the puppy spread out on the table was flawless, too. “Just the food provisions I bought at Helion Gateway Nine.”
“You and your dog will want to stay on the station for the next forty-eight hours while your ship is sanitized and cleared to land, then,” She told him, stamping and signing his paperwork. It amazed him that Galactic Immigration Services had gone back to paper records, but apparently a lot of refugees had been showing up with document chips completely fried by EMP attacks. The official who had printed his records told him that Pynchon was taking no chances and producing hard copies of everything. “Any preference on the accommodations?”
“She will cleanse the ’Verse! She will cleanse all the ’Verses! Her shadow will stretch across all the worlds!”
“Not really,” he said. “Somewhere with room enough for the pup.”
That made the agent smile. Then she frowned a little. “I don’t see its name on here.”
“Well, he’s a birthday present, y’see.” he said with a grin. “Not up to me what he gets named.”
As if he’d ever give the pup away. But it was the best explanation he’d come up with for his reluctance to pick out a name, and he’d practiced it, and the disarming smile that went with it, repeatedly as he approached the gateway station.
Pynchon, he’d discovered, was on a form of high alert, one that thankfully wouldn’t draw attention to him… but it was still inconvenient. The planet had already been experiencing a flood of refugees from the Coalsack systems and was now girding itself for a similar crisis from the Helion system as news of the Necromonger attack began to filter in. From the reports that had begun appearing on the merc network, there was a rising undercurrent of social unrest in Pynchon’s major cities in response to the refugees settling there, along with an increase in violent crimes and missing persons reports.
Not something I want Jack in the middle of, he thought, struggling to tamp down his impatience to reach the girl.
“She is Risen! She is Rising still! She will tower over all of creation!”
The agent glanced over at the station’s resident doomsayer and rolled her eyes. “Even his new shtick is getting old fast.”
“Yeah, up until two weeks ago he was just going on about how we should all beware of what lurks in… what was it? Oh yeah, ‘the hearts of the eyeless.’ I don’t even know where he comes up with this stuff.” She handed Riddick back his papers, along with a small electronic device and a key-card. “This will take you to your quarters on the station. You can use it to navigate to other places as well, like the dining areas and the shops if you need anything. Have a good stay on Pynchon Gateway Three.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said, doing his best impression of what he thought Toombs would have said to someone like Chillingsworth. Respectful with no hint of the man’s normal insolence. He nodded to her and smiled, and then turned out of the long line. The beaten-looking family behind him shuffled forward.
The device led him toward a corridor to his left, one that was right by the doomsayer. He took a good look at the man as he approached. Tall, taller than him by an inch or two, but lanky. The years had not been kind to him and his long, craggy features spoke of a past full of toil, sorrow, and frustration. His hair would have been pure white if it wasn’t so filthy, hanging in unkempt strings that spilled onto his shoulders. His robes, Riddick supposed, had once been elegant and white too, but were ragged, crudely patched in places, and stained.
“Take heed!” the man said directly to him as he began to pass. “She is the shape of all destinies, even yours!”
“Yeah, okay,” Riddick told him. If he didn’t have higher priorities at the moment, it would have been tempting to get into a longer conversation with the man and pick apart his zealotry. But he had business to see to, and the last thing he wanted right now was to do anything that drew attention. He kept walking.
“She was always with you!” the man shouted after him. “She is with you still!”
For a moment, Riddick’s stride faltered. What the fuck…?
He had to force himself to keep walking, but a chill had moved through him. There was no way that elderly freak show could know Kyra’s last words to him. And there was no way he was getting involved in whatever psycho-fuck religious fervor the man had going on just because he’d happened to echo the girl. He was on his way to see Jack and find out more about why Kyra had pretended to be her. That was the only mystery that interested him.
He kept telling himself that the whole way to his quarters.
Someone had thoughtfully equipped the suite with a small kennel, lined with a soft dog bed, and had provided food and water bowls and puppy pads. Fancy. The pup, when he set him down, immediately began exploring the room, tail almost rotoring with excitement. Riddick settled his few possessions and then tapped into the room’s newsfeed.
Let’s see what’s going on in New Detroit these days.
