The Last Marshal

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 4

We got to the elevator, a large structure inside an even larger building; black as night with no markings beyond a single sign reading “Elevator: departs on the 10, 30, and 50 of every hour.” It was just now 7:45 in the evening, so we went inside and got on the giant lift. It seated around 200 people at once, and carried carried them almost 4 miles beneath the surface, where the mining colony had been built. We sat down and harnessed ourselves to the seat. The speed of the elevator combined with the very low gravity of the moon meant five minutes of weightlessness. Can’t have anyone floating away now. Bad for business and all that.

We arrived at the top level of the colony, and had to take a smaller elevator down to the level we needed. Well, the level I needed anyway. Amy had to get off a few levels below me so we wouldn’t be seen together. Anyway, I need to pick up a rifle, and those couldn’t be found just anywhere. So I squeezed her hand again, and stepped off the elevator. “Promise me you’ll be careful when you get down there. It’ll be at least an hour until I can make it down. And you’re not allowed to die on me yet. I still need that pretty head of yours to expose some evils around the galaxy.”

Amy just smiled, shook her head, and said, “I won’t make a promise I can’t keep. I’ll wait until you can keep an eye on me, but I’m not going to wait forever. Just hurry up.” And with that, the doors closed. I shook my head, turned, and walked toward the nearest weapons dealer.

I found what I needed quickly; a compact, powerful rifle that was remarkably well concealed beneath my jacket. If things got messy, I could make quite a nice hole in whatever I needed. Or whomever. I’m not picky. I paid for it out of what little expense funds I had from the Marshals. Sort of a joke, that. I was the last Marshal. I answered to the Minister of Security, and he gave me a significant amount of money for “expenses.” I’m sure that a few things I’ve purchased go beyond what may be considered necessary, but he still hasn’t cut me off, so that’s good. I walked out with enough ammo to put holes in as many things – or people – as I needed. Sure, I hoped for a clean escape, but that rarely works out. I’m just not that lucky. I checked the time, then lit up a cigarette as I walked to the elevator. Sure, Amy didn’t like it, but I needed the nicotine to steady my hands and keep me sane. Besides, she wasn’t there to yell at me. Damn that woman can be a pain. But she was hardly the worst of my problems.

I was less than a thousand feet from the elevator when I noticed the person following me. I stopped and ducked into the nearest store, a little general store. I put out the cigarette and walked to the counter. There was a young girl standing behind it, no more than 14. She had her golden hair up in a ponytail and was wearing a pair of overalls. Haven’t seen those in a while. She smiled as I approached, and asked what I needed.

“Well, a whetstone, if you’ve got one, and a few meal bars. Chocolate.” Meal bars are a misnomer. They’re more like a day’s worth of calorie and nutritional needs in a single compact bar. They taste like hell, even with flavoring, but they get the job done. One of those could sustain you for a few days, if you weren’t planning on moving around. The whetstone, well, that was just for sharpening my knives. And dull knives are as useful as dull minds. I paid the girl, stuffed the items into a bag I had on my shoulder, and walked toward the door. I stopped when I realized the door was no longer empty, and instead a large, angry-looking man with a grizzly bear for a face was blocking the door. He wasn’t the same one who was following me; that one was just outside the door with a comically large handgun for his size. I stopped a few feet from the door, and looked back for the girl behind the counter. Satisfied that she had left, I lowered my head, and thought twice about pulling my knife and throwing it into the man’s neck. Not exactly a great plan. So I decided to ask him what he wanted, knowing full well it was likely any number of things, few of which I was willing to part with.

“You, Earthling,” he said with a thick accent. “We want you to come with us. You will meet the boss.”

Unsure of what his boss may want, I calculated my options. Running through a brick wall would have been easier than running through this man, and the large gun behind him ensured that a violent approach would not have a pleasant ending for me. I was still thinking when he moved toward me. I considered getting him into the building before stabbing him out of sight of his partner, but his partner moved inside with him. I was seriously wondering how much my organs would be worth on the black market when I heard a gunshot. I instinctively pulled my knife and dropped to the ground. I still had the bullet-resistant vest on, but I didn’t feel anything. I looked up, and the man with the large handgun was lying on the ground, blood pooling around him. His partner had his hands up, and was slowly backing out of the building. I stood up to learn what had a human of his size so worried, when I noticed the girl from behind the counter. She had an old Winchester, an antique that had been obviously meticulously cared for. She was pointing it at the man, who kept backing out of the building and into the street. I walked to the door, careful not to block her line of sight with his chest, a feat I am still not sure I could have accomplished. I yelled out to him, “Don’t come looking for me again, or I’ll kill you where you stand, no questions asked.”

