Terminal 9 – Tale
Rafael F. Faiani
Computer graphic design of the interior of a room in the style of space comforts, a single bed with two pillows and a falling sheet, some pictures pasted on the wall next to it, and a window showing a landscape with futuristic buildings and mountains in the background .
Over her shoulders, Larsson studied the girl in the check-in line. She had delicate features, although her hair was painted white and her lips stood out in a purple as glittering as neon. He looked away when she noticed his sudden interest.
Something happened, he thought. “He was supposed to have already appeared.”
Projectors ran an advertisement for nicotine patches, where a redhead in black clothing glued to her body showed them around her neck. Larsson preferred to smoke in the traditional way, but this had become banned due to excessive air pollution. A great joke, after all, since there was no way to monitor everywhere and, in the darkest alleys, no one cared about the rules.
Spaceport security guards were approaching, carrying stunning sticks. Unhurried, they ran through the rows of the departure lounge, randomly choosing people to be searched.
- You! A security guard pointed at Larsson. – Come here.
Disgusted, he left the queue. He had left the gun on the motorcycle. I would not be in danger of having it confiscated for an indefinite period – the possession of a weapon was restricted, after all, an improper firing at some point in the dome could depressurize the sector.
- What’s the reason for the trip?
“Business,” Larsson replied.
- Aren’t you going back to the moon?
- Of course I will. My visa on Earth only lasts for four weeks.
- Show me the passport.
- It’s in your pocket.
“No sudden movements.” The security guard held the staff tightly as if Larsson intended to attack him.
- Actually, I’m going to show you a document that … – He stopped talking when he saw the target crossing the lobby. He realized that he would escape through the VIP boarding gate and would not be able to chase him there.
Larsson acted instinctively. He stepped away from the security staff and pressed a specific spot on his neck. The man lost consciousness and collapsed on the floor. At the same moment, a woman’s scream caused her to lose focus on the target.
Three security guards surrounded the girl. One of them gave him an electrical discharge with the stick on his leg. They seemed to enjoy the situation. Most people were not impressed with that attitude. The spaceport was an area of the Federation and had its own rules.
- Do not do it! – Larsson found himself saying.
The girl took advantage of the distraction to escape. The closest security guard pulled the gun, but Larsson knocked him out with a punch. He disarmed the other two in a matter of seconds and went after her.
She was agile, overcoming obstacles with an unusual skill. Larsson couldn’t get any closer. He then decided to take a shortcut. There was only one exit point at the spaceport. He waited, but she didn’t come. Soon he found himself under the watch of the security guards. He took a step back with his arms in the air.
- I’m already out of your jurisdiction. By the way, I’m with the Lunar Police.
The badge glowed in the palm of his hand.
- What were you thinking? Shouted Tudor.
Larsson was silent. It was the best way to act with your boss. If he kept quiet, maybe the old man wouldn’t be so heavy on him.
- First of all. The spaceport is an area for the Terrans. It is not within our purview. Second, we don’t harm people for no reason. I have several complaints here that…
- But they…
Tudor raised his hand in an authoritarian gesture.
- I’m not finished. There is no justification for what you did. Besides letting the suspect escape.
- Am I suspended?
- What do you think?
Larsson tossed the badge on the table.
- Your gun too.
He left the room, purposefully slamming the boss’s door. He bet that several of his co-workers had heard the screams of the discussion. Before leaving the station, Galder, his former partner, came to him.
- Was it as bad as I think it was?
- Worse. Did you get what I asked for?
- The guy’s at the Dock Bar. Be careful, he is dangerous.
- IT’S? Me too.
Larsson left Galder with his fears and rode his motorcycle to District 5. There was not much traffic, people opted for public transport at night. I hadn’t been to that bar in a while. Last time, he hadn’t been very well received. He pulled on his hood before reaching the establishment. I didn’t want to be recognized, for now. There was a Martian porter at the entrance. A pack of cigarettes and the passage was guaranteed.
He found the man in a booth, drinking some cheap whiskey. He looked like a few friends, clearly not wanting to be interrupted.
- I need some information, Kron.
- Are you so eager to die?
- Wrong answer.
Larsson hit the man’s chest with two fingers and sat down.
- I can not move. What did you do to me?
- Pressure points. A technique I learned. If you cooperate, I’ll make you move again. I want to find a person. A short girl with white hair and…
- You too?
Larsson pulled Kron by the jacket.
- What do you mean by that?