The headlines were low-key but hinted at the unrest he’d been sensing. Purdy PTA Files Objection to New Charter School. Mayor Argues For Tightened Immigration Limits. Not Insanity?: Public Defender’s Office Files Self-Defense Plea in Parvinal Murder Trial. Local Student Goes Missing On Way Home From Work.
He opened the last one, feeling a surge of dread, but relaxed as he saw the picture of a man in his late teens or early twenties. For one terrible moment, he’d thought he would see a picture of Audrey Jackson-Badura.
Okay. She’s not in danger. Yet. He didn’t understand just why he had been feeling increasingly worried for her in the last several days, as he star-jumped closer and closer to her location. But with each jump, he had felt the gnawing sensation growing within him that she was somehow running out of time.
Could be me, he admitted to himself. I seem to bring calamity.
Maybe it had just been a run of bad luck, but it seemed like he had a personal disaster machine hovering near him. From the crash of the Hunter-Gratzner and its aftermath on, anyone who got too close to him seemed doomed to an early grave. So far, the only one who had made it out alive was Jack B. Badd, and he’d even managed to visit a dark fate on her would-be double.
What was it between those two girls, anyway?
He pulled up the files again, using his private reader to keep them off of the network. Everything there was to know about Kyra Falnour filled only a handful of screens. Born on a hardscrabble colony, she had been orphaned young and taken in by her paternal grandparents. It was only after her grandfather died that her schoolteachers began reporting signs of physical abuse; a year later, she was taken from her grandmother and began bouncing from foster home to foster home in a way that almost stirred nostalgia within him. A kindred soul, of a kind. She’d vanished at the age of twelve, which fit with what she’d told him on Crematoria. A year later, she didn’t quite reappear, but she was named as the prime suspect in the brutal trio of killings of three belt miners who had supposedly adopted her. Someone, allegedly thirteen-year-old Kyra, had cut them to pieces with a sharpened piece of hull plating.
If she actually did that, she wins the contest hands-down, he thought, and winced. The urge to banter with her was almost choking him.
Another year later, the Merc Network began tracking her on Helion Prime. Somehow she had made it there and had been taken into the foster system, but kept running away every few months the way Lajjun said. When the Al-Walids began laying the foundations to adopt a girl named only “Jane Doe” in the records—
Smart, not using the “Jack B. Badd” name on anything official after what happened on the Kublai Khan…
—they took in Kyra as well, maybe in an attempt to demonstrate their fitness as first foster and then adoptive parents. Or, as Lajjun claimed, so that Jack would have a companion her own age.
Six months later, Kyra and “Jane Doe” both disappeared.
The Merc Network had surprisingly little luck picking up her trail again until she reappeared on Pynchon. She was good at staying hidden when she wanted to, he had to admit. Almost as good at it as he was. Why had she followed Jack home, though? What exactly was the bond between the two girls?
He was about to start reading the handful of transcripts from her legal battles on Pynchon when someone began pounding on his door.
“Toombs, you jackass! Open up!”
The possibility, that someone who actually knew Alexander Toombs would be on the station, had occurred to him, but he’d hoped it would be an extreme long-shot. Dimming the lights, he moved to the side of the door and drew one of the knives that had passed undetected through the scanners from his boot. He hit the “open” button on the door’s controls.
“About time, you sack of—”
Grabbing the front of the man’s shirt, he hauled him inside and flung him at the bed, hitting the “close” control at the same time. He was on the man an instant later, knife to his throat. In the corner of the room, the pup made a nervous whuffing sound.
“You wanna keep your head attached,” he growled at the man under him, “keep your voice low.”
The man was young, maybe mid-twenties at the most, and had the wide-eyed look of a kid on the verge of panic. Good. “O-okay.”
“Who are you and what do you want with Toombs?”
“M-Mason. Trent Mason. I work for him, I w-was rep-p-porting in,” the kid stammered.
“Okay.” Riddick smiled and eased up just slightly on the knife. “Report away.”
“Where’s…?” Mason tried to look around without actually moving his head and risking its loss. Riddick had to restrain a laugh. “Where’s Toombs?”
“Not here. Give your report.”