He nodded, then took off running. I heard another deafening gunshot, and saw the giant stumble and fall to the ground, clutching his very bloody right leg. I turned to the girl, who shrugged. “He’ll have a harder time following you next time. Also, he’ll be less inclined to come back here.”

I shook my head. “No, he’ll just bring more friends next time. You took a huge risk. How do you know they won’t come back for revenge?”

She was already dragging the dead man back into the street to leave his body. “They won’t. They’re a local arm of what’s left of the old Russian mob. They have plenty of sway in local government here, but they certainly aren’t big, or powerful, enough to lose a member or two every time they come here. This guy isn’t the first one of theirs I’ve killed, anyway. He’s probably the 6th or 7th my family has shot by now. That’s why he didn’t want to come in here. We’re armed, and we all know how to shoot. They leave this place alone if at all possible. The fact that Big Bear was willing to come in here is quite a testament to how badly they want you. You’d better watch your back, mister.”

“Thanks. I’ll keep an eye out. You stay safe, kid.”

She waved as I left, then I saw a look of worry on her face. I turned and saw Big Bear limping down the road, slowly. Behind him, though, I saw a vehicle that I knew shouldn’t be there. The large open nature of each level of the colony made vehicle piloting relatively safe, even above ground level. But a single person hover bike should be the only thing on the streets. It wasn’t. I saw a small transport barreling toward me, on wheels. Good old fashioned composite tires. I started running back toward the building when a bolt of powerful electricity hit me and knocked on the ground, my whole body seizing. I felt like I’d just been hit by lightning. Two men jumped out of the vehicle and dragged me back toward it. I heard a gunshot, and one of them went limp. I looked up and saw the girl from the store with her rifle. I hit the dusty ground for a few seconds, just long enough to use my knife to carve Amy’s comm signal ID in the man’s arm. Nasty, but I didn’t know what else to do. The other man was dead before I hit the ground. Someone inside the vehicle reached a tree trunk arm out and pulled me inside. Must have been Big Bear. Didn’t see who it was. Darkness surrounded me, and not just from the lack of lighting. I knew that shock had done some serious damage to nerves, but I didn’t know how much.

When I woke up, I was tied, quite securely, to a steel chair. I was staring across a table at a man I knew instantly to be “the boss.” He was wearing a suit that made him look more out of place in this colony than if he were purple and had six arms and two heads. He was obviously a large, scary man, but I was in too much pain to worry about that. Every inch of my skin tingled, and I smelled burnt. I coughed out what felt like a few feet of windpipe, but was probably just dead tissue charred by the massive shock. I looked him in the eye and said, “Your weapon needs fine tuning. It could have killed me. So, you’ve got me; what do you want?”

He flashed a smile; the cold smile of a shark ready to eat it’s wounded prey. This was a predator, pure and simple. Not like Macintosh; no, this man had a line. But it looked like he’d forgotten where it was long ago, and was simply doing what he needed to. He had a large scar from a knife wound across his forehead, and a piece of his right ear lobe was missing. He may have been handsome, once. But he’d been fighting far too long to remember that time. “I want to talk, Mr. Darrow. You are an oddity; a relic of the past. We don’t get many of those in this corner of the galaxy. What brings you to Luna Colony?”

“Hunting,” I said flatly.

“Well, it wouldn’t be me, would it? I haven’t moved in years, and last I checked I wasn’t a fugitive.”

“Well, you have me here. And you hurt me pretty bad. Also, you’re keeping me from something incredibly important. I may just kill you out of pure spite. But no, you’re too small. Too unimportant. I’m after someone truly worthy of my skills.”

