The steampunk detective-part1

Private eye Marvin goes to meet his new client, a mutant femme fatale who is being blackmailed. The interview does not exactly match his idea of fun.

I had the unhealthy sensation that some invisible, psychic tentacles were prodding into my brain, while she was staring at me. She seemed to be both satisfied and uninterested by whatever she read in my mind and slightly relaxed the tension.
She had poured me a stiff drink, which she put indolently on a table in front of me. She crossed her legs and started giving me the low-down on the story so far. A fellow she met, some smooth character calling himself MC Final, had pulled a quick one on her.
The lady was a subtle telepath, spicing her story with images she was playfully displaying inside my head.
-“I am not exactly sure why I had become so crazy about the guy”, she said. “Maybe I was just plain bored and he was just a little better than the cheap little thrills I was used to”.
– “It comes as a shock to me but you’re not exactly pure as new-driven snow, Mrs Ghr’ss”. I wisecracked, just to show her I was not to be subdued so easily.
– “What is snow ”?
– “A funny substance on Earth, the planet from where my grand grand parents were deported to this world, Mrs Ghr’ss”.
– “Very fascinating. Now, a friend had told me of a new place in the Dumps, you know the kind. Not exactly a cultural landmark or anything, but the male characters are never in short supply”.
-“ I heard of the joint, perfectly adequate, if not exactly inspiring”.
– “No need to interrupt all the time; should anything brilliant ever spark in your head, I can read it myself”.
She lighted a cigarette, drew on it and looked as if nothing interesting had been inhaled.
– “It was open late and I went with a fairly open mind, always ready to broaden my horizons. This guy stood out from the others. He did not speak much, which is usually good. He looked sad, the kind of person you can make happy very easily if you see what I mean”, she added sarcastically.
I did not say anything, my throat was dry.
-“Everything was reasonably satisfying, on both sides. Much later in the night he told me he was big in the DJ scene or whatever humans call that. Was at a lot of parties, interesting places, hybrid people. In the following weeks I made him take me to all these venues ; very nice, over the top things, not for the squeamish. One of them was called “new extremity” I think”.
The ironical mental depictions she kept distillating in my mind showed these events to be a complicated mixture of insect rituals and human rave parties. Not particularly comfortable for the humans. Not a damn bit at all. I was getting a bit queezy.
– “He was sick scared and wanted to quit all the time. Not a chance, it’s so easy for me to twist them around my little finger-claw even if their mind screams “hell no”. And I had rarely experienced a human with such an aura, even while in agony”.
In a minute she would tell me she grew fond of the guy- whatever her race means by“being fond”. Against my will, I was visualizing the drab underworld she had been systematically touring with that MC Final guy. I tried to get hold of myself.
– “Then I made the fatal slipup ; I wanted to throw such a party myself, to organize things my own way. I can control others, but apparently I can’t control myself.So he rented a discreet place for me,  somewhere between the prolo steamstation and the modern spaceport, looking out on a interplan shaft. I invited a lady friend- married to some top-notch politician- she is always so good company”.
The sultry images were now being colored by something different, a feeling too alien for me to read. But she abruptly closed herself up and the nauseating invisible tentacles ceased to prod into my head. From now on, her account was strictly limited to words.
– “Something very insulting happened, Mister Marvin. Her Head jewel has been stolen from my friend”.
Just for you to know, this complicated, priceless item usually covers the forehead of this species so fond of piercing and indicates social status.
– “So this MC final character left no forwarding address”, I said. “And you want me to find him and the jewel before your husband finds out you’ve been careless” ?
-I must admit this would not exactly tend to sweeten his tempers. Moreover I would be personally dishonoured”.
She explained the facts in tight dangerous tones. I was relieved she had relaxed her mental grip on me and the mental images had faded away.
– “You don’t need to find the guy”, she added contemptuously.”MC Final has already organized a rendez-vous tonight in one of his haunts. Only he does not want to see me, nor anyone from my race, let alone if they happen to have big mandibles. What he wants to see showing up at the rendez-vous is some harmless, second rate character like you, a go-between bringing him the dough so he returns the jewel”.
It is a luck this lady insect did not say I was a retard or something, nor that I was some lousy detective who couldn’t stalk a blind person, because this would have really impaired my self-confidence .
– “You sure know how to make a guy feel worthwile, Mrs Ghr’ss”.
– “Surely you don’t want me to baby you, Mr Marvin”.
She did not bother to ask if I accepted the job, nor did she try to use her mental powers to convince me. After all I was just a lousy detective, a few bucks would suffice.The interview was almost over. I got the details I needed to perform the job, was handed over a big enveloppe with the dough for MC Final, a thinner enveloppe with my fee. I don’t remember how the interview ended and I found myself walking in the rainy streets a few minutes later.

At the suspension railway station, I bought myself a ticket to ride to downtown nightlife. I was to go to a joint called the skyclub to meet this MC Final guy or somebody would direct me to him.
If I had only known what bloody horror the whole thing would turn out to be, I would have bought myself a ticket to the other side of this planet.


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