Welcome To Planet K-RIA by Sophia Adepoju was submitted in May 2022 to Challenging The Writers Writing Contest #3 based on the writing prompt: The setting of your story is in space, and it has two main characters who don’t work well together but need to in order to survive the next 24 hours.
WELCOME TO PLANET K-RIA
Officer-Detective Mpho Kwame didn’t expect to be in Chief Mansa’s office on a Monday morning.
Earlier on her way to the Police station, she read of another case of robbery in District Z-25b.
“More work for the team,” she groaned.
She looked at the Firestorm photon pistol sitting on the dashboard of her car. Then back at the road, hoping the traffic would clear up fast.
“Chief? You asked to see me?” Mpho said as she saluted the bulky man sitting opposite her across a metal desk. Files with spewing A4s sat on the desk’s surface, and she noticed a half-eaten icing-coated donut at the edge near a mug.
“Yes. Sit down.” Chief Mansa replied.
His beard hid most of his lips so it was hard to hear his words when he spoke. Mpho adjusted her belt and pistol as she sat.
“Yes. I have a new mission for you.”
Mpho nearly smiled. When Zain told her the Chief wanted to see her as soon as she arrived, she knew it wasn’t about her recent lateness.
“Yes Chief,” she said and her military training mode resurfaced.
“You of all people know what happened to the Minister of Science,”
“I do Chief. I failed my mission to protect him,”
“Very well. There has been a new murder. We suspect we didn’t arrest the real killer 6 months ago.”
The head scientist in Level 1 was murdered during his visit to District Z-25b last night. Throat cut clean and body stabbed many times.
Your new mission is to find this killer and this time arrest the person responsible. You can use all the resources you need. But the level 1s want this done without noise. It’s why I’m giving this mission to you. You have 24 hours. Clear?”
“Clear Chief. I won’t fail you and the bosses.” Mpho let her lips slide into a smirk as she spoke. Chief Mansa shook his head.
“Dismissed.” Chief Mansa said, handing a brown file to Mpho. She stood and gave him a quick salute before leaving his office.
“Great. This is how I wanted to start my week.” She muttered as she strolled to her desk, touching the hilt of her pistol with her free hand. At her desk, Mpho read through the file.
Mpho sighed and stretched over her desk to pick a donut from the carton on her colleague’s desk.
She stuffed her mouth and paused to chew when her eyes caught a line of words. An address.
The head scientist had visited a hotel in District Z-25b before he died. There was only one person who knew everyone and everywhere in level 3.
Mpho picked her dialler and punched the keys. Licking her fingers for sugar residue. The call operative put her through and she heard a beep.
“Hello? This is Officer-Detective Mpho Kwame from the Police Department of Planet K-RIA. I have a request to make.”
The caller responded with an acknowledgement of who Mpho was and asked her to proceed.
“I would like to loan an inmate for a few hours for a confidential case.”
“That is possible. But you will have to come to The Abyss yourself to process the inmate’s temporary release.” The voice replied.
“That’s alright. I’m on my way.”
Mpho checked her watch, it was already 9 am. She had 23 hours to find the murderer and put them behind bars. What could go wrong?
Mpho packed her desk and headed out of the station towards her car. There was only one way to get to District Z-25b within the next hour. She had to use one of the space dumpers. But she had to drive down to the subway to take one.
At the subway, Mpho used her badge to cut through the queue of civilians and government officials. She was going all the way down to level 4—District Q-12 A.K.A The Abyss. The home to all kinds of criminals who would never see the light of Planet K-RIA again till they die.
The space dumpers travelled through quantum tubes. They used photon particles to accelerate against the gravity of the planet. Within a blink of her eye, the space dumper arrived at the District Q-12 subway.
Mpho weaved through the crowd of homeless people. District Q-12 was almost a wasteland. Pollution from Districts Z-25b, B-18k, and X-13a was sent down to level 4 for incineration. It was why the sky down here looked like it was always night-time. The soot diffused into the atmosphere over the years forming a dark massive cloud over the city.
“Can I see your ID ma’am?” the security guard at the entrance of The Abyss asked Mpho as she introduced herself.
“Yeah, sure.” She handed him a plastic card with her photograph and rank. Despite her obvious police uniform and Firestorm photon pistol. She couldn’t blame him.
This was District Q-12 after all they were doing their jobs. After a few minutes of inspecting her card and a few questions, a buzzing sound echoed from the gates. Mpho sighed as she stepped into the hallway of The Abyss.
This wasn’t her first time inside its metallic walls. Greeted by its pungent odour of ammonia from fermented urine and faeces. Mpho felt there was something about the prison that made her skin crawl.
She reached the receptionist after a 5 minutes stroll down the corridor. Her blue curls bounced as she turned her head to observe her surroundings. Her mentor at the academy told her a good detective is someone who sees what is not there, what everyone ignores.
“Hi, Officer-Detective Mpho Kwame. We spoke earlier,” Mpho said trying to cut the small talk she knew was bound to happen with people like this.
“Yes. There’s only one problem. Inmate-108 has refused his release. He said he’s not interested in whatever deal you’re offering.”
“Hmm. That right?. Can I see him? For a few minutes?”
“Sure, this way.”
The receptionist lead Mpho through a dimly lighted corridor flanked by cells. Mpho ignored the catcalls and whistles that followed her as she walked past the cells.
Her uniform wasn’t doing her any good either as the inmates said things they would love to do to her in it. Mpho smiled and tapped her pistol. It drew silence from their mouth. So they knew what the Firestorm photon pistol could do. Mpho chuckled.
No one wanted their body liquidized after all. The receptionist stopped at the last cell and knocked on the door. Two guards stood at the door to the left of the hallway. Mpho threw a salute at them and faced the cell. She raised her left eyebrow at the receptionist.
“Some privacy please?”
“Yes. Of course.” She said and stepped backwards and smiled awkwardly at the guards.
“Inmate-108, you’re required by the Police Department of Planet K-RIA to help in a classified case. Your reward is a reduction in your sentence.”
“Go away. I don’t want your deal.”
“Look here, Azalea,” Mpho started and held the bars of the cell, pushing her mouth into the space between them. The shadow figure inside the cell paused his press up and stood to his feet. Turned at the mention of his birth name.
“You belong to the government. And when they say they need you, you be a good boy and answer their call. Get him out and ready. I’ve wasted enough time.”
The guards unlocked his cell and pushed him out with more than needed force. Mpho wanted to protest but stopped herself. He asked for it.
Within the next hour, the guards cleaned Inmate-108 and he was ready for release. He wore his black long flowing leather jacket. The receptionist argued against giving him his pistols—he called the Defilers— but Mpho dismissed her.
“See, it’s much easier for us when you listen and obey,” Mpho said as Inmate-108 walked out to join her at the entrance of The Abyss.
He took deep breaths, filling his lungs with District Q-12’s air for the first time in 5 years.
“Now, Azalea, we find a murder.”