Dragons of Andromeda, Chapter 2

Below is the first scene from The Dragons of Andromeda, Chapter 2.  


Sub-basement 31 was over three hundred feet below the Regalis starport on Aldorus. Magnus Black found this useful for two reasons. First, it was too deep for someone to transmat in or out, including transmatting Magnus without his permission. Second, it was too deep for weapons fired from orbit to reach, even if someone wasn’t timid about destroying the thirty floors above sub-basement 31 and whatever happened to be sitting on the starport surface.

It was also dimly lit. Magnus liked that most of all.

Positioned in the shadow of a rusted storage container, Magnus waited. His head and face were shaved to a mere stubble and he wore a dark leather coat. Inside the coat, a blaster pistol hung by a shoulder holster.

Down the line of other containers, an elevator door opened with a cheerful ding and a man in uniform stepped out. His name was Colonel Hugo Grausman, a man Magnus knew very well.

In his fifties, the colonel wore a green uniform with black, spit-shined boots. His dark brown hair was cut high and tight revealing a large scar running along the side of his head.

Colonel Grausman held up his hands and turned completely around, showing that the holster at his hip was empty and no other obvious weapons were visible. Magnus let him stand there for a full minute before saying anything.

“I didn’t expect to see you again,” Magnus said, “unless I was going to kill you.”

Following the assassin’s voice, the colonel took several steps in that direction before stopping.

“I get that a lot,” he said.

“I hope this isn’t just the Intelligence Service luring me into a trap,” Magnus said, emerging from the shadow.

“They’re still looking for you?”

“If I’m still breathing, they’re still looking for me.”

“Maybe I can help you with that…” the colonel suggested.

“Is that why you’re here?” Magnus asked. “To do me a favor?”

“Not exactly.”

“I’m hurt,” Magnus replied.

“There’s been a terrorist attack on Marakata,” the colonel said.

Magnus shrugged. “That’s a daily occurrence…”

“A suicide bomber got into the green zone and blew himself up, taking out half the officers’ quarters,” the colonel went on.

“The Draconians aren’t going to stop until the Imperials leave their planet.”

“I know that!” the colonel said angrily. “I’ve been fighting them for over twenty years.”

“So why’s this attack different?”

“Because my wife and kids are dead! They died in the explosion!”

Magnus arched his eyebrow, but said nothing.

“We killed off the terrorist cell responsible,” the colonel continued after collecting himself, “but the leader’s still at large.”

“Who is it?”

“Do you still remember General Ekavir?”

Magnus glared. “You know damn well I do.”

“Then you won’t mind going after him for me.”

“He’s not my problem any more,” Magnus replied.

“A lot has changed since you were there,” the colonel said. “Ekavir has lost most of his people from reprisal raids. The rest don’t want to be anywhere near him. They say he’s lost his honor.”

“I guess killing kids will do that for a person.”

“The two of you have unfinished business. This is your opportunity to finish him off once and for all.”

“Are you sure he’s still on Marakata?” Magnus asked.

“The planet’s been under blockade since the attack,” Colonel Grausman replied. “I haven’t allowed anyone off the planet except myself to come here. He’s got to be in the jungle somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding him.”

“On a world covered in jungle. That shouldn’t be hard…”

“Some of your old contacts are still alive. I’ve made sure of that.”

“What about payment?”

“Five hundred thousand credits,” the colonel replied.

Magnus shook his head slowly. “Not enough.”

“Like I said, I can get the IS to stop looking for you.”

“Now, how would you do that?”

“I’ve made new friends,” the colonel said. “They might do me a favor if I ask nicely.”

“The IS was pretty pissed when I quit,” Magnus replied. “It didn’t help that I killed their agent on my way out the door…”

“Is that a yes?”

Magnus considered for a long minute but finally nodded. “Okay.”

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