Time Stays, We Go

Characters: Peter Carlacci

Peter Carlacci slipped quietly out of the quarters Ryath had found for them on Babylon 5. Mira was still resting, and planning her next move. It was time for Carlacci to do some of the legwork.

He was a little surprised, as he left, to see that the technomage hadn’t returned from her own excursion. After a moment, he shrugged it off. Ryath was a technomage, and could take care of herself, he thought, rubbing the chip of brick in his pocket. She insisted that she could hard enough, anyway.

Carlacci had business of his own, and frankly he was just as happy to be left alone to do it in his own way. Leaving the well appointed order of Blue and Green Sectors, he headed for Brown Sector, to a bar on the fringes of Downbelow.

Moving in, past the sputtering neon that read “Happy Daze,” Carlacci tried to breathe through his mouth, and shallowly. The air exchange system hadn’t been built to take the quantity and variety of smells generated by the breath, sweat and sometimes even blood of the people who called this place a regular hangout.

Walking slowly until his eyes adjusted to the near total dark, Carlacci bought a bottle at the bar and carried it across to a table near the door. A Pak’ma’ra was sitting there, a tall glass of something half full in front of him. Carlacci really didn’t want to dwell on what the contents might be.

He studied the alien’s face, while the Pak’ma’ra regarded him with its small eyes and utterly unreadable expression. Finally, he said, “You are the express man I asked about, right?”

The Pak’ma’ra said nothing, but after a glance around the room, lifted one corner of his cloak. The unmistakable green of an Isil’zha appeared for one moment before being shielded again.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Carlacci said. “I need you to carry a package.”

“We live for the One, and I am here to serve thus,” the alien answered through its translator. “Where is your package going?”

“To our ship the Sorna’silat,” Carlacci said. “She’s in the Rolui system, probably trying to be inconspicuous. You can make delivery to Shok’na Hale, Shok’na-li Morgan or Security Chief Darquin.” He slid a small case of data crystals — including Ryath’s high capacity one — across the table.

As the courier took a brief glance at them, Carlacci took a swig from his bottle, and managed to swallow without choking — if only just. So much for bathtub gin being an extinct commodity.

“I will go at once,” the Pak’ma’ra said, stowing the case within his heavy cloak and rising with the slow, ponderous movement of all his kind.

Carlacci thanked him and watched him go, taking a few more drinks from his bottle that were far smaller than they appeared. Finally, he headed out himself, leaving the bottle behind. Next stop: the Zocalo, and an old friend at Mariah Zhao’s Hong Kong Tailor.


Copyright (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.