All adventures start with research. What I mean is that if you are going to go someplace in the universe or find someone you better start by finding out everything you can about it before you even head out. The last thing you want is to be surprised. This however to an outsider is boring crap. For me though the research side of looking for the Psionics Institute was very difficult. I mean it is not that Psionics are illegal. What the history banks showed me is that whenever a psionic powered individual is discovered they are usually not treated well. People get too afraid and do everything from lobotomy to lynching depending on the law level of the planet. In short, it paid to be highly secretive when you had powers of an unusual nature.
What I did discover was that it was believed that in the 32 by 40 parsec sector of space known as Dontar Republic, there might be five or six of these institutes. One of them was believed to be in Aurora but it had never been even remotely confirmed. There were only anecdotal accounts and a few videos with odd happenings. I began to sift through them with some easy as many could be easily dismissed or the individual had been killed. The Republic basically would take over at that point and the body and everything else might disappear. There were always independent sources though and that meant new things to look at and things that got past the censors.
Eventually I could deduce that there was a seventy percent chance that there was indeed a Psionic Institute on Aurora and there was also a fifty percent chance that it was located in Aurora City the capital – right were I was. It was kind of unnerving as I had been using Aurora as my home base now for well over twenty years and there was definitely evidence of psionic activity going back at least fifty years. It was just sporadic and often vague. The one thing I did conclude is that while I had good odds that it was here, I would never find it at a computer terminal. I was going to have to go into the field.
I got dressed and put on my weapons. I had made a decision to find these people and to do that I was going to have to pretend that I wanted to be tested. That was one clear thing that came out from my research that the Institute had two basic functions – testing and training. The thing is I did want to be tested. I mean an advantage in life is an advantage but my job was to find the Psionics Institute. Agent Small had not told me what he was going to do with the information. I however because of researching the issue realized that given that my lifespan was going to be very long, I would need every advantage I could get to stay alive from unnatural causes and one advantage in that could be psionic powers. Assuming of course I had the potential for any.
I hopped the shuttle from the terminal to the city center. Aurora City is beautiful sight. Its towers touch the sky and everything is white and silver. In the midst of all this is green of gardens, parks and terraces that make things even more lovely. Its mass transportation system moves people where they want to go almost effortlessly so even though it is a city of 30 million it does not feel like it. That said it has its bad neighborhoods and that is where I wanted to go. That and the admin sections of the city. It was interesting that the criminals and bureaucrats both occupied areas right next to each other. Well I should say on top of each other as the bad parts of town were in the city basement so to speak. They were definitely out of the sun on the lower levels. The bureaucrats were just above them. I suspected the Psionics Institute would be in the lower levels where secrecy and security are easier to maintain.
I found my way down a few levels and hit the administration floors. I wasn’t looking for anything particular but I was asking questions about weird things happening. Sooner or later some bored secretary to an admin deputy will spill some gossip about some thing they know about. For me navigating this administration quagmire was almost second nature and I got a legitimate clue after only a few hours of walking around. I found my way down two more levels and there I had to shift over to being a little more streetwise.
This area of town was the red light district. I mean there was a brothel around every corner, not that prostitution is illegal. It is just if Jack Fly wants to fool around on Mrs. Fly he doesn’t want her to know where he is going. That’s why brothels, for the most part, still operate in the seedy parts of town. Even though each prostitute is required to have birth control and STD control drugs in her system at all times, you still need a license. Some guys and gals are still creeps though, so they go after slaves or even kids. Licensed prostitutes usually are the ones who blow the whistle on these perverts. I soon found my way around and by asking the right questions of about twenty people I got a name – The Happy Phallus. It was a brothel that was reported to have a few more than usual weird happenings like I was looking for.
I knew I had found the place by the sign which had a cartoon representation of a man’s penis that had a huge stupid grin on it, flanked by two cartoon women who were naked and rubbing it. Not exactly subtitle. I went in and found myself in the lobby with a human female secretary sitting behind the counter. She looked at me and smiled.
“Client, worker or are you looking for a job.”
“None of the above. I am investigating some weird things and I heard you had a few. I don’t want to speak on this stuff in public if you know what I mean.”
I listed off the things I had been told and the secretary for the most part listened and then she said.
“You will want to speak with Madame Hawker.”
I was directed to Madame Hawker’s apartment. By all accounts she was one of the people in charge of handling the public enquiries about these things. I found the place and knocked on the door. A female voice that was very sultry came over the intercom.
“Yes…what…is…it. I am very – oh my God – busy.” There was the unmistakable sound of sex in the background.
“I will wait till you are done.”
I stood against the wall for about fifteen more minutes and then the intercom squawked again.
“Ok, I have our secretary’s note on you. Give me a few minutes and I will meet you at the door.”
True to her word the door opened there stood before me a red-haired middle-aged woman dressed in a shiny red robe. She had slippers on and her hair looked as if it had been roughed up a little. Her curves were plump and she was the kind of woman a guy who likes things to grab onto would like.
“Come in Miss Jones. I want to tell you I definitely want to help you with this one. We could use a fresh set of eyes on these happenings.”
“Thank you, I am investigating them at the request of a client of mine.”
She motioned me in and I walked past her into the hallway. I heard the door slide into place and that hair on the back of my head feeling buzzed but it was too late. I felt Madame Hawker’s hand grab my shoulder and I felt a needle prick penetrate the skin. My vision blurred immediately. I tried to turn around but my legs buckled and I found myself spinning and falling to the floor. The last thing I remember was feeling that Madame Hawker had caught me and was sliding me gently to the floor. Then the universe went black.