Under a Killing Moon
Under a Killing Moon is the novelization of the video game of the same name, written by Aaron Conners in 1996
We are introduced to the world of Tex Murphy, a private detective character created for the games Mean Streets, Martian Memorandum and Under a Kiling Moon. The world has been through a Third World War and a radioactive disaster. A percentage of humanity has mutated.
Tex Murphy lives in the former Ritz Hotel, in Old San Francisco where the mutants have gathered. It’s December 2042, about 20 days before Christmas and Tex is under a bad period of his life, divorced and without a case.
Tex is flying in his speeder, a futuristic airborne personal vehicle, lamenting on his lack of Lucky Strikes, as he can't find a single pack in Mexico City. He finds a forgotten Malrboro Rojo cigarillos in the passenger seat, and although he doesn't like it (he compares them to Sauron's creations in the foul-stench bowels of Barad-Dur, he satisfies his addiction.
He passes near a building called Torre Latino Americana and lands his speeder somewhere near the Dulce Vida building. He seems a bit out of place as flying vehicles are out of the norm in Mexico City. He notices a gang of juvenile delinquents who were interested in his speeder. An hour passes as he stalks the appartments near that of Eddie Chang, before the neighbours' lights go out.
Tex exits his speeder and takes a number of wrapped packages, pretending to carry presents, his plan for entering the building without having the magnetic card the tenants have. He goes to the entrance at the east side of the building waiting for someone to show up. An old lady approaches and opens the entrance, and seeing him carrying the packages, she "helps" him by holding the door for him to enter. The two people enter the elevator, and as the lady exits at the third floor, Tex ascends to the eighteenth floor, where Eddie Ching's appartment is.
The chapter goes back two days ago when Tex invetigated the building. Pretending to be a buyer, he approached Alfonso, a manager, who showed him an empty appartment and briefed him about the security facilities of the builging. The next day Tex had stalked the building but had no luck as Eddie's nighbour did not leave.
Now back to the present, Tex enters the empty apartment and unpacks his equipment. Making sure his windows have no alarms, he exits and walks on te ledge. He passes after 3 apartment windows and reaches Chang's. With his particle-beam-detection goggles, to find that the windows are made of LCD alarm glass and the floor is protected by a laser net.
With a laser-blade, after memorizing the cycling grid pattern of the sensitive blue lines, Tex opens a hole on the glass and reaches the switch to shut it off. Being unable to find a way to disable the laser net, breaks into the adjacent apartment, and again, with his laser-blade cuts through the plasterboard wall behind a sofa, to Ching's apartment. He finds himself in a den room, full of aquariums and terrariums of lethal serpents. He searches a desk where he notices the name of "Lowell Percival" (a billionaire industrialist who had been his client) in a name list of people interested in buying rare artifacts.
After examining the living room, full of mirrors, a bookcase stuffed with books and a cabinet with exotic antiquities, he discovered a safe behind a painting but he could not open it. He became disappointed but then realised that the wall behind the case was a rectangle of space about 15 feet. Unable to move the case, he went to the batroom and cut through the wall with the laser-blade, and found himself in a treasure room complete with statues and paintings (having destroyed a genuine Rebrandt). There also was a crystal bird statuette 16 inches tall on a marble pedestal, the artifact that Countess Renier sent him to fetch.
As he takes the artifact, the alarm goes off. Hurriedly, he returns to the den as he hears steps and voices coming. He opens the terrariums and sets the reptiles free. He exits through the hole and covers it with a stereo speaker, and then covers the other side with the sofa. He exits the window as men knock the door of the empty apartment, and returns to the unoccupied apartment. Looking through the peephole, he sees the open elevator with Alfonso leading some men to Ching's room; Tex quickly opens the door and rushes to the open elevator, only to get noticed by the people.
Tex stops the elevator at the second floor and breaks into an apartment, startling an old man, and throws himself out of the window, falling 20 feet below onto a flower garden. Under gunshots, he ran to his speeder, successfully ignites the engines and takes off. The geo-grid guides him to Brownsville, Texas.
Tex is found at the Post-Nuclear café, a Brownsville dinner popular among truckers and migrant workers and finally enjoys his first Lucky Strike. His rapture is interrupted by an impatient LaDonna, the orange-headed waitress of the dinner. Tex orders a white grilled cheddar sandwich (seeming the safest choice) and a gallon of extra thick coffee and then admires her as she approaches the kitchen.
Tex doesn't enjoys his smoke and coffee, thinking of his friend's Louie Lamintz's Armageddon blend.
He then notices a man who fell onto the bar, which reminded of his own recent situation, which wasn't embarassing for Tex only because he had not the money to drink in public: he'd spent most of the previous month locked in his office with a bottle of alcohol listening to Edith Piaf Cds, wishing for Sylvia's return, his divorced wife.
He ponders about his recent emotional hell, when he is again interrupted by the arrival of his meal. Amazed by LaDonna's professionalism and accurate movements, he compliments her only to get the reply that she is too much for him.
