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Authors: Steve Perry

Brother Death

BOOK: Brother Death
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



The eighth book in the Matador series



Table of Contents

Chapter ONE

Chapter TWO

Chapter THREE

Chapter FOUR

Chapter FIVE

Chapter SIX

Chapter SEVEN

Chapter EIGHT

Chapter NINE

Chapter TEN

Chapter ELEVEN

Chapter TWELVE








Chapter TWENTY










Chapter THIRTY

Chapter ONE

DEATH CAME FOR Bork's sister during the party.

On Muto Kato there was a ceremony designed to welcome babies to life, dating from the time when a local disease made human pregnancies difficult. It was not so much a religious thing as a social gathering that allowed people in those unhappy times a peek at the lucky family and, of course, the new baby. In the hundreds of years that had passed since the infertile period, the ceremony had become a tradition. It was called Baby Day.

Bork stood between his sister, Tazzimi, and his wife, Veate, who held their three-month-old son Saval Antoon. They were part of a crowd of perhaps ten thousand parents holding most of the babies born locally since the last such gathering. Eighty meters in front of them a raised platform held several dignitaries, one of whom was making opening remarks to the assembled.

Muto Kato's bright sun shined down temperately and the air was filled with the sharp gingerspice smell that came with spring on this continent. Flowers bloomed, trees greened thicker, the cycle of the seasons renewed itself. There might be nicer places in the galaxy, but not many.

The baby's maternal grandparents, Emile Khadaji and Juete, were supposedly crossing Daito's fairgrounds at that moment to join their daughter and son-in-law, as well as to meet for the first time Bork's sister. Taz had come all the way from Tembo and her job as a cool to see her new nephew.

Ten meters away from Bork, a man focused his attention upon them. Bork felt the gaze almost as a physical pressure, and he shifted his big frame but slightly to see the cause. At nearly two meters tall and a hundred and twenty-five kilos on this world, shifting his frame without drawing attention took some skill; fortunately, matadors had such training-you didn't get to be one of the best bodyguards in the worlds of men without learning a few dance steps.

The man was paying most of his attention to Taz, Bork saw, and that was unusual. Taz was a striking woman, sure enough, tall and muscular as were most mues of their kind, and certainly interesting to look upon. But with Veate standing there breast-feeding a sleepy baby, watching anyone else ought to be almost impossible. Veate was an Albino Exotic, and she commanded attention in the same way that a sudden explosion commanded it. Everybody looked at Veate, some with more subtlety than others, but if the eyes worked and she was around, they would fasten their gaze upon her eventually.

Only, this guy was staring at Taz as though she were the most fascinating thing on the planet.

Something wrong with that.

Bork moved nonchalantly but carefully to put himself between the watching man and Veate. His wife seemed intent on listening to the speech and making sure their son was getting fed properly. She didn't glance at Bork, but she did put one hand out to lightly touch his arm, as if to make sure he was really there.

The man flicked a look at him, but resumed his watch of Tazzimi after no more than a couple of heartbeats.

Quietly Bork said, "Taz, there's a guy about ten meters to your left staring a hole through you. Anybody you know?"

His sister didn't appear to hear him, but she said, "Nope. Never seen him before. I figured he was just enjoying your wife's bare breast more than he ought to."

"Far as I can tell, it's you he's interested in."

The man took a deep breath. A fine sweat had broken out on his face.

"And he's gathering himself to move, too," Bork said.

"Yeah. Might be a problem."

"Left my spetsdods at home. I don't wear 'em much these days."

"My service gun is under a peace seal at customs," Taz said. She thought about it for a second. "Maybe I'll just go get us something nice and cold to drink," she said.

"Good idea."

If the guy meant trouble, and if he were armed, better he should follow Taz away from this crowd of parents and babies. Bork didn't want to think about who might get hurt if some psychoballoo started shooting around here.

Taz headed toward the refreshment stands on the edge of the fairgrounds. She got about five meters away, turned toward Bork and said loudly, "You wanted greenfruit juice, right?"

"Right," Bork called back. He turned away and pretended to look again at the speaker up front.

Adrenaline bubbled in him as he catalogued the man. He was average enough, not quite as large as Taz herself. She'd go maybe one hundred and eighty-three centimeters and eighty, eighty-two kilos here, he figured. The guy didn't have any obvious ethnic lines that leaped out at Bork. He was medium dark, somewhere about the shade of coffee-and-cream, dark hair chopped close. He wore baggy, bright blue two-piece matching shirt and threequarter pants, orthosandals with paler blue stockings to the knees. He had a matching synlin personals bag slung over his left shoulder on a wide strap, and looked like any other local come for the celebration. Could be somebody's uncle or cousin, nothing to mark him as unusual, save his intense attention to Bork's sister.

When Taz was thirty meters away, the man casually ambled after her. Yep. Coffee Cream over there was trouble. He had the feel.

Bork let him cover five meters and glance back once to be sure he wasn't being followed. When Cream returned his attention to Taz, Bork said to Veate, "I'm going to the fresher."

She nodded, and switched the baby to the other side, drawing stares from the people around her as perfect breasts flashed whitely in the sunlight, shining like gravid pearls. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. No problem. Back in a couple minutes."

She knew something was up but she didn't push it. Bork appreciated that.

Bork quickly angled off, and took a parallel course somewhat behind Cream. He'd worn light gray to keep from getting too hot, but he felt a little sweat begin forming under his own loose-weave orthoskins.