He feigned a look of wounded pride. “Too small? I’ll have you know I’m very important. I have all kinds of dealings. But alas, I’m no – what’s his name – Duncan Macintosh. We both know that’s who you’re looking for. At least for another hour or so. I hear he’s meeting Martin in a few minutes. That’s what I hear, anyway.”

My mind almost didn’t comprehend what that meant for Amy. “Damn. You’re saying he’s going to the meeting spot right now?”

He flashed another toothy grin. “Yes, my little Marshal. That’s what I’m saying. And your little lady friend is going to get killed when they run into each other. How depressing. Too bad for you. But I’ve got an idea: you do me a favor, and I’ll let you go. I’ll even call your little girlfriend to let her know she’s in danger. But you’d better do what I need, or you’ll both end up just a couple more bodies in the ditch that no one will miss.”

“What do you want? I’ll do it. As long as it isn’t assassinating someone. We both know those days are behind me.”

“Nothing so dramatic, Marshal. Just deliver a message to the Coalition Lieutenant Minister of Security when you bring in Macintosh. Tell him I’ll support his little endeavor, and he’ll get no more trouble from me, in exchange for his silence on certain... matters of importance to me.”

“You and the Lieutenant Minister? Not really surprised. He’s always seemed a little shady to me. Why not tell him yourself?”

“A fine, upstanding member of the government like him, receiving personal calls from a shady man like me? How terrible! No, in person would be better, and I’d like it to come from your lips. A trusted associate of his would be much better.”

“I’ll do it, just let me go. Now.”

With that, the Boss stood up and pressed a button. The bindings holding me to the chair released and fell to the floor. He pulled up his personal vidcom, and punched in Amy’s ID. A “connected” message flashed on the screen.

“Miss Devereux. I suggest you leave where you are immediately. The man you are looking for is on his way, and will not hesitate to kill you if he sees you. Your friend is here; he is a “guest” of mine. Now, I’ll help you find the man you seek, and even get his name when it changes again. But you must move. Go to the corner stall on the NW corner of the intersection 500 meters to the west. He will arrange for you to be brought here.”

“Who is this? And is Ryan ok? You’d better not have hurt him, or I swear I’ll break your damned spine in half.”

I smiled and shook my head. I wrote a note on the pad on the table, and turned it toward the Boss, who grinned from ear to ear. He spoke back into the mic, “Sorry, Miss Devereux, but he was just so damn uncooperative. His ankle took a long time to cut through. I promise I won’t hurt him anymore if you come in and meet with me.”

“WHAT?! Oh, I’ll come meet with you. I’ll be there as soon as I can you piece of scum. Just pray he’s still alive or I’ll make sure you really hurt before you die.” With that she hung up, leaving the Boss and I laughing until we ran out of breath. I like Amy, I really do, but she deserved it. He walked over and extended his hand.

“The name is Nikolai. Nikolai Baryshnikov. Sorry about the beating. But that fiery little bitch at the store made a little pain necessary.”

“Pleased, I’m sure. So, why don’t you just leave that store alone? It seems like you’d keep a lot more of your men alive.”

“I can’t let insubordination go unpunished. They have to know their place. She did tell you that we killed both of her brothers, right? They got a few of ours, but we don’t let them live in peace just because they try to bully us. I’ve got a few guys headed over there tonight. But don’t worry. We won’t kill them. That would be bad for business.”

“Nikolai, you’re making not killing you really hard.”

“Well, you’re free to try. Please wait until your girlfriend gets here. I’d hate to have to kill two people that far apart. It’ll be less cleanup if I do it all at once.”

I reached down, grabbed a length of coil off the floor, and looked it over. Strange stuff. It seems to tighten as soon as a charge is put through it. Works great, I guess. “Good rope you’ve got here. I haven’t seen stuff like this in years. Had a tendency to kill people that you tried to tie up.”

“Oh yes, we fixed that problem. The charge has to be regulated. The system we use only uses just enough power to tighten it, but not enough to make it cut through people. Unless we want it to, of course.”

