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Breathless

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Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection Copyright © 2017 Toby Bain

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without permission from the author.

 

Dear Reader,

 

Welcome to Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection. Thanks in advance for taking the time out of your day to read this offering.

This is a collection of six science fiction short stories and probably the last for a while. Writing science fiction short stories takes a lot out of me. In the not too distant future the focus will be on novels. Why only six stories you may ask? Well, funny story. Well, not so funny actually. I had 14 stories slated for this collection but after a process of elimination and getting rather impatient, I decided to put the ones I thought were worthy of the collection. The other eight stories are on the back burner for a time to be determined.

Please note, as an indie writer I have a very small team of proofreaders and editors. They are great, but there may well be the odd mistake. However, there does come a time when you just have to publish. The great thing about eBooks is that nothing is set in stone. Mistakes can be corrected, stories edited. Therefore, if you come across anything, let me know and I will make appropriate corrections. These may not happen overnight so please be patient. Did I mention we’re a small team?

I especially welcome emails and endeavour to reply to all of them. Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

Visit my website for FREE stories, news and information about upcoming releases. Moreover, if you’re into opinionated fiction writers, read my blog.

On the website, you can also sign up with my newsletter for exclusive stories, offers and information every few months.

Let’s not forget the various social media platforms too.

 

Twitter: @tobybainwriter

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tobybainwriter

Instagram: @TobyBain

Snapchat: TobyBain

 

Happy reading!

 

T.B.

Breathless (An Art Black story)

Art Black was good. Too good. Good to the point where he had become that most loathsome of species: a celebrity. That was a problem. Though his work required a breathless enthusiasm for chasing drug dealers, sometimes his work in Cryton City demanded a certain stealth. However, it had now gotten to the point where he needed ever more elaborate disguises just to function in his job as Cryton City’s top undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent.

His recruitment picture had been leaked to the Cryton Sentinel, along with his less than stellar background back on Earth. Everyone now knew the face behind a record number of arrests of Amarillo Cartel dealers over the past months. The Amarillo Cartel had risen to the top because they were that rarest of phenomena: collaboration between the yellow-skinned Native Alien Sta’Fon and humans.

They hated the DEA and the DEA hated publicity. This publicity was going to cost a life. The publishing of his picture by the Native Alien newspaper coincided with Black’s delicate mission to infiltrate the Amarillo Cartel. Even an elaborate disguise to cover his square jaw and searing emerald eyes did not fool them.

Queen Farrah – the cartel’s leader – had been tipped off. Black had been betrayed. She let her enforcers – two giant Native Alien twins – get to work on him. They tied him to a chair in a deserted warehouse, asking politely for information. When he offered none, they asked a little less politely, using their fists. Though some Native Aliens wore wigs to further blend in with the human imperialists, these twins did not, displaying their baldness, and their bright yellow skulls, proudly.

They continued to take it in turns to work through their anger issues on Black’s live torso, one that was soon to be a corpse.

‘Let’s go. The police are coming,’ Queen Farrah announced. ‘But before you do, give Art Black a death to remember.’

At their leader’s request they reluctantly pulled away, ready to vacate the warehouse and take their latest narcotic – napolmine – with them. Law enforcement was on the way and as yet not all police officers in Cryton City were on Amarillo’s payroll.

They doused Black in gasoline and poured the liquid in a trail that lead to the warehouse door and around the walls. As she left, Queen Farrah, the radiant brunette at the heart of the operation, blew him a farewell kiss and presented a lighter. Not a good sign. Neither was the smell of smoke and the barrage of orange flames skidding across the floor.

Black jerked his body violently as tongues of fire engulfed him. The chair swayed and toppled over. The wood shattered on the concrete floor, freeing his legs and arms. They packed a punch, but the twins couldn’t tie a decent knot. However, the flames had gotten to work quickly, their suffocating warmth gripping his body. Black got to his feet and burst through the back of the warehouse into the open air, rolling through a strip of overgrown weeds and smothering the flames. Then he made for a small stream and doused himself in refreshingly cool water.

The sirens came not long after. The flashing lights of the fire department, police and ambulance services.

Late to the party.

Black, saturated clothing clinging to his beefy frame, ignored the teasing of the officers about his newfound fame and asked after the whereabouts of Queen Farrah and her goons.

Art Black did not mention his role in events or how close he was to busting the Amarillo Cartel. He was well aware that amongst the dark uniforms lurked plenty who had turned a blind eye to her getaway in exchange for money, drugs or both.

The next day he went to work on a mission. Entry to Cryton City DEA was via a video phone booth, located inside a store on the third floor of the central plaza shopping centre in downtown Cryton. For lay people the booth worked as it should, processing mugshots for space travel. For others like Art Black and his colleagues it scanned the face, retina, and fingerprints and swept for surveillance bugs. Once identity and clearance were confirmed, a secret panel silently slid open and the chair deposited the agent inside the corridor of an adjacent building where monitors were constantly processing each individual, accessing threat levels and behaviour through built-in kinaesthetic software imported from Earth.

Black limped his way into a conference room where Angus Fisher – Head of Tactical Operations – addressed colleagues while stomping up and down the room beside a projection screen. He did not look happy. Cryton City DEA lamented defeat far more than they celebrated victory. The agency had been on the planet a few years, always felt it had something to prove. At first, their presence was resisted by the police and other agencies in the city, annoyed at the competition. Though not quite at the point of being embraced, they were tolerated. But only when they won.

The conference table contained the usual suspects: a few operatives, including the resident Native Alien – a Sta’Fon called Agent Gneiss (pronounced ‘nice’ as she liked to tell everyone).

