THE MAKER OF WIDOWMAKERS’ ARM by Cameron Cooper
Ptolemy Lane Tales 3.0
Space Opera Science Fiction Novelette
Available for pre-order. Releases on this site on March 17th, and releases everywhere else on March 24th.
Ptolemy Lane faces two problems.
A severed arm found on the roof of the highest building in Georgina’s Town sends Ptolemy Lane on the hunt for the rest of the body. It neatly distracts him from the fact that Diya Sandor, former ship captain and new town resident, has left him.
But when both issues intersect, the fallout can’t be ignored.
The Maker of Widowmakers’ Arm is the third Ptolemy Lane space opera science fiction story by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper.
BARNES & NOBLE
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EXCERPT FROM THE MAKER OF WIDOWMAKERS’ ARM
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2022
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Pillar was on the other side of the plaza. We stepped into the building and then into one of the elevators which served the forty-two upper levels and the twenty-three lower levels. Two other people were in the car. I judged they were harmless, and entered my code into the car controls to give me access to the roof, which was denied to other citizens. The doors shut and we were whisked upward.
The other two people got off on different floors, leaving me with Ninety-Nine, who watched the control panel roll through the floor numbers with a nervous expression, clutching his terminal against his chest.
We stepped out into the bright sunlight once more. Ninety-Nine came to a halt, looking up at the glass-like dome. “I can almost touch it….” Awe rang in his voice.
“You can’t. Not from here. And you wouldn’t want to. It would freeze your fingers.” I kept moving, intending to take a circuit around the edge of the roof to find Doc.
Doc stepped out from around the side of the elevator housing and beckoned.
We moved around to the other side of the roof. This side got sunlight all day. Doc headed for a man who stood by the elevator housing, staring out through the dome at the sterile, rock-strewn landscape outside. The man’s face was grey.
“Building management,” I murmured for Ninety-Nine’s sake.
Doc stopped with one shoulder almost against the wall, and beckoned again.
We went up to him.
The arm laid on the dusty floor of the roof, right up against the elevator housing, so the elbow was tucked into the crease between roof and wall. The fingers were slightly curled, the way they did when you relaxed. It hadn’t been covered up in any way.
The shoulder end of the arm had been hacked at with something sharp, leaving jagged edges in the skin and meat beneath.
Ninety-Nine turned away, swallowing.
I bent closer to inspect the business end. They’d cut through the soft tissues right at the shoulder joint. The end of the humerus wasn’t a nicely curved ball anymore. It had been wrenched out of shape, the titanium pitted and bent.
“Like snapping a chicken wing off,” Doc guessed.
Ninety-Nine gave a soft moan.
“Looks like, yeah.” I straightened. “Serial number?” I could have determined the number for myself by tasting the blood, but that was a skill I kept to myself, mostly, and Doc would have already checked the serial number for himself with his hand-processor while waiting for me to arrive.
Doc Lowry held his terminal out to me. I took it and scanned the screen. I’ve had a lot of practice skimming serial registrations, and knew where to look for a fast summary.
“Sejad Pascale,” I read off. “Technician model. Made after the Purging—”
“Isn’t everyone born…built after the Purging, out here?” Ninety-Nine said.
I stared at him, more because he’d had the balls to interrupt, than for the quality of his question.
“There’s some still around from before the Purging, kid,” Doc told him. “Very few, but the biotechs keep ‘em going and going.”
“The Purging was five hundred years ago!”
“Nearly six hundred, actually,” I said. I lifted the terminal. “Built in a serial-owned facility on Thasauria b in 3372 PCE. First assignment to a high tech manufacturing plant on Thasauria. No other entries.” I looked up. “Revealing as usual. Ninety-Nine, look up the town registry. See if there’s a Sejad Pascale.”
“Figure he’s using the same name after all this time?” Doc Lowry asked.
I nearly pointed out that I was still using the name assigned to me, but stopped myself. Fact was, I had a few spares up my sleeve for times when the baggage that came with Ptolemy Jovan Lane was inconvenient.
Doc shifted his boot, to point the toe at the severed arm. “Sun is drying it out. It’s been here a day, at least.” He met my gaze.
“The scrubbers.” I pulled out my own, smaller terminal from my coat pocket and searched for the name I needed, then requested a connection.
Ninety-Nine was frowning at Doc and me.
“Spit it out,” I told him.
“Why aren’t you checking with the First Aid Stations? He lost an arm.”
Lowry just chuckled.
“No blood pooled around the arm,” I told the kid. “Pascale was dead when they took the arm off.”
“But why?” Ninety-Nine sounded utterly bewildered. And outraged.