Friday, January 6, 2017

Prigo Ain't Buying

" ... an Operative, which is trouble you've not known."
Shepherd Book to Mal Reynolds (Serenity 2005)


"Hello Theddy."

The softly spoken words made the waiter jump. He spun around shielding the electronics behind him partially. When he saw the speaker he relaxed somewhat.

"Hello boss," Theddy said venturing a small smile. "I guess you caught me. What are you going to do with me now?"

"I honest to Zao do not know," Steen Prigo said. "First step away from that dingus and let me eyeball it."

Theddy shrugged and complied, smiling a little more. He deftly unbuttoned his white server jacket as his employer glanced at the device.

"It seemed weird; a guy speaking Ergali showing up so conveniently. Someone Xibalboa took an immediate shine to ... You're one of the invaders ..." Prigo accused.

"I'm as Zaonian as you are boss. I just don't believe the Tech Knights are fit to rule. Once this dust up is over they'll be gone and we'll need smart guys like you to run the show ... make sure this sort of Zaonians stop rocking the boat. If you put that gun down and let me make my transmission and I can pretty much guarantee you a great place in the new world government."

"You're selling but I ain't buying! I don't knuckle," Prigo spat. His voice shook. The gun didn't.

"I can tell. But this is about doing what's right for you as well as Zaonia," Theddy said. As he spoke his right hand inched towards his waist.

"What would that be, again?" A newcomer stood in shadow at the top of the stairs. He stepped down into the light and motioned for him to continue. It was Sir Bert. Prigo's blood ran cold.

"Yes. I'd like to hear what you plan after my brothers, sisters and myself are gone," Sir Bert coaxed with his hands crossed in front of him outwardly relaxed. Theddy looked at the Tech Knight a moment then his hand darted into his jacket.

Sir Bert might have been a fraction slower than the server. It didn't matter. As Theddy was raising his pistol the older man fired from the hip. His ancient revolver boomed in the basement and Theddy jerked firing into the floor. Sir Bert fired twice more as the man fell.

Prigo made it to the slop sink before throwing up.

Sir Bert waited till the restauranteur emptied himself and took a few handfuls of water to wash out his mouth keeping his gun trained on his victim. "Prigo, get over here and retrieve his firearm for me."

Prigo complied, shakily. Sir Bert gave the body a kick and only then seemed satisfied the man was indeed dead and not play acting.

"You're all right, Mr. Prigo," Sir Bert said holstering his revolver.

"Yeah I didn't get hit. He only got the one shot and nearly missed the floor ... and all of yours hit the target,"

"It wasn't a question about your health. With your involvement with Xibalboa ... there was doubt about your loyalties ... good Zao man!" Sir Bert stepped forward to grab the small man as he fell  in a faint and directed him towards a chair.

Sir Bert found a glass and filled it from the slop sink and then dashed a little water in Prigo's face. It revived him quicker than drink the stuff. Sir Bert sighed and slapped him a few times until Prigo rallied. The Tech Knight clapped Prigo on the shoulder.

"Buck up Prigo ... I heard everything when I entered. That dirty traitor cleared you, if your actions weren't enough already. You're a true son of Zaonia. Well done! Your heart is in the right place ... even if you should wear brown pants to shootouts."

"You ... were planning on arresting me?"

"If you came quietly."

"Oh. Thank you, Sir Bert, for not shooting me."

"No reason to. You kept your gun aimed at Theddy the entire time. Come now. Let's have a smile. What do the commons call me?" Sir Bert said.

"Uhhh ... Angel a' Death," Prigo said sweating a little.

"Oh. I was thinking more of a seven letter word. But that will do. Smile Steen Prigo, Angel of Death passed you by this night and found you a stand up son of the homeworld! If anyone calls you a collaborator or spy tell them I said to fuck off!"

"Thank you, Sir Bert. Would you like a cup of coffee or something to eat?"

"No thank you. No offense but you have a dead body over here. Clean this whole place scrupulously by tomorrow for a health inspection. I also handle food services, you know?"

Prigo considered telling Sir Bert that it was a 12 letter word most people used to refer to him but thought better of it.

***

In a Galaxy where investigations involve bugging, phone tracking, and record hacking suave and technologically savvy offworlders may not be ready for the ultimate surveillance tool: the private investigator. The investigator is a passive sensor for you tech types. Keeping a low profile he blends in with the mass of foot traffic and ideally is good at keeping out of sight in deserted areas. Unlike a drone he needs little instruction and that can be given verbally. There are no radio instructions to tip off a suspect

Zaonians were quite amazed by lasers used to spy. Lovely things, they bounced off a reflective surface and registered the surface's vibrations to recreate speech in the vicinity. They were baffled as to why people would then hold sensitive meetings in rooms with a window. throw some drapes up at least.

Offworlders from high tech planets were amazed some Zaonians could lip read. Hearing aids and cybernetics made it a lost art on higher technology worlds. Offworlders desiring some quiet speak time turned up radios or frequented noisy clubs, swept for bugs then chatted away as investigators watched.

On Zaonia at least, almost clear of radio signals and electronic babbles and chirps an investigator was gold. Sir Bert (don't call him Cuthbert unless you're good friends and he had a few), is not merely an agent. He leads agents. He also gets the job done. Barbarians always do.

Don't discount the native agents. They have two advantages over your party: 1) they know the lay of the land 2) they dealt with offworlders playing tricks plenty of times.