I was a hedge mage and probably the only mage on Shilingham. I had grown up knowing I was different and alone. I learned magic through texts on my comp and in a sim. I also learned to use knives or pistols since my magic was not strong. Shilingham had a dozen cultures and some were violent and cruel.
One large area in a restricted zone on both sides of a river was called King’s walk. Not because a real king lived or walked them but because anyone could rule ... for a price. There were laws but unlike outside the zone some of the laws were subject to exclusions or exceptions. For example you could buy a permit to kill someone but only during a specific time frame.
My rail pistol was on my right thigh and a long stun wand was on the left. Crossed in the small of my back were twin titanum knives. On the belt in front of my right hip was a silver and enamel badge in the shape of a star. I was almost twenty and an exception to the rule for the constables.
I strode down the row of shops and my eyes constantly scanned ahead and to the sides. I nodded to a uniformed constable at a laser grid blocking the entrance to a shop. He grinned and turned to switch the grid off, “it is a messy one Edward.”
Unlike the other constables I not only worked in and on the King’s walk, I lived here. I stopped in the door to the shop and nodded to the two inspectors. One straightened and the other gestured to the bloody mess that had been the shopkeeper. I looked and then checked the shop, “anything on the exclusions or exceptions list?”
He growled, “no and I do not know why we allow those.”
I whispered and a shimmer appeared just above the floor. I slowly stepped on it and walked in, “it is allowed because of the seven treaties signed when the system became a colony.”
I squatted beside the body and began to chant. A minute and there was a flash that filled the room and blinded them. The room looked like nothing had happened and I stood and waited. The shopkeeper unlocked the door and walked in and right behind him a man followed. He spun and the man shoved a sonic knife and slashed and followed as he fell.
He stabbed and hacked and then looked around. He moved to the wall and took an ancient looking piece of alien armor. He spun and ran out and I gestured and the room darkened and returned to what was really here, “robbery.”
They snorted as they looked at the body and I used my comp. I murmured and an image of the killer slowly appeared in the comp screen. I accessed the data net and began doing a bio, thermal and facial identification search. I looked at them, “there is no way he is going to be able to resell that piece here.”
One snorted as he used his comp, “I will list it under the stolen material search request at the port.”
I looked around once more, “the ident search is running. Is there anything else?”
Detective inspector Miller shook his head, “no. Our examiner and techs are still busy with that accident in the bond area of the port. At least we have somewhere to start now.”
I looked at the dead man and turned to the door, “I have that grey market slave ring we are hitting. Call if you need me later.”
I walked out and headed deeper into the middle of the King’s Walk. I got called a lot for things like this. I was also assigned to special strike or response teams. Sometimes I had to go from team to team doing raids or responses. Three blocks later I saw the stalker and touched my badge, “this is constable Steele. I have a stalker trailing me.”
Stalkers were common in the Walk. Even though constables were exempt from paid killers, others still hunted us. I whispered and felt the shimmer that spread out from me. It kept moving but drifted left while I seemed to vanish and went right and slowed. As a constable hover car speed towards us the stalker decided to act.
He pulled a long barreled weapon and aimed at the illusion. He was only a few steps away and I took them as he fired. The illusion stopped as it caught the rounds inside it. I pulled the long stun wand and touched the man in the groin. He was turning to flee and screamed and spasmed before folding over and falling.
I waved and appeared as the constable hover car came to a stop. I knelt and yanked the man onto his stomach and reached for a wrist. He jerked it away and started to struggle and I touched the stun wand to his spine and held it for a few seconds. He writhed around and convulsed while screaming.
The two constables from the car knelt and yanked his arms back. I put flex restraints on and they grinned and pulled him to his feet. One gestured to the frozen illusion, “we need the evidence.”
The illusion vanished and the rounds floating where he had been started to move. The other officer accepted them using an evidence bag. I verbally made a report and they took him away and I started walking again. Five minutes and I was slipping into a warehouse through a side door.
I nodded to the response team and removed my jacket, “the illusion still working?”
One chuckled, “yeah. We have six hitters and the bookkeeper waiting for the smugglers.”
I accepted a response team vest with a couple of dozen force screen emitters, “charged?”
The constable nodded and I put it on. I moved to the corner and looked at the illusion I had created two days ago. It was of the inside of another warehouse behind and across from the one we were in. A constable hissed, “incoming hover truck.”
I reached out and focused as I murmured and spread my hands. The illusion grew until it was almost life size. I released it and moved back, it looked like a large door opened and then a hover truck backed in. Two men jumped out as the door closed and two more opened the back of the truck. Inside the truck were naked girls that looked like teenagers.
They were crouching and the men started yelling and they quickly stood and started to climb out. I pointed to a display that appeared over the new men and girls. The others nodded and then another hissed, “we have clones and five black listed engineered.”
That meant two things, they had come from a prohibited system and had illegal body modifications. The response team leader nodded and whispered, “prepare to move.”
I murmured and began touching constables and they started to glow and shimmer and become ghost images. I was last and followed as the door was opened. We moved straight across at an angle and then went along the side of the warehouse to the large door. I moved to the front and put my hand on the door and whispered and slowly turned my hand.
