Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Blue Man Post 15

Progress on Final version:
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Zy's Novel Post 30

Post Total: 683 words
Novel Toral: 28,983 words

Chapter Eight starts.

Trying out a new progress bar, something hopefully easier to update and will show in the post section.

Progress Bar from Writertopia

The Personal Journal of IGA Agent Zy

13.10.1010/August 24, 1997

Most interesting class we had today was Local Planetary Law Enforcement Relations. It reminded me of the clash between the FBI and the police in mysteries. I don’t want to end up being the dumb FBI guy who pisses everybody off.

Notes from class: Realize that for cases the locals hire IGA for, it means some kind of failure for them. Either they couldn’t solve the crime or couldn’t catch the criminal and he jumped planet. Rubbing their noses into these failure will not make them like you or IGA nor earn their respect.

Respect them. Ask for their opinions and views on the case. They are the galaxy’s first line of defense against the criminal element. IGA is the last. Remember that and give the locals their due.

The other situation most often occurring is a case brings you to their planet. You are the outsider, you are the interloper, and if the criminal committed crimes on their planet, they’re entitled to have first crack at punishing him. Your safest course of action is to work through the local IGA house. The House personnel know the culture and its laws.

But not every planet has an IGA House. If you find yourself in that situation, refer the matter to Headquarters via the Chief. Remember, the locals don’t know you and have no reason to believe you.

Chapter Eight

“How do we know you didn’t kill Hiqurguet?” Investigator Von Etennial was the same humanoid species Lue Ality was, blue-skinned with silver eyes. But he had no sympathy for Lue’s grief or Zy’s disheveled state.

“Please, I’ve had enough of the IGA paranoia from the racketeers. Don’t you start too.” Zy perched on a clean edge of the ramp to her saucer. The medical examiners packed Hiqurguet’s body into their transport along with the coronerbot. Dock workers waited patiently for them to leave so they could clean the mess. At this rate, she might have to ask them to hose her off too. “Now can you please shut down the spaceports just in case the murderer hasn’t jumped planet?”

“And you want me to foul up our space traffic or your authority.” Inspector Von tapped the vidDoc against his hand. “Why did you come to Per 3?”

“I came here to try to prevent Hiqurguet’s murder.”

“I’m so glad you didn’t come here to execute him then. The whole spaceport would be dead.”

Zy shook her head. “There’s two witnesses that saw me not kill him.”

“The racketeer’s girlfriend and a bodyguard in your pay.” Investigator Von sneered.

She let the misinformation that she was paying Mealte slide. “And would Lue Ality have any reason to lie for me if I killed Hiqurguet? You can get my records from IGA, as well as all my reports on this case. Now can you please cordon off Per 3 before the murderer jumps planet?”

“You’re actually trying to save racketeers? Doesn’t IGA teach you the only good racketeer is a dead one?”

“See, that’s the attitude they have such a problem with. The one that gets me a gun in my face when I try to find out who’s killing them and how.” The investigator scowled and Zy shrugged. “I think what racketeers do is scum. But this is the case given to me. And the murderer is equally in the wrong by taking their punishment into his own hands. He must be stopped before his violence esculates and he targets innocent people. That’s why you need to shut down the spaceports!”

Investigator Von ignored that suggestion for the third time and crossed his arms. “So Hiqurguet’s head just exploded. How’d that happen?”

“I wish I knew. Maybe that would lead me to the murderer.”

“Beings’ heads don’t just explode!”

“I know that. But this is the fifth being that was killed the same way. And I bet your medical examiners won’t find any explosive or chemical traces either.”

“And you are so confident because you had something to do with his death! You’re under arrest.”

Zy's Novel Post 29

Post Total: 1893 words
Novel Total: 28,300 words

Chapter Seven finished!

“She’s in love with him. She believes the best and worst of him at the same time.”

Mealte clicked his teeth together a couple of times. “That viewpoint on relationships would drive a being insane.”

“Ever heard the expression crazy in love?” Zy shook her head as she stopped in front of the office with large glass windows. “This is the place.” She used the reflection in the window to glance down the corridor. No one had followed them up from their docking level. She needed a nice, simple embezzeling case after this to cure this paranoia.