“Where—” Mason stopped talking with a gagging rattle as Riddick pressed the knife in again.
“Give your report.”
“Okay… okay…” Mason began to take a deep breath that stopped, with a hitch, as the blade began to bite into his skin. “I’ve been keeping an eye on the girl like he asked. She ain’t done nothing much until the last few days. Just school and her job.”
Jack. That had to be “the girl.” Of course it was.
“And the last few days?”
“She’s been with that defense attorney. I think they’re knockin’ boots.”
“What defense attorney?” Riddick suspected he already knew. There was only one mentioned in the files. He kept his face deadpan. The guy wasn’t that much older than the girl, as he recalled, but it was an odd development.
“C-Carl Menefee. She even went with him to see one of his clients, that Parvinal character. That’s when things got weird. He was never around much before then and now they’re always together.”
Parvinal. He’d read that name somewhere just recently. Well, he wouldn’t worry about it just yet. “So why do you think they’re knockin’ boots, exactly?”
“She’s been staying at his place ever since then. Just stopping by her dorm room to change before her classes. And she submitted an early move-out form for three days from now. I think she’s moving in with him.”
Well, that was some pretty compelling evidence, he had to admit. “How close have you been following them, exactly?”
“Been in her room a few times. T-Toombs wanted me to see if she had anything that’d prove… prove she was the one who k-killed Chillingsworth, not that Kyra chick. But there’s nothing. Just stuff from her stupid ‘Free Kyra’ campaign. I guess Menefee was helping her with that until the news came down.”
“News?” He’d already figured out that Kyra had taken the fall for Jack, but nothing about this Free Kyra campaign had been mentioned in the Merc Network reports. Riddick suspected that this must have been on purpose, if Toombs had been trying to find a way to go after Jack as well. More pieces were falling into place, and he had a growing suspicion that—
“Crematoria’s gone, man,” Mason told him. “Everybody there’s dead. Ain’t nobody left to free.”
Fuck, there it was. Of course. And even though Kyra had actually survived and escaped Crematoria, she had still died in the aftermath.
My damned fault. Jack probably went to pieces when she heard, and that’s my fault, too… The feeling twisting his guts suddenly wasn’t completely unfamiliar, but did he ever hate it.
“So what happens now, Mason? You and Toombs plannin’ on cashing in the bounty on the girl, now that the first one you cashed in is dead?”
Mason started to shake his head and then stopped as the knife reminded him of its presence. “Can’t. The Chillingworths won’t pay out a second time. Only thing she’s good for is maybe R— y-you… would come see her and we could make a play for your bounty.”
The guy had some guts, Riddick had to give him that. “Think it’ll work?”
“N-no…” Mason swallowed. “Sir. No sir.”
Riddick was still for a moment. If everyone left in Crematoria was dead, then Toombs was probably among the body count. Mason probably had no idea just how disposable his boss had treated his hired help. But that didn’t mean that this green merc had no survival instincts.
“So tell me, Mason. You bring your files with you to give to Toombs directly? Or are you storing them somewhere?”
“M-my left shirt pocket,” Mason stammered. “It’s all there. Everything.”
“C’mon,” Riddick laughed as he reached into the pocket. The data card, he was amused to note, was designed to mimic a laundry service card to the casual observer. Cute. “No backups?”
“Toombs said not to put anything on the Network, not about her.”
“You’re seriously telling me this is the original,” Riddick asked, pretending a level of astonishment he didn’t really feel, “and you don’t have any copies?”
They went back and forth a few more times before he was satisfied that yes, this young merc really was that green and had never thought to take out any insurance policies against Toombs turning on him, let alone against one of the EMP assaults that the immigration services had become so worried about. Unbelievable.
Now he just had to figure out what to do with the guy. Ordinarily, ghosting him wouldn’t have bothered him, but he was on a space station, and exactly how he would dispose of the body would be a problem. He didn’t doubt that dozens of cameras had tracked the man to his rooms, and would catch him at whatever disposal attempts he made—
Mason must have sensed his change in mood, because the guy suddenly pulled back from him, escaping the press of the blade just long enough to roll to the side. His hand went for the small of his back and a second later, he had a small pistol out and had put the bed between the two of them. He pointed it at Riddick, his hand surprisingly steady for someone who had been stammering nonstop until then.