“Of course.” I looked over at his desk, and the computer built into it. It certainly needed a strong charge, but I didn’t know if it would be enough. I had to try, nonetheless. In one motion I vaulted the desk, found the power input for the computer, and jammed the cable into the power system. Thank God he used old fashioned computer tech; new power-smart computers would never use enough juice. This thing may have been from the 23rd Century. I grabbed Nikolai and wrapped the cable around his neck just as it tightened. Sadly, the system didn’t have enough power; his head remained attached. But I’ll be damned if he didn’t turn several shades of blue before collapsing to the ground. I left the cable plugged into the computer, just to be sure. I looked around the room, and found a footlocker in one corner. I checked it and found all my gear. Well, not the rifle. Damn. I can’t keep a hold of one of those things. I went to the nearest door and pulled it open a little bit, checking for anyone in the hallway outside. To my surprise, the door led to the street. I opened the door, and looked around. I had been in a single room, not attached to any building. Hopefully he’d given orders for the team who’d brought Amy to bring her straight to him.

I went back inside and locked the door; didn’t want them barging in on his dead body. After enough time to ensure he really was dead, I reattached the computer to the power system. It powered up, thankfully without a hitch. The password prompt appeared over the desk, projected by an old-fashioned hologram emitter. I had to congratulate him; he knew how to keep things running long past their expiration date. I plugged in an old program from my PDA I’d been given; a hacking program designed for the Marshals. Didn’t work on anything newer than 10 years, but on this relic it would be perfect. It opened the computer right up, and searched for information on Macintosh. An open file popped on screen; it was being edited as I watched it. Clearly Martin had hacked the official record to change Macintosh’s name. Duncan Macintosh was now David Taylor. Great. I kept my eye on it, just to make sure Martin didn’t do anything tricky to it, but the official record was closed a few minutes later. David Taylor: a Councilman from New York and a wealthy businessman. His bank account added a dozen zeroes, as well. Handy. Just out of curiosity I pulled up my file. It read: Ryan Darrow, Official Marshal of the Commonwealth of Terran Colonies. Directly subordinate to the Minister of Security. Notes: Last living Marshal, competent, intelligent, obsessive. Below those parts were a secured area, behind a classified data block. I couldn’t get through that. But maybe Nikolai’s could. God knows he got through a lot already. I tried to find a security program, but only found a communications system. I pulled up a list of names. I downloaded the list to my PDA; I’m sure the Minister would like to know what his Lieutenant is up to. And with whom he is spending his time. I found the name I was looking for: Daniel Goran, Computer Security and Circumvention. Just who I’d need. I sent a text communication to Daniel, asking him if he could get around the classified block. He sent me the code as well as falsified authentication software. Two minutes later I had unlocked the file completely, but before I could read it there was a knock at the door. I quickly transferred it to my PDA, and then punched in Jean Devereux before going to the door. I answered in the best fake Russian accent I could muster. Then again, Russian was hardly common, even in the Russian mob these days.

“Who is it?”

“Baskov, with your other ‘guest,’ sir.”

“Thank you, Baskov. Please, go back to your post.”

I opened the door just a crack when it was kicked open all the way. Amy was standing there, knife in hand, when she saw me. She had an unholy fire in her eyes, like the devil himself had replaced her and was wearing her skin. She took one look at Nikolai’s body, and turned to Baskov, who was drawing his weapon. She put the knife through his wrist and kicked his head so hard I thought I heard bone snap. He was still clutching his wrist, blood pouring out of his vein when she put two rounds from his own weapon in his heart. I grabbed his body before it even hit the ground, and pulled him inside. Surely someone heard the gunshot, but no one would be surprised, I’m sure. Areas like this had gunshots and screams for ambiance, blood and corpses for decoration. Two gunshots wouldn’t make a difference. She came inside and locked the door, then looked me over. I expected her to retaliate for the deception, but I still wasn’t expecting it when she punched me in the bad shoulder. My wound, not fully healed, throbbed. I apologized and told her what had happened. She sprang for the door, but I stopped her and told her to wait for one minute. I used the unlocking software Daniel had given me to pull up everything they had on Jean Devereux, then deleted everything before putting several rounds through the computer. I turned to Amy, and asked, “Hey. Did someone contact you? A girl?”

She looked puzzled for a few seconds, then replied. “Yeah, she told me you had been captured by the mob. I figured it must be true.”

“Quickly. Call her back and tell her to wake up her family. There’s some men on the way right now.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.