Knox Pashaa: Chapter 14

The assassins could no longer be heard. Knox breathed heavily on the metal platform of the bridge. Those knives had been in his face, ready to pluck out his eyes. He knew he was good, but not that good. Somehow he had managed to influence Veen’s mind and plant his own thoughts into the killer. Perhaps there was something to the legends of his ancestors. Still, he didn’t press his luck or believe that his suggestions would last, especially since the Fubari with the bionic arm would soon see that Knox had not been thrown off the bridge by Veen. It would certainly cause an argument between them. He only had a few minutes at best to get away. He got up, winced in pain from his wounds and ran into the fog that blew across the bridge.He found another exit on the far side and went in search for the good part of that cycle for another turbo-lift station.

The elevator station was set up in the center of the lower levels. Soon he was riding back up to the clear blue and shining white aesthetic of the upper levels with the fountains and flowerbeds. It was nearly the beginning of the first cycle again and the light levels were beginning to rise in a slow, illuminating process meant to simulate dawn. Knox’s white fur on the side of his face was stained red by the glass wound, his chipped tooth screamed at him, and what remained of his burgundy suit was ragged, blood-stained, and torn in many places. He was dirty and the burning from the gun-wound in his shoulder was returning in force. He stumbled out from the lift and made his way back towards familiar offices. His editor’s office was just around the corner. Even if the old Dhom disliked him, he was Knox’s last hope for protection. It would be a little awkward explaining why the Fubari were trying to kill him. It was less of a concern for the editor to suspect that he violated some codes of business, but it would be a bigger deal to learn that Knox had gained some heat from an illicit info depository break-in.

He made it to the door marked with the editor's name and found the door unlocked, despite how early it was. The room was just as warm as it had been yesterday, except there was no one waiting in the wood-paneled sitting room, and the Pyra secretary was not sitting behind her desk. If the door was open there was a good chance the editor was still within, Knox had a suspicion that he slept in there, or he was just an early riser and got to work early each day cycle.

He pushed open the door to the office. The fans were still on at full blast, pushing the breezes around the room along with papers that had now piled up even higher than when he was last here. Yet the fat Dhom was not seated behind his desk. Knox strode forward and saw the red stains on the papers around the desk. He looked down at the surface and saw him slumped next to his fallen chair. Fallen among his papers.

Knox cursed. They looked like projectile wounds. It looks like the Fubari were going about their own snubbing process, getting rid of anyone who heard about the scandal. But just then, he looked at the stack of papers under the editor’s dribbling face. It was paper clipped together neatly and weighed down. Knox reached down and lifted out the blood and spit stained stack of papers. It was his report, all printed out and still legible despite the damage. It was date marked and arranged nicely. Even if the Fubari wiped out the story from all the computers in the station, this still survived. Perhaps the editor’s strange system was good for something after all.

Just then the sound of the door behind him caused Knox to turn around with a start. The Pyra, the secretary, stood with her horn-rimmed glasses holding a data tablet.

“What are you doing in here? You can’t be in here. What happened to you? Get out!”

Knox choked in his throat.

She marched into the room and grabbed him by his shoulder before looking over at the desk; she shrieked, dropping her data tablet.

“Oh my goodness! WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

Knox stuttered and began to move back toward the door. He clutched his report against his chest. “It wasn’t me, he was like this when I found him!”

The secretary mashed a call button on the Dhom’s desk.

“Security! Murder!”

Knox turned and fled, barreling out the door and leaving the secretary standing bewildered and alone in the room with papers swirling about her. It was stupid for him to have gone there, he should have known that they would have been removing anyone who might have known anything about their scandal. What was worse, Knox didn’t even consider it to have been that important of a story, more just a page filler. It wasn’t like the Fubari Trade Union could fall, it was too big for that. Even if it became clear that they were trying to manipulate galactic politics, who could stop them? Why would they care so much to go after the others? Perhaps he deserved some retaliation from the Fubari, but Riza? The editor? Their deaths would rouse far more suspicion then it was worth. It wasn’t something worth killing over.

As Knox ran through the growing foot traffic of reporters and utility workers who began to fill the halls with their daily commutes, he wondered if the station security could protect him from the Fubari. It was a thought he did not dwell on. No, he resolved that if they had managed to get to the editor, if they had managed to keep the station security from the incident at Riza’s for as long as they did, they had the cops under their foot somehow, he couldn’t get arrested or he’d be as good as dead. He hobbled through the people, catching odd looks about his disheveled state and the stack of papers in his arms, the gunshot wound in his shoulder. He found that he was entering into the shopping district of the upper levels and ducked into the first clothing store he passed.

The shopping assistant was bound by convention not to remark on his dirtiness or uncanny manner and instead said to Knox, “Welcome to Digozi’s Shopping Boutique for All Beings.”

“I’m...I’m just here to browse.”

She nodded. looking him over on an apathetic stare, and said, “Take your time, call if you need any help.”

Knox made his way to the male’s department and looked about the collection of simple and flamboyant suits ranging from casual to formal wear. All the colors and styles. Knox looked at them pulling one off the rack and then looking at another in a kind of hurried pickiness. How was it still this hard to pick out something to wear with such urgent needs as assassins and police breathing down his neck?

Eventually, he selected a conventional black and white suit that did not stand out in any particular way and went to the dressing room. He pulled off the burgundy and ruined vest and torn shirt. The shirt was stuck to his burning wound and he peeled it off his scabbing skin and matted fur, breathing through clenched teeth. He exited the dressing room looking sharp except for the blood on his face, he went to the washroom and tried to clean it out as best as he could, but the problem with the color white is that everything stains it. Then Knox had an idea.

“Have a nice day!” The shopping attendant said. He paid for his clothes. She was bound by her apathy not to mention that the Mirrani who came in with white fur was now leaving an uneven, reddish-pink.

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