Monday, 22 June 2009

Zokusho: Crystal Blade Chapter 2

I can now personally gaurantee that I will post something every night from now on. It won't exactly be much, probably just a paragraph or two set in the Zokusho universe (Yeah, I'm totally ripping off Aerix here). But at least it'll be within my little corner of Zokusho, centering around the history of Terra Raiga, or some of the other species and worlds I've created.

But for today, here's the second part of Crystal Blade.

Harvard Dent went home. He had spent a solid 8 hours happily stamping approval for various licences and was looking forward to a chance to unwind. Harvard had a rather unique method of relaxing; he went to sleep. This may not seem so unique at first; after all, everybody sleeps. But think about it, when was the last time you fell asleep in order to relax? Most people just think of sleep as an inconvenient habit, something they have to do to prevent tiredness. Not Harvard though. Harvard enjoyed sleeping. He spent most of his free time doing it. He never went out partying and he never watched television. The closest he got to a hobby was solving the crossword in the morning paper. But he only did that because he knew it was important to exercise his mind. He didn’t have any friends. He had acquaintances, but no true friends. Harvard wasn’t unduly concerned however, because he had never tried to make any. And so, he slept his day away in bed, thoroughly enjoying himself.
By all accounts, Harvard Dent was rather dull.

One person who was not dull however, was his young cousin, Rachel Dent. Most people who knew her would say she didn’t know the meaning of the word. They were all wrong. She did indeed know the meaning of the word dull, and she was saying it rather a lot to her new partner.
“Dull! Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, and dull! This is unbelievably dull!” She turned to look at Mike “Let’s get pizza.”
“You’re the one who wanted to do a stake-out!” Mike replied.
“I was told it would be fun! Blake said it was the most exciting thing a PI did. Git!” Rachel crossed her arms and slumped further into her seat. She had rung Mike within five minutes of him having drifted off to sleep. She had explained at length how one of her school friend’s dad’s cousin’s wife was cheating, and her school friend’s dad’s cousin wanted evidence. Her school friend new she was a cop and had asked for help. So here they were, sitting in Rachel’s car outside a stranger’s house hoping to catch some good photos of the woman. So far, they had spent five hours waiting, without success.
“So, how about that pizza?”
“I thought we were supposed to keep our eyes trained on the house.”
“Only one of us has to. And you can do that. I’m going to go get that pizza.” Rachel said, and deftly opened the car door. Before Mike could utter a word of complaint she had vanished into the night.
“But I don’t know how to work the camera.” He said to himself. And as luck would have it, it was then that their target decided to stagger out of the house. Mike fumbled with the camera, but as he had said, he didn’t know how it worked. Instead he took some photos of the inside of the lens cap. By the time he had worked anything out, the target had left.
“I got anchovies. I hope you don’t mind.” Rachel gently placed the red hot pizza box on Mike’s lap “What are you so grumpy about?”
“She left.”
“Sweet. Mission accomplished.”
“I didn’t take any photos. You forgot to tell me how it works. We failed. Only our second case and we’ve failed miserably.”
“Darn. Oh well, guess we’ll have to try again tomorrow won’t we?”
“You hated it today! Do you mean to tell me we have to do this again?”
“Yep. Every night until we get that photo. You look tired, you should get some sleep.” Mike fumed silently as Rachel drove him home. The stake-out location was distressingly far from Mike’s apartment, and it took over an hour for him to get back. When he got home he fell onto the sofa and fell asleep instantly.
Five minutes later Sheridan’s father whacked him with his walking stick.

Mike would have felt only slightly better if he had known that someone else was having a bad day too. Her name was Lya Lorne, and her neighbour was partying. Lya hated and despised her neighbour. Almost every night was another party, each inevitably involving loud music and drunken roaring. She would often glance out of her apartment door to find party-goers passed out in the corridor. And just once she could’ve sworn she had seen a needle. Luckily for her, her other neighbour had returned. She glanced out of the window and saw the familiar black pick-up truck pull up next to her scooter. Her other neighbour, although rather too young to be living on her own, and far too cute to really be safe in this neighbourhood, was a police officer.
Lya remembered when she had witnessed her young neighbour being attacked outside the front of the building. Her attackers, three heavily built men, were still strapped to life-support machines in the local hospital. Lya had immediately struck up a friendship with this neighbour. The main problem was, Rachel Dent, the neighbour in question, was almost instantly annoying. Still, it was a small price to pay for the safety that came with her friendship. And Lya lived in constant hope that Rachel would leak some useful police info to her.
Lya Lorne was in for one heckuva shock.

