- Author: Ed Charlton
Read book online «TMV (Jim Able: Offworld Book 3) by Ed Charlton (best interesting books to read txt) 📕». Author - Ed Charlton
JIM ABLE: OFFWORLD
© 2017 Ed Charlton
All rights reserved.
Published by Scribbulations LLC
PO Box 1106
Jim Able has traveled to a planet called Turcanis Major V. On TMV-I, the largest moon, he has met Sopha Luca, a member of the Regdenir religious sect and the only inhabitant of the TM system to have traveled offworld. Because of a small lie Jim has told, his investigation almost ended in armed confrontation between two sides of Turcanian society.
Jim has returned to Earth to discover Sopha has illegally purchased a military-grade weapon. Jim has called his Turcanian contact, scientist and TV personality Madhar Nect, to deliver the bad news.
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“Madhar, I’ll leave it to you. Find me who to talk to. It looks like I’m coming back.”
“Okay, Jim. It’ll be good to see you.”
Jim nearly hung up, but he changed his mind.
“Madhar, one more thing, I think...”
“We should perhaps be watching out for Sopha Luca, to see what he does. What state are your astronomers in? I know you have a telescope. Are there many more?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Keeping watch on Mainworld. You’ll be looking for unusual flashes or even persistent beams of light. You may see clouds of smoke or particulates. I guess you should concentrate on the old landing site.”
“They’d need to be sizeable for us to see them.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“Bring some better telescopes with you, Jim, as a goodwill gift to the scientists of ‘Turcanis.’”
“Maybe. Are you unhappy with that name?”
“Well, it isn’t our name. It sounds a bit like a colloquial term for one of the bumps on our heads. Given the peculiarities of your anatomy, I suppose it isn’t too bad...to emphasize our distinctiveness.”
Jim looked down his list of questions. “Madhar, one more thing.”
“Small matter. When your guys explored Mainworld and discovered the Maggnir, what did the Regdenir think of that—of the Maggnir?”
“Oh, I’ve no idea, not a clue. You’d need to go back to your Regdenir contacts. All I know is the fuss about landing on Mainworld. Can’t help you. Maybe they worship the Maggnir too; I wouldn’t know.”
“Okay. Thanks for all your help.”
“How can I use this link of yours? Can I call you?”
“No. It’s set up just for me at the moment. I’ll call again when I’m on my way. You can definitely get government help?”
“Madhar, you’re a true friend.”
“As you are, Jim Able.”
Jim wrote a supplement to his report recommending Sopha Luca be allowed to use the laser cannon for his religious purposes. After that, Jim reasoned, the Turcanian might be in a mood to talk about returning the weapon. He wanted to have something in the report that gave the impression he knew what he was doing. He saw no need to mention Madhar’s fears.
He decided not to send the report electronically. He printed a paper copy and went to see his boss.
She was in a meeting with someone Jim did not recognize. In fact, the visitor was a species he did not recognize. The plain fact of an alien visiting the OEA was strange enough. That Liz should be hosting one was astonishing.
“Jim!” she called from inside her office. “Come in.”
He walked into the office and caught the eye of the alien. Its head bowed slightly in greeting, but it said nothing.
“Good morning,” said Jim politely. He had intended to place the report firmly on her desk, but she stood and took it from him before he could get the chance.
“Please take a seat.”
He was taken off guard. Not knowing what was happening was common enough out on an assignment; it was disorientating for it to happen in the office.
While she read his report, he took a long sideways look at the alien in the chair next to him. It was a slender primate about seven feet tall, wearing a single plain, seamless piece of clothing with a half-hood covering the back of its head. Black leather boots showed below; they seemed somehow wider than a human would need.
The alien’s skin caught Jim’s attention more than its clothing; he couldn’t work out the color. Where an arm rested on the wooden part of the chair, the skin seemed to be light brown and wrinkled, but its face was smooth and white like its robe. As the alien lifted an arm to stroke the back of its head, the arm immediately lost its brown color, the wrinkles becoming smooth and pale. Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw the color and texture change back as the arm made contact once more with the wood of the chair.
A chameleon? he wondered. He had never heard of an intelligent species with that ability.
The alien’s face was also unexpected. It was smooth-skinned with a small nose. The eyes were small and seemed flush with the brow and cheeks. It was an impassive, unrevealing face.
Liz looked up from the report. “I think your recommendation is dangerous in the extreme.” To his surprise, she handed the report to the alien. “This is Tella, from the External Intelligence Agency. The information on the Turcanian’s recent acquisitions came from Tella’s work.”
Jim was learning a great deal this morning. The EIA employed non-humans! This was the sort of thing that brought down governments. He knew that a band of EIA operatives had only code names on their correspondence. Their identity was always supposed to be closely guarded. Now he knew why. But why was he being introduced to one?
He turned to the alien and held out his hand, saying, “Pleased to meet you, Tella.” Tella took his hand, and Jim saw the alien’s skin blush pink in a reflection of Jim’s own.
“Jim. I have read your reports on Turcanis Major.”
The alien’s voice was modulated such that Jim got no clue as to its sex. The noncommittal greeting gave him no clue as to whether Tella was friend or foe. Liz smiled at Jim, an enigmatic smile