Katie and Farah headed for Gori Lyil’s last known address. It was a three floor tower block. The paint on the outside was peeling and it looked to be in general disrepair.
“Does it say which flat was his?” Farah asked.
“No,” Katie said. “Shouldn’t be too hard to find out, though. You stay out here for a moment and ask anyone you see coming in about it. I’ll see if I can find anyone inside.”
Katie entered the building, scanning for residents. There was no sign of anyone. Finally, she picked a door and knocked. She heard a light shuffling inside and the door opened a crack. A wrinkled face peered out at her. She gave him her best smile. “Excuse me, Sir,” she said. “I was wondering if you might help me? I have a delivery for a Pacifican, but I don’t know where he lives.”
“Oh yes,” the old man said. “I know the one. Top floor, last door on the right from the stairs. Haven’t seen him in a while, though.”
“Thank you so much,” Katie said. “You have a pleasant day.” She hurried outside. Farah wasn’t by the door, she found the other woman kneeling down in the alley nearby. “Farah?” The other woman jumped, startled. “What are you doing?”
“Me?” Farah asked, sweetly. “Nothing at all.” Katie noticed that Farah was keeping her back to her.
“What did you find?” Katie demanded. “Show me!”
Farah sheepishly turned around. She had a mostly white kitten with black and orange spots in her arms. “Found a cat!” Farah declared.
Katie sighed. “That thing could have all kinds of problems. Just put it down and let’s move on.”
“But Kat,” Farah pleaded “He looked so lonely and sad.” She nuzzled him. “Don’t you feel bad for him?”
“Not at all,” Katie said. “You can get yourself a pet later. For now, we have a mission. I’m not trying to be mean, but things could get rough and I can’t guarantee his safety.”
Farah reluctantly put the kitten down and the two went inside, Farah taking one last glance at the little guy.
They went up the stairs and headed down the single corridor to the last flat on the right.
“This is it,” Katie said. She knocked loudly. There was no response nor any sounds from inside.”As expected. We’ll have to break in.”
“Leave it to me!” Farah cried. “I can bring that door down.”
“I’m sure you can,” Katie said. “But let’s use more finesse. Wouldn’t do to draw unwanted attention to ourselves.”
She pulled a small tool from her pocket and quickly hacked the lock, causing the door to swing open.
“Isn’t it illegal for a civilian to have a SR-76 series hacking mechanism?” Farah asked.
“In most systems, yes,” Katie answered. “But that’s just because they make burglary so easy. We just won’t take anything.”
“Oh, okay,” Farah said. “I suppose that makes sense.”
The two shuffled inside. The flat was a mess with half-eaten, mouldy food left out. Clothes strewn about and insects crawling over everything. There was no sign that anyone had been there in at least a week.
Farah put on gloves and grabbed a data pad. Katie checked further in the flat. The bedroom had a pile of sticks arranged in a corner, a heavily worn training dummy and several bladed weapons. couple of small rodents darted under the pile of sticks as she approached.
“Kat!” Farah called.
“What is it?” Katie asked, returning to the living area.
“I found something,” Farah answered. She held the pad out to her. “According to this, he was going down to the station to meet with someone called ‘Tirjan’. It’s dated for eight days ago.”
“The timing fits,” Katie mused. “But what kind of station? A peace-keeper’s station, subway station, space station, what?”
“There’s no real indication,” Farah stated. “We’ll have to check the transit and peace-keeper’s stations ourselves.”
Katie nodded. “Right. We’ll start with the Peace-keeper’s station, it’s closer. I’ll contact Ophelia and ask her to get the records from the nearest space station. See if our guy went there. I’ll also have her try and identify this Tirjan.”
“What is this place?” Yuri inquired.
“Doesn’t your amazing android brain let you deduce these things by the pavement or something?” Allison asked.
“The building is nondescript,” Yuri stated. “The sign marks this place as the ‘Lily Cove’ but that moniker provides no details as to its purpose.”
“best hidden spot on the planet,” Allison said. “Trust me on this, it’s going to be great.”
Yuri reluctantly followed Allison inside. Soft music played. There were tables elegantly set and adorned with fresh bouquets along the wall. The walls themselves were decorated with a floral pattern and a group of people were slow dancing on the main floor. Several more were chatting at their tables.
“A table for two, please,” Allison said. Their waitress bowed and led them to a table.
“It is a combination of an eatery and a dance hall,” Yuri stated. “I fail to see how I could have ascertained that from the outside.”
“Don’t put it so crudely,” Allison chided. “Look around you for a moment. Notice anything about the clientèle?”
Yuri scanned the area. “The majority are human,” she answered. “All are female.”
“Exactly!” Allison declared. “This place is a garden for pure, innocent maidens. Girls like us.”
“I do not believe that you are innocent under many usages of the term,” Yuri stated.
“Honey, let me give you some advice,” Allison said. “That’s not a thing you say to your date.” She rose from the table. “We can order something later. For now, join me for a dance?” She held out her hand to Yuri. Yuri hesitantly accepted it and allowed herself to be led to the dance floor.
“Have you found Tirjan yet” Ophelia asked.
“It’s not an uncommon name,” Lucy said. “At least not on this world. I’ve got a list of about two dozen probable candidates. Right now I’m borrowing some background information on them to see if I can’t narrow it further. What about you, any luck finding him?”
“I’m checking the arrival records from eight days ago but so far, bupkis,” Ophelia said.
“He may have used a fake name,” Lucy said. “Check the security footage.”
“That isn’t exactly pen to the public,” Ophelia said. “I’d have to…” Lucy rose and commandeered the console for thirty seconds before moving back to her own station.
“Or you could do that,” Lucy said.
“Thank you,” Ophelia said. “I’ll look them over right away.”