Junky Jabber: Ok so basically my mental picture of Allah (i assume city and planet are same name) is basically like Taris from KotR (starwars game), so thats where the whole undercity thing came from. Well I am starting to realize the folly of writing as I post this. Partly because I get so easily distracted from actually writing it (stupid WoW), but also because I am finding that time frames are a bitch to keep up with. the chronological chain of events needs to flow right, and I am finding where I want to do something at a certain time, but I've already set up other events to happen before those, that would affect how the first ones happen, if they even still can!! gah!!!! well anyways here is part 3 of the story, posted randomly.. which is apparently a pattern for me... so... I'm on time?? (had to say it)
It would seem that no matter what system, or whichever planet in that system a person happened to visit, each one has its own slums. And again despite the location all of them are essentially the same. Gerald Everet thought on this as he walked down the grimy sidewalk towards a garish neon sign for Interstel’ Motel. All of the news holos showed Allah as a sparkling metropolis filled with towering buildings and broad walkways decorated with trees and plants in nearly every color imaginable. All of its clean, well dressed citizens went about their cheery lives with a smile and a friendly wave to passers-by. And sure those places existed, Gerald had seen them as he exited the spaceport. What they didn’t show was that the gauzy clouds that hovered below those gleaming walks were in fact smog. A thick choking layer of the stuff clung close to the surface, held at bay by atmosphere processors mounted beneath the streets of the upper city.
The first three cabs Gerald had climbed into immediately threw him out when he gave the driver his destination. On the fourth attempt he found a ride in a beat up old excuse for a grav-car that was just as shabby on the inside as it had looked on the outside. The seats were torn and it smelled like something had probably died in it at some point, several somethings from the various reddish stains on the upholstery.
The cabbie had glared a moment at Gerald before barking in a thick city accent. “Twenty minute… forty-five credit… you pay now.”
Gerald had grimaced at the price, but handed the money through a small hole that slid open in a panel that divided him from the driver. The large, hairy man snatched the bills from him and sped off, cutting off several of the nicer cabs and began to swerve insanely through the traffic around the spaceport. They had driven down through the smog, a miniature atmosphere processor ran in the cab that did not completely filter out the stink, which combined with the vehicles current odor made Gerald’s stomach churn. After a full ten minutes they had finally broken into the under city, and Gerald began to feel right at home. The dim light that filtered down through the smog cast a grey pallor over the old concrete structures that served as the foundations for the city above. Trash cluttered the streets along with people in bland uniforms reminiscent of Geralds own “honor worker” garments, and of course the ever present bums.
The cabbie pulled to a stop at the head of a long street lined with shops with dirty windows, and even dirtier signs, most barely legible. “Too dangerous, no further.” The man grunted, looking back over his shoulder. “You walk from here. Motel three street down take left. Second building on right, you see sign.” He seemed to just notice Geralds confusion at the situation and his glare softened just a little. “You talk to no one. Lock doors tight.”
The cab door and trunk popped open at the same time and Gerald slid out. He barely had time to grab his bags before the cab took off, the doors closing as it hung a tight U-turn and headed back up the ramp to the upper areas. Gerald slung the small back pack on one shoulder and began walking the way he had been told. Within fifteen feet a bone-thin woman stepped out of an alley and looked him up and down, taking in the new clothes She had dark skin, and makeup smeared on thick that did nothing to hide a large bruise on her cheek.
“We got ourselves a tourist.” She cackled. “You look lost sweetie. You got credits? Sure you do, a sharp dressed thing like you. Why don’t you come with old Trisha and I show you around?”
“Uh… no… no thanks… I’m meeting someone…” Gerald stammered making sure to stay out of arms reach.
“Awww,” the woman said making a pouty face. “Well if you change your mind you I’ll be here...” She gave him a suggestive wink.
After that Gerald picked up his pace, nearly jogging down the sidewalk. Even so he was propositioned by three more women dressed in various “barely there” outfits. It was almost a relief when he turned onto the street with the motel and saw only beggars holding out patched hats. He clutched his bag close, and was only a few feet away when the door to the motel hissed open and two large men, zero-G humans from the looks of them hurled a third man bodily out into the street. The man scrambled up dusting off a long black, careworn coat, and placing a dark purple fedora back on his head.
“You’re lucky to even have me grace your little dung hill!” the man shouted back holding up both hands to give the two ape-like men the finger. The ignored him, chuckling to each other as they went back inside. “Yeah that’s right you better run and hide!” He yelled again and adopted a haughty stance, and turned to walk away, but instead spotted Gerald on the side walk. The man only took a second to look Gerald over, but he had the feeling that the he had been weighed to the ounce. He strode briskly over to Gerald and took off his hat in a flourishing bow, revealing hair that was half a natural platinum blonde, but with the ends dyed pitch black. “Diego Kahn, provisioner extraordinaire, at your service.” He plopped the hat back down on his head and offered Gerald a thin, incredibly pale hand. “And you are?”
Gerald shook it warily. “G…Nassir. Nassir Gimal…”
“New to the planet I take it?” Diego asked. Now that he wasn’t yelling, he spoke in a friendly voice that had an almost lyrical cadence. When Gerald nodded his smile broadened. “Well then, let me welcome you to our quaint little portion of the galaxy with style.” He flipped open the long coat revealing a vest made of a metallic cloth over a blood red shirt, and matching pants. Inside the jacket were numerous pockets holding just about every drug or drug related product Gerald had ever heard of, and several he had not. “As I said I’m a provisioner by trade. I get people things they need, and in this city that need is a good fix.” He smiled again, piercing Gerald with eyes of two different colors, one a vivid green, the other sparkling blue. “And you’re in luck. For today only I am providing a special discount to new arrivals. Half off your first purchase! So what do you say? A nice huff of sleepy? Some choice heroine? I even have a small vial of bacterial extract just in from… well best not to mention where that comes from around here eh?” Impossibly the grin widened and Diego gave Gerald a wink.
