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Symbiotica - Dystopia

The Seventh Book in the Symbiotica Series

and the prelude to The Dystopian Detective Series


First Edition



Copyright 2017 Alexander Nassau

Published by Alexander Nassau at Smashwords




ISBN: 9781370951116



"For Jenn.

I know you have the attention span of a flea and bore so easily with people, but nearly a decade ago this wonderful crazy German came in to my life. You made me laugh, you always surprised me and no matter how fickle your attention span is, you always came back to say hi. I found a friend that day and one who still means the world to me."







All characters and names in this book are fictional and have no relevance to any real world individuals either living or deceased.





Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Table of Contents



Introduction

Prologue

Chapter One - Sunshine and Showers

Chapter Two - Bad Movie

Chapter Three - Dark Turns

Chapter Four - Playing the Game

Chapter Five - Cards on the Table

Chapter Six - Showdown

Chapter Seven - Another Fine Mess

Chapter Eight - Dystopia

Epilogue

Preview of The Dystopian Detective

Symbiotica Short - Sight Seeing

Authors Retrospective - New Beginnings

About the Author



INTRODUCTION





This is a story that needs a little background before you start to understand it.

Realistically it should only begin roughly two years ago, but its roots lie back in the mists of time, over three hundred years before on a world far from here.

That world was Alphius Prime. A world not that dissimilar from Earth really, but there were some differences. The biggest one was that the dominant intelligent life there was not of a singular mind, but that of a partnership between two species. A host and a symbiote. Now I could explain how this partnership worked and about the history that led to this union between these two races, but suffice to say it was a fair and peaceful relationship that saw their world over thousands of years turned in to a Utopia.

Right up to the moment they discovered their sun was on the verge of collapsing which would lead to all life being extinguished. That bit came as a nasty surprise.

Still, time against them they all pulled together, created a fleet of living ships to carry their population to safety and to find a new world they could call home. To everyone's deep surprise they succeeded and with only days left, the fleet was nearly ready to depart.

Right up to the moment the planet closest to the sun was torn apart by tidal forces from their star which led to the sun collapsing ahead of time. Maybe you are starting to see a pattern here.

Of the five ships create only the smallest escaped, a ship called Koli which had only ten bonded individuals onboard. Those individuals never gave up hope, but everything was against them. The searched the stars, found a new home world and started the process of building a new home for their people, but they never came. In the end they went back to the stars as their need grew desperate.

The symbiotes lives were long, thousands of years but their hosts were a different story. Even with their healing abilities, they could only live for five hundred years at the most and for some, time had already run out as they found themselves alone and resigned to synthetic life giving bodies.

With things at their darkest and their lives almost over, their quirky ship, Koli did something naughty. Using the last of her energy, she jumped them to a small world on one of the galaxy's spiral arms where they found what they had searched for. A race of creatures not only capable of accepting them, but also within their population a small number who had telepathic gifts they required to survive.

The survivors with the last of the energy almost gone travelled down to the world in hope the humans they had chosen would accept them and that is where this story, on Earth at least, starts.

Kind of depressing in a way, but don't worry. Things get better.

It didn't take long for them to track each other down, reunite and much to their surprise their ship survived and was brought down to their new home, a facility called the Foundry. Thanks to a little bit of forward planning, these Vu'kno as they called themselves had ensured their human hosts quality of life, selling technological advances to a dozen companies globally, giving them more money than they knew what to do with, but as the last two survivors came home, they came with a message from Alphius Prime, sent three hundred years before. A distress call.

Finally knowing there were survivors they mounted a desperate rescue mission back to their home world where they found the heavily damaged flag ship of the fleet and three hundred survivors. Using some mind blowing technology, they got the survivors back to Earth and to a facility on an abandoned Island in the Caribbean. There were tragic costs to their actions though but overall they were proud of what they had achieved. With the help of the United Nations, they rehomed their people, but things never go that easily.

With the cat out of the bag, and an alien species with mind bending technology, some governments around the world started playing shadow games, trying to steal their technology for their own sinister ends. They put up with it for a time, but eventually they could not ignore the incursions and a plan was made to return to the world Koli's crew had settled on for a time, a world called Beletrix.