A male blue-skinned humanoid stood up behind his desk. “Greetings, I am Tain Idson, Spaceport 422’s docking official. How can I assist you?”

Zy passed her vidID with her credentials across the desk as she sat down. “I need your help for the investigation I’m currently conducting.”

Tain sat down quickly. “Of course, Agent Zy. The Spaceport Association of Per 3’s policy is to always assist IGA in anyway that we can. I only hope that the crime is not associated with the Spaceport Association in any way. We strive to adhere the highest legal standards.”

“It has nothing to do with the Spaceport or Per 3 at this point. I’m chasing a murderer and suspect that he has picked a citizen of Per 3 as his next target.”

His dark blue lips opened in an O. “Murder? I don’t see how I can help with that.” He shuffled a stack of thin, vidDocs on his desk.

The door entry chimed before Zy could answer. She swiveled in her seat. The young blue-skinned male in a docking crew uniform stepped back from the two sets of glares.

Tain recovered first. “What is it? I am busy at the moment.”

“I’m sorry, sir. It only requires your signature.” He strode forward with a vidDoc in hand.

Zy stood up and stepped to the side of the chair. The way he held the vidDoc against his body wasn’t natural. He was hiding something with it. She gripped the chair’s back to swing it off the floor.

The dock worker jerked the vidDoc away and pointed a thin cylinder at her. The chair knocked it from his hand. Mealte snarled as he pounced on the dock worker’s back and drove him to the floor. His snout stayed centimeters away from the would-be assassin’s neck.

Zy set the chair down. “Don’t kill him, Mealte.”

“He tried to kill you, Mistress. He deserves no mercy.”

“No death happened.” The would-be assassin’s voice was muffled by Mealte pressing him into the floor. “I didn’t even get a down payment.”

“Now that’s just stupid. All good assassins insist on payment in full before taking an assignment.” Zy retrieved the cylinder where it had rolled under the desk, a one-shot laser pistol and a cheap one at that. “I don’t predict a long future for you in this field.”

Mealte pressed harder between his shoulder blades, and the wannabe assassin groaned in response. “A coward of a warrior should not live.”

“Let him up, Mealte, I want him to tell Hiqurguet a few things.”

Mealte clicked his teeth together, and climbed off him. The taloned hands gripped his arms as he jerked the prisoner to his feet. Mealte didn’t let go of him either.

Zy pointed the one-shot laser pistol at the would-be assassin. “Lesson for you, killing an IGA Agent insures IGA will swarm all over you. Now you tell Hiqurguet that just because he doesn’t like something doesn’t make it any less true. And that I will ignore this little episode and still try to stop the murderer before he gets to kill again. But if there are any more run-ins with assassins, I’m liable to forget about helping him and let him deal with the problem all by his self. And I’m not going to stop Mealte from dishing out whatever justice he wants to on the next assassin. Got that?”

He nodded hard. Mealte escorted him out of the office. Zy turned back to Tain Idson, who gawked at the scene from behind his desk. “Tain Idson?” She waved a hand in front of his unblinking stare. His skin color had lightened considerably to a pale blue. “It’s all over now.”

“I never saw him move." Tain shook his head hard. His skin color started to darken again. "Was that the murderer?” He swallowed hard.

“I’m not so lucky. That was just a distraction. I need to find a ship registered to Goumbi that has arrived in the last three Standard days. And if it’s not registered to that name, I need a list of all passanger and private crafts that have arrived in the last three Standard days from the Ecan system hyperlane route.”

Tain swallowed hard again. “Those parameters are still going to take the computers hours to sort through the information.”

“I expected that. I’m docked in Bay 33 of this Spaceport. Thank you, and I’m sorry for the disturbance.” Mealte fell in step behind her as they left the office.

The docking agents were going through all the spaceports records of arrivals looking for a ship or saucer registered to Goumbi. It was a long shot, but the murderer had to have his own ship. Public transportation didn’t travel to Ecan 2. Of course, there was the potentiality it was registered under another name. She was trying to ignore that one until the information was searched.

Zy pulled out her easel and paints to the center of the main living area of her saucer. All she could do now is wait on information. She also asked them to provide her with ships that had come from the Ecan system’s area of the galaxy. Maybe that would provide a clue to the murderer’s identity if he has another name.