I moved back and nodded, “ready.”
The first man yanked the door open and the team flowed in after him and spread out. I went left and straight toward the larger vehicle doors as I pulled my weapon. I heard shots and saw two of the four smugglers turn, aim and fire weapons at the girls. I stopped, aimed and fired and the man’s head exploded as I shifted aim.
His partner spun with wide eyes and made another lethal mistake and pointed his weapon at me. I shot him twice in the chest and once between the eyes. I checked the other man and started for the door again, “Steele with two down!”
The response team was taking the men prisoner if they did not resist or present a threat. They were also pushing the slaves to one wall to be processed later. I made sure the door was closed so no one could escape and checked the cab of the hover truck. I began to help move the girls to the wall and looked around.
All the men were either down or in restraints. The bookkeeper was making threats and the girls looked frightened and four of those blacklisted had been killed. I moved to the bodies and squatted and murmured. The weapons that killed them began to glow and then the men dead or alive that had used them.
The ones still alive sneered and one grinned, “they were not classified as human.”
I looked at the girls as I stood and the response team leader sighed. I thought and moved to the man, “according to the third treaty any death of a non human but sentient being is cause for the subject perpetrator to be examined by any means to determine if it was deliberate. If so, said subject must be terminated within the hour and their body destroyed.”
His eyes widened and I looked at the response team leader, “you will need to request Sir Xena to review the scene, the bio scan and my findings.”
He was grinning as the others chuckled, “my pleasure.”
I moved to a pale girl with cat slit eyes and two ivory curving horns. I tilted her head and smiled, “now what am I going to do with you?”
One of the constables chuckled, “we can not take her and help her as a slave or as a homeless person.”
I nodded and another walked by and slapped my shoulder, “however under the second treaty you are responsible for her now or if you go by clause eighteen she is responsible for you or her body is yours or...”
I snorted, “I get the picture.”
I caressed her smooth pale skin, “so you come home with me.”
Support vehicles began arriving and I pulled her after me and unsealed and opened the larger doors. I took a set of generic coveralls from a constable and turned to put her in them. The other girls were dressed and helped to a waiting vehicle. Finally councilor Xena arrived and I showed him the bodies and the bio scans.
He was not happy but when I referenced the treaty his eyes glowed, “question the men and force them to speak. Terminate those responsible and have a shuttle send the remains into the sun.”
The team leader grinned and described my association spell and the men it identified. They were sullen and against the wall and the councilor nodded, “then you have the killers. Terminate them now and destroy the bodies.”
We bowed and he swept out, his kind were not known for violence. I looked at the team leader and pulled a knife and whispered a spell of illusion and sleep. He looked at the other constables and then nodded. I moved to the two men responsible that were still alive. They jerked and struggled and I spun the first and shoved the blade through his spine and into his brain.
I went to the next as he went to his knees and started to plead. When his body hit the floor I looked at the bookkeeper. He gasped, “wait I ... it was not me!”
I moved to him, “terminate those responsible. You are responsible for everything here.”
He was shaking his head and looked at the team leader, “it was Soham Deening! Look in my comp! He was buying and we were just here on his orders!”
I patted his cheek and wiped and cleaned the bloody knife on his shirt, “put it in your official statement.”
He nodded quickly and I winked at the team leader as he smothered a laugh. I put the knife away and caught the girl’s hand. Councilor Xena did not have the authority to order a termination but I had not killed the men. They would wake in a cell and have time to speak before they went to the death chamber.
I pulled the girl after me and to the other warehouse and removed the force screen vest. I picked up my jacket and looked at the girl and turned to put it around her. She shivered but I made sure she was warm. I caught her hand and started for the other door, “are you hungry?”
I looked back and she nodded and I pulled her up to walk beside me, “I know just the place.”
I watched the street and alleys and glanced at her, “just do not stare at the Narial. They are a little paranoid.”
She looked at me and I squeezed her hand and a few minutes later we walked into a strange building. The front looked like an arcade and one side like a pet shop and the other was ... to be nice it did have tables. There were probably a dozen different races eating and half the food was still alive and moving.
The suited alien that appeared growled which I ignored, “soup and grilled bread and cheese Pestal. This time leave the hatchling out of the soup.”
It growled and grumbled as it turned and headed for the back. I looked at the girl as she looked around, “my name is Edward Steele.”
She looked down quickly and hesitated before answering, “Misty lord.”
I reached across and tilted her face so she was looking at me, “Edward and you are Misty.”
Her eyes searched mine and she finally nodded. I relaxed and a large furred being moved away from another table, “she looks tender.”
I sighed, “do not start Soloman.”
He grinned and his teeth looked like they belonged in a shark, “her bio reads as commercial bio engineered.”
I nodded, “but not food.”
He bent close and I knew what the others would think but he only murmured, “behind Sogs at fourteen marks.”
He stood and grumbled as he started for the door, “feeding pets at the table.”
Misty had wide eyes and looked at me. I patted her hand as our food was brought to the table. She shifted and squirmed and I looked at her and touched her soup, “you can eat.”
She bit her lower lip and looked down, “I need...”
I whispered and reached out to touch her temple. I blinked at what I saw and felt and smiled, “after we eat.”