As the dust settled after Alphius Prime mission a secret was revealed that changed the game entirely. Although they had assumed all their ships had been destroyed by the plasma storm, it seemed one of the ships may have escaped, a ship holding a third of their population, over twelve thousand souls.

Building two new ships, they returned to Beletrix and started to relocate their people, but when a brand new ship arrived in Earth orbit they realised to their surprise that survivors from Miras had found them. As usual, things were not great as they had arrived asking for their help to cure a plague and rescue them from the world they had settled on.

Cutting that story short, they succeeded, Verlon City on Beletrix now home to their civilisation as they start the long process of rebuilding their world.

Which only left what was still happening on Earth.

Earth for those who had taken human hosts was their home and while there had been tension, they could not deny that humanity had a lot to offer them, so roughly forty survivors remained here along with Koli who had adopted Earth as her home.

With Beletrix and Earth having a vibrant trade, these alien are living amongst us, unseen by most.

And I suppose that is the story, but things on Earth aren't perfect and sometimes you need a change of scenery, even if Northern California is quite lovely.

PROLOGUE





Sitting on the plane she could feel the minds around her pushing in on her like a wall and all she could do was wonder where she had gone wrong. It was probably one of the few times since she had bonded with her partners that she had been thankful to lose her telepathic abilities and not have the incessant hum of other peoples random thoughts in her mind.

It had been nearly two years since Shomis had come in to her life, her strange alien symbiotic partner who changed her life forever. Before Shomis she had been a loner, working in a strip club. Her life was going nowhere. All the studying she had done, learning professional dance and performing arts at University had amounted to nothing. Then Shomis changed her life, turning it inside out. They were a perfect partnership in a way as Shomis herself was a loner, although not by choice.

When she was younger she had contracted a virus, almost always fatal for her kind. In the end she had done the unthinkable. Rather than fight the virus, she had accepted it, made it part of herself and had survived but the cost of her survival was grave. Making the virus part of her own biology had left her living life as a fluid creature, and her hosts also suffered the same fate.

She had with practice learnt to control the disease consciously and as a result she had gained abilities that surpassed any of her friends, capable of changing her form in the most unnatural ways. There was however a stigma attached to Shomis and now herself. Many of her own kind saw Shomis's abilities as unclean and diseased, even if she wasn't. She had lived her life on Alphius Prime shunned by her own kind, dealing with the prejudice from those around her.

Even after Alphius Prime's end, she still had to suffer the indignity as they searched the stars, and while those onboard accepted her, they still kept her at arm's length. Until they got to Earth and Shomis bonded with her.

It was difficult at first. The idea of becoming a shape shifter was most appealing, but the truth was most of the time it was a hindrance. How could you possibly curl up in bed and sleep when your body reverted to a liquid state as you slumbered? Most people simply woke up with a bad hair day, but she woke up quite literately all over the place.

She had learn to control it with her partners help and for a time they had been happy. Part of the gift of bonding with her had been the unexpected money she had come in to. She had bought her parents a new house, given them everything they could have possibly needed. While she didn't have to work, she continued her job working in the strip club, safe in the place she had known since University.

Then one fateful day, she came in to the club, that crazy German who changed her life again.

Sabine had bonded with Tirania, someone Shomis did not like, but she had come with grave news that the whole group needed to know. She had found there had been survivors of the disaster on their home world. A desperate call for help from the darkness.

So they set out on an adventure that took them all over the world and to both of their surprise they grew close, so close in fact that by the time their adventure came to an end, they were lovers. They were happy days for her. She had never been this close to anyone before in her life and she loved her. Even Tirania had let go of her mistrust and prejudice and fallen for Shomis.

Then came Myra Island, the new home for the survivors of Alphius Prime and they had both worked like maniacs to prepare and when it was all over, they had both kept busy and happy but after the mission came news that shocked both of them. One of the Titan's escaped the end of Alphius Prime with over twelve thousand of their kind on board, a third of their race and they were out there, somewhere.

Stuck in this little bubble, they were happy though, right up to the day reality sank back in. A new and unusual ship arriving on Earth bringing old friends and lost family. Saya's arrival on Myra had brought the wonderful and troubling news of the survivors of Alphius Prime lost on a hellish world and it was then the bubble burst.

