Black Night

14th January 2158

A King Walks Among Us

I stayed awake as long as I could, reading while the others dozed off-I am getting to the stage where I don’t want to sleep sometimes. I finally dropped off again after midnight, but once again it was a restless slumber, and when I woke it was like I hardly slept at all. As usual the dreams were vague but disconcerting-all I can remember was walking through something very big. Maybe some sedatives would help.

The storm had blown over during the night without incident, and fortunately the twisters seemed to have passed us by. The storm had slowed down our journey home, but it had also erased our tracks and immobilised the Raiders had they chosen to follow us, so that was a good thing.

We shared the driving and this time I didn’t cause any accidents, but it was early evening as we drove into Black Rock, Vincent having announced an hour to two before that the web was back up, probably due to our proximity to the land link running from Black Rock to the magrail.

As I wasn’t driving at the time I reported in to Hiro. “Ah Good Evening-everything settled then?” I briefly explained what had happened- he looked horrified when I told him what had happened to Dr. Anderson. “I see. Well spare no expense with the local Doctor. Get an assessment and if there is a real emergency I’ll charter an MMC collection. There’s a lot to think about here and I need to consider what to do. You missed the return train earlier today, so I’m afraid you’re marooned in Black Rock for six days yet. Check in and get settled at the Hotel, and then contact me again with your report and we’ll chat in more detail.”

The first thing we did in Black Rock was drop Dr. Anderson at the local quack. He had a small dispensary out back with a couple of beds, and after checking her over came to have a word. “She’s been badly beaten, and there’s a lot of bruising and a couple of cracked ribs. I’ll also be running some blood tests to see if there are any long term issues. It’s not the physical damage I’m so worried about though, it’s the long term effects of her experience. She’s been badly treated and, I’d say, frequently sexually abused. Almost certainly she’s going to need psychiatric counselling, and even then it will scar her for the rest of her life I’d say. I’ll post my report through to the company Doc at LFC when I’m done-in the meanwhile I’m going to try heal her physically and keep her under sedation. I have a couple of local women who do nursing duties for me sometimes; I’m assuming LFC will pick up the tab, and they’ll be glad of a little extra income.” Seeing my look he said “It’s probably wisest not to leave her alone at this stage.”

Our final stop before the hotel was the Sheriff-still in his plaster cast. “Evenin’ Folks. Anything I can do for you?” I explained that Miryam had been raided and what had happened to Dr. Anderson, and that Miles role in all this was a bit suspect. “Ok I’ll hold him and send word to the Territorial Marshal’s Office; they’ll want to know about this if there’s an outback gang operating somewhere. Just like the movies eh?”

With Miles safely incarcerated we finally headed to the hotel. As usual, at least it seemed to us, there were a crowd of gawkers outside looking in through the window. “Maybe someone else arrived in Town” suggested Vincent. The crowd pretended not to be there as we entered the hotel.

In we walked again, and the owner was serving a dish of food (chilli, beans and rice with a hunk of bread) to a man sat alone at one of the tables, over which a chequered cloth had been arranged I noticed. The man had his back to us, but was sipping from a cup of coffee, the strong aroma wafting through the room.

I booked us our rooms-unsurprisingly there were sufficient vacancies- and we dumped our stuff on the one side and asked for the same. The owner shuffled out to the kitchen, and we sat down on the table next to the eating man. He looked up, and stood up as Maria, Laura and Sylvie went to sit down “After you Ma’am” he said, in a peculiar old-fashioned type of drawl. Maria looked a bit nonplussed-I’m not sure they have manners on Venus. I nudged her and she sat down.

“Good evening Sir”, I offered, “My name is Lars Johannssen, and you are…?”

“Uh Presley, my name is Elvis Presley. Pleased to meet ya’ all.” He shook hands with me, and with the others as I introduced them. He seemed a nice young chap and very polite. I could see the local nosy parkers were still looking in. Elvis looked a bit embarrassed.

“I’d hoped to come here all quiet like, but I had a run in with one of the local mining boys and had to send him out with a bit of a flea in his pants. Unfortunately it sparked quite a bit of interest I guess. I just wanted to be treated like a regular customer, but I guess that plan’s gone out the window.”

Our food arrived and we pitched in. Thankfully it wasn’t micro waved, which was a real pleasure after the last few days. “I guess I’ll see you all in the morning” said Elvis, “I got some stuff to do before I turn in, and I need to think about what to do now. I can’t stay here I ain’t got that much time. Goodnight all. Ladies.” He bowed and went upstairs.

“He looks kind of familiar” said Vincent “His name mean anything to you?”. Shakings of the head all round.

“His manners were kind of strange” said Maria, “What was all that stuff about waiting for me to sit down?”

“He was being the gentleman” said Sylvie, “It was a pleasure to see-sometimes you meet some of the older miners and settlers who speak to you like that. It is odd yes, but it is respectful I think. He perhaps comes from an old fashioned family, yes?”

After food we broke up and went to our rooms. Everyone needed a shower and rest, and I guessed there would be a rush for the gym the next day as we all needed to catch up: in fact Sylvie was determined to put in a couple of hours before bedtime-but then again I gather she is some sort of Martial Arts enthusiast from the books she leaves lying around.

I had a shower and then logged on using the old fashioned room terminal and typed up my report of the last few days events: best to get it over and done with. I was pouring some coffee after I’d finished just before midnight, when I received a screen link from Hiro.

“Read your report- good work but worrying stuff. So the current status of the base?”

“Full of damaged/ dead bad guys, plus the ones who went off in the buggies before we attacked” I replied. “We left Miles with the local Sheriff because I’m not convinced he wasn’t involved in whatever was going on here, and he said he’d send a report in to the area Marshal.”

“He’s already done it, and there is more to it than that. I’ve been contacted by the UWC Wardens who’ve asked for base plans and all personnel details on Miles. I was going to hire a couple of ArmTec APC Rovers to check out and secure the base, but they’ve put a hold on that. Presumably they have their own ideas but we’ll have to wait and see.” I was surprised the Sheriff had already sent in his report quite frankly; I hadn’t tagged him as the efficient type.

“They’ll want to talk to Derik, Denise and the rest of you when you return to Mariner too. In the meantime they’ve instructed me, to instruct you all, that you’re not to talk about this incident to anyone: I’ve attached their D Notice, which has all your names on it. My advice is to abide by it-the wardens have extreme legal powers. My understanding is also that you all have an appointment in their Mars Bureau office within three hours of the Magrail arrival, six days from now.”

He shrugged, “Why the wardens are interested in a bunch of backwoods rapists and murderers is beyond me-it looks like a local problem to me. But there it is…”

“Anyway, you’re due back in six days. Poor Derik has been traipsing around the wilderness on LFC’s behalf for over two months, so he’s due a week leave when he gets back. We will sign the papers as soon as you wish to on your return, and I’ll allow an extra 3 days for setting the ship and cargo in order. My projected ETA for your departure to the platform is 16 days from now on 2158-031 (SET 31.1.2158) if that’s ok, and I’ll make arrangements for preparation of the cargos. Either way you’ll have a bit of free time when you get back-so take some time and relax. Maybe you can get tickets for the big Elvis concert in Founder’s Square next week?. Anyway I’ll let you get some rest.”

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