Maybe not as green as all that.
“Okay, Riddick, we’re gonna take a short walk to the station master and I’ll be collecting that reward now.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. You can drop your knife, by the way.”
“This thing?” Riddick lifted it up, looking it over as if he’d never seen it before. “This isn’t a knife. It’s a spatula.”
“What—?” Before Mason could continue his thought, the handle of the instrument in question was sprouting from his left eye. His right eye blinked once and he gulped, before his legs gave out and he fell to the ground.
Riddick walked around the bed, kicking the pistol away from Mason’s hand. A small rivulet of blood had begun to flow from the man’s eye, but was already slowing to a stop.
“Well,” Riddick told him as he bent down to pull his weapon free, “It started out as one, anyway. All ceramic and silicone, but the ceramic part takes a good edge. And no metal detector in the ’verse can spot it. It’s one of my favorites.”
He doubted Mason could hear him anymore, but… You never know.
Now he just had to figure out what to do with a very inconvenient corpse.
Riddick knelt down by Mason’s body and began going through the man’s pockets, trying not to give in to the first stirrings of panic.
The one time… the one fuckin’ time… I can’t afford to kill anybody… some fuckhead shows up and insists on me killin’ him…
The pup came over and snuffled at Mason’s leg.
“Cool it, kid,” Riddick told him, forcing himself to keep his voice low. Aside from a gun, the data card, and a key card, the merc had come empty-handed. “I gotta think this out.”
Mason’s key card indicated that his room was on the same level of the station, but a few corridors away. That was a problem. Getting a corpse across the station undetected…
That was it. Jack would know how to do it. She’d told him all about hiding out on a station like this one.
“It really shouldn’t have been so easy,” he remembered her saying. They’d been killing time on the skiff while the Holy Man slept. She’d been in her hero-worship phase and had wanted to tell him everything about her time on the lam, although she’d been weirdly tight-lipped about what she’d been running from.
He sat down by his merc network terminal, not trusting the station terminal with this search, and called up the schematics for Pynchon Gateway Three.
“Normal people have to walk down the main corridors, but there are other corridors, too,” she’d told him. At the time, he’d mostly paid attention because she needed him to. “All the stations are laid out the same. The rooms furthest away from the entries are always the bathrooms. Doesn’t matter if it’s an efficiency or some fancy suite with a dozen rooms. The bathrooms are always at the back. And they all have standing showers with these panels that open into a maintenance corridor.”
There. She’d been right. The maintenance corridors appeared on the schematics, marked differently from the public corridors. And damn if one of them didn’t run from his room to Mason’s!
Little girl, knockin’ boots with a lawyer or not, I might just have to kiss you… Now, what else had she said about that?
“I hid in the maintenance corridors for a few weeks,” She’d explained with more than a little pride. “Once you’re in them, you can go practically anywhere they go… and get into any of the units. Gotta be careful, though. I only ever went in to raid the food machines when people checked out. You could see the check-out lights in the corridor, but it was usually another day before the cleaning people showed up. Not sure why. And they always went in the front doors.”
“So what are the corridors even used for?” he’d asked, earning one of her sunrise smiles in response.
“Plumbing, electrical, heat, all that kind of stuff,” she’d replied proudly. “But maintenance staff isn’t even allowed in the corridors unless they have a work order. Maybe to keep them from breaking into people’s rooms and stealing stuff.” Like she had apparently been doing.
Riddick rose from the terminal and walked to his bathroom, switching off the light and lifting his goggles. There… he could see the difference easily. There was the panel Jack had told him about. A plan was coming together in his head.
Okay, he told himself as he worked. I can use the maintenance corridor to get Mason back to his own room. That’s one problem solved. Next is how to keep people from wondering how he entered my room and never left it, but showed up dead in his…
One problem at a time, he told himself as he set the panel aside. It wasn’t huge, but he would be able to get through it and pull Mason’s corpse through. He’d have to make sure the pup didn’t follow him, but otherwise, this part would be fairly straightforward.