They returned to Beletrix, the home world Shomis and the crew of Koli had found hundreds of years before, back to the city they had built for the survivors. Everyone pulled together, got things done and before she knew it Myra Island was no more, its inhabitants now living with the survivors of Neo Alphius on Beletrix, their civilisation returning to its former glory.

When the dust settled, she realised how little she had seen of Sabine, and when over diner, Sabine told her Tirania had been offered the head of Stellar Dynamics at the Lyrr Institute on Beletrix, heading up the whole department she had been happy for her.

But where did that leave her?

There wasn't a scientific bone in her body and Shomis was a guardian and warrior.

Somewhere down the line there were the odd crossed words, minor fallings out and while she was happy for Sabine, she could not see where she could possibly fit in. The choices were to continue Shomis's vocation, guarding a world that did not need protecting, or to simply do nothing and be driven out of their minds.

Sabine and Tirania left for Beletrix and so their relationship ended with nothing more than a whimper as she remained on Earth, the home she knew and loved.

Tie had kept her busy for a time, trying to stop that lunatic from causing chaos, but she had to quietly admit to herself that perhaps Tie was doing it more as a friend. Shomis and Verish may have been lifelong adversaries but she knew they were secretly friends, even if neither one of them wanted to admit it openly.

Life though had a habit of throwing curve balls. With everything going on in the world today, those who remained had decided to make contingency plans. Earth was becoming a place that almost felt alien to her, a surprise really considering everything she had been through.

So here she was, stuck in a flying tin can travelling back to where it all began.

The damp and unforgiving streets of Manchester, her home back in England.

CHAPTER ONE

Sunshine and Showers





This was definitely Manchester. Driving over here, she had been roasting but as she pulled up and opened the door, she was in the middle of a torrential downpour. The British weather was something her friends would never really understand. Trying to explain to an American who was used to weather that could be best described as clockwork why the British had such a fascination with the weather was next to impossible. In all her time at the Foundry it was linear, perhaps boring. When it was sunny, it was sunny and when it rained, it really rained, however you could almost time the weather to the second. In the UK weather was somewhat haphazard. One minute you could be sunbathing, the next second it was snowing and if you tried to describe that to anyone who wasn't from England would only invoke a 'you're kidding' reaction. The only person who really understood this was Brie. She grew up down south and while she was definitely a southerner, she understood all too well the fickleness of British weather.

Looking up at the Pennies in the distance, taking in their breath taking mountainous beauty she was happy to be home. The United States was lovely, but it was all on such a big scale. In three hours she could drive from coast to coast here, traversing almost every terrain you could think of from snow capped peaks to sandy beaches. Three hours in the US was effectively a trip to the shops.

She sighed as she turned her attention back to her surroundings, taking in the derelict industrial complex she had just driven to. It looked like a diseased carcass crumbling in to the ground however it was a prime location really.

The group had been growing concerned by recent events in the US, in particular around the growing isolationist view of the new political establishment, more specific the growing hatred and fear of anyone different. Looking at their group, it was clear that Symbitek was a true international company. While Mel, Jo, Jenn, Flip, Pippa and Poly were American, the others weren't. Kat, although technically American had dual nationality having grown up in England and moved to the US when she was younger. Both herself and Brie were British, Tie was Chinese, Eve and Chloe while American had deep Japanese roots, Jess was Australian and Carrie was Jamaican. Add to that their alien partners, there was a growing sense of unease hence a new idea was put on the table.

Symbitek was looking at ways of branching out, developing technologies that could benefit humanity while at the same time earning some money. Pippa had been busy establishing the core of the businesses base, however to try and balance things they had agreed to compartmentalise everything. The US operation would look after biomedical research, a new Japanese facility would look at technology and electronics headed up by Tie, Eve and Chloe. The British operation though would focus on industrial research such as power generation.

Pippa had found this location on the outskirts of her home city. It had come of something of a surprise to her as for most foreigners, they instantly hit on London, however Pippa's business acumen had spread her net wider. There were excellent transport links, all the space they would need and more seriously a safe place they could go to if things went badly in the US. Not that the UK was much better on its isolationist views, but there was a big difference. The UK government had its own views, the people were always more forgiving and forward thinking and far more sceptical of fake news.

