This morning, we thought we’d give you a taste of one of our current works-in-progress, Hunters of Gaia, the second book in our science fiction New Mother Earth series. The first draft of this book is almost finished and we think it is even better than the first. We hope you like it.
After a restless night, Kim Han was eager to get back to work. He wasn’t surprised to see his partner of eleven years approaching the UNIS Osan Headquarters from the other direction. He stood outside the double doors of the front entrance and waited for Tam to arrive. The shorter man clutched a clear cup filled with a viscous green liquid.
Kim lifted an eyebrow at his partner and Tam answered his unspoken question. “Bev made it. It’s supposed to cleanse my toxins and give me a boost of energy. She wouldn’t give me a cuppa joe this morning. She said I looked like crap and handed me this.”
“You know she’s just a drink vendor. You don’t have to do what she tells you. By the way, it smells vile. Have you tasted it yet?”
“I’m working up to it. ‘Sides, it’s better than the patches. That shit will give you a heart attack one day.” He waved his cup at the skin colored patch on Kim’s neck, visible because he’d applied it over a section of his morph tattoo.
“We’ll see. Go ahead. Drink it. I’ll wait.” Kim watched Tam take a tentative sip of his drink and then started laughing as his friend gagged a little. “You’re going to live forever if it tastes that bad. Come on, we’ve got work to do.”
They walked together into the busy station house, Tam surreptitiously dropping the nearly full cup into the recycler next to the door.
The chaos that was the Osan Headquarters building did nothing to faze the veteran officers. Osan Headquarters was always busy. New Beijing was a Pan–Asia station and had carved out a niche from the beginning of exodus as a manufacturing powerhouse and the long-haul transportation hub to the outer colonies of Skyweb, including the asteroid belts and the Red Planet. Osan HQ had a high case load of transients, petty criminals and vice-related crimes.
They threaded their way past the gatekeeper, a holographic screen mounted on the exterior wall separating the rest of humanity from the daily inhabitants of the cavernous central booking area. It was manned by a crusty beat cop squeezed into a cubicle next to the door just inside. His avatar, a much younger and handsomer version of himself, tipped his head in greeting to the two detectives as they walked by. They passed the original in his cubicle as he was trying to brush crumbs from his uniform.
They walked the central aisle between the crystalloy holding cells and their resident occupants. Some were open, some were dimmed to obscure the occupants within, but all were occupied.
As they passed, the usual din diminished gradually until a weird silence descended on the room. All eyes were on them. Word passed quickly amongst law enforcement brethren and most had heard about their connection to the Persephone explosion. It was not welcome notoriety.
Tam couldn’t stand it any longer, “What’re you looking at? Don’t you people have anything better to do?” Everyone quickly turned back to what they’d been doing and the noise level returned to something resembling normal.
Tam muttered to his partner as they entered the offices situated at the back of the building, “For fuck’s sake, does everyone know? Way to keep it quiet, Osan.”
Kim didn’t answer his partner, “We need to see the Chief.”
Tam sighed heavily, “Yeah, I don’t think we can avoid it. ‘Sides, he might know something we don’t.”
As soon as the words left Tam’s mouth, a raspy voice rang out from the end of the hall, “You two! Get in here!” There was no keeping Chief Marcus Frasier waiting. Like recalcitrant schoolboys, both men chimed back, “Coming, Chief!” and hurried their steps towards the permanently darkened crystalloy walls of his office.
Chief Frasier had just settled back into his faux leather chair behind an impressive block of a desk when they entered his office. “Good morning, you two. I hope you’re ready for a really long day. Sit.”
Kim took the first chair and Tam squeezed into the other. Frasier pointed a finger back and forth between his two detectives. “Tell me you’ve got something.”
Kim answered for them both. “We’re working on it. We’ve turned over the contents of Uli’s office to forensics. But as for the man himself, no one knows where he’s gone to ground.”
“Not good enough. How the hell do you lose a green man on New Beijing?” Uli was a well-known local character outside of the Tropics. He had permanently altered his physical appearance to resemble that of an old Earth snake, complete with bifurcated tongue, head to toe scale tattoos and was rumored to have hypodermic fangs capable of injecting a poison of his choice. Despite medical advances, it would still take a long time and a lot of money to undo that much cosmetic alteration.
Kim repeated himself, “We’re working on it.”
“Well, you two don’t have much time. The UN head-shed is forming an anti-terrorism task force and they’re taking over your case.” He held up a hand to forestall their protests, “I’ve convinced them to allow you to remain in an advisory capacity but it’s no longer your show. You help them and don’t get territorial. This has media headache written all over it. Now, what’s the status on the Plum Flower House investigation? I know you two have let that slide the last couple of days and I totally understand why.”
Frustrated at a lack of progress in their investigation of Anna Painter’s murder, the two detectives had resorted to illegal wiretapping of Patrick Killingsworth, the head of the United Nations Reconnaissance and Colonization Command. That wiretap had yielded the tip they needed to nail Patrick but in the course of gathering legitimate evidence, Killingsworth had disappeared and they’d stumbled on a skin-slip operation conducted out of one of the euthanasia clinics on New Beijing. Patrick had been planning to register for voluntary euthanasia, and if everything went according to plan, he would have simply taken the ident chip from an actual client and then would have surgically altered himself to resemble the deceased. He never showed for his appointment.
During a raid on the Plum Flower House, as EF-27 or Euthanasia Facility number 27 was known to the locals, they’d found a gruesome mask made of preserved human skin. The skin cape was all that remained of a citizen, one Ellona D’arcy, who had supposedly been alive and well somewhere in the Skyweb. Obviously, D’arcy was deceased. She had either been murdered, or what was more likely, was simply an undocumented euthanasia exploited for some kind of gruesome version of the skin slip trade.
Frustratingly, there was absolutely no sign of EF-27’s euthanasia technician, a person using the alias Deva Jet.
Tam answered this time, “Although the name the tech used is probably false, we’ve put in a request for any records for Deva Jet on Nippon Station. We were ready to conduct interviews in the neighborhood when this whole Persephone thing happened. I haven’t had a chance to check for a response yet.”
Chief Frasier sat silent for a moment, “All right, just don’t let it gather dust. In the meantime, here’s the name of the anti-terror guy coming in to form the task force. The guy’s name is Mohammad Khouri. We don’t know anything about him except that he’s very high up in the UN food chain. Set him up with a conference room and make sure he has access to all your notes. Let Mr. Lincoln know that he has to fulfill the terms of his witness protection agreement and when Mr. Khouri gets here, give him access to Lincoln. I’m pretty sure they’ll squeeze you two out at the first opportunity. Don’t let them. This is our case and I want to see it through. Now get to work.”
We hope you enjoyed our sneak peek of Hunters of Gaia. Coming soon, in its entirety.
Happy Sunday and thanks for joining us,
Anne, Nancy, and Eric