Sunday, April 1, 2012

Star Traveler Update - On the Trail of Ezekiel Watts: The Lead

Shattuck floated through the N.E.T. soup following yet another piece of background material on Ezekiel Watts. An incoming message pinged over his system.
“Shattuck here,” he replied not bothering to withdraw from the N.E.T. search in progress.
Wade’s Ethinn immediately appeared before him.
“You still in here trying to scare up a lead?” Wade asked.
“Where else would I be?” he replied in a sulk. The going was tough. He was monitoring S.Q.U.A.K. in the background with the intention of dropping the research and pursuing another story if one came up.
“Where should you be? Let me think,” Wade said sarcastically. “How about arranging that meet with your sister?”
“Come on, Wade,” Shattuck said in a tired tone. “I have a job here. I’ll play cupid for you when I get some time. I told you I would arrange a dinner and I will. I just don’t know Lena’s schedule and I haven’t had time to check in with her.”
“Well…” And it sounded more like welllllllllllll. “Maybe you should contact her so I have an excuse to meet up with you two and slip you a little clue we came across on the Douglas case.”
“A lead?”
Wade had the journalist full attention.
“Yup. A fingerprint.” Wade proclaimed with satisfaction.
“Did you find a match?” Shattuck asked excitedly. This could be the lead he needed to carry the story to the next level.
“Dinner. Tonight. Eight o’clock. Cyber Nest. With Lena,” Wade ordered, “and you’re buying.”
Shattuck checked the time – four hours. God, he hoped Lena would play along. He needed this. Surely she would help her little brother out. This could be the big one.