Long as nobody’s doing maintenance along my route… Two bodies would be even harder to explain, although he could maybe make it look like the maintenance guy had tried to burgle Mason’s room and the two had killed each other when he was caught.
Don’t go borrowin’ trouble. Get that corpse out of your room first and worry about the rest once that’s done.
Dragging Mason into the bathroom was easy enough. He shut the door so that the pup couldn’t follow, and then began the process of pulling the merc into the maintenance corridor. The space had almost no lighting, allowing him to work comfortably. He was gratified to see that it was well-labeled; each of the spaced-out hatches like his had room numbers prominently marked on them. He levered his own hatch back into place so that, to a cursory observer, it would look unmolested. Just in case.
The hardest part was simply carrying the merc’s dead weight down the narrow hallway, but it was better than dragging him and risking someone finding physical evidence of their passing later on. Riddick set the body down when he reached a junction where the corridor branched off four ways. He needed to go right, as he recalled, and then left at the junction after that. It would have taken eight of the public corridors to reach Mason’s room, so Jack’s route was definitely saving him time.
As long as I don’t bump into anyone…
The corridor, however, was comparatively silent. He could hear the muffled sounds of a few showers running, and the rhythmic thump of music emanating from a room somewhere to his left, but there were no sharper noises coming from the corridors themselves. He was alone with his package.
Let’s get this done, then. He hefted Mason up again and resumed his stealthiest walk.
Finally he could see the numbers from Mason’s key card on the hatch ahead of him. Lowering the merc down to the floor, he carefully worked the hatch free and crawled through, finding himself in a shower stall virtually identical to the one in his room. Smellier, though. Mason had unpleasant tastes in cologne.
He temporarily arranged Mason on the unmade bed and began a methodical search of the room, finding and pocketing a few things that might have pointed investigators toward him or Jack. Despite his claims to the contrary, the man had copious printouts, many of them about her. Those had to go back with him.
That’s all well and good, but I need to make sure that nobody follows an electronic trail, either…
He set all of the physical evidence he needed to remove from the scene in the shower stall and looked over the rooms again. The only papers left were Mason’s identity documents. Riddick leafed through them, trying to find inspiration.
Religion: none. Huh. It’d be pretty convenient if you had a religion that prevented anyone from conducting an autopsy on you, wouldn’t it? I know there are a few like that. He opened up Mason’s Merc Network terminal, using the dead man’s fingerprints to activate it, and ran a quick search. Church of the Rykengoll? Isn’t that the church Kyra’s belt-miners belonged to? There’s some poetic irony.
Two minutes later, a new printed page with Mason’s new religion on it had joined the man’s papers, and the original page was tucked in Riddick’s pocket.
Now, just how did you die, Mason? Fell on a knife, I think? But how? He had two wounds to cover up and explain away, even without an autopsy: the puncture wound in Mason’s eye and the line on his throat where the blade had begun to cut in.
Mason comes back from visiting Toombs, enters his room… it’s dark and he can’t see… he trips on a chair… Riddick moved one of the chairs into a position where it looked knocked over. His terminal was on the chair, and hits the floor… He set the terminal down, open and lying on its side.
He flails around and stomps the terminal…
Riddick brought his boot down, careful to crush the portion of the terminal that he knew housed its memory chips.
And crashes into the table where he ate his lunch… The table in question still had the remains of the meal, but no steak knife. He checked the utensil drawer and found one, using a napkin to hold it as he brought it to Mason’s throat and pressed it against the shallow wound there. Some flecks of drying blood adhered to the blade as he pulled it away. Now that’s perfect. Okay, that’s his neck… what did his eye?
There was ice in Mason’s glass, he noticed, still melting. Mason must have been finishing his lunch when he got word that “Toombs” was on the station, and gone straight to his room. The man apparently didn’t use a straw—
He found three in the utensil drawer, all metal. Perfect.
He crashes into the table and the straw goes into his eye. The steak knife bites his neck but he’s already dead…
A moment later, he had it all arranged. Gathering up the items he didn’t want anyone to find, he put them into the corridor and then wiped down the hatch before levering it back into place.
