EC – Personal Log – 0120053118 – The Flaxtor Carrier Pigeons of Death – Part 1
Medi-tech once again performed a miracle of modern science by getting my thumb back where it belongs with one hundred percent of the nerves connected, restoring full feeling and range of motion.
Good thing too. I’ve had a lot of good times with this thumb and I’d hate for that to end just because I didn’t pull it back fast enough in the clutch. And, being the fourth time I’ve nearly lost that thumb…completely, it’s fair to believe that it might reject me strictly on the basis of neglect. Nobody wants their thumb turning on them. I don’t.
And as I sit here, pumping my reborn digit up and down like I’m cracking the detonator of an X-13 Plastisplode Peacekeeper, I have nobody to thank for the return of my thumb – and the Nexit Commodore turbo-drive I was sent to retrieve – than Turp, supreme Flaxtor Carrier Death Pigeon.
Breaking it down, calling this creature a pigeon is just wrong. It’s an obvious joke of whoever had the job to name things that we humans started to encounter once hole-jumping became a thing. A standard CDP looked more like a large bat with leathery skin, stubby, metallic looking feathers, and near reptilian facial features instead of your standard issue pigeon beak…or bat face. They’re substantially larger than even the largest pigeon could dream of being and they are fast, tactical fliers, nimble and agile, with the ability to get in and out of the tightest of places with ease and turn on a dime with great finesse.
The carrier part was spot on. Their large feet and strong talons, combined with a healthy extended, wingspan made them perfect for carrying notes and small packages over long distances. The spooky part is that these things have the ability to absorb suggestion and process information in a way that allows them to understand what you want them to do quickly and where you want them to take something all while figuring the fastest possible route. They say it’s part chemical reaction, part telepathy and brain synapses something or other. Who knows? All I know is that they can cut through the mental clutter to get directly to the bit, the thing you want them to know, and make that bit their mission.
The death part is right too. Despite their mostly calm demeanor and being bred to serve, this is not a “pigeon” you want to piss off. Aside from the talons, which are formidable weapons in and of themselves, the CDP also has lengthy retractable fangs that carry a lethal venom, at least lethal to humans. Whether they bite you or spit on you, if you come into contact with that venom…you’re done, good night.
On paper, my assignment was supposed to be a standard, by the book pick-up and delivery. After the incident on Bahtch, which I maintain was a total misunderstanding, my income stream hacked to odd jobs and hole-jumps too menial, or unsavory, for others to do. Hm…technically, I was reduced to being little more than a CDP myself really…you know, except for the wings and the venom spitting fangs and…
But I digress. The job was a simple hole-jump to Neb 15 with a tap-in spot set in the heart of the Vax complex which was nestled serenely in the third quadrant of Simmaer, Flaxtor’s biggest city. There, I would meet up with Strom Gorman, “purveyor of fine goods”, as he put it, pick up the disc, head to the tap-out and hole-jump home.
Easy, right? Should have been, but somewhere along the line, the whole plan went scrap.
Getting in was rage – smooth and easy. The tap-in was pretty close to where it was supposed to be, about 100 feet away from Strom’s place. Which was lucky. Lately, a string of miscalculations from the senders put the taps off by miles. In one case, hundreds of miles; just another thing eroding the once fevered interest in jumping.
As I got my bearings and headed down the street, Strom stepped out of the door of his storefront. He was a large, beast of a Flaxtorian male, but with many years behind him. He walked forward slowly while dramatically arching his back as if it were stiff. He breathed in a full helping of the cool night air, holding it for a moment before letting it escape with a loud sigh as if the day had certainly taken a toll. For someone who acted like he was looking for nothing, the awfulness of it all made it obvious he was looking out for someone…me.
“Strom,” I said, raising my hand up to identify who was calling out. Dumb move now that I think of how barren the street was at the moment. Who else would be yelling at him at this point?
“Mr. Crisp?” The sound sort of warbled from him as he spoke. The Flaxtorians found English a bit more challenging than some of the other languages they encountered in this sector, but it was clear enough for me. I got it.
“E.C., please.” I stepped up to him and suppressed the reflex to shake hands. His race found it to be a disgusting ritual. “I guess you have something for me?”
“Right to the businesses,” he warbled. “I like that.”
Strom looked both ways up and down the street with a serious and stern expression before reaching into the pocket of his robe-like coat.
“Here,” he said pulling his chunky, three-fingered hand out and palming the small silver data bank. “Be careful dis, yes? Hot. Hot. Hot.”
He laughed a little, as far as I could tell, then he shoved the disk hard into my front coat pocket. Funny that they don’t shake hands, but they seem to have few qualms with aggressively violating one’s personal space.
“Wha…,?” I said. “Oh yeah. Right. Hot.” He patted my pocket down for safety. “Hot data. I get it.”
He gave me what I think was a wink, but it was so slow, it looked like he might be starting to nod off. I guess Strom liked the sense of drama that came with delivering a data disk to little more than a courrier on a dark street…at night, artificial as it may be.
“OK,” I said, rocking back on my heals a bit while trying to avoid any longer a good-bye than what already transpired. “Gotta jump.”
I took a few short steps back, giving a small, polite wave and a nod Strom, you know, as people do, then turned and walked with more intent back to the tap-out.
It was about step number three when the section of street we were on lit up like daylight forgot something. My eyes clenched as I recoiled and turned as if slapped on the back by an invisible hand.
A voice rang out from, well, from everywhere.
The voice boomed and warbled.
“NO MOVES! YOUR TAP TERMINATES! YOU GIVE ANSWERS!”
There it was. The blinding light and the booming voice. Whether it’s Brooklyn direct or a Flaxtorian warble, the unmistakable tone proved the authorities had arrived. Still squinting too hard too see, I slowly raised my hands in surrender. It was the Shags – the Flaxtorian police.
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