The first task that needed to be achieved was that of contacting the Trydan. As Tannus had already established that his latest target was a member he knew that it was only through infiltrating their closed ranks that he would find the data he needed and get to the bottom of just what was going on.
Tannus had always assumed getting the attention of the Trydan would be easy, after all if the rumours and stories were to be believed it was them who tapped every comms transmit and every trade across the Block be them legal or otherwise. Surely in situations like this you needed only make it abundantly clear that you wished to speak with them and they would send a representative.
Two days passed and Tannus had heard nothing. He wondered if perhaps the rumours were just false, maybe the Trydan were no more omnipresent than any of the other gangs who claimed to own the Block. It was at that point that he received a nock on his door. Checking the digi-viewer Tannus saw that no one stood on the other side, and with a slight creek he opened the door and looked from side to side. Sure enough there was no one there nothing but a small tripod robot no bigger than a foot or two in height. It's form appeared less like the traditional box-shaped machines employed by Humans or even the thick plated orbs designed by the Kratel Regime, instead it's spindly blade like limbs looked more like the pseudo robots utilised by the Red Claw who salvaged what little tech they could from others but augmented it with decorative blades and bones, but those machines were faulty and poorly maintained, responding to orders via jerky movements and almost involuntary spasms. This however was sleek and responsive, more like the totemic guardians employed by the Hydan engineers, only unlike those machines complete with ornate curved chassis and finely tuned forms, this appeared almost deadly, venomous even.
Tannus shook his head in disbelief, it was impossible! All machines in current circulation were first law enabled. It would be impossible for one of these to harm him. Even if it's owner wished it, it's first law programming would kick in and render it temporarily inactive. When he returned his gaze to the link-bot's location the machine was gone, no sign of it beyond small pock marks in the dirt where it's spindly, blade-like limbs had carried it away. At his feet Tannus noticed a small rectangular data card, no bigger than a manual payment card, reaching down he picked it up and carefully pressed his thumb against the screen activating it. With a green hue it illuminated displaying a single message:
Region: 452, Sector 98, Room 67
This was what Tannus had been waiting for, a direct invitation by the Trydan, or at least that was what Tannus hoped.
Tannus left immediately for the address provided on the digi-screen. The invite had not specified a date or time, but he was not going to let this opportunity pass him by. He waited only long enough to grab his coat and sidearm. The pistol would be far from ideal should he enter a fire fight, but it was discrete and the explosive tipped ammunition it carried packed a surprising punch.
Water dropped down the walls of Sector 98, pooling in small sickly brown puddles as Tannus paced quickly to room 67. This region had seen better days and appeared to Tannus to be nearly derelict. Certainly if the region was not currently condemned, it was only a matter of months away.
As the Wraith made his way past the early sixty rooms he detected a strong smell. It burned through his inbuilt filter and collected in his nostrils like an acrid smoke. The smell was unmistakable; Zip. Zip was the street name for a particularly popular drug used throughout the Block. It heightened the users senses, made it appear at if colours were brighter, sounds richer and deeper and smells had layers to them undetectable by normal standards. It was also cheap to produce, so almost anyone could manufacture it, sell it at a price obtainable to even the most desperate in the Block and still make a profit for themselves. As the smell intensified, Tannus knew he was heading in the right direction.
The door to room 67 was nondescript. Even the door number had been removed, but it took no time at all to establish which room was the right one, and with a heavy fist Tannus rapped his knuckles on the hard faux-wooden door. The sound rang out in such a way only possible from the plasteel composite made from low grade materials, and after a few short moments the door opened.
What began as nothing more than a small gap quickly opened in full and a huge waft of sickly smoke poured out from behind the door. Within the doorway stood a single Hydan wearing a thick external breathing mask, it's tendril like pipes connecting to a single large atmo-container strapped to his back. His eyes were obscured by what appeared to be welding goggles and his clothing was a combination of tattered black trousers with a torn red tshirt. The Hydan nodded at Tannus before quickly beckoning him to enter the room.
Inside Room 67 there appeared to be little normal lighting, instead a series of half burned out candles provided limited illumination. Tannus expected this was for many reasons, but largely due to a lack of supplied power to the entire sector. The walls were bare except for large patches of exposed metal where the interior insulation wall had been corroded over years of neglect and the floor was nothing more than a series of exposed cables and wires. At some point, Tannus imagined, these wires would have carried both power and data across the entire sector and out into the Block. Now they were nothing more than a fused mess.
The masked Hydan lead Tannus through the apartment and into a small side room. Tannus assumed that this had once been a bed room, which of course would have placed this apartment has of a higher class than his single 'open plan' apartment he had called home for the past number of years. Once inside the masked Hydan removed his breathing mask and let it hang limply on his chest. His facial features instantly recognisable, this was Turen Kopa, the Trydan member who's re-breather filter he had found at the exchange site.