She focused on a spot inside the canvas but beyond the plane the paintbrush was affecting. This information was depending on the murderer coming after Hiqurguet. If he had gone after another racketeer, this was all wasted time. She dipped into the paints again, switched brushes and switched colors. Not that she felt any love for Hiqurguet, not after he sent an assassin for her. But he still didn’t deserve to have his head exploded, at least on an ethical level.

Abstract painting was as far as art lessons got. She didn’t have the patience to capture still-lives or portraits. And brushing paint onto the canvas randomly allowed her mind to focus on the case.

Mealte was coming in handy, like Spencer’s friend Hawke. Not that she needed a bodyguard under normal circumstances, but these racketeers respected his muscle. What was she going to do with him after this case was over and she didn’t have pissed-off possible victims sending assassins after her? He never brought up what he was planning to do after Cobaine’s killer was found. She should ask him about it.

She was vaguely aware Mealte had wandered into the living area. Probably had to search the ship to make sure it was secure. She smiled slightly at that and switched to the broadest brush she owned. Side to side strokes of red paint; it was thing enough not to ruin what she had created so far. Even if it was ruined, Zy was calm again and that’s what mattered.

There was a shocked gasp for air and the sound of teeth clicking together from behind. “Mistress! Did you intend to paint that?”

“I don’t intend anything when I paint, I just paint.” Zy turned to look at Mealte. His large black eyes were open wide and focused on the canvas. His jaw and throat worked at swallowing. She whirled back to the canvas.

The background was a light red. The central object was a black head-shaped blob, like a shadow. It was surrounded b white that became more jagged at the edges—almost like lightening bolts. Blue squiggles arced behind the blob head and they resembled dead bodies jumbled together. And drops of thick red paint still ran down the canvas like drops of racing blood. “My God.”

“You did not have that picture in your mind?”

“No, I never have a picture in my head. I just paint.”

“Are you sure that what happened earlier in the docking agent’s office did not upset you?”

“Do I look upset about that? I’ve had my life threatened before. I just paint. You want to look at my other works?” Banging echoed from the saucer door. “Are you expecting someone?”

Mealte shook his head (or the equilvant to).

“Maybe Hiqurguet wants to talk.” Zy headed to the door. Mealte moved into position to pounce on whoever was behind it.

Lue Ality stumbled inside once Zy opened the door. “Agent! Something’s wrong with Hiq. He told me to get you!”

“Where is he? What did he say?” Zy opened a built-in cabinet near the door and pulled out her laser pistol.

“He said he was coming here. He kept muttering that Goumbi stopped being Goumbi. He was frightened. I’ve never seen him frightened!”

“Calm down, Lue. Hiqurguet contact you how?”

“Over the vidcomm. I told him where you docked and rushed over.”

Metal screeched against metal. A symphony of vehicle horns echoed down the store-lined corridor to the docking bays. Zy moved down the ramp of her saucer for a better look. The crowd of dock workers and shoppers turned away from the corridor.

A hovercar turned as it hurtled out of the corridor and scraped its side against the concrete corner of a store. Its crumpled front end lined up with the saucer’s ramp. Her heart pounded. The hovercar wasn’t slowing. Zy jumped off the ramp and ran toward the street, turning to see the driver of the car.

The engine protested with a shrill whine as the hovercar skidded into a turn and stopped. Hiqurguet threw open the driver’s door and fell out on his hands and knees. His head swiveled until he saw her. “You have to help me! Goumbi changed in front of me. Wasn’t Goumbi. The pain! You have to help me!”

Zy started toward the kneeling racketeer. “Did Goumbi follow you? Where did you leave him?”

He opened his mouth to answer and screamed. Zy covered her ears with her hands, but that didn’t block the agonizied sound. His wedge-shaped head bulged.

“No!” She moved to shield Hiqurguet. The force of the explosion picked Zy off her feet and slammed her into the docking bay wall. She slid down to her feet. They didn’t hold her up. Zy sat on the docking bay floor and stared at Hiqurguet’s unmoving, decapitated body. The silence was numbing.

No one was on the steet. Lue and Mealte peered out of the saucer’s doorway. “Hiq! No!” Lue scrambled to get through the door first.

