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Adventure Science Fiction Drama

Mark Brigg fiddled with the neon sapphire sleeve of his prison jumpsuit. “Is there any way to get an outfit that doesn’t glow in the dark?”

            “It brings out the blue in your eyes,” said Detective Arthas Jacques in his Martian capital Arab-French sounding accent. Cheap prison soap scent filled the air.

            “My room is tiny. Shouldn’t I be with other prisoners? So I don’t go crazy?” Mark’s voice had the contrasting qualities of being gravelly and whiny at the same time.

            “Give us some information on the bombing targets and we can start giving you privileges. We thought it would be best to keep you apart from other inmates who might want to kill you for trying to start a war.”

            “Maybe they would empathise with the cause?” He said it as though suggesting Arthas might want to try caramel ice cream instead of vanilla. The blend of accents Briggs spoke with seemed to be half South-African, one quarter Thai, one quarter Polish.

            Reflections of violet eyes in Mark’s blue orbs made Arthas smile. If he was good cop, Purple was scary Robo-cop.

            “Does that thing have to be here?” The prisoner shifted in his cold steel seat.

            “Yes. I do,” said Purple with its trademark Newcastle accent.

            “Don’t I have the right to a lawyer?” Brigg asked, scratching his nose.

            “On Earth. Not on Mars.” Arthas sipped lemon tea from a flask kept out of the prisoner’s reach.

            “Can I have some of that?” asked Mark. His nostrils flared as the scent of the sweet concoction filled them.

            “No.” Arthas sipped again, letting the curve of his lips convey how delicious it was.

            “Then I have nothing to say to you.” Bright blue arms folded.

            “See you in another week. Enjoy solitary.” Arthas’ chair screeched on the concrete of the interview room floor. “Come on, Purple. We can have a nice conversation. I love talking.” Detective Jacques didn’t. It was one reason he’d bankrupted himself to buy the Spectrum Droid.

            “WAIT.” Brigg held out a hand. His handcuffs clinked against the loop on the table. “I’ll talk. But I have demands.”

            “Requests.”

            “I want a screen, something to watch. Or music. I can’t just read old magazines all day.”

            “I can get you a music player. Nothing with radio.”

            “Deal.” Brigg held out his hand as if they were going to shake on it.

             The detective frowned at the hand the same as he would to someone who hadn’t washed after using the toilet. “Talk. Give me a name.”

            “John Brown. He’s high up in the Mars Freedom Movement.”

            “And just so happens to have one of the most common names in the galaxy?”

            “Part of his deal I guess.” Brigg shrugged. “He gave me my orders. That’s a name for you. I want my music player now.” His bushy eyebrows narrowed.

            “Give me a second name, someone who spends time with John Brown. I’ll get you something to watch shows on.”

            “His girlfriend’s name is Eika Bloms. The rest of them never talk.”

            “If this information turns out to be bullshit, I’ll take the music and tv back.”

            “I know.” His leg taps the floor. “See you later, Detective.”

            “Later, killer.”

The door clicks shut behind Purple as we walk down the corridor. The droid’s eyes flash turn sapphire. In a Glasgow accent it tells Arthas, “I’ve sent the names to be run through databases. We should have a list of matches within the next five minutes.”

            “Get the killer his toys. We have to come through on our end of the bargain if we’re going to get any more information from him.” Arthas spun his metal right hand around completely as he often did when he was bored or wanted to distract someone. The halls of the prison stank of diluted bleach.

            “I have a location for a John Brown associated with an Eika Bloms. Kells Station, Saturn’s rings. I’ve sent location data to Purple.”

            “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go.” At six foot, clean shaven and dressed in muted orange and navy-blue, Jacques had little but the work ethic in common with the dwarves from the Disney song. His jacket declared him police in all of the most used languages of humanity.

            “The ship is ready to go,” said Purple, back in charge of the black bodied Spectrum unit again.

            “Good. I’ve had enough civilisation for a while. I need some stars outside the window.”

            When he had his gun back from the security personnel at the prison entrance, Arthas walked briskly through the crowded dome of Olympus Mons to the train. The city flashed by outside the window, doing everything it could to be as good as Earth or better.

Back aboard the other half of his spent fortune, Arthas sank into dreams. Soothed by the downbeat vocals of Tate McRae, Summer Walker, and Portishead, he dreamt of the woman that got away.

            Konnie owed Arthas rent for all the years she’d been living in his mind. Trysts replayed in mangled blurs.