As Tex tastes his sandwich, he remebers he past career, how it all started while he watched The Maltese Falcon. Although he did not understand the plot, figures of fedoras, trench-coats and PIs captivated him for the rest of his life. He then lights a second cigarette looking forward to deliver the statuette to the Countess and receive the remainder of his fee. He considered spending some to at Lamintz's place; Louie was kind enough to keep Tex a tab while he had no money, and Tex also suspected him for paying his vid-phone bill, allowing him therefore to be contacted by the Colonel for his new job.
As Tex returned to sobriety, he discovered that his money amounted below $99. He owed two months’ rent, alimony to Sylvia, tab to Louie, even to Digby his bookie. He needed money desperately.
He remembers as he visited Filmore to see Countess Renier in her mansion. The old woman was after an invaluable rare family heirloom which was stolen from her. She paid other investgators and Tex was a last resort. Tex was given $1000 dollars as a retainer and promised $29000 when the job was done. The Countess gave him no leads other than a bad picture, but his underworld contacts, namely the gangster Franco Franco, gave him the name of Eddie Ching.
Now, after some days he has the statuette in his backpack ready to collect his reward. He finishes his coffee, pays LaDonna and finds his way to his speeder. As he pulls up the door, a white flash blinds him as something hits the back of his head.
Tex is suddenly found in his office, returning from an alcoholic slumber. In front of his desk he sees Colonel Roy O'Brien, his former mentor who pays him a visit. They talk about their strained past; 15 years ago Tex made a mistake which humiliated the Colonel in front of his peers. As a result Tex was kicked out of the detective agency and they avoided each other ever since. Now O'Brien is in his office for an unspecified reason.
Then Tex wakes up from that flashback to find himself lying down on the street, feeling the hit behind his skull. There is an awful smell and he is unable to move or respond. Around him he hears a woman scolding her boyfriend for sleeping with her sister and grandmother. A woman asks him if he is thirsty and throws some water for him, but he coughs it out.
2 days later he opens his eyes to see that he is in the Brownsville Regional Hospital; Dr. Berry and Nurse Chase are tending him. He is told that no backpack was found near him; this only panics Tex and asks to leave the hospital. He is denied as his medication could have antisocial effects; Tex threatened that this could result in violent seizures, but this resulted only in a hypodermic shot to hold him at bay.
Having nothing else to do, he watched the news. He hears about a bombing in Los Angeles which obliterated the headquarters of CAPRICORN, a left-wing group which sided with the Mutant League. The Crusade for Genetic Purity were deemed as the suspects.
Then it was time for Tex to leave the hospital. Tex noticed that his wallet was intact and he was sure: it was not a robbery; the assault aimed at the statuette. The police drove him back to his speeder outside the Cafe. Nobody, nor the police, nor anyone in the vicinity knew or saw anything.
Tex drove back to his apartment in New San Francisco and pondered what to do. He considered visiting the Countess and ask for some support or compensation. He then drove to her mansion but things were not as expected. Everything is dark and quiet, the mansion is abandoned with a Century 22 for sale sign. All entrances are locked and Tex breaks a window to enter the dark building. Only boxes and potted plants. Even the fireplace was cold. Then he realised that the case was a set up.
12 hours later, Tex is in his office drying after a shower, recounting his last adventure and his collection of injuries. He collects his mail and sits at his desk. As usual, it's bills and junk mail.
He skimms through a threatening mail from his landlord Nilo, a note from Zebra Speeder Finance Corporation, a bill from West Coast Bell charged with an unreasonable amount, an application for a Master Express credit card, an ad for a dating service, a donation form to the Humane Society, a discount coupon booklet for dry cleaning and Et Tu Brute pizza, another credit card application for the Radioactive Shack; and finally, an envelope without return address, containing a blue card with BXK+A261184 written on its side.
He stands up and stares outside at the Chandler Avenue. His crush, Chelsee Bando, is talking with a NSPD cop before he takes 2 styrofoam cups to his police speeder. Tex wonders whether they are staking out for him.
As for now, Tex decides to investigate who set him up. He vid-phones the estate agency. Mrs. Kaitlyn Abbot tells him that the Countess' mansion was owned by some Mrs. Greenburg and hadn't been occupied for the last 6 months.
Tex in his speeder flies under an acid rain and returns to the mansion. He enters from the back. All he finds in the living room was a full asthray with butts of a brand he'd never seen before. Returning to his speeder he flies to a convenience store and accesses a list for tobacconist shops on a pay phone, where he thought get a lead from the strange cigarettes. He locates one called Cigar Bar. Before leaving, he contacted his acquaintance in the SFPD, Lieutenant Mac Malden from the downtown precinct. Perhaps his men will investigate the house and find more leads.
He arrives at the Cigar Bar. He approaches the landlord called Gabby, who seems to fancy Tex's retro style and comments on his Luckies, the Fedora and his wing tips, and begins a chatter on noir figures. Tex then produces the butts to him. The cigarettes are Gitanes Specials, found only in France. The person who smokes them has been to France.
Tex thanks him and leaves. His only other lead is Lowell Percival.