“Ok, that’s the last of the paperwork” said the Deputy. With an extra in-tray labelled ‘SD Stuff’ he comprised the nearest thing on Little Sister to the local SD Office. With their weapons registered and permits signed the agents were free to pursue warrants on planet.
“So what can you tell us about Yobo’s activities?” asked Clarissa.
“Well the dates and stuff are mostly attached to the warrant, but basically there have been about nine attacks along the line leading eastward from Victoria to Geriville, which is about 300 kliks eastward. The colony is basically one big dustbowl of a valley, with Victoria in the centre, Geriville to the east, Melville to the south, Emmaton to the southwest and Melby to the west. This bowl is pretty much surrounded by mountains and dotted with maybe 30 mines, used and unused.”
“A railway links Victoria to each of the settlements-there ain’t any roads-the main private vehicles are grav skimmers, and they generally follow alongside the railroad when they’re going somewhere. As far as we know Yobo’s done two train attacks in which they vanished with loot and maybe a dozen captives each time. The others were all skimmer convoys, and there’s been no survivors.”
“Hmm, all along the eastern route?” asked Clarissa.
“Funny you should say that” said the Deputy. “Over the last three weeks there have also been two convoys vanished along the southern route to Melville. Skimmer convoys of vat grown beef.”
“Beef? Not very portable as loot I’d have thought?” said Anwyn.
“These Howlers love meat remember” said the Deputy. “All those poor saps that were taken likely ended up on the dinner table. This stuff was destined for the Burger Queen Outlet in Melville-the stuff is grown here in Victoria.”
Clarissa nodded as she mused. Burger Queen were one of the Big Two burger franchises which had found a new lease of life as human space expanded. After almost dying through a century of Atomic Wars the Big Two had both been resurrected (along with a number of historic businesses) some thirty years ago by a few surviving shareholder entrepreneurs. The other had conglomerated with a chicken franchise into MacSaunders, but had otherwise expanded pretty much along along its historic lines. The re-animator of Burger Queen had a few sexual identity issues, and so had re-branded and re-named it: you could read this stuff in any of a zillion cheap plastic “Where we come from” wall panels erected in Burger Queen joints throughout the Galaxy. She had always been slightly disappointed with them since they had stopped doing that one with mushrooms on.
“Them Red Monks is still there” interjected ’Enery, who was looking out of the window. Clarissa pointed them out to the Deputy and raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Them?” he said. “They’re the Elvis guys. Funny; didn’t know they were still on planet.”
“Who are they?” asked Anwyn.
“Elvis guys. Church of the Living Elvis or something. Elvis is some sort of rockabilly singer-he was playing at the Great Big Mining Sheebang about a month ago. Not too bad I thought.”
“And he has a Church?” probed Clarissa. The deputy shrugged.
“Don’t ask me. The galaxy is full of kooks. I think these are of the mostly harmless variety, but what do I know?” After a few more questions the agents gathered their paperwork and agreed that Anwyn and Clarissa would leave by the front door, and see if the monks continued to follow them. ’Enery and Moe would leave by the back door and double round-trailing the monks if they followed, and creeping up on them if they could find a suitable spot.
Clearly the monks were no experts at this game and Clarissa and Anwyn lured the pair down a quiet side street. Moe approached them from behind, and placed a chitinous arm on the shoulder of one of them, who shrieked when he turned. ’Enery also approached, and the pair found themselves surrounded by a group of rather intimidating Strontium Dogs.
“So….” commenced Clarissa.
“Their boots, I want their boots” said Moe capering and cackling, “And all the pretty kittens.”
“As I was saying….” Clarissa continued.
“Why is it so bright Mummy? Who would have thought the Old Man had so much BLOOD in him?” moaned Moe, who hugged his arm and then started crying.
Clarissa rolled all three of her eyes. Moe started to titter. “Moe. SHUT THE FUCK UP!” snapped Clarissa, and grabbing one of the monks by the arm dragged him away several paces. Moe started to follow but ’Enery stood on his foot.
“Stay there yer bleedin’ scarse nutcase”, he grunted. “Leave this fer the grownups.”
“Why?” asked Clarissa pointedly. “were you following us? The truth now- and only one chance.”