“No.. no I don’t want…” Gerald started to say, but was cut off by Diego.
“Of course you don’t want any of those drugs… inferior products by far! No a man of you obviously discerning opinion would only want the best!” He stepped in close to Gerald and put an arm around his shoulders. He flourished the other hand and was suddenly holding up a small silvery package pinched between his index and middle fingers. It looked like condom wrapper. Printed on the front was a grinning skull with a large “V” stamped in the middle of its forehead. “Now this… this is something special. Brand new product, and you can be the first to try it… well the first after me that is!”
“I don’t think I should.” Gerald said trying to rid himself of the man’s arm.
“Well of course you should! This here is top-o-the-line stuff. This is Verge…” Diego purred the name. “Just slap on the patch and the chemicals in this will slow your heart beat to once or twice a minute. Takes you right up to the edge of death! You get to experience the thrill of those final moments, with out ever being in any ‘real’ danger! And trust me Nassir, it’s one hell of a ride.” When he saw that Gerald still wasn’t convinced he changed tactics. “How about this… and I can’t just do this for anyone, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. I will give you this and my card.” Another flourish and he was now also holding a bright green card covered with flowing script. “Free of charge. You can call it a demo. And if you should happen to need anything else.” Diego shrugged. “Anything at all, I dabble in all sorts of things, mind you. You just give me a ring?” He fixed Gerald with a polite, but firm stare, still grinning pleasantly.
Gerald nodded slowly, sensing a route of escape from this half crazed man. “Yeah sure… I will keep that in mind.”
“Good man!” Diego responded slapping the package and the card into Gerald’s hand. He stepped away and looked down at his wrist as if seeing a watch that wasn’t there. “Oh, High One! Look at the time! I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m afraid I have a previous engagement. Enjoy your demo, and do call anytime.” And without another word Diego turned away. As he strolled down the street Diego pulled a short tube from his pocket and shook it twice. It expanded into a thin black cane with clear crystal head. He turned the corner onto the street from which Gerald had just come and was gone.
Gerald looked down at the card and the package briefly before tucking them both into his jacket pocket. He mounted the steps and pressed the buzzer beside the door. A gruff voice burst angrily from the speaker:
“Listen Diego I told ya, I don’t want nuthin’ to do with you. I already have enough problems with the new boss breathin’ down my neck.”
“Um… I’m not Diego… My names Nassir. Nassir Gimal. I have a reservation.”
“Oh damn, sorry kid.” Gerald could hear keys clicking rapidly. “Oh yeah Nassir, the off-worlder. Come on in”
The door hissed loudly as it slid into the wall. Gerald stepped through and was shocked at the difference in appearance. The grime and poverty that dominated the street outside was no where in evidence here. The two guards stood to either side of the door like living gargoyles. They didn’t pay any attention to Gerald as he walked through the foyer towards the front desk. Was about fifteen feet on a side, with marble tiled floors and a plush green carpet that cut it down the middle, running from the floor to the desk. The walls were decorated with holos of fine art and a mural, a real hand painted mural, dominated the ceiling. The reception desk was a huge wooden thing (again real wood, not the synthesized stuff) with brass accents. A old, but tough looking man sat behind the counter, the infinity tattoo on his forehead faded with age.
“I think I’m at the wrong place… my,” he hesitated, not sure how to say it “boss… set up the reservation… I must have gotten the wrong address.”
“You Nassir Gimal right? From MCOVI. One of Donald’s boys?” The steward asked flicking his eyes between the screen on the desk and Gerald.
“Yes. I guess that’s right.” Gerald responded
“Well then you’re in the right place. Old Donald said we should take good care of you while you’re here. Anything you need you just ask. Kalehb here will take you to your room.”
Gerald started as he turned to see one of the massive doormen standing beside him. The man hadn’t made a sound. “Come. You follow.” He said in an accent similar to the cabbie’s.
Gerald followed him to an elevator that quickly rocketed up several floors. He was led down a short hallway, past doors that thudded with bass laden music, and laughter. The doorman pushed a keycard into the slot next to the door and opened it for Gerald. Inside was a large, well appointed room with massive bay windows that opened onto the swirling smog clouds. Two doors occupied another wall, one leading to a modest bathroom, with what looked like a real water shower, and the other into a bedroom. As Gerald set his bags down the big man went to the window and tapped it three times. It turned black then displayed eight different images. Each one showed a different scene, tropical beach, city scape, country, space, etc.
“Touch the one you like.” The man said and turned to leave, Gerald offered him a couple of bills, but he held up his hands as if to ward him off. “No need.”
After the doorman had left Gerald picked the tropical beach image and flopped down onto the plush couch. On the coffee table there was a data-pad that was infinitely nicer than the small e-book reader he owned. He thumbed the power button and the display lit up. Icons for various games, holo-vids, and Galnet supported apps filled the screen. Gerald still had four hours until the game started, time enough to catch up on a little net surfing. He smiled and thought to himself, this is going to be a good day…