“Mealte, keep her there!” The shout made Zy’s head ring. Mealte wrapped his arms around Lue’s waist. Zy looked down at her clothes splattered with purple blood. I’m part of the crime scene. “Sara?”

“Yes, Agent Zy?” The computer answered through the outside speakers. They hadn’t been damaged by the explosion.

“Call the local authorities. Tell them we have a murder.” Zy looked back at the street, now starting to fill with curious onlookers. But where did the murderer go?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zy's Novel Post 28

Novel total = 26488
Post total = 2276

“Thank you, Mistress.” He fixed a bowl and sat in the table’s only other chair. “Do you mind personal questions?”

“Not as long as I have a choice not to answer it.”

“I do not understand your relationship with the Bekth.” Mealte’s spoon had a large bowl and he poured the soup from it into his throat.

“I don’t understand it either.” Zy sipped the soup from her spoon.

“Do you need protection from him or not?”

“I don’t think Xeryl will hurt me.”

Mealte poured more soup down his throat. “There are many different ways beings can hurt each other. Physical is one of the easiest and most obvious. However, Xeryl does not seem the type to resort to violence. That makes him more dangerous.”

“Yes, Xeryl is dangerous. He has ran a successful racketeering organization from the shadows. It’s one of the ten largest, and probably has ties with nearly every other racketeering organization in the galaxy. And he did it without IGA hearing anything of his identity.”

“And this being cares for you?”

“I really don’t know. We met when I was undercover in his organization. Zoeline was an underling, and I’m not pretty. Maybe he has a thing about hair; Bekth women are bald too. Maybe he seduces all his female underlings. But when I was outed as an undercover Agent, he said he loved me. Now which is more likely, Xeryl loves me or Xeryl wants to seduce an Agent to work for him inside IGA?”

“Love is strange. And causes stranger things to happen between beings.”

“I don’t want to be corrupted. I like being a good guy. And I’d rather not have to fend off Xeryl’s intentions no matter how honorable they might be.” Zy finished her soup. “Does that clear things up?”

“Slightly.” Mealte took both bowls to the sink and began washing them.

“Okay, I’m still confused. Explain it to me. Never mind, that was a joke.”

“You rely on your humor too much.” Mealte left the bowls to soak and began to clean the leftover soup from the pot.

“It’s better than not having a sense of humor at all.” They were traveling to Per 3, where IGA records listed Hiqurguet’s headquarters. Travel time was estimated at three IGA standard days. Would they find Goumbi imposter there? Would she be able to catch him? She didn’t want to think about it anymore, or anything else. “I’m going to bed, Mealte.”

Per 3 is a noisy, industrial planet and its capital, Asseff, covers almost the entire planet. Billions of beings operate the factories. The dusty atmosphere of Ecan 2 was traded for smog, but this planet made for a busier background to hide racketeering against.

Zy paid the spaceport worker the docking fees and watched the grubby kid not much younger than she run to the next saucer. Could that have been me, anonomously working a dead end job just to survive? Can I ever repay Murdock for taking me away from that? Zy shook her head as she reentered the saucer.

“Hiqurguet’s file in the IGA database does not contain any contact information, Agent Zy.” Sara sounded apologetic for a computer. “However I did successfully upload your case file progress to the Chief and downloaded communiqués from Xeryl. Those communiqués were the coroner’s reports from Ecan 2.”

“Thanks, Sara.” Zy sat at the desk. “Now we just have to figure out how to contact Hiqurguet. Does Per 3 have a public communications directory?”

Mealte looked up from the paper he was reading. “I have a contact, Mistress Zy.”

“Hold that search, Sara. You have a contact? How?”

“Cobaine did business with Hiqurguet. He brought me on one of his trips. That meeting was set up through a bartender Lue Ality. She worked at the Witches’ Brew a standard year ago. It was in the spaceport.”

“Do you know why Hiqurguet went through this bartender?”

“He trusted her. Why he trusted her, I know not.”

“Is she trustworthy?”

Mealte set aside the piece of paper. “She never betrayed Cobaine to my knowledge.”

“Okay, let’s go find Lue Ality.”