The night came and went. Unfortunately, since Mike had spent most of it in a pick-up with Rachel, he hadn’t enjoyed much of it. Sheridan’s father wasn’t exactly full of sympathy though.
“That blasted noise machine of yours woke me up in the middle of my favourite dream!” He said in between whacks. “And when I finally get it back, you go and wake me up with your noise! If you’re going to go out at night, at least have the decency to be quiet about it!” The Old Man gratefully accepted a bowl of cereal from his daughter. Once he had finished it he whacked her round the head.
“And what are you doing up so early? Young girls need their sleep you know!”
“I start my new job today father.” Sheridan replied, holding up her new uniform. It was brown and, in her opinion, ugly. It was of the Ann Millers French maid style, which Sheridan instantly hated. “I’m going to go put this on. Mike there’s cereal in the cupboards.” She said as she closed the door to her room behind her.
Mike had just opened the door to the kitchen when Sheridan’s father whacked him around the head with his cane.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“To get breakfast.”
“No time for breakfast, we need to go shopping.”
“What are we going shopping for?” Mike asked as he put his hat and coat back on. He had long ago given up arguing with his elders.
“I was listening to a documentary on the television and they were saying about those fiend things that kidnapped me.”
“What about them?”
“Apparently they can only be killed with a certain kind of weapon. We need to get you one of those weapons.” The Old Man opened the front door.
“But I’ve already got a weapon. I don’t want to have to get a new one.”
“You don’t have to. Just get a new spare weapon. Come on, let’s go.” He said, and with that, they left. Sheridan stepped out of her room in her uniform, hoping to get an opinion from Mike, but she never got one. Instead she sat down on the sofa and looked at her reflection in the television screen. She had never considered herself good-looking. She wasn’t unattractive, just not eye-catching. She had plain brown hair which fell just below her shoulders. Coupled with brown eyes and ruddy skin, she considered herself plain.
After a minute of sitting, she got up and left for her job.

Feyanna Shiro didn’t consider herself very attractive either. She ran a small junk shop in one of the rundown parts of Interplanes. Her father had owned the shop before her, and he had handed the deeds to her brother Jon in his will. However, Jon wasn’t particularly interested in running a junk shop. He spent most of his time out back, trying to hack into secret government files. So far he hadn’t proven to be any good at it, but he was nothing if not optimistic.
Mike and the Old Man walked into the shop. Fey, as she was known to her friends, smiled her best smile from behind the counter. She watched her customers carefully. Mike had spotted a suit of armour which was strikingly similar to the one he had left in the taxi the previous day, even down to the dents. The Old Man however, walked straight up to the counter.
“Hello sir, may I help you?” she asked as sweetly as possible. She looked at the Old Man, and had the same reaction most teenagers did whenever they first met him. She burst out laughing.
I should probably explain why. The Old Man was blind, as has been previously mentioned, and was therefore incapable of seeing his moustache and beard. His moustache started off thick and dark, but the very edges of it were white and wispy, and they were long enough to reach his shoulders. His beard was very much the same, except that it grew suddenly from just beneath his lower lip and ended somewhere near his belly button. But the rest of his lower jaw was completely clean-shaven. He wore black sunglasses and his hair was virtually non-existent. What little there remained was just as long as his beard.
The overall effect was rather comical, and Fey couldn’t help herself. She stopped when the Old Man whacked her around the head with his walking stick.
“Stop laughing! Haven’t you ever seen a blind man before?”
“Sorry sir. I, ah, remembered a joke I heard a few days ago.”
“Whatever. Mike, get over here!” He gestured towards Mike, who scurried over, carrying the suit of armour.
“That will be five hundred credits sir.” Fey said, brushing a strand of her long red hair out of her eyes.
“But this was mine! I left it in a taxi yesterday!”
“Sorry sir, but I bought that off of a gentleman last week,” Fey lied “So it will cost you five hundred credits.”
“Put that back,” the Old Man whacked Mike “We’re here for a reason, and I don’t want you wasting any more of our money.”
“If you’re here searching for a particular type of item, I’m sure I could be of help.” Fey was putting on her most professional voice, despite it never normally getting her anywhere.
“Dispelling weapons.” The Old Man grunted.
“I’ll need to see cash up front.”

