Knox Pashaa: Chapter 9

A dingy rectangle of green light appeared above the turbolift doors as the lift came to a pleasant stop. Knox stood within, his self-hypnosis from earlier kept his nerves and his hangover in check, a problem for a later time. The bright blue light of the turbolift illuminated his steady stature, one hand in his wrinkled suit pocket, the other at his side, his ears smoothed back, but his face relaxed. It was time to see Riza.

A short beep and one of the exterior doors opened while the other got caught on its track and repeatedly knocked against the unknown obstruction. He took a calm breath before sidestepping through the half opened threshold and into a dark tiled corridor, bathed partly in blue light from the lift, the rest in dark shadow. A group of huddled beings looked up at Knox, who glanced at the desperate folk watching him pass. The corridor terminated at a wide and empty thoroughfare, the blue light of the lifts in the corridor fading away behind him and his white fur took on the red hue that illuminated the environment beyond.

Footbridges and larger crossings spanned above him between structures, blocking a complete view of just how massive the room was. The whole area was built like a city in a warehouse: bare metal all around the skyscrapers; no sky, no windows. The buildings and structures within, along with the many bridge networks, had been built piecemeal creating narrow streets and slapdash blocks. The lack of uniformity was such that some such hovels, cobbled together with refuse and sheet metal, sat next to professionally made towers of glass and steel that extended up to the ceiling. There were few spots through the network of footbridges connecting these various structures where the ceiling scaffolding could be seen. All along the setup iron was rowed with red industrial lights that never shut off or changed. Even up there, beings had built hanging structures on any extra platform space that could be afforded.

Knox didn’t pause to admire the the refuse covered streets or the squalor around the more utility purpose sections. Figures huddled around generators for warmth behind the red shadows. He only walked a few blocks before making a right into a slim alleyway between two large generator housings. No one bothered him as he passed more poor and desperate people huddled in alcoves. Eventually he came to a bare metallic door somewhere within the tangled maze of structures and walls. He knocked a few times before a slot opened and a pair of eyes looked him over. After a moment the sound of one very large lock disengaged.

The door swung open.

The well dressed Stetti at the door covered in deep facial scars lowered the thermal blaster and nodded for Knox to enter. Within, he moved through a series of mismatching corridors and irregular stairwells until he came to a lavish recessed room covered in red velvet and gold. The bar was well stocked and the tables in the pit had all the favorite games of the sector: Sharduck, Roulette, Kerrips, Twenty Square Blind. The place was underpopulated, but for a mingling group at the Sharduck table as well as a few attendants to the bar made the place feel comfortable at least.

A Bolmorrean stood in the far corner near a door marked “private.” That's where Knox headed.

“I’m looking for Riza,” Knox said looking up to the huge four-armed being.

“You Knox?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re very late, he’s not happy with you.”

“Look, why don’t you just do your job and keep the sidebar to yourself.”

“Pffeh,” the Bolmorrean quietly snorted his trunk in passing before opening the door. Knox immediately walked inside.

The red lights from the trapped city outside were beaming in through the open windows of the office. Looking out from behind his desk was Riza, his reptilian tail swaying slightly under his back-clasped hands. The silhouette in red of the Pyra showed his large spiky ridges that ran down the meridian of his head. The spines could be seen poking through the specially tailored suit as they ran down his back. He looked across a gulf of space between streets where a large billboard for “Hot Poppers Candy” stood, built on a ramshackle scaffolding. Bulging off the board was the massive head of a Stetti, the long, thin beak curved out from the billboard with smoke periodically billowing out.

Knox entered the room and stood at the far end of the office near two plush chairs. The door closed behind him.

Riza spoke first.

“We’re in some deep putty, Knox.”

“I am, at least.”

Riza turned and faced him, his eyes were bright orange, but despite their vibrancy, they looked tired. The Pyra was large and muscular, but certainly long in the tooth.

“If only it were so simple.”

By Jason Pratley

Jason Pratley joined the team sometime in 2013 when he created the concepts for the gods of ODR. He has since become the Writing Director and de facto loremaster for DDG. Check out some other stories and content at jvfpp.wordpress.com and goodevilcomic.com