            His lips on her neck. Fingers interlocked. Kissing down her chest. Worshiping her nipples with his tongue. Trailing kisses down her stomach. Holding her thighs as she screamed. Exhausted madness in her eyes was his treasured memory, and a dagger in his heart.

            Did his brother do that with her? Identical twins couldn’t be so different? Why was Lukas the superior sibling?

            Arthas woke to the melody of Autopilot by Kamil.

            “You need to move on,” said Purple from the pilot’s chair. “Torturing yourself thinking about Konnie is a great way to waste your life.”

            “Thank you, wise droid. Tell me, are you a qualified psychiatrist?” Arthas’s tone was instant-kill venom in iced vodka.

            “I’m not qualified for anything.” The droid looked back with human posture programmed from endless human motion captures. History had turned a sharp corner when humans teaching machines how to be more human finally added to their effectiveness.

            “Don’t give me life advice then. I like to think of you as a friend. Let’s not fall out.”

            “Aye sir,” said the Newcastle accented steel soldier. Purple saluted with a black hand. “Welcome to Kells Station. “Your wet dreams lasted most of the way from Mars. Saturn’s rings are looking beautiful today.”

            “If I’d had wet dreams I’d need to change, but I’d be happy. Neither is the case.” Arthas rubbed his dry eyes. Eye drops dealt with some of it. He blinked until the liquid stopped blurring his vision.

            Guessing terrorists would run the moment they saw his jacket, Detective Jacques changed into civilian clothes. He chose worn mining clothes from a lost and found locker back at Olympus Mons.

            His beautiful ship raised eyebrows at the docks. Every eyebrow was coated with the dust of metals mined from the asteroids around the station. Keeping his head down, he pushed through crowds gathering to look at his ship through the windows of the port.

            Arthas’ faithful Spectrum droid was just as conspicuous among the scratched and scarred mining droids of the frontier. Algae in tanks glowing from UV light tubes lit the halls with a soothing emerald tint.

            Researchers in cyan uniforms with surgical masks to protect them from the harmful particles in the air huddled together. One, with long black hair, reminded him of Konnie. Her brown eyes followed him as he passed. Her wink distracted him. He crashed headlong into a robot carrying a slab of iron big enough to rebuild his ship from scratch.

            She turned away, shaking with laughter as his face burnt with embarrassment.

Eika Bloms was easier to find than the John Smith he was looking for, one of three on the station. The platinum blonde had her hair gelled into what looked more like a helmet. Her fringe left just enough shadow for him to see the white of her eyes as he asked her name.

            “Eika. What’s it to you?” Her accent was Kells Station’s blend of Texas and Mexico City.

            “Sorry. I was looking for a girl called Konnie, you look a bit like her. Never mind.” Arthas was reassured by the weight of his pistol against his side.

            “Don’t know a Konnie.” Her blue eyes were boredom and suspicion dressed as youthful rebellion.

            “That’s alright. I’ll see if she shows up.”

Instead of hanging around to highlight that Arthas was a stranger, Purple did laps of the station, looking for the man flagged for his association with Ms Bloms.

            Arthas read the news about a stash of bombs found thanks to his investigation. No one knew if every bomb had been found. When his bait went walking, he followed. Stalking someone you spoke to was difficult in a warren of post apocalypse punk looking workers. Bloms didn’t look back. It didn’t mean she didn’t know he was following.

            When they reached an empty dead-end corridor, he backed around the last corner and listened to the last door on the right open and close.

            “Some guy spoke to me,” said Eika. “Something weird about him. I think he was a cop.”

            “Off-world Crime? And you came here?” John Smith had the Kells station accent with a touch of international schooling, all of the more distinctive touches had been worn smooth. From the voice alone Arthas knew he’d done some courses off the station.

            “Thought you should know,” said the terrorist’s paramour.

            “Get in, before someone sees you.”

Arthas waited in the corridor for Purple to find him. Communicating with sign language, they planned the raid. The droid knew the signals from programming. Sergeant Jacques had learnt them in military academy, honed them on duty. He was a mediocre detective by his own estimation, but preferred it to soldiery, which ran in his blood.

            Drawing his pistol, loaded with tranquiliser rounds, he knocked on the door. “John Smith?” He waited for a moment. “I’m an officer from Off-world Crime. I have a warrant for your arrest. If you surrender now, things will be a lot easier for you.”

            Nothing.

            Brown eyes met with the amethyst glow of the black droid. The titan of metal kicked the steel door from its hinges. Purple ducked to be below the optimal line of fire for defenders. Bullets ricocheted off the wall past Arthas. A surge of familiar adrenaline welcomed him back to the crossfire addiction he’d tried to turn his back on.

