The Tangled Informant


7/9/20232 min read

There was a frigid silence as we picked through the remnants of the colony, every empty home and deserted street a haunting echo of the lives they once housed. The wind weaved through the hollow structures, creating eerie sounds that echoed in the silent city. A shell of its past vibrance, the town was now nothing more than a spectral shadow of abandonment and lost hopes.

A strange figure in the distance caught our attention. He was a scruffy man, his clothes tattered and dirty from what seemed like weeks, perhaps months of neglect. His demeanor spoke of someone caught in the throes of despair, desperation etched in his features. His wild eyes and the erratic mannerisms were a stark contrast to the stillness of the desolate town.

"Well, aren't we in pleasant company," Fitt muttered under his breath, casting a sidelong glance at the stranger. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards into a smug smirk, momentarily lifting the somber mood.

Approaching him, we could hear the stranger mumbling something, his voice carried by the wind. "...the woman and her child...they took my seat..." he grumbled, his eyes glazed over as if he was reliving a past trauma.

The words hung in the air like an icy fog, freezing us in our tracks. Chef's sharp intake of breath pierced the silence. His gaze was locked on the man, a myriad of emotions playing out in his eyes.

"Who are you?" Chef's demand was more a plea, his voice echoing eerily in the silent settlement.

The stranger's cracked lips twisted into a knowing smirk. "Names won't help you. But, I have something you want," his voice, hoarse from misuse, broke through the wind's mournful symphony. "I know where they went. But it comes with a price."

Fitt snorted, "I'm not sure if I'm up for a game of riddles and cryptic exchanges."

Ignoring Fitt, I persisted, "What's the price?"

"Your ship," came the immediate response. His gaze was steady, and his voice held a calm resolve.

"Right, trading our ship for breadcrumbs. Moe, remind me to add 'bargaining skills' to the list of his possible hallucinations," Fitt commented, his tone a cocktail of sarcasm and disbelief.

"Been stuck here a month, all thanks to that woman and her kid. I need a ride out. Simple," the stranger continued, ignoring Fitt's quips.

The declaration hung in the silence. His demand was steep, and he knew it. But we were cornered. He had the information we needed, and he knew exactly how to play his cards.

"All right," I relented after a heavy pause. I shared a glance with Chef and Fitt, whose expressions mirrored my own conflicted thoughts.

"Wait," the stranger interrupted, a wild glint appearing in his eyes. "We're going to play a game. If you win, you get your information. If I win, you all sit here and wait for the next transport."

Fitt, always the one for a twist, couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, I've never been one to turn down a good game."

"And I hope you're ready to lose," the stranger retorted, his grin wide, exposing chipped and discolored teeth.

As we trailed behind him into the depths of the forsaken colony, each step seemed heavier, each breath a bit harder. The stakes were towering over us, yet I knew, looking at Chef and Fitt, we were in this together.