She surveyed the ruins and shook her head. Pippa had asked her to take a look at the site, see what she thought and if they were to proceed, but she really had asked the wrong person. Outside of the fact this was her home, she really didn't have a clue. When it came to grand plans she was not the best person to imagine what could be. To her, it looked like what it was.

A large patch of decaying industrial land.

"I don't know either," Shomis's voice came from her side as she turned to see her alien partner's ghostly vision. "Perhaps we should just nod and smile politely when they ask us if it is fit for purpose."

Shomis had been quiet and for good reasons. Since the whole Beletrix situation had cropped up and Tira had left, she had been moody and upset much as she had been. They had both lost their lovers leaving them alone. It had been amicable and they both understood the honour that they had been offered heading up the Stellar Dynamics department at Lyrr. Sabine had asked her if she wanted to move to Beletrix with them, but she was not a member of the brain trust. She was a professional dancer and Shomis was a security expert and warrior.

Still, after the events with Sheriff Lofthouse, running around the galaxy and travelling to Beletrix, seeing them both settled and happy in their new home had left them both feeling rattled, Shomis perhaps more than her. She had spent a life time being shunned by her kind because of her strange abilities and having Tira accept her had made her happy. Now once again she felt alone.

"You can stop that too," Shomis muttered frowning at her. "Yes, I miss Tira. It is just how things go sometimes though. She is where she is happy and I would have only held her back. We both know we would have been bored witless. What's the point of a warrior's life if there is nothing for us to protect?"

She rolled her eyes realising her partner was reading her thoughts again. So hard to get used to having an alien sharing not only your body but your mind too.

"Why do you think they asked us to look at this?" she asked changing the subject.

"Local knowledge I guess. You are from here, you know where everything is," Shomis mused, surveying the scene.

"It's close enough to the city to give us what we need logistically, far enough away in case we need to bring Koli in. The only thing she could scare is sheep up in the mountains," she replied feeling somewhat out of her depth.

"Good assessment," Shomis laughed back giving her a wry smile. "Let's give it the up thumb and leave them to get down to business of building the place."

She laughed shaking her head. Shomis really was trying to use human vernacular but she struggled sometimes.

"What did this place used to be?" Shomis added trying to piece together what it was.

"I think it was some kind of metal refining plant," she commented looking at the slag heaps. "Industrial areas like this tend to get left to rot. Too expensive to clean up and also probably why it's cheap enough for Pippa to be interested. Land over here is quite expensive."

"Guessing they will want to dub this place the Forge then," Shomis laughed rolling her eyes.

She pulled her phone out, quickly typing a message in to Pippa approving the site before turning her attention once more back to the view and for a moment trying to imagine what this place really could be like before shrugging as she failed.

It would be nice though to have a home back here again in the peaceful and diverse landscape of England.



* * *



Driving back through the city had reminded her of just how complex and ancient the UK really was. For the last year she had been hopping around the world visiting strange new places and it had to be said for the most part they were quite generic. Even New Oxford, her home in the US was a fairly faceless city. Her American friends were always sound proud of what they had achieved but New Oxford itself had, only a hundred years before been nothing more than a town which had grown up out of the farming belt. The city had been planned with the usual American meticulousness, set in blocks and organised with almost geometric precision, the only organic curves within it those of natural features that interrupted the order. Driving from its very core to its outskirts, there was always a sense of newness about it, even within the areas that were starting to decay.

Manchester was not new though. Technically an urban conurbation of nearly a dozen towns, the city had been around for centuries. As her teachers at school had proudly taught them, Manchester had its origins in Roman times but only in medieval times it had started to thrive as a market town. Over time it had grown until the industrial revolution occurred and Manchester truly became a power house of industry centred over the cotton mills. Over a hundred years, the city had grown in to vibrant place it was today, but there were other truths. Whereas New Oxford was perhaps only in its second incarnation, Manchester had been rebuilt dozens of time. Driving through the city it was not hard to feel the waves of history.

