I stepped out of the elevator, one hand digging into my pockets for my BioID as I walked down the hallway, wishing that the whole world would forget that I ever existed.
Some days, I fooled myself into thinking that my undercover job for the 2-7 hadn't pushed me into 'retiring' from the force.
Days like today, however, when the sun was out for the first time in two months and people would keep their distance once they saw one of your arms in a sling, I just wanted to crawl back to bed and stay there for a millennium or two.
Vecchio would be 39 years old today. Or, well, he was. Not dead, but not really living, it'd be stupid to call today his birthday.
It hadn't been Planetary Lieutenant Welsh's fault that the Iguana mafia's ties to the People's Corporation were tighter than tight. Or that Vecchio had gotten made a week before the Mountie was set to return from his vacation in Canada. Nothing like goons--with enhanced knuckles--punching and kicking a guy into something close to a pulp to shatter things beyond repair. All the prep work, over a month and a half going through every single one of Vecchio's cases since he got a Mountie for a partner, down the drain before I could slide into the scene.
Soon as Vecchio got patched up (well, put into an implanted coma for his own health) Welsh spoke to Canada and sent a message to the Mountie to get lost fast. It was a shame, really, since the Mountie was the kind of handsome that a queer cop like me could appreciate in the long term. Vecchio's family got relocated to a couple of planets over or the next galaxy to the left of this one or wherever. The Iguana family was out for blood and felt they had nothing to fear.
Nothing except a Mountie whose talent for hacking was the main reason why he had been able to liaise with Vecchio in the first place. I'd bet ten million credits that there were only a few people in the entire universe who had the kind of code cracking abilities that the Mountie had.
I slid my BioID into the door lock and waited for it to open. Elaine put a hand on the receiver as soon as I shrugged off my coat. "There's a guy who has a case for you," she said before taking off her hand of the speaker and continuing her conversation with whoever was at the other end.
Now, I had had my usual two cups of coffee on my way to work so there was no reason why the hairs on the back of my neck pricked up in warning. I put on my glasses--which was a quick way to put a new client at ease, broken arm or not.
"Hi," I said to the tall man sitting way too upright in front of my desk. It took a couple of seconds, but I was able to resist the impulse to slouch in contempt to his correct posture. Sometimes I could be funny like that.
"Good morning, Mr. Kowalski," the man said nodding at me. "My name is Renfield Turnbull, former member of the RCMP. I'm here because I need you to find someone. I've already spoken with Ms. Besbriss in regards to fees. She checked my credits a little too thoroughly if I may add."
I studied Renfield's face: it was an honest one made sexy by a scar that ran diagonally from the right corner of his forehead almost all the way to his lower left cheek. From the calm tone of voice and the way he was sitting, I gauged he wasn't shifty. My gut told me so.
Still, that scar. That scar . . . It told a completely different story. There was trouble ahead for me if I was to take on whatever case he was going to pay me for, I had no doubt about that. But then, I was tired of chasing after ill-behaving level B parolees and people who thought they could hide from the repo companies.
"OK," I said. I picked up the holoport and started it up by pressing my right thumb on the scan window. I made sure to keep my voice on the edge of annoyed as I plugged the biocable into my left forearm, if only to see how he would react. "How about you tell me who it is you're looking for and why and we can go for there?"
Renfield bit his lips, like he was losing courage, causing me to lean forward. This was going to be a good one.
"Certain things have begun to come to light and so the time has come to get Constable Benton Fraser here."
Well, then, this was greatness. This was good and this was big. I couldn't wait to get started.