Monday, July 11, 2011

The Jade Runner, Part 01

Kit Wilde stood on the edge of the platform looking out over the cityscape and said her silent goodbyes. Behind her the corporate headquarters for LX Pharmaceuticals stretched from the surface far below to the sky high above. Kit glanced at her watch. The platform was deserted and would remain so for another 45 minutes. It was time.
Her eyes focused on a flicker of light from below. It was the only visible sign of a ship entering the company’s loading bay. Kit closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She pushed aside her second thoughts and the knot of fear twisting in her stomach. The memory of her sister’s voice played in her ears. Don’t be reckless.
Kit turned her back on the city and walked toward the building’s entrance. Her doubts faded away. LX had left her few other choices and none for justice. “It’s not reckless,” she said, grasping the jade stone dangling from her silver necklace. “I’ve got a plan.”
The transparent door slid open and Kit walked inside. She glanced to her right at the security desk. The guard normally stationed behind the monitors was absent, getting his afternoon snack, just as she knew he would be doing. She smiled at the receptionist. Kit waved a delivery badge she brought with her and tapped the top of the silver briefcase in her hand. The woman nodded and gestured toward the elevators behind and to the right of the reception. Kit stepped into a waiting elevator, allowing herself to breathe once the doors closed and the car began accelerating downward.
A sensation of falling washed over Kit. The elevator counted the passing floors in a monotone female voice. She grabbed the silver support bar at the back of the car and tried to convince herself she was doing the right thing. If she got caught the consequences would ruin her. The Academy would never welcome her back. It didn’t matter though, because that was another life and she’d said goodbye.
Kit exited the elevator on the tenth floor. She rounded the corner and immediately entered the stairwell descending until she reached the loading bay on level one. No one noticed when she exited the stairwell. The employees were busy loading a small cargo vessel with crates of drugs. Inside the office, a transparently enclosed space on the left side of the loading bay, two men concluded their business deal with a handshake. They left the office with a silver case sitting on the desk.
She entered the office like she belonged there. Kit opened the silver case on the desk and stared at the stacks of tightly bound cash. Never before had she seen so much money all in one place. It didn’t belong to her, but it was the kind of dirty money that didn’t really belong to anyone. Lives were bought and sold with that kind of money. Kit closed the case. She exchanged her empty silver case for the one full of money.
Taking it was not going to make anything right. Leaving it would only help make more things wrong and hurt more people. It sounded rationale in her head. And maybe when she was far away from the moment she would find a way to do some good, to do something that would really matter. She left the office with the case in her hand. Her sister’s voice spoke again from memory. Consequences aren’t just for other people.
She watched the ship close its cargo doors and fly away. The loud rumble of its departure left Kit shuddering from the inside out. Kit shook her sister’s voice from her ears. “I know what I’m doing.”
The shift bell rang signalling the end of the work day for the current group of workers. They stopped whatever they were doing and headed for the elevator. Everything was going perfectly to her plan. The empty case would not be noticed for hours and when it was, the suspects would be a wide and varied group. Most likely, the blame would fall on the cargo ship’s crew. Without proof, and there would be none, the company would likely just right it off as a loss and never do business with that particular crew again. The drugs would pile up while new contacts were made and new distribution channels were opened. In the end nothing would really change, but it would be a bump in the road. She wouldn’t let it stop there either, the money was going to be good for something. It was going to be the beginning of LX’s end.
Kit slipped into the stairwell. She climbed to the third floor and joined the exiting mass of workers getting on the elevator. They all exited on the reception level. The receptionist didn’t notice her in the midst of the crowd. In the eyes of the security guard she was just part of the mass exit of off duty workers. She walked with them outside and onto the platform. The city tram arrived and its doors slid open. Kit and all the others, stepped inside. The doors closed and the tram sped away.
The next stop was at the platform for Centora City’s entertainment sector. Kit exited along with a significant number of the passengers. The casinos were the biggest draw. The flashing lights and clink of falling coins called to the tired workers like a siren’s song promising wealth and happiness. Kit knew all too well the real promise of the song; poverty and tears.
She stopped at the edge of the platform before setting foot in the sector’s main square. She could see the flashing sign for Gorda’s Casino on the far corner. The masses pushed their way through the doors, tripping over each other to get inside to the tables while visions of wealth and prosperity spun round in their heads. Kit didn’t share their visions. All she saw was a place of shattered dreams and the haunting memory of her sister stumbling through the exit with tears staining her cheeks. Jade had lost everything and then Kit had lost Jade.


Michael said...

Off to a brilliant start, Ashley, as you have reeled me in. If, like you said earlier, this is similar in certain areas to your fantastic "Quest Five" novel then "The Jade Runner" will be another winner. I have always been a sci fi fan starting with Asimov and combining sci fi and corporal punishment is just my cup of tea.

Paul said...

Ash, a nice start, too early to voice an opinion.
An editorial question, in England we write, 'write off' like this,
you have written, 'right off', is this American, or just a little error?
Love and warm hugs,

AL said...

Excellent beginning. really like the title. looking forward to future stories and seems this story can go in endless directions so looking forward to see what you come up with.
Like the different names of the businesses and stuff like that very imaginative.

Thanks for the part 01 of The Jade Runner.

Ashley J said...

Michael, I agree, scifi and corporal punishment just seem to fit together naturally.

Paul, You're correct. I used the wrong version, it should have been "write off" and I missed it in my editing processes.

AL, The nice thing about creating an entire universe is you can literally go anywhere you can imagine. Although, I try not to go places no one would want to follow. LOL


Anonymous said...

Great new series, Ash (duh!) ;) Do you have a new book coming out this summer? If so, I want to buy it!



Ashley J said...

Carla Marie, Thanks! I'm not sure when the next ebook is going to be finished at the moment, but I suspect it will be sometime either late summer or in the autumn.