Mealte led the way from the docking bay into the spaceport. Zy weaved through the frantic bustle of the shoving crowd. Beings shuttled themselves and things into different docking bays or shops, and didn’t seem to care who they ran over in the process. But Mealte drifted through it all like a wraith.

After an eternity in what could compare to department store Christmas shopping, Mealte grabbed Zy’s arm and pulled her out of the throng. The store front was dark, but the metal gate had not been pulled down yet. The script on the open glass door read “Witches’ Brew” in several languages.

“Beat it, we’re closed.” A surly, female voice said from the shadows.

Mealte squeezed her arm before dropping it. “We are looking for Lue Ality. Is she still employed here?”

A blue-skinned humanoid with a female shape stepped into the light near the bar. “Hiya, Mealte. Cobaine wanna see Hiqurguet?”

“No, not Cobaine. My new mistress wants to meet him.” Zy stepped closer to Mealte as he spoke.

Lue frowned. “Hiqurguet doesn’t like making new friends.”

“It’s a matter of his life or death.” Lue continued to stare at Zy. Zy stared back. “I’m not kidding.”

Lue gauged Zy for a few more seconds. “I’ll tell him. I can’t guarantee anything. Have a seat.”

Zy sat at a table in the center of the room close to the door but more in the near darkness. Lue disappered behind the bar. Zy leaned closer to Mealte. “Will she be able to get a hold of Hiqurguet? Contact him I mean.”

“He has always listened to her in the past.” Mealte stood next to Zy’s chair.

“Would you relax? Sit down.”

“If I sit down, you will be in a vulnerable position. That would not be performing my duty.”

Zy sighed, “Have it your way.”

Lue returned. “Hiqurguet is coming. You’re a friend of Cobaine’s?”

“Not a friend, but I was at his funeral.”

“He’s dead?”

“Yeah. Can I have a drink or would that get you in trouble?”

“As long as it’s non-intoxicating. There’s strict rules about when beings can get drunk.”

Zy named a drink that had the same consistency of her homeworld soft drinks. Lue handed the drink to Mealte, who sniffed it deeply. “Nothing wrong with the drink.” He passed the glass to Zy.

“I would hope not. You don’t keep a bartender’s license for long if you poison the customers.” Lue flounced back behind the bar.

They waited for about an hour. Finally a Shworthan flanked by a female Bekth and a humanoid with pearly skin and green hair. This had to be Hiqurguet.

Word box

Shworthans are tripolds with two arms. Two large eyes are set to the far sides of the wedge-shaped head on an elongated neck. The third leg started off as a tail, now used to propel the lean torso. The skin is made up of small, green scales.

Ardley P’kins
Sentient Cultures of the Galaxy Third Edition

Hiqurguet sat opposite Zy at the table. He twisted his head to focus one blue eye on her. The Bekth glowered suspiciously as she took a flanking position behind his chair. The second bodyguard’s expression was bored but his eyes glanced left and right quickly. Zy refocused her attention on Hiqurguet. A membrane quickly winked over his eye. “I want my usual, Lue.” He tilted his head up at Mealte and then back to Zy. “Mealte I know. You I don’t.”

Zy opened her vidID and showed it to him. “I’m IGA Agent Zy. I’m looking for a murderer and have reason to believe that you are a potential target of this murderer.”

A glass dropped and shattered behind the bar. “Hiq, I didn’t know!”

No sense getting the bartender in trouble. “I only told her about the murderer, not that I’m an Agent. Mealte started working with me after Cobaine was killed by the perp.” That was a reasonable stretch. She tucked the vidId away.

“IGA isn’t usually so circumspect. They’d rather come in and bully everyone.” Hiqurguet leaned back in his chair, so Lue could set the drink on the table in front of him. He picked it up and drained it before renewing his stare at Zy. “I don’t deal with IGA.”

“Spare me please. I had enough IGA induced paranoia from Ecan 2 and they’re scarier than you.”

“You got guts, Agent, to go to Ecan 2 and survive the trip.” Hiqurguet stood up and turned to leave. “But I don’t deal with IGA. I orchestrate double-crosses; I’m not victimizied by them.”

Zy slammed her fist on the table as she pushed up out of her chair. Hiqurguet’s bodyguards shifted to fighting stances—hands inching towards weapons. Zy stared at Hiqurguet’s unblinking eyes. “Sit down and let me finish, damnit!”