            Arthas appreciated the meth lab décor vibes of Smith’s abode. The munitions blueprints set off the cheap mugs perfectly. Possible sperm stains on the sofa the wannabe rebels hid behind said theirs was real love. Ride or die, probably both.

            John Smith and Eika Bloms fired from behind bullet-proof shields. Purple threw their snail trailed sofa against them.

            “Easy. We want them alive.” Behind the cover of a refrigerator older than he was, the detective held up his hand to the droid to give it pause.

            “Incapacitated comes first,” said the droid. Its programming had been ripped from veterans of wars all over Earth. More recently, patches had added experience from the ship-to-ship combat that happened in the wild-wild-waste of the vacuum between worlds.

            John Smith was down and out. Eika had been caught between the rock of the wall and the hard place of her shield. Twisted fingers gripped her rifle. Bullets spat from the muzzle until the magazine ran out of offerings to the reaper.

            “Eika Bloms, you and John are under arrest. So far, you’ve got attempted murder of myself on your rap sheet. If we can make it stick, you’ll have accessory to the murder of a cargo hauler called Paul. Conspiracy and terrorism are on the cards as well.” Arthas shot her with the tranquiliser round.

            Clapping his cuffs around her wrists as Purple did the same with John, Arthas thought about the woman behind the mask.

            “Take them to the ship. I’m going to try my luck with a stranger.”

            “Will the stranger in mind have a gun?” Purple asked.

            “There’s only one way to find out. Bag up evidence on the way out. Take the photos.” Arthas straightened his clothes.

            “Yes boss,” said Blue in the Glasgow accent of the scene documentation focussed program that shared the black Spectrum droid with five other personalities. The eyes had turned from amethyst to sapphire as Blue spoke, then switched to ruby.

            “You got it,” said Red, who handled blood work and forensics.

Detective Jacques left his capable droid to finish up. Lookie loos had crowded outside. He barged past, striding through the station with the bearing of a soldier.

            Science lady wasn’t where she had laughed at him. Using his hard-won investigative skills, he asked people nearby where the masked gang had gone.

            It was 19:55 Kells Station time when he found her at work in her lab. Her mask was off. She wore exasperation as he dragged in the dust of his disguise.

            “This is a private space for authorised research,” she said. She had the private school accent mix of upper-class English and French. Her skin was tanned, not dirty. She’d never had so much as a blocked pore.

            “I wanted to ask if you would come for a drink with me.” His charm wasn’t just rusty, it was porous.

            “I don’t partake in the poison of alcohol.” Her midnight brown eyes dismissed him, looking back at her work. Glass vials reflected his disappointment.

            “I never said it had to be alcohol. How presumptuous of you. I’m only asking because you’re the first woman to catch my eye in years. I didn’t want to go to my grave without trying my luck with you. If you’re not interested, then I’ll walk away.”

            “Years?” White teeth peeked from between lips stretched in a mocking smile.

            “Work keeps me busy. Should I be walking away?” He stepped back.

            “What’s your name?” Mischief glittered in her eyes. Her head tilted, throwing a cascade of night black hair over her turquoise shoulder.

            “Arthas Jacques.”

            “You dress like a miner, stand like a soldier, and talk like a scholar. Which are you?” She showed off teeth that were too perfect to be real. Her breath was a cool mint breeze.

            “All three and more. I’m a riddle. Figure out the answer while I buy you sustenance. Please?” He winced inwardly at the begging note in his voice.

            “It’s tempting.” She looked him up and down. “But you need a shower first. Have one at mine. Then you can buy me a meal.” Her smile was pure sin. He was hypnotised. She took his hand. With a wink, she turned off her workstation and led him from her lab.

The numbers on the wall became 19:59. Convinced he was dreaming, Arthas floated down the corridor by her side.

            “What’s your name?” He asked.

            “Mayko.” The answer came at the turn of the hour.

            Everything around them roared with the rage of an explosion. Arthas was thrown back.

            Ears ringing.

            Screaming.

            Blood.

            “Konnie?” His mind had conjured up the name of his ex as he tried to call the woman whose hand he had held a moment before. Arthas’ vision was red, then black.

November 10, 2022 07:10

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33 comments

Helen A Smith
16:11 Nov 15, 2022

Cool ending and good characterisation

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Graham Kinross
21:31 Nov 15, 2022

Thanks, Helen.

