Grocery Shopping

Khaihraz stepped off the shuttle and took in a breath of satisfaction. He truly hated flying, hated the closed off compartments meant for people to sit in. The forced interaction with people around who smelled of filth was intolerable. But here, on this planet, everything felt much better.

It reminded him of his home, the powerful desert winds and intense, dry heat. Even the architecture was a gentle memory of where he came from, its stonework battered and broken in many places, yet still standing. Yes, this was much better than that disgusting shuttle, indeed.

The sounds of conversation in every which direction was a comfort as well. Bargaining merchants and customers, camel-like creatures chortling their annoying noises, children running and playing through the streets- all of it was loud and distracting enough that he knew no one would give his appearance, being a newcomer, a second thought.

He traveled along the busy crowd, dipping and weaving in what was like a dance with the natives to the planet. A smile rest at his face. Oh, how he loved the smell of the market. The cooking foods- (was that shawarma?), the strong spices, the perfumes and incense of jasmine were all overwhelmingly pleasant. He was almost jealous that he couldn’t live here, himself. But he knew what he was really there for, and it certainly wasn’t browsing for spices.

This planet held the key to his salvation. The key to his freedom. And no matter what it took, he would find her.

He found himself within the alley designated by his contact, then leaned against the wall, waiting. Of course, it didn’t take long for his presence to be noted, and soon a large, burly man approached. Dressed in neutral colours, a longer robe, the man’s hand outstretched. One chip was given in return for another, and then he was gone. It was the best kind of business, no words needing spoken. Khaihraz smiled, then plugged the data chip into the pad he kept in his pocket.

The words flashed on the screen clear as day.

Approx. 06:00-08:00, 18:00-19:00, days vary. Hover car from West.

His brow raised. From the West? A hover car? She couldn’t have been too far, if that were the case. He checked the time on his data pad.

18:23

He would never admit to anyone that his heart gave a jump. Would he actually see her? Khaihraz’s eyes scanned the crowd, searching aimlessly for her. It was a large market, but he knew her face. There was no way he’d miss her, provided she was actually there.

It felt like hours to the man, his methodical wanderings leading him to the places he knew were popular. Meats. Vegetables. Next, the spices.

And there she was.

He knew her form before she even turned to speak to the merchant. It was much more frail than he’d seen in the pictures, but he knew it was her. Clothing a vibrant orange colour, it hung loosely off her body. She certainly fit in with the other women here, that’s for sure. When she turned, he noticed her face looked as it always had; his heart pounded in his chest.

The man would not approach, of course. That was not part of the plan. No, he would wait. This was all he needed for now, anyway. And so, he began to turn to leave.

The moment he did, though, he paused, noting the man at Julianni’s side; he did not belong. Khaihraz watched carefully, taking in every detail of the man’s that he could; his face; his mannerisms; his treatment of Julianni; his hand at the small of her back. Khaihraz felt an anger brewing.

A significant other. “Most interesting,” he said to himself quietly.

The more he watched, the more he noted Julianni and the man begin looking around. He frowned. They were more perceptive than he realized. But it was no matter, he still had the information he needed. Without another thought, he turned down the market walkways.

Things would need to change, he knew. While they’d accounting for potential friends and acquaintances, they certainly hadn’t thought she’d be with someone. What if he stayed at the house? Khaihraz frowned, knowing full well he needed to figure out a way to fix this.

As he boarded that travel shuttle again, he pulled up his datapad to send a quick message to his contact.

Kredits for info on the man.

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01001100 01110101 01110010 01101011

A roll of the neck. Quiet cracking of fingers. Silence ringing in the air. A breath in of the jasmine incense.

He was ready.

The screen flashed once to its black colour, touch-keys of the holo-desk lighting up to their light cyan tints. Slowly, now. He knew he must be careful. If so much as a small mistake was made, everything could be given away. That would certainly displease the unmistakably arrogant and aggressive Lord. No, there was no room for mistakes here.

His fingers went to work, eyes dancing across the screen with quick movements to help him navigate his way through the dark depths of numbers and letters. Security was increased. Strange, but not unheard of. No matter, he’d do the usual masked key. It was a typical move, really, using the organization’s key instead of a code-name. For all they knew, an employee was being naughty. It would be easy, provided he didn’t trigger an alert, which he knew he’d be able avoid.

After all, his life depended on it.

And there it was, the backdoor access password. The man sat for a second or so, awaiting his program to kick in. When it did, the numbers and letters now flashing through the empty bar in quick succession, he smiled. This was too easy.

A few hours went by as the password took time to be compiled. And what did he do? He sat and watched, arms folded. There was no rest, no eating, nothing. This was his sole purpose right now, and fulfill it, he would. When the beep sounded that the password had been found and accepted, his smile grew to a smirk, then faded. He didn’t have much time.

With the eyes of a hawk, he scanned through various mails. Financials…shareholders…none of this was interesting to him. But the diplomacy and the personal ones? Those…were gold. He glanced to the time. Five minutes before a trigger. That was more than enough.

The man opened one with a title “PRICE OFFER ACCEPTED”. Interesting, he thought. And oh, what it was. This…was better than expected. “A new home for the traitor”, he murmured to himself quietly. “Pity. It looks nice.” Eyes to the time. Two minutes. One more mail.

This one he chose next was in a line of a sender that appeared to come up often. His brow raised at the name, perhaps somewhat familiar to him in some way. Or at least, barely heard of. “Ibrahim Tash-Murkon…hm.”

The mail pulled up.

And the alert began as a small flash.

He immediately aborted the program, pulling the plug. Good luck tracing that, if it was even seen. How long did it flicker? Not even a full second? What a waste. He could have read longer.

But what he had was more than enough. What’s more, he now had an in elsewhere. But the icing on the cake? He still had I-RED’s passcode. And what fun he would have with that, later.

Standing from his seat, he moved towards the doorway to relay the information he’d found to Lord Degario. Tonight, Khaihraz would eat well.

 


 

 

Julianni rubbed at her eyes, glancing to the flowers at her desk. Again, she’d received them, and again, they’d disturbed her just as much. But the letter that came with it, written by hand, was not what she expected.

Miss Avala,

I hope you will forgive me for my transgressions against you. I will comply with your request and hope that, in time, you will see things through my eyes.

May God shine His Light on your path.

Regards and with regret,

Lord Degario

More sweet words, she thought, and possibly little to no sincerity. But still, if it was indeed sincere, then the gesture wasn’t as dark as she’d thought. An apology was one step he’d not taken before, at least not to this point.

It was a stress, perhaps, but not as much as she’d believed.

Her gaze moved back to her screen at a small flicker of light to the corner of the holo-display. Was that a security alert? But just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. The perceptive woman frowned, then shook her head. She’d not slept much the past few days due to the now successful Gala, so she likely had been seeing things. After all, the Internal Watch would ensure to alert her if there was a problem, wouldn’t they?