Cream had one hand in the shoulder bag now, and Bork was fairly certain he was holding some kind of weapon.

The big matador edged closer to the man tailing his sister, moving precisely and silently.

Cream was intent on his target, speeding up a little, gaining on her.

Taz kept her back to her watcher, as if she hadn't a care in the galaxy past achieving the drink stand.

A few more meters and Bork would be in perfect position to staple the guy into a meaty knot if he even blinked funny. Unless that hand came out of the bag empty, Bork planned to arrange it so Cream was out cold before he hit the plastcrete.

When Bork was still three steps away, Cream pulled a gun from the shoulder bag and began to swing it up in line with Taz's back. She was five meters ahead, an easy shot.

Bork yelled, "Hey, you! Drop it!"

Cream jerked his attention away from Taz and started to turn, swinging the gun around to cover the noisy threat.

That was good. Bork slid into Arc of Air, a portion of the Ninety-seven Steps that covered a lot of ground in a hurry.

"Static it, Jobo!" Taz yelled. "Move and I'll blast you!"

Cream's eyes grew wide and wild and he twisted, trying all at once to stop his turn toward Bork, to regain his primary target, and to figure out what had happened. The gun-a satin-dull, blue-black carbon-fiber spring pistol-wavered and moved back toward Taz.

"Needle him, Morry!" Bork yelled.

"Lose the gun!" Taz screamed.

The guy's mental circuits must have overloaded at that point. Both Taz and Bork were moving in on him fast and he couldn't cover both of them. Bork was closer, but Taz was who he'd come to dance with, so he half-twisted, half-fell toward her, shoved the spring pistol out and started pulling the trigger.

He got off two rounds before Bork slammed into him and smacked his upper back with the heels of both hands in the third variation of Dark Shroud.

Bork had long ago learned that this particular sumito move was a very powerful attack, even from someone with normal physical strength; done correctly, it would almost always ground a human target.

It grounded him, all right.

The spring gun flew one way, the shoulder bag another, and Cream's legs snapped up from the knees hard enough to fling both sandals off and a good four meters away. He hit like a big rock falling off a cliff on a high-gee planet. Hard enough to raise dust from the solid plastcrete and to flatten his nose and abrade his face into a bloody mess. Whatever sense he had was knocked from him instantly. He wasn't going anywhere under his own power for some time.

Problem with being so big and potent was that sometimes you didn't throttle it down enough and you caused some real damage. Well, that was too bad. Guy should have thought about that before he thought to take a shot at Bork's sister.


"I'm okay," she said. "He missed."

She came to stand next to Bork. She had scooped up the spring gun and now held it loosely pointing down at the fallen man. The gun was unnecessary.

Passersby began to gather.

"You don't know him, huh?"

"Nope. But he's a clever dongo, whoever he is."


She hefted the spring gun in her hand, looked at it, then at her brother. "This is mine," she said.

"That's fine, I don't have any use for it."

"No, I mean it's mine. This is my service pistol. My number, my initials, right there."

Bork blinked and thought about that for a second. "How'd he get it?" He nodded at the unconscious man.

"Now there's the question of the hour," she said. " 'How?' indeed."

When Emile and Juete arrived, the local cools had already hauled the unconscious would-be assassin away to the local medical kiosk for repair. Juete went to see her daughter and grandson. While Taz talked to the officer in charge of the investigation, Bork explained the situation as best he could to his father-in-law.

"Your sister have enemies who would follow her all the way from Tembo to Muto Kato?"

Bork shrugged. "I dunno. She's the assistant Chief of Investigators for High Crimes, whatever they are on Tembo. Could be she stepped on somebody's toes there. Goes with the job, she says."

Emile Khadaji nodded. As the legendary freedom fighter called The Man Who Never Missed, he knew about such things.

"Well, nobody was hurt, that's good. Anything we can do to help Saval . . ."

Bork nodded. "Thanks, boss." It was an old habit; he hadn't really worked for Khadaji for years, but once upon a time a long way back, Bork had been a bouncer in The Jade Flower, the headquarters for the revolution that eventually toppled the Confed. Another lifetime. "I'll talk to her about it."

So Khadaji went to see his grandson and Bork went to see his sister and the local cools.

"So, you figure out who he is yet?"

The Katoan policeman had a belt reader scanning the ID cube taken from the fallen man, but he shook his head. "Fake," he said, waving the reader.


She shrugged. "I didn't get a real good look at him before somebody sanded his face off," she said. She grinned. "Hell of a sidewalk tattoo."

Bork returned the smile.

"But it might be tied up with some trouble we're having at home."

Bork nodded, waiting.

"There have been some killings in the last six months," she said. "Rich and powerful people, humans, mues, men, women. A dozen or so we know about. Not just in Leijona where I'm based, but all up and down the east coast of Raion. Guy in Watu who owned a big villie plantation, couple of political types in town, the mayor of Shaba City, a timber export king down in Tibois, like that. Other than the fact they all earn more stads in a month than I'll see in a lifetime, they don't seem to have anything in common, except that they all got murdered after they were warned it would happen. We don't have shit for clues.

Locked-room deals, most of them."

Bork nodded. "Even people with money get killed."

"Yeah, except that these people had some pretty good bodyguards who tried to keep it from happening."

"Any matadors?"


"Well, there you go," Bork said.

BOOK: Brother Death
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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