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  • #3662

    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


    “I don’t like those tincans” Norbert muttered mostly to himself. “I’m sure they’re here to spy on us or kill us in our sleep…”

    Godfrey did catch the reproach laced with fear and angst about the fresh delivery of Finnleys (Two, Three and Five), but was too busy with the unexpected audit mandated by the Mining Trading Company of Earth Colonies.

    Great, not only on my first day on the job, but on my monthversary on top of that… These guys know no boundaries…

    Their boss had been unusually relaxed about the whole thing. Forcefully, more like it… that guy usually can’t help but shout at everything, rocks included
    Their boss had just given the team a rousing speech about transparency and how they had to stop looking like culprits of guilty secrets. “Looking guilty kind of makes you guilty and will prompt them to dig more! So be nice to them, and scram back to your post.”

    Looking at the way the auditors were sniffing around, Godfrey wasn’t so sure there wasn’t something that the company had found and was hiding here. But today wasn’t the day to ask uncomfortable questions.


    In Ed Steam’s old office, Lord Lemon was like in a mausoleum full of ghosts.
    Mostly computer illiterate, he favoured greatly goose feather and dark Chinese ink soft purr on the paper over the annoying clickety racket of the keyboards. So he wasn’t exactly feeling at home in Ed’s old shoes.

    The team’s greeting party had been cordial, but he didn’t feel an overwhelming welcome either, not that he expected it. It was Ed’s team after all, he was the Rooster of the chicks of roast, whatever they liked to call themselves. He was not found of monikers and preferred to be addressed simply as Sir.

    The call he received on the morning was perplexing him. They’d found an auditor dead with a Surge Corp. business card in his jacket in the streets of a Spanish city, he couldn’t really remember which, the accent on the phone was as dreadful as that of a Chinese civet, but… What was that about already? He’d thought his memory was improving, getting back on the field, but there were relapses again, he had to concentrate. Afternoon Scrabble games were not that bad after all.

    He’d perfected a neat technique to remember things, placing vivid images in memory palaces constructed in his mind were he could retrieve them later, but the thing was that his memory palaces sorely lacked a cleaning lady, and images sometimes blurred together or went missing, fading away. He sighed.

    His gaze on the phone brought him back to his stream of thought. This would have been stored on the Suspicious Clues Palace, in Ed’s corner. His mind raced back in the atrium of his palace where he could see the various corners, and he went back into the Alley of Dark Secrets, then turned to the Corner of Lonely Puzzle Pieces. There were actually a lot of them, but the topmost one was vivid enough. It was a red blood hearing-aid spewing out a mean Larsen and bathing in paella. For “auditor murdered in Spain” obviously. He turned down mentally the volume of the hearing-piece. This was not a very elegant image, but he was in a hurry, and crude preposterous images always were remembered better he’d found out. The lewdest even more so. Which was why his Palace of Past Precious Moments was starting to look like a brothel he was loath to admit.

    He was starting to wonder if Ed’s demise was not some sort of inside job. Circumstances were not really orthodox, but nothing was in their line of duty, so he had to look for something else. He’d already started to make an inventory of the storage room, just before the break-in, but computer handicapped as he was, between paper and memory palaces, he couldn’t figure it anymore and had to start it over with some help from Cornella.
    At least, he’d sent Hyphen and Dash to discreetly investigate on the break-in and now, he will probably send them to investigate on… he faced a blank. All he could remember now was he was having the meanest craving for mussels and prawns.


    “Looks like Ed Steams’ own impetus was his downfall Janet said solemnly after she covered the mustacheless body with a white bedsheet.
    “Damn right you are, Janet.” Riff Raff nodded. “I wouldn’t have recognized him without his mustache though…”
    “I think it’s safe to say that Pearl and Mari Fe’s plan was nearly a fiasco, but in the end, he took the surge full blast. Not quite the end we had in mind for him, but what’s done is done.”

    The zombies hadn’t been difficult to subjugate however, and although Riff Raff nearly had his brain eaten out, there had been no spread or civilian loss to deplore. That much was good, Janet didn’t like the whole body moving business one bit. The Moreguest Facility was such a drab place, at least she could go straight back to her post in beautiful sunny West Coast.

    On the table, an egg-shaped translucent gem was beaming bright green. Janet took it thoughtfully, carefully placing it in the diplomatic case. “Strange that Ed died from the surge while the others recovered once the zombie energy had been sealed into the rote.”
    Riff Raff was more pragmatic. Or maybe eager to get back home too. “He was a man consumed by his quest for artifacts, let’s not dwell on things past.”

    Using the portal from the bathroom once she decontaminated and recalibrated it, she’d sent everyone, their clothes doused in moonshine to some dark alleys in Granada, where they would probably be picked by local officers alerted by the usual racket made by the transspace portal, with no memory at all and alcohol breath. At least the nosy auditor would be in for a trip.

    “Hey Riff, give my regards to Midgenta” Janet bear-hugged her friend, throwing the diplomatic suitcase with the pocket-sized forklift into the glove box of the red car, and disappearing in a trail of fine caliche billowing behind the vehicle wheels.


    There was a light knock on the door, which immediately alerted Mari Fe.
    Dimming the lights and trying to be as soundless as a mouse scurrying in the middle of sleeping cats and altered mice traps, she leaned towards the peephole (or as the French called it, the judas) at the door.
    “Dammit!” she bit her lip so hard it hurt. She’d hoped it was her friends, but they surely would have used the portal. Instead, her instincts were right. The mutton-chopped figure clad in tweed despite the balmy weather trying to discreetly pick the door lock could be no one else than that daft guy, the auditor Dru something


    Dru Hammond’s flight was being delayed at Charles de Gaulle airport.
    Not the most brilliant idea to fly with Air Frange for this mission, he thought…
    He held from well informed source that airports days were counted, and that airports would soon become deserted museums – in truth, teleportation tech was being developed and soon would be mainstreamed by Ganga, the mammoth merger of Amazoom and Koogle companies.
    That was why he tried to enjoy this vintage means of transportation as much as he could now, and collected plane tickets from all possible flight companies from around the world.
    Dru was an auditor from Passadena, working for the Team, or actually for Ed Steam, the boss himself. His mission was usually to discretely assess the Team’s strengths and shortcomings. However, in this case, he was sent to Malaga for the Three Kings’ Parade, and there was a catch to his assignment. But he wasn’t at liberty to think too much about it. Ed had means to read minds, and thinking too much wouldn’t do him any good. So instead he tried to focus on something innocuous, like fluffy white rabbits dancing in a snow field.
    The security check was taking forever. After an unending stream of Italian tourists, there was a Frenchman stuck into the security gate with a folded drying rack that he was trying to bargain his right to carry it into the plane with lots of ample movements, while the gatekeeper was stubbornly nodding his head.
    Dru after some initial irritation started to find the whole barter amusing. His flight wasn’t boarding before four more hours, so he had time.
    He suddenly wasn’t as much amused when, after relenting and letting the security guy take the rack back to be sent in the cargo hold, the French guy accidentally let his suitcase drop and burst open, revealing a clunky mess of things among which: a heavy black hammer, a humongous book as large as the suitcase itself, crockery, tin canned foods and lots of multicoloured clothes pegs.
    All his auditor’s instincts were crying at him right now that without the shadow of a doubt this man was a dangerous terrorist, hiding under an innocent awkward guise. Sighing of relief when he overheard he was going to Shanghai instead of his European destination, he wondered what terrorists would do in a world of easy free teleportation…

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