special thanks to Jamie for helping w/ NPC’s
They’d been back on the Phoenix barely a minute. Already there was trouble.
Kordieh froze the moment stepped off the boarding ramp of the Techno-Mage Flyer. A bad sign in anybody’s book. Darquin hurried after him and saw Toni Villiers crossing the docking bay to meet them. Her expression was tense.
“Sorry to make you run, Chief,” she said. “Message from Morgan. She says Kriechbaum’s been kidnapped. She wanted to talk to you as soon as you could.”
The shock froze him to the spot for a few seconds. Snapping out of it, he went into a fast march. “Where’s Morgan?”
“Still planetside, in that marketplace city — Uvew, I think it was. She said something about going to the House of the Growers, with Daanike. She had her link open for you–”
“Take Kordieh and get him checked in. Then report to Tianmun ASAP. I’m going to the Station House.” He tapped his link. “4-33 Blue. 4-33 Blue. 4-51 CO, standing by.” Switching to another channel, he charged between shuttles, techs, and bolts of steam till he reached the ship’s corridors. “Darquin. Morgan, what’s your situation?”
“It has all gone to hell here,” Morgan answered immediately. “Gahara – the Guardian I am working with here – and I were returning from talking to some traders, when Daanike told me.”
“What’s the House of the Growers? A greenhouse or something?”
“No, it is like… Like a trade guild, but related too.”
“How do they fit into this?”
“The murder victim was one of them.” She sniffed. “We must be on the right track, ie?”
“Unless Kriechbaum found one hell of a bad track. Any idea who the kidnappers are?”
“The message did not say, but I did have him on a duty related to this.”
“Message? The one Daanike got?” He looked around for Toni Villiers, hoping for more information from somewhere. “What did it say?”
“I do not remember all of it, but in essence, stop the investigation and he will not be hurt.” Morgan paused. “There is another thing.”
“Natch,” he muttered to himself.
“The interview we were returning from… There seemed to be another purpose for it. They did not wish us to leave.”
“The people you were interviewing–” He ran for an open lift. “Who were they?”
“Huka. But I saw that Drazi we discussed briefly, and a Gaim. I think – it was only a glimpse.”
“So you saw a couple of suspects and these other Huka… didn’t want you to leave? Sounds like they’re up to their ears in it. And they didn’t want you to find out.”
“It was during our… discussion over leaving, but ie.”
“Are you guys okay, where you are now? Who can you trust down there?”
“Gahara certainly – one wouldn’t fight so hard if one’s life isn’t in danger. And I believe the Growers. They are most distressed over the death. But no one here is equipped to handle this kind of thing, not even the Guardians, really.”
“Sounds like somebody’s using the Growers. Or there’s an inside man, somewhere in the clan. Okay, that leads me into my next question. How much latitude have we got?”
Angrily, she sniffed. “I do not wish for them to think they have any latitude. Nor do I wish Mr. Kreichbaum’s life to be wasted on this.”
“Then I’d recommend a massive deployment. Two covert, one overt around your team, a fighter squadron guarding the nearest jumpgate… and the Phoenix smack in the middle of the main flight paths to it.”
“Tell the captain, but ie, I agree with you.”
He tapped the lift controls and rerouted himself to the main bridge. “I’m on it. The sooner we move, the better.”
“I waited on your return only because this is your specialty.”
“I guess we’ll see how special I really am in it,” Darquin added with a lopsided grin.
“We will have a discussion after if it is not.” If she was joking, it was difficult to tell. It might as well have been an ultimatum. And considering the stakes, what was one more….
“I’ll link in when I got more. Darquin out.”
Morgan closed the link and, turning, brought Gahara up to speed.
“I will report to the Guardian hukanape about your plans,” Gahara said. “But I do not think there will be any objections to what you have in mind. This must be stopped, the sooner the better. I’ve already explained to you why.”
“Ie, I agree with you.”
“Will I be meeting this Darquin?”
“I would not doubt it. You will likely understand him better than you do me, because he is like a Guardian.”
“Then it will be a particular pleasure,” she said.
ISA Phoenix–“The Dead Cannot Cry Out For Justice, Part 11: War Drums” © 2004 Jamie Lawson, Leslie McBride, Joe Medina
Babylon 5 tm and © 2004 Warner Bros.