Her apartment was in canals area of the city, once a broken down and desolate area now home to luxury apartment blocks. Another example of the cities continuing evolution. The canals were once the life blood of industrial Manchester as they brought in supplies and sent goods to port. Today they were used for little more than pleasure cruises.

Flinging the keys on to the side it was nice to be home again. It had been well over a year since she last stepped foot in her place though. The maid had kept it clean and tidy though. Hard to forget the last time she was here though. Sabine had just arrived in and they ordered pizza as they tried to track down the rest of the group before setting on globetrotting.

The place seemed empty now, considering everything she had been through. Exploring the world, meeting new friends, Myra Island, then Beletrix and who could forget her last mission.

Perhaps moving to Beletrix had not been such a bad idea after all. At least there she had no secrets, even if the population refused to accept Shomis.

Looking out over the city she could see the clouds starting to grow darker, the sun disappearing over the horizon as night slowly fell over the city. Below her pin pricks of light started to illuminate the streets and people started their Saturday night routines. It usually involved drinking, dancing and laughing, and occasionally fighting.

With usual efficiency, Pippa had already confirmed the ball was rolling on the Forge project. She knew how to move when she wanted to and it was probable there were already work teams heading out there. Of course she would stay here and oversee everything until Brie and Jess arrived to take over the project, but outside of nodding occasionally her contributions would probably be limited.

She had already been over to see her parents earlier in the day. They were most happy to see her and fuss over her asking her about everything. Explaining why Sabine was not here had been painful and her mother had instantly done the Northern thing. Cooked her a full on meal with all the trimmings. Overkill perhaps, but it reminded her that while five star restaurants were nice, they could never beat your mothers cooking.

All that left her with was a boring Saturday night in. A long time ago, that hadn't bothered her too much. Saturday night television tended to be very mass market, but as a way of passing time, it was not all bad. After everything she had been through she really felt a need to go out, be with people.

It didn't take a moment to decide as she slipped in to the bedroom.



* * *



Shomis had moaned profusely at her for wearing this dress. It was unbefitting of a warrior in her words, but getting dolled up for a night out was traditional for a good party. And for a first time out since she had got back to blighty, she had decided to go the extra mile. Stunning red figure hugging dress, minimal jewellery and power heels. The perfect combo to make her feel sexy, not that really there was much she could do about that. Still, the attention would be its own reward.

The nightlife however had other ideas. Manchester in only a year was a very different city. She wasn't really sure if it was her, or if it was actually the city, but it seems more intense and charged. Sitting in the Mutt and Ball pub though, she felt at home. The smell of dank beer, the hum of the people chatting and sports on the televisions. Everything that made this country great.

Shomis to her surprise seemed to like Rugby as a game. Barely controlled aggression was something that fascinated her and even if she was not watching the match, she could feel her partner soaking up ever moment of it. So engrossed with the television, she hadn't even moaned at her about booze when she ordered a pint of scrumpy.

She found a nice corner of the pub to sit down and did her usual. Watching the people, seeing the moments of their lives usually they forgot about due to inebriation. There was a couple sitting at the bar arguing with each other over something trivial, some lads overly enthusiastic about the Rugby, their girlfriends pretending they were interested even if they weren't.

There was something about this though that was familiar, and not in a good way. After she had first bonded with Shomis she had come out full of confidence and joy. A fringe benefit of bonding, even if she had not known when she had agreed to bond with her, was she had become a multi millionaire over night. She had done what most of them probably did. Went a little mad on the shopping side and full of innocent enthusiasm and confidence she had come out with all the fineries of life expecting her world to have changed.

It hadn't though. Of course people cared about money, but they didn't seem to care if you had it. If they knew she had money they would have probably lined up round the block to be her 'friend', but going out by yourself wearing nice stuff seemed to elicit zero response from people. You were just another face in the crowd and with the important task of drinking yourself silly in front of them, money was the last thing on their minds.

It had all come as something of a shock really, but sitting here she felt just like she had that first night. Another stunningly beautiful cash flushed face utterly anonymous in the crowd. Everyone in here lived in their own little worlds, their personal bubbles only extending out as far as they were interested and unless you burst their bubbles, you would never be given an ounce of attention.