- Costello is after the girl. It is paying a good reward for those who locate it. If I knew her whereabouts, I would be rich now … Where are you going? Are you going to leave me like this?
“It’ll get better in a few minutes.” Larsson turned away and headed out of the bar.
Even though he was a ghost, Costello was the most powerful man in the underworld. “What is that woman up to?”, She reflected, getting on the bike.
A movement sparked his interest. He entered the alley lightly with caution, but was surrendered by a knife to the neck. That girl was really sneaky.
“I was looking for you,” he said.
- Why did you help me?
- I do not like to see threatening a helpless woman.
‘I’m not that helpless, Detective Larsson.
- Were you following me? – He smiled.
The girl nodded.
- I heard you stepped on Costello’s callus. I always thought he was something of a legend. No one has ever seen him, and if he did, he did not live to tell the story.
- He’s real. I know his face well.
- Is that why you were running away?
- No, it was because I stole your plans.
- Would you mind lowering that knife?
- Are you going to try anything against me?
- I just want to talk. Can you tell me your name?
She removed the knife, but kept it in hand.
- You were lucky to escape the spaceport.
- I would have even if I managed to escape to Earth. Those security guards are on Costello’s payroll. Nobody leaves the moon without his permission.
- It can be dangerous, but it is not that powerful.
- You have no idea. I would take my word for it if I met him.
Larsson turned to two guys who stopped at the entrance to the alley.
- Get out! – said. Then he looked Allana in the eye. – Did you say plans? What can be so important to put a reward on your head?
- Costello intends to assassinate an important Terran politician. The plans contain details of the attack and the target’s itinerary.
Larsson stroked the thin beard of his chin. He would then check if any politicians on Earth would visit the Moon in the next few days or weeks. It wasn’t that unusual.
- Only one thing does not fit.
- What? – she wanted to know. His lips sparkled in the darkness.
- How did you get those plans?
- It was very easy. Costello is my father.
“I must be crazy to keep going,” said Larsson when parking the bike. Allana pulled out her binoculars and surveyed the place. Then it passed to him. In the distance, inside a crater, it was possible to see the drilling and expansion facility.
Allana indicated a low-ceilinged shed. Perfect place for a lair. They were so far from the center that it took hours to arrive. They had to travel winding paths, roads that Larsson never thought existed. It was already day, although the city was always lit up. The sun did not pass through the protection dome, so the lunar people lived perpetual days. There was only a light intensity control, which made it possible to identify when it was dark.
- I do not know this place.
- This is Terminal 9. It is one of the expansion points, but it is not mapped. Costello is not concerned with expanding. He’s digging, creating a city underground within another city.
- How is it possible for a gangster to run this expansion center?
- I told you not to underestimate him. He is a public person, very influential in the city hall.
- You still haven’t told me his real name.
- Saber will put you in danger.
- I’m used to it. Are you going to tell me or not?
Allana hesitated for a moment, studying the detective’s determination.
“Ness Volmann,” he said at last.
- The deputy mayor? And what does he gain by murdering this Terran politician?
- Do not know.
Larsson turned back to the terminal.
- Are they prisoners? – observed dozens of people leaving a building and entering the shed. They all wore the yellow clothes of the penal system. – They should be in Mars prisons, not here. How did we never know that?
- The city is growing, Detective. You know well that the police force is not able to cope with the incidents that occur in the center and in the peripheries, fighting day by day to prevent the spread of chaos. It is no longer possible to extend your eyes in all directions. Everyone is too busy to even pay attention to what happens two hundred kilometers from the center.
- Just go down that access ramp. There are some points with stairs that lead directly to the basement … What is it?
The detective was slowly making his way to the motorcycle. As he turned around, he said:
- I can smell a trap.
The girl was faster than Larsson expected. He hit his knee, taking his balance. Another kick hit his belly and he writhed, out of breath, on the floor.
“I’m getting old,” he muttered, reaching for the gun in his boot.
- Looking for that?
Before I could think about how she had taken her gun, a vehicle stopped on the road. Two thugs descended, escorting a bald man. He was not wearing the official city uniform, but Larsson recognized the face immediately.
“Volmann,” he spat on the floor. – You will spend the end of your days breaking rocks on Mars.
The vice mayor laughed at the outrage.
The water on his face woke him up.
- Look at me!
Larsson did not identify the interlocutor. He was still stunned, but the punch in the stomach revived his senses. He was one of the thugs. The detective was tied to a chair and the deputy mayor was watching him. Allana remained indifferent at his side.