Shattuck tossed empty food containers from the front passenger seat to the back in an attempt to clear the seat in the cruiser for Lena. He finished and started to usher her into the car. She threw on her brakes.
“Where’s the wipes?” She demanded. She wasn’t about to sit in that seat until it had been fully cleaned and disinfected. She knew her brother too well.
Shattuck humphed and started looking for the sana-wipes. They were going to be late. They needed to make it to Level One in the next fifteen minutes. There was no way they were going to be on time. Cyber Nest was incredibly exclusive. He had to bribe three people just to get the reservation. They would give it away if they weren’t on time.
He retrieved the wipes from where they rolled under the front seat. He gave the passenger seat a quick rub down.
“Give me those.” His sister took the wipes out of his hand, added another two clean ones to it and scrubbed harder at a couple of questionable places on the seat.
“We’re going to be late,” he sighed in a frustrated tone.
“I am not going to sit on this seat in my nice dress clothes until nothing on it will come off on them.”
Lena gave the seat another complete rubdown and tossed the wipes into the back with the rest of the trash. She got in and fastened her seat belt. Shattuck bolted to the other side of the cruiser, threw himself in his seat and had the vehicle in motion before he even belted in.
Lena caught a glimpse of the sleeping bag in the back.
“Tuck, are you sleeping in the cruiser?” There was a fine in the city for vagrants. Just because you had a cruiser it didn’t mean you weren’t one. If you got caught sleeping in your vehicle and couldn’t prove you had a permanent physical address you would be heavily fined. The city could pull up surveillance records and fine you for every minute your vehicle was spotted between midnight and four a.m. when you didn’t have proof you were on a job and not using it as a crash pad. A big chunk of Shattuck’s stake would be eaten up quickly with fines like that.
“It’s okay,” Shattuck assured her. “I still have the apartment. I just rented it out to Charlie – figured it would add a nice little bonus to my stake each month.”
“Tuck, it’s a studio,” Lena said in disbelief. “What happens if the officials show up to check out your residency?”
“Charlie has strict orders not to open the door too wide.” Shattuck grinned as he wove his way through the traffic on Level Two.
“We might make it,” he said as a way to change the subject.
Lena was always worrying about him. He knew in her eyes he had never really grown up. He decided ‘busy’ talk was in order. He started to list the agenda for the night’s event.
“We’ll have a couple of drinks…”
“One drink,” Lena corrected. “I told you before I agreed to this, I have to shuttle Loc to the Rim Office early tomorrow. I can’t be out all night.”
Samuel Locitt was principle owner and Lena’s boss at Stellarlink. She was his personal assistant, his go-to gal. Loc knew he had a great employee in Lena and paid her accordingly. He spoiled her with periodic bonuses, bonuses that she often gave to Shattuck to add to his stake for the ‘big one.’
Lena was Shattuck’s brag-point. He told anyone who would listen what a clever and talented sister he had. She could drive or fly anything in the verse and most times better than anyone else. She had a memory as quick and complete as a Quad Level Valdavian Mapping Platform and she was an expert in hand-to-hand combat. And, it certainly didn’t hurt that she was round in all the right places and dressed like a diva. Lena loved clothes.
“Wade won’t give me the information he’s uncovered until he’s good and ready. That’s just how he is,” Shattuck warned Lena. “If he’s having a good time he’ll want to extend the night.”
“Then maybe I should just deck him right off,” Lena said with a sly smile. “I could beat it out of him for you.”
“Thanks, Sis.” Shattuck smiled back at her. This was an old game for them. She was his older sister and had fought more than one battle for him when he was young and skinny. She hadn’t needed to intercede for him since he reached puberty and learned how to duck and run.
“Wade’s not a bad guy. You might even like him,” Shattuck added hopefully as he turned the cruiser into the Level One traffic. He was happy to see it wasn’t bad tonight. Thankfully, weeknights were always less crowded.
“I’ll like him for a couple of hours and then my charm will turn off and I will hit the road, with or without you,” Lena warned. “I am willing to help you with your career goals as long as they do not interfere with my job.”
They both needed her to stay in her position with StellarLink. When stories didn’t pan out she was the one Shattuck turned to for support until the next gig paid off.
“Got it,” Shattuck agreed as he turned the cruiser unto the Cyber Nest parking platform.
Lena was pleasantly surprised. Wade was not only good looking, he was a charmer. Sure half of what he said was bullshit, but he had a way of greasing it that made it go down nicely.
Wade impressed her right off by bringing her a lovely holographic bouquet. He placed it on the table at her seat and touched the ring. The bouquet appeared to spring from the table, vase and all, including the wafted spicy scent of carnations. It was a kind gesture and probably set him back at least a day’s pay.
It turned out Wade was well traveled. He had served in the Galactic Forces for a couple of turns and then taken planet duty various places before settling down here. He still traveled on his vacations to distant places that most would not go to the trouble of exploring.
He was a good conversationalist and the banter between him and Tuck flew across the table like little projectiles all evening. It seemed to Lena that they both liked each other, but were too macho to show it in any sane way. They both had staked out their territory and they weren’t going to let the other one in the range of their leash.
About ten o’clock Lena began to give indications that she was ready to call it a night. She explained to Wade that she had an early morning call and since they had already discussed her employer he knew it was important that she not be kept too late. He obliged by retrieving her cloak from the coat check.
Shattuck was shifting from one foot to the other in anticipation of Wade’s still undelivered case information.
“It has been a pleasure,” Wade said as he held Lena’s cloak for her to slip into.
“Thank you. It was a very nice evening,” she agreed.
Wade was putting on his coat as he offhandedly said, “the print at the scene was from an ex-con named William Braden. He was sentenced to a penal planet, but was removed to a hospital on Goliath’s second moon when he and his younger brother contracted Reeve’s Fever. The younger brother, Robert, died. William lived through it, but it left him insane. They rigged him with a sedation cuff and called it a day.”
Wade pulled on his own coat as he continued. “When the hospital was hit with cutbacks they released him back into society. Guess they thought the cuff would keep him under control. Guess they were wrong.”
The detective pulled on his gloves. “We’ve posted his picture on the N.E.T. If you hurry, you can be the one who gets it to the U.N.” Wade advised.
“Thanks, Wade,” Shattuck said. He stuck his hand out to shake.
“No problem, Tuck,” Wade answered addressing him by his sister’s nickname.
Shattuck’s face grew grim. “No one calls me Tuck except Lena.
“Until now,” Wade countered with a grin. “See ya around, Tuck.”
Wade took Lena’s hand, placed a kiss on her fingertips and winked up at her. “I’ll call.”
“I might answer,” Lena replied. She could handle Wade even if her baby brother couldn’t.


William Braden sought for the
Murder of Daniel Douglas
Read about it here or….

Experience it 1st hand
See up-close and personal the impact of Reeve’s Fever on William Braden.
Could the insanity plea be used to set this madman free to prey on others?

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