She laughed a little to herself as Shomis's excitement seemed to wash over her as she glanced over to the television, the bar seeming to erupt in a cheer as whoever was playing scored a try. She took a sip of the scrumpy, the warm apple cider flavour quite delightful as she rested back.

"Well, this is a turn up for the books," a familiar voice came from behind her as she turned to see Shae and Terri standing there looking utterly stunning as usual. "Thought you had fallen off the face of the Earth!"

"I did on a few occasions," she laughed ironically, standing up to give her a hug.

"So why no text message to say you were back in town?" Shae asked frowning at her as they joined her, sitting across the table.

"I only got back yesterday on a business trip. I was going to call but there was a lot to catch up on," she replied looking a little sheepish having forgotten about calling them.

"Don't worry," Terri quipped with a laugh. "You haven't missed much."

"How's things at Kitcats?"

The pair gave each other a pensive glance that bothered her.

"Things kind of went downhill after you left. Place was sold to a nasty piece of work who took liberties whenever he felt like it," Shae grumbled looking none too please. "Why we are out tonight. We just quit and decided to celebrate."

"So Cathy isn't in charge anymore?"

"Back street talk and rumours but she didn't have much choice. Kyle gets what he wants," Terri sighed looking quite upset.

"Still, fortune favours the bold and look who we found," Shae exclaimed to Terri with a grin.

She laughed to herself a little smiling at her friends. It was going to be a long night.



* * *



Standing by the bar, she had forgotten just how loud nightclubs were. It was probably a British thing as throughout her travels she had been in more than a few bars and clubs and in general you could hear yourself think for the most part, but here?

If it was possible for her ears to bleed, they probably would have been gushing at this moment.

The night had progressed as normal really. The obligatory pub crawl, several drinks in each resulting to Shae getting to a point she was starting to lose all inhibitions, Terri not too far behind. Then the main event as they hit the larger clubs. By this point it was past two in the morning and people were only just starting to get warmed up. The joys of twenty four hour drinking.

During the night though things had not progressed as well on what she had missed.

At first Kyle sounded like the typical roller with money. He was from somewhere in Europe, cash to throw around and never took no for an answer, but booze had the habit of loosening the tongue and with each bottle came new and more worrying information.

It seemed that Kyle was simply a customer for a time. Coming in with a security entourage, enjoying the girls and tipping them well. Then he was in almost every night and the next thing they knew Cathy was not coming in to the club, Kyle now behind the bar and in the office. Cathy sounded like she had not sold the bar, but more being forced to relinquish it to Kyle, pushed out as he took things over. Threat of violence were rumoured but when the girls had finally tracked Cathy down they found she was silent and afraid.

Then after a few weeks of him being in charge, it had started. Kyle would order one of the girls to do a private dance for him. Those that did found themselves in a situation they didn't like and those that didn't were not in work the next day. At first she had thought Shae meant they had been fired, but turned out they had been beaten within an inch of their lives. From that point, nobody refused Kyle's requests.

She knew the story was bothering Shomis as well as herself but it all sounded so much like the plot of a bad film. In the real world people didn't behave like that. The police would get involved, people would be brought to justice and life would return to how it was.

Still, if only a fraction of this was true, Shae and Terri had done the right thing walking away.

"Stop being so grumpy!" Shae shouted at her side leaning in to her. "We're here to celebrate you coming home!"

She didn't say anything else as she was dragged on to the dance floor. Surrounded by the mass of writhing bodies she actually felt uncomfortable, partly because of the lack of personal space but also because she was stone cold sober despite the amount she had drunk. The wonderful joy of having a partner who never let you get drunk.

Still it was nice to be back amongst friends.



* * *



As they left the club she was actually starting to enjoy herself, despite Shomis being grumpy and having gotten in to a huff, retreated in to herself. Shae and Terri were quite drunk and giggling far too much for their own good. It was in its own way quite infectious as she finally felt able to relax amongst friends.

"Biggalo's!" Terri exclaimed playfully, nearly tripping over as she jumped.

"The drinks are way too pricey in there," Shae countered as she pouted.

There was a moment of discord before they both grinned, grabbing her hands and pulling her down the street. She often felt vulnerable like this. Manchester had a reputation of violence, more often than not drunks far too gone to realise what they were doing but there were police on the streets and it reassured her that they were safe but something was bothering her. Like eyes watching them.