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Tommy Goround
07:26 Nov 14, 2022

Ok. Comments lost again. Blah.. Good title. Nice description about orange jumpsuits that reflect, multiple accents and.... -“Requests.” (instead of demands). -The detective frowned at the hand the same as he would to someone who hadn’t washed after using the toilet. - Konnie owed Arthas rent for all the years she’d been living in his mind. Clap'n

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Graham Kinross
07:37 Nov 14, 2022

Thanks, Tommy.

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Delbert Griffith
10:49 Nov 11, 2022

I love the gritty, jaded, skeptical solar system cop. The characterization is really good, and I feel like I know him. The droids were a nice touch, each with different jobs to do. Although the story seemed straightforward, the surprise ending made it all make sense. Nicely done, Graham.

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Graham Kinross
11:10 Nov 11, 2022

Thanks Delbert. It's the third in a new series I've been trying to write for a while. It was one of those ideas that never quite seemed to work until I got a prompt that pushed the last gear into place. Thank you for reading. Is this your kind of story? What genres do you like to read?

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Delbert Griffith
11:36 Nov 11, 2022

I like Laurie R. King, who writes Sherlock Holmes novels, picking up where Doyle left off, when Sherlock retires to Sussex and becomes a beekeeper. He gets married and he and his wife solve intricate, complex cases. Pretty fascinating reading. I also like Joseph Heller, though most of his work was written in the 70s. Other than that, give me the British literary giants.

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Graham Kinross
11:39 Nov 11, 2022

Tolkien?

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Delbert Griffith
11:54 Nov 11, 2022

Oh yes! Tolkien, of course. How did he slip my mind? LOL

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Graham Kinross
12:05 Nov 11, 2022

I prefer The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings lost me halfway through book one because they still hadn’t made it far out of the Shire. I didn’t mind it in the films because it can be a montage but for me the start of LoTR was very long winded. His world building is world class but the pacing wasn’t so much so. The Hobbit got to the point, told the story and didn’t linger.

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Mike Panasitti
12:00 Nov 10, 2022

I don't think anyone does hard-boiled detective drama better than Graham Kinross. Add a Martian twist and you get Arthur Doyle meets William Gibson. I loved the "Konnie owed Arthas rent for all the years she’d been living in his mind" line.

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Graham Kinross
21:18 Nov 10, 2022

Thanks, Mike. I’d been waiting for a prompt that would fit the Arthas story. I want to keep this going.

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Graham Kinross
13:21 Dec 09, 2022

If you want to know what happens to Arthas next, you can use the link below. Thanks for reading. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/jnvh3n/

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Geekly Weekly
00:34 Jun 22, 2023

Trying to find this one after the last one was harder than just having the link that you had in the comments of the previous one. You should do that for all of them. The bond between Purple and Arthas is really well done. I like the buddy comedy stuff they have.

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Graham Kinross
09:09 Jun 22, 2023

Thank you.

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John Del Rio
19:16 Jan 17, 2023

Am enjoying the space detective and his droid's adventures. I like how you are working with the prompts. Will keep enjoying them.

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Graham Kinross
21:22 Jan 17, 2023

Thank you, John.

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L M
19:50 Dec 26, 2022

Hes really obsessed with Konnie. I just scanned through the other stories again. Very hung up on her. I can see why, it was really messed up. Shame, it seemmd like things were going well with Mayko. He can’t catch a break.

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Graham Kinross
12:20 Dec 27, 2022

That’s one of his flaws. Detective characters always seem to need a deep dark secret so he has a few, the thing with Konnie is one of the big ones. There are a few more.

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L M
07:41 Jan 10, 2023

Interesting. I’ll read more

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Graham Kinross
09:03 Jan 10, 2023

Thank you.

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L M
07:39 Jan 11, 2023

You’re welcome

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R W Mack
16:09 Nov 13, 2022

After a slew of weak stories to judge, I was really hoping for you to come through. You're a welcome breath of air in the suffocation of submissions I grabbed at random.

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Graham Kinross
21:54 Nov 13, 2022

Hopefully I didn’t disappoint.

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Aoi Yamato
00:52 Oct 04, 2023

Konnie is important to him but was betrayed him? and his brother?

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Graham Kinross
09:38 Oct 04, 2023

They were together for a long time then she ended up in a relationship with his brother. For one thing a brother shouldn’t enter a relationship with the ex of his twin but there is more going on.

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Aoi Yamato
00:57 Oct 05, 2023

this is not good to family.

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Graham Kinross
07:43 Oct 05, 2023

No.

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