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The weather in Samoa was truly relentless. I just couldn’t imagine how people lived here without even complaining about it. The temperature was almost fifty degrees Celsius and I had the feeling the asphalt was bubbling, threads of sticky black gum stretching from the soles of my shoes when I tried to lift my feet from the ground. I stood at the parking lot of the airport with a small suitcase containing my entire collection of Samoan shirts—they were all dirty—and I wore the last clean piece of clothing I had. I had also hidden a humble collection of thorns in my butt, which I hoped to smuggle through the customs office. All of us were very impatient to see Greenland but before that, while our airplane was being prepared, we were looking at a shiny red Ferrari Convertible that had come to see us off.

After half a minute, the car sharply stopped, its tires screeching just a centimeter from my toes. There were two beautiful chicks inside—a brunet and a blonde. The blonde took off her sunglasses, and the brunet, who was an extremely charming but mute Indian girl, only smiled with her unblinking eyes fixed on me.

“Well, I guess you are going, after all!” the blonde said, visibly satisfied.

“I guess I’m going, yeah!” I answered.

“What did you expect me to get from your weird text message: ‘There’s a party in Failolo’? Did I have to put my beach dress on and come to dance?”

“Well, the situation was somewhat hot!” I pursed my lips. “I didn’t have much time to ask you out more properly. I was sure you would get it right anyway!”

“Yeah!” Peularia tossed her head, looking serious. “I only had to measure the amount of blurring at the clouds’ edges so I could calculate their direction and speed. Then I had to compare the pattern with satellite data and triangulate your location. The angle of shadows didn’t fit at first but then I thought you must have taken the picture through a glass window and that solved my problem right away. It was just diffraction of light!”

I smiled. If she had really picked up all that information from my picture alone, then she was surely the smartest thing in the whole universe—even smarter than the aliens were!

“Did you really do all that?”

“Oh, I’m only kidding!” she laughed. “People from the neighboring houses reported shooting!”

“Yeah, that must have been…my weapon!” I suddenly remembered I wasn’t supposed to possess any.

Gzundis ignored my remark and just shrugged.

“What happened to Marty Cork?” I asked, looking at Nereidi who was pulling funny faces at me behind the inspector’s back.

“We found him with half of his brain boiled down to nothing,” Peularia informed me evenly. “The other half is now fit for nothing! I don’t think he’ll show signs of nervous activity more intense than that of an amoeba ever again. I’m not actually sure he had it before that, anyway!”

I looked at her puzzled because I knew she meant something particular. She wasn’t one of those people who would express their opinion about a man without knowing him personally.

“The police in Greenland have extracted more footage from a security camera in a house next to Menelaus’,” Gzundis explained. “It caught Cork on the day of the meeting at the Chinese restaurant—the time stamp fitted perfectly! He was driving the same Hondsu he used to set you up half an hour later and he had been driving with the window open!”

“Well, the weather was unusually mild that week. He was probably enjoying it!” I pursed my lips, thankful that the guy was such a jerk.

“They also found more material in a camera hidden in Miss Bjornson’s apartment. It contained a picture of Sharon in the same car and she held a wrench in her hand, which the police believe is the tool of the murder. It also contained a shot of Marty in your car at the restaurant!”

“That’s a hell of a lot of footage!” I said thoughtfully. “Any trace of Sharon here?”

The inspector sadly shook her head.

“The coast patrol followed the boat to Swains but then a military vessel of pirates stopped them. Later, a passenger carriage was reported to have left the docking station. They say there was a Couloong ship waiting at the upper end.”

“Was Sengupta with her?”

Gzundis shook her head again.

“No one knows, but probably he was. Tutuila will be hot for him now, you know!”

“It means the beloved by the Moon turned out to be beloved by Mars then!” I laughed, remembering all the nervousness when I was climbing down the gangway the previous day. I hadn’t even stepped onto the wharf with both feet when the ramp had started collapsing. I had to jump from it and I didn’t even have time to ask for my Beretta!

It was no wonder they were hurrying so badly! After the spectacular firework show on Ofu, the circumstances behind the weird ammonia trade had started popping out and the Earth wasn’t the safest place for a Martian any longer—we were practically in a war with the colony. It turned out Mars had been using the aliens for at least half a year to help them transfer huge amounts of nitrogen from our planet to the red planet and so far, nobody here had been fully aware of the extent of it. It was truly massive and it wasn’t just ammonia but also laughing gas, nitrogen dioxide, dinitrogen tetroxide—basically everything that contained nitrogen in any form. Martians needed the element because they had started building an atmosphere and a layer of soil, which was something we had denied them so many times because of lack of money. The closest and cheapest source of nitrogen was, of course, the Earth and as Bobby had said, this trade had literally changed the rules of business here. It all explained pretty well why the Couloongs had given us the technology of docking stations in the first place!