Walking in to a slightly quieter part of the city she couldn't help hearing the footsteps behind them as she started to grow more nervous, her friends seemingly oblivious.

Then the footsteps stopped right behind them as a voice called out.

"Ello girls."

She stopped as Shae and Terri froze to the spot, the tension evident as they glanced at each other. They slowly turned around, met by three rather large men in leather jackets.

"Who's ya pretty friend Shae?" the man in the middle sneered as she took in the long scar running down his cheek.

"She's nobody," Shae replied with a definite tremble in her voice. "What do you want?"

"Mr Mattus got your letters of resignation this evening. He would like to discuss the terms of your departure."

She glanced around, noting police officers at the end of the street, walking their way as to their side a black limo pulled up, the door opening.

"He would like to see you now."

Feeling Shomis suddenly become alert within her she considered letting loose and teaching these thugs what it was like to take a terrifying beating, however as she stared at him, he slowly pulled his jacket to the side, showing her the gun strapped to his side. She may have been bullet proof, but looking at the people milling around and not to mention Shae and Terri, someone would get hurt very quickly. The two other thugs move round ushering them towards the car, pushing them inside.



* * *



For the second time that day she found herself in an abandon industrial complex. They had driven out of the centre and toward part of Manchester's rotting exterior, an abandoned chemical works by the looks of it. Walking through the decay, it was far more frightening at night. Outside one of the rusting carcases she saw too well built men guarding a door as the captors pushed them towards in. However much to her surprise as they pushed inside they were in what seemed to be an active and quite vibrant casino utterly at odds with what was outside.

It was at that moment the idea of this being a bad movie was only reinforced as they were pushed through the crowds of cash flushed and well dressed people towards the back, down a corridor. The goons had dropped the polite attitude now, guns in hand rather than hidden as one of them knocked on a thick wood door before entering as found herself in what seemed to be a quite luxurious office.

"I have our quitters Mr Mattus," Scarface announced as a tall well dressed man in a black suit turn to look at them. He was roughly six feet tall, very well built with a hint of a Russian look, his face cold and stoic.

"Who's the tomboy?" the man questioned motioning to her.

"Some friend they were with. Thought she might fit in well sir."

"That she might," he commented looking her up and down, his eyes roaming unwelcomingly over her.

"Now, I believe you would like to leave my employment," he continued walking over to them, looking both Terri and Shae over with more than a hint of anger on his face.

"Moving on Mr Mattus," Shae said with a hint of defiance in her voice.

"That's not your decision Miss Hillier," he snapped back. "I have a contract signed by Cathy DeBois that says all the dancers at the club are mine. Are you saying she was a liar?"

"I am not anyone property!" Terri snapped back.

Kyle paused as he took his jacket off placing it neatly on the back of a chair as she saw the gun holster on his side as he removed his cuff links and rolled his sleeves up. His arms were festooned with tattoo and scars and she knew instantly he was not the kind of person to cross.

"How much would you need for me to buy out their contracts?" she asked in a clear tone.

"Who said you could speak Tomboy?" he sneered back ignoring her, turning his attention to Terri.

"So... you want to leave my employment?"

Terri nodded staring him in the eye.

He moved so fast she could hardly follow as moment later Terri fell to the floor like a rag doll.

She looked down at her in horror as she lay unconscious in a heap, a deep cut sliced across her forehead oozing blood. Looking up she could see an exceptionally vicious knuckle dusts on his hand, blood dripping from it as he turned his attention back to Shae.

"I have a signed contract Miss Hillier. You are my employee and you will do what I tell you to do," he stated in a calm, collected voice as Shae sobbed, nodding her head in agreement.

"And as it seems Miss Jacobs is probably not going to be too popular now are going to take her place at the club. I hope you know how to dance," he said staring her right in the eye.

She wanted to let loose, break his neck on the spot. Thoughts that horrified Shomis. She couldn't though. The whole staff had guns. This would end badly, and not only that but her secret would be out there.

"Good. Nice to settle that business. I expect you both at the club tomorrow and don't make me come looking for you because I will not be so polite next time," he said walking away as he removed the weapon from his hand, wiping the blood off with a white handkerchief.

