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Gunthar's Journey :: Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The air was damp in the basement of the Sunken Oaster. The air also stank of stale beer, sweat and smoke from the countless patrons who frequented this lowborn dive. Gunthar sat alone in one of the side booths, nursing a dark liquid he was told was liquor but which tasted like engine grease.

Around him, smugglers and cut throats played cards or drunk themselves into oblivion from the proceeds of their latest job. Others, like Gunthar were looking for work.

It was an open secret that virtually anyone could get work if the frequented the lowest drinking dens long enough, even the destitute, the poor and the impoverished. Gunthar was none of those, but he needed information. The Sunken Oaster was fabled to be frequented by Prain spies from time to time, and he hoped to attract the attention of one tonight.

He checked his chrono, he had been there for 3 hours already and his drink had gone too stale to drink. He got up and wandered over to the bar for a new drink, dropping a cred bar on the counter as the barman slinked off to fetch him a glass of the same rotgut he had first been served. Gunthar watched the barmen for a moment. He was a heavy set man, with mousy black hair and a set of piercing brown eyes. His nose was broken in several places, no doubt from bar fights he had taken part in. He carried himself with a certain malice, but there was a softness to his features he found faintly familiar.

As he returned, the barman met eyes with Gunthar, "anything else?" the barman asked.

"information" he whispered back, keeping the gaze of the barman for a second longer.

"That commodity can be costly to acquire" the barman said, dropping his eyes to the floor, his voice equally low, his voice dropping into a clipped Prainian accent that was barely concealed.

Gunthar smiled at the obvious hint. "I have the cred to cover it, " he said, flashing a couple of bars.

"Meet me at Dock 88 in 2 hours" the barman stated flatly, before rushing off to serve another customer, assuming the swagger of a surely barman as he did so.

Dock 88 were deserted, dusk was pulling in and the light was fading quickly. The only sounds were the water lapping at the concrete pillars of the dock wall and the odd cry of a sea-bird as it foraged for scraps. Gunthar watched the bird as it moved about on the dock, its keen eyes scanning every scrap of dirt on the concrete sidewalk for any morsel of food. The few scraps it did find were devoured menacingly. He smiled as he was one such vulture, plying the dockyards himself for any scrap of information.

"Are you here alone?" asked a voice.

Gunthar started, before turning slowly to face the barman. He held a small Cougar 88 at Gunthar in a lazy handhold. He was clearly wasn't looking for trouble but was prepared for it in case it found him. A wise move, thought Gunthar.

"Of course."

The barman nodded before looking around nervously. "What information do you want?" he asked.

"My wife was killed 3 weeks ago. Gallinx province. The enforcers are keeping a tight lip on the case. I suspect foul play but I can't prove it" said Gunthar, keeping his voice level.

"And once you have the information, what then?"

"I will exact revenge?" said Gunthar, his voice wavering as it came out. He hadn't even thought that far ahead.

"I can look into it, but I can't promise anything. Payment must be made either way."

"How much?"

"I don't know yet, it depends how much trouble I have uncovering the information you seek."

There was a silence as the two men, the only sounds were of the water lapping.

"How do I contact you?" asked Gunthar.

"You don't, Gunthar Henkenson" said the barman, smiling as he turned to walk off. The gun was still drawn and pointing at Gunthar as he did so.

The voc-link rang twice and then died. Gunthar rang back, and a male voice answered at the 2nd ring. "Is this Gunthar?"

"Yes."

"This is the information broker. We have discovered several interesting facts about your wife's case "the price is 10, 000 creds."

"When and where?"

"Tomorrow, 4AD, Dock"¦ "

"88?"

"Ahem.." The phone went dead.

It was 20 mins to 4 when Gunthar arrived at dock 88 in his small ground car. The area was a hive of activity as Enforcer squads wearing plain white panelling patrolled the area, asking questions and interrogating blocked off the entire dock from the 85th birth through to 90th. Only a single ship was in port that Gunthar could see, and already the presence of Enforcers had drawn a small crowd of civilians onlookers. Gunthar pushed passed several to see what had drawn such a crowd. He saw several Enforcers walking the line, stun-truncheons at the ready.

Beyond the line of Enforcers, a bloody body of the barman could be seen as an Enforcer forensic team worked over the scene.