However, there was something even more disturbing than the war situation and the trade—it was the Couloong long-term invasion in the solar system. Now it was known that in the future, they planned to turn our planet into a space resort for alien tourists, and in order to do that, they needed to reduce the level of oxygen in our atmosphere to eighteen percent so that the guests could feel more comfortable. The unwanted amounts were to go to Venus, which was meant to be a macrobiotic farm for producing alien foods. It was not just an invasion actually but a true timeline!

And the key point in this plan was Britain as it turned out!

This morning I had read in the news that there was a major change of its role in the future Couloong Empire. It was not going to be a shopping mall because the aliens’ high command had realized they would need really huge amounts of cheap labor force when they settled down here. That’s why Britain was going to be a force labor camp, accommodating life-sentenced prisoners from the planets of Couloong’s sphere of influence; and Chinasia was going to be the shopping mall instead. The upper house of the British Parliament had to transform to consist of Couloong lords, and a provisional government of Martians would rule the country. That was the true reason for the military union, in fact! Martians wanted to bring the Earth to its knees, and down here, we had been stupid enough to play along in return for old alien gadgets. Sharon had actually been damn right! Our countless languages, religions, customs, and other means of division had made us incredibly foolish and easy to manipulate. We really deserved what we got!

“So when is your plane taking off?” Peularia raised her hand and put her shades on because the sun was truly fierce. The air above the engine hood was shimmering in the heat and the reflected light from the left side mirror was dazzling my eyes.

“In half an hour,” I said, glancing at Nereidi who was gnawing at the nails of her left hand and still pulling faces. “I probably need to go and check in already!”

“There’s really no chance for you to give up then! I got used to the high crime rates after your arrival, you know, and now I’ll have to go back to digging into corpses. It’ll be boring!”

“Well, Swains is close enough!” I smiled. “You can always serve Couloong tourists, if you think it’d be more fun!”

“We’ll see about that!” Gzundis shrugged. “Maybe the rising ocean will serve us first! And next time when a Martian comes to you, Mellrow, please don’t bring her here,” she added. “It’s too much for a small island like Tutuila; we have enough problems already!”

I spread my hands in the air to indicate it wasn’t up to me to decide. Then I grabbed my suitcase.

“So, goodbye, then,” Peularia gave me her last smile and started the engine. “Give us a call if you decide to come around someday. You know where we live!”

“I will! Thank you,” I said, rather dejected. Now that I was leaving, I wished I had stayed. I wished I had more time to spend here and that the beauty of these two women hadn’t blinded me so much. I wished I had known them better!

Gzundis briefly adjusted the sunglasses on her face and waved her hand at me. Just before she stepped on the gas, Nereidi suddenly took her fingers out of her mouth and smiled. “Goodbye, Mister Mellrow! You have a very nice t-shirt!” she giggled charmingly. Then her boss violently hurled the car forward and took her away.

I looked after the Ferrari, dumbstruck. It was the first time I had heard Nereidi speak and it was so unexpected that I didn’t even manage to say goodbye to the girl. Soon the vehicle made a sharp turn out onto the street, and it vanished behind the next corner.

“Goodbye Nereidi!” I mumbled too late and slowly turned around. Then I muttered under my breath, “And don’t worry, Miss Gzundis! Next time when I see a Martian in my office, I’d rather shoot myself!”

A few minutes later, still thinking, I entered the departure hall. With her last proposal on the boat, Sharon had actually offered for me to work for the Martian Secret Service. I was seeing it clear now. So far, nobody here on Earth had known anything about it but it turned out they had such a thing after all. Their first mission was called “Mission Drainage”, which Menelaus’ plan to monopolize the ammonia trade had threatened because our ex-colony didn’t want to become dependent on a single person. After establishing the military alliance, however, it didn’t matter anymore. And the name of the office was Global Guards! A coincidence?

After half a minute, I reached the queue for the scanner and stood at the end of the line, patiently waiting, but then I suddenly turned around because I remembered something. I had forgotten to get a magnet for my fridge and a present for Jill—probably I was supposed to buy her a little something from here! Unfortunately, there were no souvenir shops in this area and I would have to grab something from Anuk Airport as I always did. I was sorry but it was too late. Then, when I stepped into the scanner at last, the officer froze still and looked at me visibly annoyed, glancing at my t-shirt. I froze surprised and looked at it too. Printed on the front with large, capital letters, it read, “Check me out carefully! I’m so special!” The man shook his head disapprovingly and I just shrugged and smiled because I realized that in Nuuk, I had to change before going to see Jill. She shouldn’t see me in this. She was definitely not going to approve my style too!


©2016 S.T. Fargo

Eurasian Gambit—Chapter 34 | a science-fiction crime novel by S.T. Fargo

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