The spectre of defeat hung over Black as he explained his failure to capture the head of the Amarillo Cartel and make the streets of Cryton City a safer place. Of course, this meant safer for the imperialist humans, for ever since humans had used superior weaponry to colonize Planet Bhara, the main focus was on ensuring the safety of their own kind. What did it matter that the indigenous Sta’Fon population were second-class citizens on their own planet? All that mattered was that drugs were now being sold to human children all over Cryton City and Art Black had failed to secure the latest shipment of napolmine. He knew the thoughts going through Fisher’s head. Has the celebrity agent gone soft?

Though he let Black conclude his story, Angus Fisher didn’t seem interested. He indicated a projected image of a female Black knew well. Agent Marie Ditka.

‘What’s going on, boss?’ he asked.

Fisher waved a finger at the image. ‘Agent Ditka disappeared yesterday afternoon, sometime before you got worked over.’

‘Any ransom yet?’ asked Black.

It was a sad fact that the DEA were not popular in Cryton City. Drug money had a trickledown effect, flowing through every tributary. Every drug bust had consequences, affected cash flow. DEA personnel had bounties on their heads, often paid by the drug cartels. The bigger the fish, the higher the bounty. Like Art Black, Agent Ditka had a substantial bounty coming to whoever killed her.

Though instances of DEA personnel being kidnapped and killed for a bounty had declined, the death rate was still unacceptably high.

The projection image switched from Agent Ditka to that of a mansion. It could have been any mansion in Hollywood or the Hamptons. ‘This is a Mulberry Street,’ said Fisher. ‘A hundred kilometres from the heart of Cryton City’s drug problems. It’s the home of this person.’

The picture of a Native Alien male with a yellow egg-shaped head appeared. ‘This is Professor Mully. Agent Ditka was assigned to his security detail, along with some cops. During a kidnap attempt at the mansion, several cops were killed. Agent Ditka, Professor Mully and his family were all taken.’

‘Why was Ditka doing security detail with Mully?’ asked Gneiss.

The question was on Black’s lips but Agent Gneiss had beaten him to it. All eyes turned toward the baldhead of the Sta’Fon female.

Angus Fisher scratched his head and turned to the projection screen. Interruptions weren’t welcome. A month into her post and Agent Gneiss was already accumulating bad habits. Then again, she’d proved her worth with valuable information into the psyche of the Sta’Fon population. Every invading force needed a Native Alien on the payroll, to provide inside intelligence and the façade of integration.

Gneiss, aside from being an expert on most aspects of native culture, proved to be an excellent negotiator with her own kind. However, she knew that for both humans and Sta’Fons alike she was a token presence, somewhere at the bottom of the food chain. Little did it matter that Sta’Fon and human features were similar. With her yellow skin and yellow eyes, Gneiss would always be an alien to the DEA.

Finally, Angus Fisher turned back to the room and said, ‘She was on a sensitive mission. However, given your compromised situation, Agent Black, I think it’s safe to assume that Agent Ditka’s kidnapping and your capture are related.’

In layman’s terms, he was saying Ditka gave him up after being tortured. Whilst possible, especially as she had inside knowledge of his movements, Black poured scorn on the suggestion.

The Head of Operations dismissed his objections. As far as he was concerned, Queen Farrah was behind the kidnapping of Agent Ditka.

‘You still haven’t answered the question,’ said Agent Gneiss. ‘What was Agent Ditka doing at the Mully residence?’

The room went silent. Agent Gneiss shrank back into her seat. Whenever she felt she was making progress toward being accepted there seemed to be an invisible hand hold her back, telling her she was only in the room to be seen and not heard.

Like every Native Alien, Agent Gneiss knew of Professor Mully, had grown up idolising him. A brilliant biochemist, Mully had made his fortune in pharmaceuticals before the invasion. Now he worked with one of the multinationals in Cryton City. He had that rare distinction of being a Native alien who was allowed to do his own thing. According to Fisher, Mully was developing a cure for drug addiction. ‘Not many people knew that,’ said the Head of Operations, making a point of looking Gneiss directly in her large yellow eyes. ‘Now you all know.’

Black stood up. ‘What do we do now?’ He wanted to remove the taste of defeat from his mouth. Queen Farrah wasn’t going to win the war.

‘A few hours ago, one of our street-level informants told us about a Native Alien who has been boasting about the kidnap, trying to hawk Mully’s research around Cryton City.’ Fisher tossed a memory chip at Art Black. ‘Everything you need is on that chip. I want you and Agent Sisto to pay him a visit. Agent Gneiss will run tactical and be your liaison to the Native Aliens.’

‘So we’re not searching for the Mully and Ditka?’ Black asked.

‘The research is our top priority. Get me that cure for drug addiction.’

‘Yes, sir.’ It was Gneiss. She stood up and made for the door, Black and Sisto in pursuit.

TO READ THIS STORY IN FULL, AND OTHER STORIES IN THE ILLEGAL ALIENS: SCIENCE FICTION COLLECTION. GO AMAZON AND SEARCH FOR TOBY BAIN


Breathless

When humans are the most hated species on a planet, it doesn’t augur well to work for the most hated agency. Art Black works for Cryton City DEA on the colonised planet of Bhara, where enemies include Native Aliens, drug cartels and corrupt law enforcement officers. In a place where DEA agents have a bounty on their head, Black’s work is both breathless and thankless. When an attempt on his life by the notorious Amarillo Cartel goes awry he wrongly puts it down to the perils of the job. However, behind this close call is a web of deceit that when unfolded makes Black realise that the only way to truly engender cooperation with the natives is to trust them.

  • Author: Toby Bain
  • Published: 2017-04-01 14:50:13
  • Words: 2149
Breathless Breathless