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Pandora Rhees needs new clients to save the private investigator business she inherited from her parents. When Crexlan Tooms knocks on her door with a problem that needs immediate attention she jumps at the offer. Maybe too fast. Join Pandora as she digs into the disappearance of two men on Zeta II, a wild and dangerous mining frontier beyond the reach of galaxy law.
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PANDORA’S PRIVATE INQUIRIES
Copyright © 2018 by CHARLEY MARSH
Pandora’s Private Inquiries is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and places are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information contact: timberdoodlepress.com
All rights reserved.
Published 2018 in the United States of America by Timberdoodle Press.
Cover art courtesy DepositPhoto
Logo by Peter Corbin
Also by Charley Marsh
Pandora Rhees wrapped her heavy cloak more tightly around her body in an effort to deflect the combination of heavy, chill fog and the cold spray thrown up from the water skimmer’s bow. A futile gesture as the cold moisture penetrated everything.
She shivered, noticed the skimmer’s pilot smirking at her, and straightened her shoulders—unwilling to let him witness any sign of weakness that might make gossip fodder when he pulled a few mugs of ale later with his mates.
Appearance meant everything in her line of business.
Look like you know what you’re doing and others will believe that you do. One of her father’s adages.
The unexpected loss of her beloved parents still cut deep. Pandora ignored the pain and focused on the task at hand.
She would have gladly passed on this job on Zeta II—a planet of vast oceans and very little solid ground—but her credit balance had dropped dangerously low after setting up a new business office and she desperately needed the work.
There was nothing like an empty credit account to severely limit one’s choices.
“Appearance is everything.” Her business forecaster had unknowingly echoed her father. “Make the investment in the proper space now and your business will grow.”
Following the advisor’s recommendations–recommendations she had paid dearly for—Pandora had rented a small, three room office in the new Rose Tower in the center of Ridgeport, the largest port city on her home planet Myar. She had paid what seemed an exorbitant number of credits up front for three moon’s rent and stylish furnishings, credits she could ill afford.
Since opening Pandora’s Private Inquiries only a few small jobs had come her way. Two moon cycles after signing the rental contract Pandora knew she needed a big client to walk through her door or she would find herself on Beggar’s Row.
Two days before, Crexlan Tooms had answered her prayer. Tooms, second in command to Master Cyrus Black, the Cyrus Black, owner of Planetary Mining, had knocked on her door with a problem that needed immediate attention.
Tooms was a mountain of a man with massive shoulders, hands that completely swallowed Pandora’s own, and a voice that sounded as if it originated from the depths of a deep, stone cavern.
He had inspected Pandora’s obviously quiet office and told her flat out that he was reluctant to hire a young, unproven investigator, but the large, established firms were all booked and he needed her services immediately.
Pandora had leaped at the opportunity. Not only was Planetary Mining the largest mining company in the Regulus star system—with very, very deep pockets—they were also highly respected.
If she completed the job for Master Black in a satisfactory manner the jobs would start pouring in and she’d be able to hire a receptionist and another investigator. Her dream of following in her deceased parents’ and grandparents’ shoes would be realized.
The water skimmer’s deck shuddered under Pandora’s feet, bringing her back to the present. The skimmer bucked as it rode the wild surf that pounded the stone breakwater guarding Orion, Zeta II’s only port. Pandora grabbed the deck rail and automatically spread her feet for stability.
For several tense minutes the heavy water skimmer climbed the crests of the waves and slammed into the troughs with a lurch that made her stomach slide up and down.
She caught a glimpse of the pilot’s sly, grinning face and wondered if he was making the ride rougher than necessary just to frighten her.
She heaved a silent sigh of relief when they finally popped through the breakwater’s narrow opening onto placid green waters. The pilot steered the skimmer to the public pier and waited in silence for Pandora to disembark.
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