Okay, that’s good, but how did he get back to his room from mine? The cameras in the corridors would have seen something…
Unless, for some reason, they all stopped working.
He glanced down at the papers in his hands. Everybody was so worried about EMPs lately…
I happen to know a walking, talking EMP…
But how would he make it happen, exactly? The last three times, he hadn’t done anything, he’d just—
I reacted to a threat. Each time. I don’t know why the pup’s eyes were a threat, but… how do I make it happen now?
He was jumping the gun.
Before he figured out how to make it happen, he needed to decide where. Jack said these maintenance corridors serviced plumbing, heat… and electrical. He needed to find a main node, something that, if hit by one of his weird blasts, would take down a large enough area to cover both his room and Mason’s… but would be far enough away from both rooms not to draw unwanted attention to either one.
There… those were electrical conduits. He’d bet that there would be a junction box near, or in, one of the corridor junctions.
Like, say, the main junction, he decided, recalling its position on the layout.
Riddick was glad that his time in the Pit had let him develop an unerring sense of direction. He wasn’t sure when or how he had developed a perfect recall of maps, but he could see, in his mind’s eye, exactly where he was on the station schematic, and where the main junction was. He set off for it.
The main junction area had several large, standardized boxes for power. He’d seen their like in dozens of places. They weren’t even locked, with the local crews apparently assuming that unauthorized access wasn’t possible. He opened them all to ensure they would be at maximum vulnerability.
Now I just need to figure out how to summon one of those blasts…
He sat down, not willing to risk toppling over if he succeeded, and tried to recall just what he had been thinking and feeling each time.
Threatened… helpless… but what else? What was it that he’d kept seeing and hearing when they’d happened? Something from his memories, not from the here-and-now, something that had intruded and had brought back a sense of nameless terror…
Booted feet on the ground. Fire in the sky. A woman’s breathy, strangled sobs…
He felt the tingle begin in his chest and focused on the memories, teasing more out a bit at a time.
Air full of smoke and hideous, vile smells, blood and rot and excrement. Distant screams. Staccato thunder, too regular to be a natural storm… running, shuffling feet and booted feet in pursuit… and those sobs…
He was in a bin, a rusted metal bin, filled with refuse…
Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin, with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and not believe…?
Fire exploding overhead—
His chest was burning. It was about to happen—
This time, he felt it blast out from him like a targeted missile. As had happened in the Basilica, he opened his eyes in time to see sparks explode from each of the junction boxes. The distant thump of music he’d noticed earlier went silent.
Huh. I don’t always lose consciousness.
Distant alarms began to sound as emergency systems kicked in.
“Warning,” came a muffled, official voice, from all of the rooms surrounding him. “System power loss detected. Please stay in your rooms. Please remain calm. Maintenance has been dispatched.” The voice then began repeating the message in dozens of languages.
That’s my cue to get the hell away from here. Riddick picked up his papers again and hurried to his own room.
Back inside, he navigated the utter blackness easily, setting his evidence down on the bed and picking up the puppy and setting him on the bed as well. “Almost done, kid, just two or three more quick things I gotta do.”
Riddick walked over to his room door and used the manual override to force it open, closing it behind him. The emergency backup system logs manual overrides. That’s Mason leaving. Now… gotta do the same with his door.
The cameras in the corridors were dead, thankfully, as he took them at a run, looping around quickly to Mason’s room. Mason’s key-card had just enough juice to power the manual override, which he levered open with his napkin-wrapped hand. And then he was inside the merc’s room once again. He dropped the card on the floor by the man’s body.
One more pass through the tunnels, and then I’m done with this farce…
Maintenance workers had begun to arrive in the narrow corridors, but most of them were in and around the main junction. Riddick avoided them all, blending into the shadows when one or two workers almost came too close. Finally he was back in his own room.
Not how I planned to spend my day… but worth it.
It would be hours, he figured, before power was restored, given how thoroughly fried the boxes had been. Maybe even days. He’d take the time to learn everything Mason had known about Jack B. Badd and had kept off of the merc network… and then it would be time to go find the girl herself.
Before any more trouble can try to find her…
It was a wonder, he thought, that the Hunter-Gratzner hadn’t crashed even sooner with the two of them on board.