After another blow, he heard Volmann’s voice:
- Stop it, Vox. I think Detective Larsson will pay more attention to our words now.
“He doesn’t seem intimidated,” the girl said.
- What do you want from me?
Volmann approached and said close to Larsson’s ear:
- Baruk Von Nitz. Why were you watching him?
- Police matter.
This time, it was Volmann himself who struck him.
- We can go on for hours and hours, detective. There will come a time that you will beg to tell.
“You better cooperate,” advised the girl.
Larsson analyzed the situation and decided to give in. There was no reason to keep Nitz a secret.
- He is suspected of murdering at least three women. Volmann’s expression softened. “I had my eye on him for two weeks, but Nitz disappeared. I then obtained the information, through the controllership of shipping records, that I would leave the Moon.
“I see,” Volmann nodded.
- I won’t let you kill one of the politicians on Earth.
- Do you really believe that I would have any interest in that? Do you think Allana is really my daughter? Laughed the deputy mayor. – She did her job well. Now let’s take a walk through Terminal 9.
The brutes escorted Larsson as they dug down corridors, more and more underground. The detective’s pressure technique would have no effect on the brute force of those thugs. Even if I defeated them, I would still have to deal with Allana. Thus, he followed in the footsteps of the vice mayor, who boasted about the construction.
“I’m going to introduce you to a friend,” he said, knocking on the door.
The detective didn’t believe his eyes.
- How is it possible?
That person was identical to him.
- Miracles of plastic surgery – Allana replied. – I’ve changed my face three times. We’ve been watching you for a long time, studying all your movements.
- What do you expect by going through me?
“Establish a new order, of course,” Volmann spoke enthusiastically. – After the chief of police is killed in his own room by his double, I will convince the mayor to create a special militia commanded by me. I’m a visionary, detective.
- Your plan will not work.
One of the thugs lifted him by the neck. Larsson resisted the pressure of the squeeze until he ran out of air and passed out.
He was now in a sealed room. A reinforced circular window showed the surface of the Moon. He had always wanted to travel through space, to explore other planets. If he had been born on Earth, he would have had the opportunity to enlist in the UN Academy and become one of the crew of the exploratory ships. A child’s dream that was lost in time.
- Did you like the view? Was Allana’s voice. It came from somewhere else, possibly from the next room.
Larsson knew what would happen. This was the place where Volmann dumped his victims. The door would open and he would be launched on the surface.
- You cheated me from the beginning.
“I gave Costello his real name so he could trust me,” she explained. – Don’t reproach yourself so much.
- Actually, I have to thank you. I knew that Nitz had connections with Costello. It was just a matter of seeing where that insistence on pursuing him took me. The police task force must already be taking over sectors of Costello’s empire. Sorry, but I think I cheated you all.
The pressurized door squeaked open. Allana came forward with the knife in her hand.
“We even knew about the police infiltrator,” he continued. – We just needed to find out the location of Terminal 9 and Costello’s identity.
Her knife aimed at the heart, but it blocked the attack. The blade tore through the flesh and went through the arm. With the proximity, her guard was exposed. The detective hit her at a point below the left rib. Allana backed away, stunned. A trickle of blood ran down his nose. She put her hand on her neck, breathless. When he was unconscious, Larsson reactivated his breathing. He hoped the girl would have no aftereffects after that blow, but there was no way of knowing until she woke up.
He tore a piece of fabric from his pants and improvised a tourniquet. Minutes later, Tudor appeared at the door.
- Galder was the informant, as you suspected.
- Did they arrest everyone?
- The whole gang. The mayor won’t believe it when he finds out that Volmann was behind it all.
- Tell them on the radio to look for a guy identical to me. Hope he hasn’t escaped. I don’t want my picture on all the city walls.
The police chief agreed.
- One more thing, Tudor. Need a vacation.
- Vacation? Okay, I’ll give you two days.
- Two days? I prefer to bleed here to death.
- I can’t let you do that. The mayor will want to greet you personally. But do not worry. I’ll call a doctor before I die, ”said Tudor, leaving the room.
Larsson studied the space again, leaning against the cold steel. The stars were brighter than ever. He closed his eyes, feeling tired and empty inside. A bottle of whiskey would solve your problem until the next case. It always did.
Rafael F. Faiani is a writer, engineer and film buff. He was born on April Fool’s Day in Cravinhos, state of São Paulo. Although he is not a liar, he makes up stories all the time. There are tales spread over the Internet and in anthologies in Brazil and Portugal.