While Mike and the Old Man were busy negotiating, Officer Blake had his own problems. He had been called as back-up for two detectives who were seizing evidence. When he had been sent as an escort for this type of work before, he had gotten all excited, but pretty quickly he had gotten bored with the whole affair. He and his new partner were busy standing next to the door while the detectives got to do the fun stuff.
“I’m telling you they’re not here,” James told Detective Carr “I’ve sent them off to the developers.”
“Oh please. Who do you think we are? We know all you amateur photographer types like to develop your own pictures. Now, where have you hidden them?” Carr had cuffed James to the table and was the kind of Detective who believed in guilty till proven guilty. James did not look happy.
“I don’t even know what photos you’re on about.” He pleaded.
“Two days ago you were sighted in the area of the Nebull residence!” Detective Carr slammed his fist down onto the table. “I know you know something! Tell me what you saw!”
“I didn’t see anything man! I was just walking past on my way to the developers when I saw Edgar entering her house. Two people were with him, but I didn’t take any photos.”
“Edgar? Damn! If he’s involved then we can’t do jack about it.” Detective Carr punched the table again, not to intimidate, but this time out of frustration.
“I would’ve took photos, but I didn’t have any film man! I’m just a photographer. And not even a very good one man!”
“Be quiet. Don’t mention this to anybody! Red, we’re leaving!” Carr called to his fellow detective. They both stormed out, leaving Blake to sort out the mess.
“That was so cool! Man, I want to be a detective someday.” Blake’s new partner exclaimed.
“Huh. Those detectives aren’t all that. All they do all day is shout at people and never get anywhere,” Blake unlocked James’ cuffs “It’s us real cops who do all the work. They just take the credit afterwards.”
“I’m sure that’s not all they do. I’ll bet they get into car chases all the time. And gunfights.” The new partner followed Blake as they walked out of the door.
“Those guys wouldn’t know a car chase if they got run over by one. It’s us guys who do all the dangerous stuff.” Blake replied over his shoulder.
“I’m taking the detectives test next week. I’m going to be the best detective ever!”
“Listen buddy,” Blake stopped halfway down the stairs and turned round “What was your name again?”
“Buddy. Officer Stephen Buddy.”
“Okay Buddy,” Blake added the capital letter “That test is nothing. My previous partner was the best cop this city’s ever known, and she failed the test three times. They don’t care about investigative skill or even how good you are with people. All the police chief cares about is whether you look good in a trench coat or not. This police force is all about appearance. They don’t care whether they catch the bad guy or not, just as long as they get their time in the spotlight. Stick with the real cops kid, it’s the only way you’re ever going to do any good around here.”
Detectives Carr and Red were waiting for them next to their squad car.
“Officer Blake, could I have a word with you for a second?” Carr asked him. With the large Detective Red towering over them, Blake wasn’t inclined to disagree. Carr led him away from the others by the shoulder, and began whispering into his ear. “I heard your old partner is a Private Investigator now.”
“Yeah. So?”
“So, as long as Edgar is involved we can’t investigate anymore. The guild will protect him. But a PI is still allowed to poke around.”
“So you want to hire her to look into it?”
“No, I want you to hire her to look into it. You see, if the guild finds out I’m investigating his actions I’ll be in deep trouble for hiring her.”
“But so would I be!”
“I hear your little daughter has just started school. Her first day went swimmingly. I heard she made lots of little friends. Think how upset they would be if she were to stop turning up one day.” Carr’s voice was as low and menacing as he could get it.
“Fine, I’ll hire her.”
“That’s a good copper. Give your daughter a kiss for me would you?” Carr said giving Blake a seemingly-jovial pat on the back. When Carr and Red had left, Blake got into the squad car next to Buddy.
“What was that all about?” Buddy asked.
“Nothing. Listen, don’t mention what that photographer said to anyone. If you do, we’ll all be in trouble.” Blake said as he started the ignition.