"I think you both understand what will happen to those you care about if you go to the police," he said slipping back in to his jacket. "Mr Simmons. Please take that garbage to the hospital and drop my employees off with her."

As she felt the barrel of the gun in her back she gave Kyle a long stare before they were dragged out of the office, Terri still unconscious as they were escorted out of the back door in to the cold night air, the limo waiting.

Sitting inside she watchrd the building disappear in to the darkness as they pulled back on to the road and there was only one thought on her mind.

That son of a bitch would pay for what he just did.

CHAPTER TWO

Bad Movie





Sitting in the waiting room Terri was in the Accident and Emergency department. They had been thrown out of the car, dumped by the side of the road and left to pick up the pieces. She had managed to flag a taxi driver down and he had brought them here where medical teams had sprung in to action leaving her with Shae who was shaken and afraid. It was simply a mess.

How this gangster could treat people like this and get away with it was beyond her, but as Shomis was saying to her, justice needed to be served within the rule of human law. Truth was her partner was trying to calm her down having seen just how primitive and violent human emotion could really be.

She wanted to kill him, but that was not their way.

Looking around it seemed like everything around her was normal. Drunks falling over after having too much of a good time, people with various accidental injuries and various old people having to wait to see someone because the drunks were taking up all the beds. The staff were stretched to their limit and doing the best they could.

"Who brought Terri Jacobs in?" a nurse called out from a door as she looked up, glancing to Shae before raising her hand. They both got up, Shae unsure of her footing as she held her heels in her hand.

They followed the nurse through a door in to the Resus department, two police officers standing by the compartment as they were let in.

"How is she?" she asked looking over to the doctor.

"She had a fractured skull," he said in a grave tone that chilled her. "You said she was assaulted?"

She nodded as one of the police officers came over, taking his notebook out of his pocket.

"What the prognosis?" she asked as Shae started to sob again walking slowly over to Terri, looking down at her broken body in the bed.

"Next twenty four hours are crucial. She has a bleed in her brain and we may have to take her for surgery if her condition worsens. She is however in a coma, and I cannot say how this will progress. Only time will tell."

"You witnessed the altercation?" the officer questioned at her side as she turned to look at him.

"Yes, and I would like to make a format statement on the incident. I know who did this and I am willing testify," she replied turning her attention to him. "It was some lowlife called Kyle Mattus. Odd accent, eastern European by the sounds. He abducted us not far from Biggalo's and we were taken to what looked like an illegal casino in an abandon factory where he made threats against us and hit Terri with a knuckle duster before dumping us on the street."

"And how much have you had to drink tonight Miss?"

"I can assure you I am quite sober," she snapped staring the feckless officer down.

He glanced over to the other officer and for a moment she almost saw a look of fear in his eyes.

"You will need to come to the station to give a statement Miss," he said in a tone she didn't like.

She glanced over to Shae who was traumatised by what had just happened as she walked over, opening her bag and pulling out her door card.

"When you need to get some sleep go back to my place," she said softly resting her hand on Shae's shoulder as her friend looked up at her, tears running down her cheek. "I need to go to the police station and give a formal statement over what happened. Don't worry. I will sort this out and make sure this bastard pays for what he just did. I won't be too long."

Shae nodded as she bit her lip, wiping the tears from her cheeks. She didn't want to leave her like this, but justice needed to be served. She took one last look at Terri lying motionless in the bed, her face bruised and bloodied before turning back to the officer and following him out.



* * *



As she sat in the cold and uninviting interview room she was getting a feeling she didn't like. The officer had driven her back to the station and walked her through, but the fact was this seemed to be taking too long. She wanted to give her statement and get back to the hospital to make sure Terri was okay.

Things had happened so fast she really hadn't had much time to really absorb them all, but this quiet time had left her feeling more unsettled. The ease and almost disregard of Kyle Mattus had left her questioning quite how this individual had remained untouched by the law. He was brutal, possibly a psychopath and yet nobody had brought him to justice.

The door opened as an older officer walked in with a folder in his hand giving her a belittling stare as he sat down.

"So what really happened Miss Carr?" he asked in a demeaning tone that left her feeling angry.


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