My name is Clay Colt and I’m a private investigator… well, usually. Right then I was being paid a nice chunk of money to pull a B & E in some rich bastard’s penthouse and crack open his ridiculously complex safe. Some would call it robbery; I like to call it “professional retrieval”.
What can I say? I’m diversified.
Richard Wellington III is old money that comes from a long line of old money dating back to the early nineteenth century. Back then his family owned several plantations complete with an army of slave labor, and they were damn proud of it. These days he maintains his position of power and wealth by driving smaller businesses out of business, buying up the real estate, and then selling it off to larger corporations. More often than not the beings that are displaced by such douchebaggery happen to be members of the immigrant alien community. It’s safe to say that the apple certainly didn’t fall far from the tree. While relations between humans and the various other aliens species we’ve made contact with over the past few centuries have grown by leaps and bounds, old habits die hard and there are still a lot of humans out there, like Dick the Third, that dislike anyone or anything that’s different.
That’s where I come in.
Once upon a time I was a detective with the United Earth Defense Force, Western Division, and stationed in Buenos Aries. In my time in the service I’d gained something of a reputation for being an alien lover, much to the chagrin of many powers-that-be. While I admit I find aliens, particularly of the female variety, exotic, I mostly just got tired of seeing good beings, E.T. or not, treated like dirt and forced into a life of servitude or desperation; so I tried to help them out whenever I could. Since my rather spectacular falling out with the peace keepers of our fair planet, I took the only job available to me where I could do some good for those that need it while still making out pretty decently in the finance department. Sometimes that means occasionally taking on jobs that are less than legal.
This brings us back to the safe, and why I was risking my finely sculpted posterior breaking into it. An ex-con named Smitty I’ve maintained contact with over the years hired me to check out Wellington’s shenanigans and see if I could dig up any dirt that could be used to knock the jackass off his high horse. After trailing him for the better part of a week and using some of the marginally legal surveillance gear I have at my disposal, I found out that Wellington keeps a lot of his more important, and I was willing to bet incriminating, information in his own private safe. So, I was kneeling on the floor, fiddling with the highly illegal code breaker I had stuck to the front of the safe and trying to get the damn open combination before one of Wellington’s private security goons packing really big guns found me snooping around.
Of course, that exact scenario happened just seconds later.
“Step away from the safe and put your hands in the air!” There was a high pitched whine that let me know he’d just flicked his gun safety to the “off” position. “Did you hear me scumbag? I said step away from the sa-“
He was on the floor and convulsing with a shock dart protruding from his chest before he could finish his rather cliché badass-security-guard routine. Shock darts are (usually) non-lethal rounds that deliver a jolt of electricity through a target’s nervous system every second, incapacitating them. It’s pretty effective on most species, and for the bigger ones…well that’s why you carry more than one round. Each dart only has a two minute charge, which meant that I had just under that before a very pissed security guard was able to sound the alarm and do his best to punch holes through my body with the impressively large gun that I mentioned earlier. I hoped to be long gone before that.
I retracted the holdout gun back under the sleeve of my left arm and brought my left index finger up to my lips without bothering to take my eyes off of what I was doing. “Shhhhh, I’m trying to concentrate and this isn’t as easy as it looks.”
The reason that Smirth & Besson safes were so popular among the super-rich was their notorious reputation for being almost impossible to crack. The safe had a double combination lock- one digital, one manual, and each of the three sequences to the combinations had to be entered into both locks within a half-second of each other. In other words, if you were like me and were using a digital code breaker to get the actual sequence numbers, you’d have less than a second to match up the digital number with the corresponding Terz numbershape on the manual dial. If you already know the combination sequence this is relatively easy with a little practice. If you don’t, failure to enter in the right code combination at the right time results in the safe going into complete lockdown, the alarm sounding, and a room full of big thugs with guns like The Great Convulsionist that was jerking spasmodically on the floor five feet away from me. These types of safes were referred to as “virgins” in the criminal set, because, as the aphorism went, they were the toughest boxes to get into.
Luckily, I was a master at getting into virgin boxes. I heard a double click and with a smirk I swung the safe door open. “That’s right baby. It’s prom night and I brought wine coolers.”
I quickly grabbed my prize and shoved it, along with the code breaker, into the fanny pack I was wearing at my hip. I stood up and clicked on my communication earwig. “My date’s unconscious and lying spread eagle on the bed; I’m ready for pick up.”
Evelyn’s sultry voice was only slightly muddled by comm distortion. “You’re a real pig, you know that?”
“Oink, oink, baby. I’ll be out in one.”
I sauntered over to the still-convulsing guard and knelt down. The shock dart still had a good minute or so of charge left, but it wouldn’t do to leave behind any evidence that could somehow point back to me. A vast majority of the cops in this sector already had it in for me as it was. No sense in giving them any rope to hang me by.
The guard was grunting in pain between spasms and his eyes locked onto me like a pissed off bull as I approached. As I expected, as soon as I yanked the dart from his chest he did his best to lunge, but after my patented left hook he was back on the floor and bleeding out of the side of his mouth. I patted him lightly on the chest, “Nighty-night, big guy.”
Of course, that was when three of his friends decided to storm through the bedroom door and see why he wasn’t answering his comm line. Figures. The job had been going way too smoothly and my luck is never that good.
Back in the twenty-first century diamonds were once highly regarded as expensive gemstones on Earth. Many a man, foolishly in love, would drop far more money than he could afford on rings adorned with the things just so his significant other would swoon and be persuaded that he wasn’t a complete loser. By the twenty-second century, when interstellar travel and trade with alien races from various worlds became a matter of course, diamonds lost their economic luster, so to speak. After all, carbon, aside from stupidity, is one of the most common elements found in any number of galaxies, and therefore diamonds are nothing more than really shiny rocks to most educated races.
Leave it to humans to turn lemons into lemonade.
We may not be the most creative species in the cosmos, but when it comes to inventing new and effective ways to kill stuff, we’re second to none. By the beginning of the twenty-third century, diamonds had moved from adorning jewelry to adorning ammunition. They may be pretty little rocks, but they’re also incredibly hard, and when sculpted right, can cut through all but the strongest of substances with the right amount of force applied behind them. Therefore, when I saw three large caliber handguns armed with diamond-tipped ammunition swinging in my direction I did what any sane individual would do; I leapt through a window that was roughly a vertical mile up from the nearest flat surface.
Over the sound of glass shattering all around me I heard the three guns bark in my wake, but luckily the three stooges were as bad at shooting as they were ugly and none of the deadly rounds struck their mark. Of course, that still left me with the immediate problem of falling helplessly to my death.
When it rains, it pours.
Copyright © J.R. Broadwater 2010-2012
All rights reserved
All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.