The Agency always gets their man or woman. At least that's the tag line they use to rope in new recruits. Reels of Agents swooping from one glamorous planet to another in the most technologically advanced starships catching bad guys along the way are enough to sweeten the pot for any young person deciding to join the Agency. The truth is, more times than not the bad guy gets away, the starships are pieces of crap, and the planets aren't so glamorous.
This particular planet is quite the dump, but this could be the night that all the relentless chasing pays off. Signs glowing in every color imaginable penetrate the inky darkness of the night. The cold rain and air tear into my muscles and bones exhausting me. Truth be told, I've been exhausted with this job for a long time.
I'm huddled at an outdoor noodle bar under a makeshift awning squeezed in with a myriad of occupants in hopes of escaping the freezing drizzle, if only for a few minutes. As I take a sip of warm broth, an elbow smashes into my arm causing me to spill the broth all over my front.
"I'm so sorry, young man." I look down to see a little grey haired woman with a mischievous smile. "You're quiet the muscular man. Aren't you?" She says squeezing my arm.
I clear my throat nervously. "Yes, ma'am. Tryin' to stay healthy." I get up from the bar then look at the proprietor of the noodle bar. "Add hers to my tab too."
I wrap my trench around me and check my surroundings then my chronotile. If my informant didn't feed me crap intel, I should have a few more minutes until I need to spring into action.
Before I'm able to check the sensor feed on my tile, a tinny female voice crackles over my ear piece, "Barstow, where the hell are you?"
I sigh as I tromp through standing water on the sidewalks. "You can easily take that case on your own."
A few seconds of static fills the airwaves then it's replaced by an irate tone. "No shit, I can take this one on by myself. All I gotta do is act like some brainless debutante and give him a good view of my tits. He'll sell me the Spike, easy peasy."
I chuckle. "See you don't need me."
"That's not what I'm worried about. You're acting on some intel about LaSaber. Aren't you?"
"Aww, you're worried about me?"
"Dammit, Barstow. I let you get away with your aloof macho bullshit because you're easy on the eyes, but now you're just acting like impetuous probie. You're gonna get yourself killed hunting that white whale. Just back off."
"Lopez, He killed my partner. What the hell am I gonna do? Let the Agency's bureaucracy pass up lead after lead while the scum of the galaxy destroys lives? I'd do the same if someone killed you."
"Aww, I'm touched. Seriously. Get your ass out of there and trust that the Agency has this under control."
My chronotile buzzes and I swipe right. A smile creeps on my face when I see my mark. "Gotta go, Lopez."
"Barstow, you dumb-"
I click off the audio on my ear piece and flip down a visual augment over my eyes. He's a few meters away, but I can make him out. A hulking blond man in a tailored black suit climbs out of a hovering sleek blue car in front of a bustling night club. He's greeted by a curvaceous woman dressed in a emerald green qipao. They exchange fake air kisses. LaSaber offers the woman the crook of his elbow and the woman takes it then leads him around the massive line of people at the entrance of the club.
Rafe LaSaber trades in any commodity that will yield him profit. Drugs, flesh, ill-gotten data, it's all up for grabs where Rafe is concerned. He has a large network across the galaxy the Agency has been trying to shut down for years. We almost had him two years ago, but he evaded us killing my partner in the process. LaSaber has left a trail of bodies and broken homes in his wake and it's time that someone takes him down.
At the entrance of the club, it's clear in my trench, black shirt, and tan cargo pants I am not dressed well enough to make it in. After a few seconds of surveillance a man pops out of a side entrance carrying a bag of trash. I scurry around the corner. Before the man can see me I have my hand around his mouth and a blaster set at a low level pressed in his back. In two heartbeats he crumples in a pile to the ground.
I crouch down and take his ID then whisper, "Sorry, about that, pal. You should come to your senses in a few minutes."
The door clicks open with a wave of the ill-gotten ID. The kitchen is bright and bustling with so much action only a few people notice me. Without stopping to acknowledge the few questioning voices, I work my way through the kitchen to the nightclub. The nightclub is a stark contrast to the bright kitchen, lit only by a few glowing orbs hovering in the air slowly changing color.
Across from the kitchen there is a lone metal staircase that leads to a door. That's my destination. Moving through the mass of dancing club goers is much like wading through waste deep pond of quicksand. I slow my breath and go with flow trying not to call attention to myself.After what feels like ages, I'm at the staircase face to face with a huge man with his arms across his chest.
"Don't suppose you're gonna let me up there?" I ask.
Without a word the man grabs me by the arm and starts to put me in an arm bar. I'm able to spin out of it and deliver kick to his knee. As he bends over in pain, I give a swift uppercut to his jaw and he tumbles to the ground. Before he's able to make it up from the ground, I kick him in the face and he's down for the count. I check around me to see if our melee has garnered any attention. Surprisingly, the deafening sound of the music has covered the sound of our scuffle from anyone who cares and the casual club goers, close enough to see, seem too blitzed out of their minds to care.
After assessing my surroundings, I pull my weapon from my holster eschewing the fickle battery powered blaster for the reliable old school gun. I take a breath praying justice will be served. Time seems to slow as I barrel up the metal staircase. When I reach the top, I take another breath and mentally prepare myself for whatever is hiding behind the door.
"Consortium Agent! Put your hands up in the air," I bellow as I slam the door open.
In front of me Rafe is sitting on a purple velvet couch with the dark haired lady in the qipao. The woman's eyes are wide in shock and fear, but Rafe stares straight into my eyes and laughs.
"I said hands up, LaSaber."
His hands go up slowly and half-heartedly as he laughs. "You aren't the smartest Agent in the galaxy, are you?" He looks over at the cowering woman. "Don't worry, Cyd, he has nothing on us."
"I don't need anything on you. It's time justice is served," I say as I aim my weapon toward him.
LaSaber puts his hands down and gives me a smug half smile. "I'm going to give you one chance to leave this place without any repercussions. But if you don't leave now, you're not going to leave alive."
I narrow my eyes and cock the hammer of my gun. "I'm game."
Before I can pull the trigger, several of Rafe's security detail come barreling through the door. A searing pain goes through my shoulder and I drop my gun and fall to the floor. The gun is within millimeters from the tips of my fingers, but before I can reach it, a muscular woman kicks it out of my reach then kicks me in the face.
Above me Rafe grins. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you came here to kill me. I didn't think the Agency had mercenaries."
"What? Me? I just came here to have a friendly talk."
The muscular woman heaves her foot into my middle. Rafe looks at his security detail, "Normally, I'd say go make an example of him, but seeing as he's an Agent seems that's going to hamper our fun a bit."
I chuckle, "Far be it from me to get between you and some fun, Rafe."
Rafe growls and kicks me in the face. "I'm sick of your mouth." He looks at the muscular woman. "Take him to drug slums and put a bullet in his head. They'll just blame it on bust gone bad."
The woman and another large guard start to reach for me, but before they can grab me the room is filled with shouting and clamoring.
"Consortium Agents, everyone put your hands up."
One of the Agents looks down at me. "How are you, Agent Barstow? Agent Lopez told us you may be in a bind."
I laugh as I say, "I've had better days."