Mike and the Old Man were having some trouble of their own, although nothing anywhere near as sinister. Mike had shown Fey the money he had earned the previous day, and her eyes had opened wide. Neither Mike nor the Old Man knew the true value of a credit, and Fey could spot a mug a mile off.
“The only dispelling weapon I’ve got in at the moment is this small dagger.” She said, handing them a battered blade which looked older than the swordsmith.
“How do we know this actually works?” Mike asked, holding the dagger in his hand.
“Give it ‘ere!” The swordsmith said, whacking Mike around the head and snatching the small blade from him. He ran his hands up and down the dagger, then held it to his ear and flicked it. He slammed it back down onto the counter. “This thing’s useless!” He roared “It’s a second-class piece of junk. It’ll break the moment anybody tries thrusting with it! Give us a real weapon or we’ll take our custom elsewhere!”
“Huh. What would a blind man know about weapons?” Fey snorted.
“Have you ever heard of Escalirion?”
“Of course I have. It’s one of the twelve legendary swords. It’s rumoured to be nothing but a myth.”
“Oh it’s real. And let me tell you something young’un. It was me who forged it!” He leaned in close, to make the event more ominous, but merely smacked his nose on the edge of the counter.
“Yeah right. As if a blind man could ever forge a weapon. If you’re not going to take this seriously, then you can just leave my shop.” Fey pointed to the door, mostly out of habit since obviously he couldn’t see her hand.
“Very well, but you’ll regret this. You may not believe us, but you’re losing potentially loyal custom here.” He called back as he left. Mike scurried on behind him, only pausing to mourn the loss of his armour.
Once outside, the Old Man turned to Mike and whacked him round the head once more.
“Why’d you take me to this useless dump? Take me to another shop. We’ll find you a good dispelling weapon if it kills me.”
“But sir, I don’t know of any other shops.”
“Then how are we supposed to get you a good weapon? It’s not like I have a forge back in our cramped little apartment.”
“Maybe Rachel would know a place where we could buy one.” Mike said, taking out his mobile phone.

James rushed to meet his friends. The moment the cops had left he had rung the group, and they had arranged a meeting. Since known of them had any space for secret society meetings, the three of them had to meet in a café whenever any of them had something new. James was certain the little group would change the way the city was run, despite its small size. He entered the café, and spotted his friends around one of the tables. He made his way over to them and sat down.
“Hey guys, you’ll never guess what happened to me today man. Barely an hour ago. What’s up?” He asked when he noticed neither of his two friends had noticed him. He followed Jon’s gaze and saw the new waitress. She glided over to them, appearing to him like an angel.
“Hello sirs, how may I help you?” Sheridan asked.
“Oh uh. I uh. Ummm.” James responded. Jon could barely do more than open and close his mouth, but luckily their friend had more experience with pretty women.
“Yeah, we’ll uh, have a coffee each and a cheeseburger.” He glanced over to James “What do you guys want to eat? I’m paying.”
The prospect of a free meal snapped James out of it immediately. “I’ll take a cheeseburger too. Shiro?”
“A veggie-burger.” Jon said. Once Sheridan had left they all crowded around each other again.
“So James, what did happen?” Jon asked.
“The cops, man. They busted in and cuffed me to the table. I was scared man.”
“That’s police brutality.” Jon said.
“I know, man! It’s not on.”
“What did they want?” The as-yet-unnamed friend asked.
“They wanted to find out what I saw when I passed that Nebull place a few days ago man.”
“What did you see?”
“It was that Edgar dude. The one you told me about man. The copper wasn’t happy when I dropped his name.”
“There’s something they don’t want us to know!” Jon exclaimed, rather loudly.
“Keep it down Shiro. Of course there’s something they don’t want us to know. There’s always something they don’t want us to know. I say we find out what it is.” The friend said.
“Three coffees and three burgers, two with cheese one veggie.” Sheridan placed the food and drinks on the table. James and Jon gazed at her as she left, but their friend just sat in silent contemplation.
“I think I know someone who can help.” He said, just before biting into his burger.
“I hope so, D. We haven’t had much luck with this whole secret society thing.” James said, also tucking into his burger.
Before they left, David Dent made sure he gave Sheridan a great tip.

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