Chapter 22

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Fear isn't a bad thing, for the most part. I've terminated plenty of people who weren't scared of me. Some of them ended up plenty scared, but as an agent of preservation, fear is nowhere near as effective in retrospect.

People without fear are either stupid or brain-bent.

Or they no longer give a damn.

I stalked those corridors and hallways looking for a fight. Minions, Priests, Tyson, Unknown-idiot-assailant - I was ready for anyone. Hrna even. Maybe.

I'd spent the past two weeks sneaking around like a rat. Hiding, catching multiple bearings, watching backtrails and using fake IDs. I'd been attacked more times than I could remember.

Now when I was asking for it, wanting it, they were nowhere to be seen. Bastards.

I wandered the loading bays. I stalked the corridors surrounding Daya's block. I even strolled past Security HQ and Ed-Cent 13. The corridor outside the HQ was a seething, writhing mass. Security, reporters, medics, spectators. Not a pair of green eyes anywhere. The Ed-Cent was deserted. I remembered that it wasn't an Education day.

At 1200 I gave up and went to the Brash Monkey for a drink and hopefully, a fight. Margo nodded at me when I entered, but I had no idea what she was trying to indicate and I didn't give a crap. Maybe she was just saying hello.

The bar was nearly empty. One or two aged locals, but nobody connected. No Tyson.

By that stage my adrenalin was running thin. I slumped down into my usual place across from Deeb's empty chair. Margo brought over a scotch and a plate of some kind of stew that she must have had on the boil. Didn't taste too bad. Good, honest food.

The scotch was a surprise. Not exactly the quality that I had back in my cell, but much better than my usual fare here. Margo had been holding out on me. I looked over at her and she gave me a little smile.

I sat there for an hour waiting for somebody, anyone to try to kill me.

I came to a decision. I hadn't exactly been putting it off. I'd just been saving it as a last play.


That should provide sufficient catalyst for Smooth-face to finish the job.

I drained my drink and tapped the checkpad, but there was no charge registering. I looked over at Margo, but she shrugged. I sent her a 10k tip. It was Smooth-face's money. I wasn't going to be needing it.

As I stood, the music in the bar cut out and a security announcement came over the speakers. I turned towards one of the screens to see what was going on. More information about events at the HQ, I suspected.

Instead, the screens were showing two security officers standing in a carpeted corridor. A long corridor with paintings hanging from the walls. It looked similar to where Fion had been staying. Diplomatic Sector, maybe.

On the floor between the officers was a pile of bloody remains. With a head perched on top. The carpet underneath had been stained a deep red.

I sat back down and switched on my crystal.

"... believed to have been a visiting dignitary from the Holy Order of Freya Theta, the second diplomatic murder in just over a week. This brutal, senseless act joins a series of violent activities that have been haunting this station over the past weeks. Grace Garnet, currently on a diplomatic mission to Planet Melchi, and herself grieving terrible loss in the biological event earlier this morning, is unavailable for comment. Serious questions have been raised about her performance over the past..."

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