He cocked his wedge-shaped head, but his eye stayed centered on Zy. “Do you have any idea who I am?”

“Possibly the next victim of a loony who’s blowing heads off racketeers.” Without a sound, Mealte pushed her chair closer and Zy sat down. “But you were probably hinting for the you’re-the-baddest-criminal-in-the-room response. I’m tired, cranky, and trying to keep a murder from making you his sixth victim. Cut me a little slack.”

“I’ll cut you into pieces.” Hiqurguet grasped at the air with his taloned hand.

“What? It’s not a favor to save someone from a murderer these days? What is the galaxy coming to. All I need is for you to answer a few questions. Have you seen Goumbi in the last three standard days?”

Hiqurguet blinked his inner eyelid. “No, I haven’t. He works with Fudlack’s organization now. But he’s no murderer.”

“He’s one of the victims. But the murderer has been impersonating him and may use that impersonation to get close enough to kill you. Have you noticed any of your employees acting oddly?”

“This is ridiculous.”

“Hiq, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” Lue stepped closer to the table. “Please take this seriously.”

“I decide what to take serious and what not. And you’re full of salvia if you think I believe these lies!” Hiqurguet unfurled his forked tongue at Zy and rolled it back into his mouth.

Zy threw her hands into the air. “Okay, fine, don’t believe me! Don’t believe the five dead bodies I’ve found. But if you end up dead, don’t blame me!”

Hiqurguet snorted and left the bar, his two bodyguards trailing behind him.

“Full of salvia?” Zy turned to Mealte.

He shrugged. “His species has no salvia glands. They consider having salvia an insult.”

Lue stared at the door and twisted a dishtowel in her hands. “Is it true? Is he in danger?”

“Yes. I can’t predict when it will happen, but he will die unless I can find the murderer and stop him first. How can I make Hiqurguet listen?”

“You can’t. He has decided that you’re not telling the truth and you cannot convince him otherwise. No one can. He’ll probably try to kill you now to keep you from telling what he calls lies.”

Zy glanced up at the ceiling. “Great.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorrier for you. You care for him, don’t you?”

Lue turned to face Zy. Her white eyes with silver pupils brimmed with tears. “Not that it matters to him.”

Zy glanced at the floor. There was no reply for that pain. “Come on Mealte, let’s go back to the saucer. I’ll be docked here for a few standard days. Bay 33.”

Lue nodded as she headed back to the counter of the bar.

The street corridor crowd had thinned enough to pull in the center of the corridor. Zy took a deep breath. “Change of plans, we need to scout.”

Mealte drew his robe tighter around his body. “I do not know where Hiqurguet lives. And Lue Ality will not share that information with us even if she knows it.”

“I wouldn’t expect her to. She’s got way too much to lose. But that’s not the scouting I was talking about. All space travel is restricted to the spaceports on Per 3.” Zy set a brisk pace on the outside of the crowd toward the information kiosk facing the docking bays.

“The murderer is docked in the spaceport?” Mealte kept up with her.

“The murderer is docked in a spaceport. He has to obey the laws in order to stay free to commit his murders.” She faced the vidscreen in the information kiosk. “How many spaceports are on Per 3?”

“Per 3 has five thousand eight hundred seventy three spaceports. Four thousand two hundred three of these spaceports are restricted to industrial and commercial shipping.”

“That leaves one thousand six hundred seventy spaceports to search.” Mealte looked up and down the street in front of the docking bays.

“And you can do math in your head,” Zy muttered. “You’re going to give me an inferiority complex.”

“Why would I want to give you whatever that is, Mistress Zy?”

“I’ll explain later.” Zy turned back to the vidscreen. “Directions to the docking agent’s office.” The kiosk computer provided a directional download to her vidID, and they headed up to the next level and down the street corridor with Mealte warier than usual. She was starting to get a handle on his moods, Zy realized. “Do you really think Hiqurguet is going to try to kill me just because I gave him news he didn’t want to hear?”

“Lue Ality thought he would.”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blog Maintenance: Progress Bars

I don't know what happened with Forward Motion's progress bars. Maybe they decided no more hotlinking. So I switched to zokutou word meter for all projects instead of just editing projects.