Serial Saturday #2.5: The Docks

Sarah followed Mendrika out of her apartment building. "I left so much behind."

"Better to leave some stuff behind than your life," Mendrika said. He held up an arm and she stopped and waited as he whistled, sounding like a nightjar. From across the street, two figures emerged from the shadows. Sarah stiffened.

"Relax," Mendrika told her. "They're friends." The two men were dressed in dark clothing. "This is Piet and Barau. They're going to watch our backs while we get you to the docks."

"Which way are you we going?" Sarah asked.

"The fastest way? Up to Toliara Avenue."

Sarah shook her head. "That's too visible. Let me take you the back way."

"We're kind of on a schedule here," Mendrika said.

"That's why we don't have time to argue," Sarah replied. She started off in the opposite direction and after she heard some muttered curse words behind her, footsteps soon followed.

"I hope you know what you're doing."

"I do," Sarah said. "Ankaratra is full of old veterans."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"You'll see," Sarah replied. "Now, start talking. I'm going to Samundra City?"

"The Jaipur Palace has an extensive library, probably the biggest on Venus. North of there is the gardens and at the very tip of the city, there's a gazebo. Go three, check out-" Mendrika dug in his coat pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper. "This book and then go wait in the gazebo. Your contact will find you there."

"Who is contacting me?" Sarah took the piece of paper from him and folded it quickly and slipped it into her pocket.

"It's complicated because you might not believe me," Mendrika said.

"Try me."

"My employer, your contact in Samundra, Piet, and Barau back there," he jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "They all work for H.N. Abernathy."

"Lele," Sarah swore. "Are you serious? You're working for a dead man."

"He's not dead," Mendrika said.

"Bullshit. He's got to be what, pushing two hundred years old now? And if he is alive, he hasn't been seen in-"

There was a shout from behind them and shots rang out. Sarah ran, Mendrika a step behind her. Piet and Barau were returning fire as a group of black-clad men ran towards them. Sarah turned left at the next block.

"Where are you going?" Mendrika shouted.

"This way! Short cut."

The heart of Ankaratra was a long street that sloped down to the docks. At this time of night, it would be busy with plenty of veterans coming off their shifts at the docks or hanging at the bars.

"Armscor! Armscor!" Sarah shouted. "They're chasing us."

She kept shouting as she and Mendrika ran down the street, watching as bars began to empty and a crowd began to head up the street.

The docks of New Toliara ran the length of the eastern side of the city and the porous membrane of the dome- standard for most Venusian cities these days- meant that at night, the mists would creep in and lie low along the length of the docks.

"Berth 45," Mendrika said behind her. "We're just in time." He reached up and pulled something from around his neck. "Put this on. Keep it under your shirt. If you're in trouble, take it out and make sure someone sees it. You'll get help."

"Okay. Will I see you again?"

"Hope so," Mendrika said. "I need to find Piet and Barau. Now get going!"

Sarah quickly found Berth 45, where she showed her ticket and got on the ship to Samundra City. The steward took her bag and went to stash it on the lower deck and Sarah made her way to her seat.

The ship pulled away from the dock and dipped as it sailed out into the Venusian night. For the first time all evening, she settled into her seat and felt secure. She leaned her head against the bulkhead looking out of the window. It was crazy, but here she was, sailing to Samundra city to chase the ghost of a terran trillionaire no one had seen in person for decades now.

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