I was looking for someone who could get Shubin inside information. The search turned out to be difficult.
Canyons of houses so deep and narrow that you could barely see the stars above you. The skyscrapers rose like steep cliffs that almost touched each other at the top. Even during the day, little sunlight penetrated down to the streets. Nevertheless, I wore sunglasses. The omnipresent advertising dazzled the eyes and hurt the ears. And everywhere people, billions of people. A hustle and bustle like in an anthill. Finding a single person on the city-planet ArcCorp was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Or searching for a single ant in an anthill.
I hoped that this person could help me, that he could make contacts with people in the inner circle at Shubin Interstellar. There was a quick way to find the person. But I did not want to go this way. This way was too uncertain, it was hard to walk, like a muddy path in a swamp. So I searched on my own way and started the search in the ‘G-Loc Bar’. This is where I had once met the person.
But the ‘G-Loc Bar’ was empty. Empty like my stomach that started to growl. At the food stall across from the bar, I calmed the hungry monster in my stomach. Then I searched further and ventured into the dark alleys of ArcCorp. Clouds of fog, dim lighting and shadows, shadows were everywhere. They lurked at every corner. Cautiously, I felt my way through the dark canyons. I was on guard and kept looking over my shoulder. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had knocked me down here.
But my search remained unsuccessful. Did I have to take the swampy way after all? It would be expensive, someone would demand consideration from me. Considerations that I would not like. But I saw no other possibility. Another dark and winding alley led me to her. How would she react? It was only a few more steps. The darkness gave way to a panoramic view of Area18. And then I was standing in front of her, Tecia “Twitch” Pacheco. A lump formed in my throat, a sinking feeling spread through my stomach.
Tecia Pacheco sat elevated in her chair, flanked by bodyguards. From above, she looked down at me, arrogant, disparaging. “Zero, you’ve got a lot of nerve showing up here after you blew my last assignment.”
“It’s not my fault the elevator didn’t work. I was supposed to get a package, not fix an elevator.”
She leaned forward and looked at me urgently. “I don’t care about your problems with elevators. I care about the package. Some other deadbeat managed to do what you weren’t capable of.”
Nervously, I shifted my weight from one leg to the other.
“Then all is well and you got your package.” I paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and continued somewhat tentatively. “And maybe you could do me a favor. I’m looking for your co-worker who worked once for Shubin Mining at Archon Station in the Odin System.”
Tecia leaned back, folded her arms, and looked past me. “If I help you, you will be in my debt. No matter what I ask, you will do it. And this time, you’ll do it right.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “What other choice do I have. Whatever you want.”
The sardonic laughter of one of the bodyguards could not be ignored.
Tecia made a motion with her hand indicating that I should leave. “You can go. You will be contacted.”
An hour later, I received a curt message. “Beer stand, zone 3, in two hours.”
The contact man was sitting in a corner at a table. Right up against a wall, protected from unwanted ears.I sat down next to him and got straight to the point. “Do you still have contacts on Shubin staff? I’m looking for someone who wants to provide information about Shubin’s illegal activities. Preferably from Shubin’s inner circle.”
He turned his head toward me and frowned. “You’re getting straight to the point, huh. Are you in a hurry?” After a pause, he continued. “Since we’ve already talked about illegal Shubin activities I won’t be like that for once. But it’s going to cost you.”
I groaned. “That sounds familiar.”
“The debt to me has nothing to do with the debt to Twitch”, he said, shaking his head.
“I get that. And do you have any contacts?”
“Now slow down Zero.” He turned and called to the guy at the beer stand. “Bring us two Schmolz. My friend here is paying.”
When the beer was on the table, he finished the bottle in one go. He lifted the empty bottle against the light, turned it back and forth, and peered through the brown glass. “Shining a light on Shubin is not easy. You can’t easily see what’s going on inside.” Then he put the bottle on the table and looked at me. “But I do indeed know people from my time at Shubin who now work at headquarters. To some, Shubin’s illegal activities are a thorn in the side. So far, however, no one has dared to speak up. But if we go about this the right way, there might be a way. And if Shubin’s drug deals come to light, it could be beneficial to Twitch’s business. I’ll talk to her and let you know.”
He stood up and turned around again as he walked. “Don’t forget to pay for the beer. And don’t be stingy with the tip.”
After I had paid, I wanted to stop by Brubacker’s editorial office. I had a lot to report. But Brubacker was not there. He was probably on the trail of some insignificant story. I was about to leave when a person caught my eye. She was standing on a balcony across from Brubacker’s office. It looked like the person was watching Brubacker’s premises and taking notes.
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