"You gotta be careful ou' there with th' gas" exclaimed the Turen. His voice sounded strange, almost human in it's tone and use of language "tha' shit will burn through ya' breather faster than ma' mamma's cookin'".
Turen scanned Tannus' face, noting the lines of confusion that crossed it like a map of the Block itself "My apologies friend" Turen continued "I have spent a lot of time with the Humans here, they are my primary customer, and I find it easier to speak in a way that they understand".
Tannus nodded, he had to admit, Turen's ability to mimic Human mannerisms was a talent in itself.
"So what would you like? I am afraid I am all out of Zip at the moment, brewing a new batch right now, but I have Fives, Blues, Reds even some Murples if you like?" Turen stopped pausing for a moment before tilting his head to the side, his bone covered scalp glistened in the candle light revealing a series of dark engravings, the same type used by both Hydan priests and Trydan gang members.
"I know what you need" Turen continued, you're after the good stuff, right? Nectar! Tell me friend is it Blue or Green? I'm all out of Red at the moment, but due some stock pretty soon" Tannus knew what Turen spoke of. Nectar was the name of given to one of the most illicit of drugs in the Block. The process of making Nectar was a long one, first the right amount of other drugs were needed, a whole cocktail in fact. These drugs were then ingested in the usual manner by a host, sometimes willing but more often, not. Then once the drugs were swimming in their system a combination of bodily fluids including blood and spinal fluid was drained, filtered and contained. Green was Hydan, Blue being Kratel and Red, Human. The mere mention of this supply angered Tannus in ways he could not put into words, but despite all of the mixed emotions of rage and anguish, Tannus’ resolve remained. With a cool head he locked eyes with Turen.
“Actually, I'm after something a little different, how would I go about sourcing a Shock Drive?”
The words rang through Turen like alarm bells as the Trydan’s eyes widened in both shock and realisation.
“It's you!” Turen almost spat the words “You’re him! The boss, the boss said you wouldn’t…” His voice trailing out as he quickly looked around the room he was stood in. It was clear there were no weapons available, and the only door out was blocked by Tannus. The Trydan gulped hard, and with a lightning fast reaction thrust his palm into Tannus’ throat, the bulk of his strike forced hard against Tannus’ own re-breather filter. Tannus balked in reaction, the sudden pain taking him by surprise in a way that he had never experienced before.
Before the Wraith could react Turen had turned, unslung his breathing apperatus and sprinted at full force towards the carbon fibre treated window of the room and dived through. Tannus, gasping for air followed behind, clutching at the wall as his re-breather quickly began to fail. Already he could feel the trace toxic elements seeping in from the neighbouring room, mixing in with the foul human atmosphere mixed in equal portions with pollution and all manner of unknown chemicals. Tannus looked to the floor and reached for the atmo-tube and breathing mask discarded by Turen. It was heavy and bulky as he slid the tube into his back and grasped the mask to his mouth. Tannus was unsure if it would do the job, but it was either this or risk exposure to the inhospitable atmosphere of Honos. Tannus clutched the mask with both hands and fell to the floor breathing deeply. Already the pain in his chest was lessening as he smelt the familiars of Hydan air. With all his might the Wraith picked himself up off the floor and followed Turen through the open window.
And so ends another part of Yet Another Day in the Block.
I'm willing to go on the record and tell you that this is not the first you will see of Turen Kopa. I can't go into much, but he is a character that I am looking to write into Book 1 as a Reaver Merc with a rather special skill and set of talents.
I hope you like where this is going. I find that I really enjoy writing about the exploits of Tannus. As a Wraith he is almost like our very own James Bond and when you compare to the other focal characters we currently have:
Paul Homes: Independent Bounty Hunter (I have something planned for him and the 612 Bounty Store in either Book 2, or probably Book 3, but trust me, that will be fun!!)
Bal'Tek: Reaver Hunter-Killer. Expect more about him in book 1, but you should see him really come to the fore in Book 2.
Jinn: Reaver Ghost. As it stands we have possibly seen most that Jinn can offer you. I was super happy with the Wetware story and I think it was my best yet.
The others have yet to have short stories about them, but these all have different feels to them. Bal'Tek as the destructive but insanely loyal puppy, Homes as the film noir detective, Jinn the kid who got in over his head and Tannus, the secret agent who would defy his own agency to close a case and find the truth.
- I realise there is a similarity here between Homes and Tannus, which is why I have done my best to portray Brooks (Tannus' partner) as a polar opposite to Homes.
Anyway, hope you have enjoyed this part of the story and I hope to return soon with more!
Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other!
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley