Excerpt for PENUMBRIALS: 01 Penumbra by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


01 Penumbra

by SciFurz

version 13/09/2017

text and cover
copyright © 2017 SciFurz

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All characters engaging in copulation, drinking, substance abuse or other so-called adult behaviour that might appear in this totally made up story are of the magical adult age before anything like that happens according to the laws of your residence.

All characters are also fictional and have no resemblance to any other person, animal or object, living or dead, or even undead, zombie or ectoplasmic form.

No animals were harmed during the making of this story, except for those slaughtered to feed humans or satisfy experiments, feed predators in the wild, and those in unfortunate accidents.


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Search and Rescue

New Home Base

Getting to Know the Enemy

Search and Rescue

'Dispatch for car six-eleven-seven.' came out of the police radio in Adalet's car.

She put away the beef and lettuce sandwich she had barely taken a bite out of and picked up the microphone. 'Six-eleven-seven, Adalet here. What's up dispatch?'

'Can you assist Frazella with a drug bust? There's a couple of junkies that need to be taken in for questioning.'

Adalet sighed at the prospect of delaying her mid-shift meal. She was glad for Dormin's cooking though, it kept her going all night if she had no time to eat something in between, but she preferred not to come home to him all hungry again. At least not for food. 'All right dispatch, on my way. Send me the address.' She started the car and drove off to where the navigation led her.

Adalet stopped in one of the poor neighbourhoods at a run down bar with its sign hanging askew. The streets were virtually empty because few people wanted to go out on these badly lit streets. The windows of the bar were replaced by panels and the same dull brown paint used for the building, and were mostly covered by graffiti. She recognised Frazella's old grey sedan parked in front of her. It seemed about as old as its owner and probably had one or two dents more than last time she had seen it. She went to the boarded up door of the bar, stepped inside and took a moment to scan the situation. It seemed everyone had left apart from the old barkeeper who lugged a crate to the back and Frazella with his suspect.

Frazella leaned back against the bar making notes. The forty-six year old man had just as much dents in his blue jacket and brown pants as his car. There were two young women and one guy sitting in the booth in front of him.

Frazella looked up from his notes to her. 'Adalet, good to see you. I need to take these jokers to the station to have a chat about who's delivering the stuff since their old supplier died in a shooting last month.'

Adalet gave him a nod. 'Still cleaning up the streets, eh?' She walked up to the junkies who sat quietly in handcuffs. The two women sat very close and Adalet suspected they were a couple.

'A never ending job.' Frazella said and moved next to her. 'But it'll keep me occupied and prevent me from going berserk on my own.' He gestured at the women. 'I think the ladies would feel more comfortable riding with you.'

Adalet watched the women holding their hands together while they looked down at the table in front of them. 'All right then. Let's go.' The women glanced at her and shuffled from their seat. 'This way.' she said and walked ahead of them to the door. The moment she laid her hand on the door knob a shot rang behind her.

She turned in time to see Frazella double up from the close up shot taken by the guy with a pistol. Despite moving away and drawing her own gun she was too late. The guy took a shot at her fast and the impact of the bullet hit her hard in the chest. She clenched her teeth against the pain in her ribs and fired back, twice.

The guy dropped on the floor and was dead in two breaths.

The two women had jumped aside in a corner and whimpered while holding each other tight. Adalet kept her gun aimed at the guy and stood up with some difficulty, stepped closer and kicked the gun he had used to the end of the bar. Still keeping the gun aimed at the guy's head she checked for a pulse. Satisfied there was none she moved to Frazella. He groaned while he pressed against his bloody stomach wound. She called dispatch and was glad for her habit of wearing her armoured vest.


Dormin scanned the hotel suite when he entered it. Standard setup, main living room, bedroom to one side, a kitchen. Just a bit more luxurious with the finish and size than what he could afford. If he ever booked one of these things.

He gestured to his client that it was safe to come in. The businessman had asked for a bodyguard after rumours popped up he was targeted for an unfriendly takeover of his transportation business by an unknown party. As long as the investigation was active, legal recommended him to get some protection. It was also deductible according to finance.

The man, Larry Procane, sixty-four years old but still looking ten years younger, wasn't too pleased with it but accepted the temporary inconvenience. He hoped it was temporary in any case because it all looked to be just a rumour and not a serious threat. None of his competitors would use anything but a large check for a weapon to threaten with. He took off his coat and went for the mini bar to get a drink and returned to one of the chairs in the centre of the room with a glass of whiskey. 'You can relax now, I'm safe and sound in here. You being here is just a formality.'

Dormin nodded. 'Looks that way.' He fetched a glass of water for himself and stared out the window to the busy street ten storeys below. Lights from trendy clubs and restaurants and passing cars lit the street. The noise was a background murmur behind the insulated windows. Even if he didn't suffer from insomnia, he doubted he'd sleep long in such a part of the city without proper soundproofing.

A knock on the door was followed by a woman calling out room service. He went to the door and opened it far enough to take a look while his hand rested on his gun. The young blonde woman in light blue skirt uniform gestured at the trolley in front of her. 'The tapas you ordered.'

Dormin nodded and opened the door letting her in, taking a quick look at the trolley's lower trays. His client was fond of eating tapas in the afternoon because he usually ate late, and had ordered some as soon as they had checked in. The young woman swayed her hips while she pushed the trolley to the middle of the room. 'Would you like these at the dining table, or at the seating?'

Larry gestured to the table in front of him. 'Over here, please.' He leaned back and watched closely with a little smile while she bent and turned each time she put a small plate with sliced meat or vegetables on the table. Dormin watched as well, but only to make sure nothing happened.

She handed the receipt to Larry, who added a big tip by the looks on his face, before she took out a bottle of matching red wine. She pat her pockets and sighed. 'Oh dear. Forgot the corkscrew.' She looked at Dormin who stood close to the mini bar. 'Could you hand me the one from the bar, please?'

'Of course.' he said and opened the cupboard door where the corkscrew would hang inside. He heard a gasp and a click, then the loud bangs delivering two hard hits to the side of his back.

The next two he hardly heard from the pain numbing his senses while he fell to the floor. His training kicked in and he pulled his pistol, aimed where the woman would stand while he hit the floor, and fired twice through the back of the couch the moment he lay still.

After a thud silence returned.

Ignoring the pain and probably cracked rib, he crawled to the side to see the woman lie face down on the floor. Her hand was empty and he checked for her pistol. He found it in Larry's dead lap as he stood up with difficulty. Blood staining her uniform made it clear his shots had been fatal. A strip of duct tape underneath the trolley's lowest tray revealed where the gun had been hidden.

He went over to the cupboard in the corner with the hotel phone and sat against it while dialling reception to get an ambulance and police.


Terry hurried inside the police station towards the canine officer at the front desk. 'Adalet and Dormin! Where are they!? Are they okay!? Were their shots serious!?' She looked left and right quickly before staring at the officer again.

The officer held up his hands and backed away from the fox leaning close with her ears flat and her tail wagging nervously. 'Relax. They're not hurt badly apart from some bruised ribs. They're professionals and wore their vests.' He gestured at the office to his right. 'They're at her desk.'

Terry had hurried away before he finished the last word.

'Adalet! Dormin!' They both looked back at Terry as she came up to them. 'I'm so glad you're okay!' She cupped Dormin's cheeks and gave him a big kiss while Adalet saw a few of her colleagues snigger softly as they glanced at the lively fox.

Dormin took Terry's hands in his. 'Don't worry, it's not my first time and we'll be fine in a few weeks with enough rest. Just no hugging until then.'

Terry nodded and took Adalet's hand. How are you doing?'

Adalet gave her a smile. 'It's the first for me, but as he said, we'll be fine.'

Terry nodded. 'You'll have to tell me everything on the way home.'

Adalet closed the open case folder on her desk and put it in one of her trays. 'You'll have to stop on the way where we can get something to eat, I don't think Dormin's in any shape to cook soon.' A single chuckle made him wince. 'Not even to open a can.'


'So it was rather unexpected?' Terry asked while she carried the bags of takeaway food inside Dormin's place.

Adalet hung her jacket on the coat rack by the door. She and Dormin both hadn't bothered putting on their jackets after taking them off with their body armour. 'In my case nothing seemed to escalate to violence. It wasn't a serious drug bust.'

Dormin sat down on the couch. 'No one thought my client would really be threatened by physical harm. It was a formality for any large corporation when it comes to rumours of a takeover.' He frowned at the large screen in front of him. 'But that still doesn't excuse my failure. I shouldn't have taken my eyes off of her for a single moment.'

Adalet sat down next to him and took his hand. 'Something like this hasn't happened in a very long time. And there was no reason to suspect any violence in this matter.'

He nodded. 'I know, but it still was a failure and I don't understand why that woman was sent to kill him. He'd be happy to take a fat check and be bought out.'

Terry brought plates to the table with the food. 'Maybe we can find out?' Adalet and Dormin looked up to her. 'I found the settings that made the portable try to contact home base as soon as it runs and finds a suitable network. I disabled it and have been poking around the thing. One of the interesting things I found is that I can have it search for something and it'll use any means necessary to gather information. It's like a super search engine armed to the teeth to go after information. This is ultimate spyware.'

Dormin leaned back carefully. 'You mean we can let it search for a person for instance, and it'll come back with all their digital information?'

Terry nodded. 'Not just what's available on the usual public spaces, but also on any network accessible from the grid.'

Adalet whistled. 'The government loves those kinds of toys.'

Terry went back to the kitchen and retrieved the portable from the hiding place. 'The operating system is named SMN.' she said as she sat down on the couch and unfolded the machine. 'I thought I'd just call her Ismene.'

'Her?' asked Dormin.

Terry grinned. 'I just get a female sense from this thing. Not sure why, but it just feels that way. And it fits the name.' She typed in a few commands. 'Whatever algorithm is used in this system, I think it's much more like an artificial intelligence than a run of the mill piece of clever software.' She showed the screen with a growing list of document names. 'See? She already knows the names of your shooters by just asking about today's events.'

Dormin and Adalet leaned closer and saw the names of the attackers in the list. Adalet nodded. 'Their names haven't even been made public yet. How does she know?'

Terry expanded the list. 'Got it from your own system. And I never even told her how to get into it.'

Dormin hummed in thought. 'Won't that kind of thing be traced back to us?'

Terry grinned. 'She knows how to hide.' She typed in a few more commands. 'I set priority to any financial traces to see who might have paid them. We can eat in the meantime.'

The list on the portable flashed one name in red later and Terry took a closer look. 'Hey, there's a name that's linked to both your shooters. Steen LaRossa.' She finished the last bite of her plate, picked up the portable and opened a map showing the links between the various bits of data. 'Looks like whoever paid the ones who hired the shooters is one and the same. There must be some connection between your client Larry and your colleague Frazella.'

Adalet and Dormin examined the map and the information collected so far but saw nothing that would prove or even indicate that connection. Dormin handed the portable back to Terry. 'Can you get her to look more into this Steen? See what comes up?'

Terry nodded and typed in more instructions. 'I'm not sure if there's anything to be found. I'll bet it'll take a while.'

Dormin nodded. 'That's okay. I feel like getting some sleep anyway. I'm not used to being awake during the day.'

Adalet chuckled. 'I think none of us are.'

He smiled a little deviously at her. 'You're welcome to join me. Carefully, of course.'

She chuckled and returned his smile. 'I'll be gentle.'

He turned to Terry. 'And how about you?' Terry gave him a wide grin. 'You still need to ask?'

Terry let Ismene do her thing and went hand in hand with Dormin, like Adalet, to the bed. She helped Adalet take off her clothes, then undressed herself and grinned at Dormin when she helped undress him. 'I see one thing wasn't damaged during the shooting.'

He chuckled and kissed her. 'But I won't be able to make use of it until my ribs have healed enough.' She flattened her ears and watched him with big sad eyes. He poked her nose. 'No matter how much I want to, I can't. Not without straining my chest.'

They crawled on the bed and Adalet and Terry laid close without leaning against his chest, but they made up for it in passionate kissing until they fell asleep.


Dormin woke up first again with a pounding headache. This time he didn't need to wait until the women woke up. They were merely holding his arm and hand instead of the usual snuggled up position they slept in, because of Adalet's and his injuries. He already felt a little lonelier because of that, even when they only became lovers just few weeks ago. There was something about them that made him think there was no future without either of them now.

He got up, careful not to wake them, and went out of the bedroom area to do the strength training he could do first. The shower after that reduced the rest of the headache and he sat down on the couch with a large mug of water.

The screens from the portable turned on and a summary on Steen LaRossa popped up. He read it and hummed in thought. The document stated Steen did security consultancy for a couple of firms, including a couple of jobs for Elecore in the past.

The back of Dormin's mind stirred again.

Terry walked up to Dormin after a while and gave him a deep kiss as she sat next to him. 'Got some results from Ismene?'

He nodded and pulled up the search path map. 'Although nothing indicating a link between Frazella and my client. The only thing that stands out is that Steen did a few consultancy jobs for Elecore. But since he has a longer list of clients it may be coincidence. Although it would make sense if Adalet and I were killed.'

Terry examined the search path which had nothing in common between the victims. 'So, the link could be you and Adalet?' She looked worried at Dormin. 'The hits were to mask an attempt to kill the both of you?'

He stared at the map. 'The back of my mind says that might just be it.'

Terry took the portable and typed a new search command. 'I'll have her search more on this guy and his connections. Maybe she can find something concrete.'

When Adalet woke up she felt stiff all over. She groaned as she half rolled off the bed and walked over to Terry and Dormin on the couch. 'I don't ever want to be shot again.' she said and sat down slowly on the couch.

Terry put away the portable. 'I'll make some tea to help you relax.'

Adalet gave her a smile. 'Thanks.' She watched Dormin check out a security firm. 'Is that a clue?'

Dormin showed her the search results from Ismene. 'This is Steen's current project, consultancy for Koan. And that security firm is specialised in high tech clients. I'm thinking maybe Elecore wasn't the only one with access to suspiciously sophisticated hardware.'

Adalet nodded. 'You think it's related to Terry's toy?'

Dormin gestured at the search path map. 'We are the only thing that make a link between Frazella and Procane. And it might be even worse.'

Adalet looked at him. 'We're the reason for the shootings?'

Terry brought back a tray with three mugs of tea and handed Adalet and Dormin one each. 'The only thing missing is an attempt on my life to confirm the theory. Which might not have happened yet because they haven't found me yet.' She sat down and blew on her hot tea. 'Usually when I thought someone would look for me I'd just move far away. But this time I don't want to leave at all.' She leaned a little against Dormin and he put his hand on her thigh, scritching her fur.

'Either we all need to go away, or none of us will.' he said and she smiled softly at him. He laid the portable on the table. 'If Ismene can't find anything, I'll think we need to have a talk with Steen.' He stood up with a little groan. 'In the meantime we'd better prepare ourselves for another attempt at our lives, just in case it's true that we were the target. And they'll probably try to make it look like an accident again.'

Terry continued checking out the results Ismene delivered with Adalet. Together they filled in some missing parts through their contacts, while Dormin took care of the weapons.

Terry stretched after a while. 'Damn. I need to stretch my legs.' she said and went to the kitchen to make more tea, then went up to Dormin.

He looked up from cleaning one submachine gun. 'Any progress?'

Terry shook her head. 'Not really. Just filling in minor blanks so far.' She stared at the array of guns and ammo. 'Can you teach me to shoot?'

He looked up at her again. 'You want to learn how to handle a weapon?'

She nodded. 'I've played plenty of games, but never used a real gun. And I think if they're really after us I need to know how to defend myself.'

Dormin hummed in thought. 'Okay then, get dressed and we'll go to the basement of one of the old factories here. I use it to shoot and check my guns once in a while.'


Adalet watched Terry and Dormin return from her training later. Terry grinned. 'I guess things went well?'

Terry chuckled. 'It was fun.'

Dormin put down the bags with weapons. 'I think gaming helped to get her up to speed. She's good at remote targeting.'

Adalet smiled. 'Good. But a real shooting is nothing like this.'

Terry nodded. 'But at least I know what to do with a weapon now. As for actually shooting at someone, I have no idea what I'll do.'

Dormin put his hand on her shoulder. 'Well, I do know what you can do now.'

She looked back at him. 'What?'

He smirked. 'Clean the guns.'


'There.' Dormin spotted the nearly forty year old man with black hair and dark blue suit with a black briefcase as he walked up the steps to the front of the apartment building where he lived. Adalet nodded and got out of the car with Dormin.

They had parked on a small car park across the street from the building. The neighbourhood was busy enough for them to avoid drawing attention. If anything they looked like a couple who had been spending time at the better shops and lunchrooms that occupied the ground floors of the several multi-storey office and apartment buildings.

Adalet used the universal keycard Terry had given her to open the front door and they stepped into the front hall with marble finish floor and pillar motif on the walls. 'Looks like he makes plenty more than I do.'

Dormin checked the list of names hanging on the wall next to an array of mailboxes. 'Third floor.'

He and Adalet took the stairs to avoid the elevator camera and made sure the hallway at the third floor was empty before moving to Steen's front door with their gun drawn.

Adalet held a flat microphone to the door and heard commercials playing through her mobile's earbud. She nodded at Dormin who switched the safety off of his gun. She used the key card again and a soft click told them the door was unlocked. She opened the door slowly to see if there was another lock or chain on it but it opened far enough for them to slip into the short hallway.

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