Carry me home [MAINT][Closed][FT]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Lady Scylla
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Carry me home [MAINT][Closed][FT]

Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:05 am

Carry me home, dear friend. I have finished my travels, fought many battles, and seen faraway lands. But now, I yearn for rest, as my battles have come to their end. Carry me home, dear friend. So that I may lie among the fallen, amidst a Martian land. -- Richard Alderson, (2102-2165)

Alderson was a corpsman serving in the Martian Armed Forces from 2122-2128. His service came to an end after he survived a shuttle crash that left him paralysed. Alderson spent the remainder of his life writing books, public speaking, and detailing his experiences in the MAF including such in the Roking Rebellions and the Border War. He became an influential figure, and central contributor to Martian Nationalism that helped define an era. During the Raleigh Riots of 2160, Alderson, suffering from pneumonia, surprised many by addressing crowds and helping to calm them after violent clashes for a number of weeks. He grew to become anti-war, and while he supported the military, he was a large advocate in its use for defence only. He also pushed for campaigns to help workers, and the disadvantaged by challenging cultural norms especially those dealing with race.

Alderson died in 2165 from complications of pneumonia, just 5 years after the Raleigh Riots, leaving behind many influential works on Martian politics and society. The government provided Alderson a state funeral, the first non-government person to have received such an honour. His works, detailed in the book ''Martians'', shifted cultural views on many things in the MSR. The nation grew more tolerant, and the past decade has seen expansive growth for the MSR. Alderson's book also depicted his difficulty following the shuttle crash. In a chapter titled 'Carry me home' -- he outlined several conversations with death, wishing that he would join his friends who perished in that crash.

''Life is too often cruel, for us to be cruel ourselves. I think about that crash everyday, and the faces of the men I knew, who just the night before were all laughs and smiles. In many ways, I did die with them that day, and some day, I will join them finally. Until then, I just have to keep going. I've an order to never quit, and I intend to see that through. We used to joke that we were soldiers first, Martians second,'' Alderson said in an interview in 2163.


''Ryu! It's time to get up,'' Hinata said, throwing a pillow at the sleeping log.

Ryu groaned and rolled over, ''Hinata? What are you doing here, how'd you get in?''

''You showed me where the key outside was remember?'' she answered, pulling the blanket from him. ''C'mon, it's already late, and you're making me late.''

Ryu sat up, and rubbed his eyes. He would much rather continue to sleep, but Hinata's persistence wasn't going to end unless he got out of bed. Begrudgingly, he did so, and kicked over some clothes on the ground until he found some jeans to slide on.

''That's disgusting,'' Hinata remarked, starting the coffee in Ryu's kitchen, which wasn't too far away. He lived in a small flat.

''If we're already late, then I've no time to do laundry,'' he said, continuing to get ready. Hinata shook her head in disapproval before taking a cup of coffee to him. ''Shit, that's hot,'' he said, shaking his hand for a moment.

''Really? I thought it'd be ice cold, c'mon, we need to hurry, we might be able to catch one of the other buses!''

Ryu sipped his coffee unenthusiastically as she hurried to the door and jerked it open. ''So dramatic,'' he mumbled.

''What?'' - ''Nothing, it's nothing. Let's go.''

Raleigh was a huge city, it had been the capital of the MSR for two hundred years now, and was home to more than twenty million people. Traffic along the main roads was always chaotic during the mornings, and Ryu always it a habit to walk closest to the road with Hinata further into the sidewalk. He sipped the last of his coffee, and ditched the cup in a bin when Hinata spotted a bus up ahead. People were boarding it, and immediately she started to take off, though Ryu already knew they were too far away.

''Hey! Wait!'' Hinata yelled, frantically waving her arms before the bus turned away. She stopped near the bus stop to catch her breath as Ryu came walking up. ''You could've ran after it, you're faster than me,'' she panted. Ryu gave her a shrug.

''I wouldn't have made it in time either, so it looks like we're walking,'' he said, much to the dismay of Hinata. She sighed. She didn't like being late, and she wished Ryu cared more. They were both having to pay out of pocket for the classes, and missing days was literally losing money. When she caught her breath, they began to start walking again.

''How'd you do on the exam?'' Hinata asked.

''Not good, pretty sure Professor Garr has it out for me,'' Ryu answered, drawing an eye from Hinata.

''Maybe because you sleep too much in class. It's a wonder she's put up with you this long,'' she said.

''Eitherway, it's not enough to screw me up for this semester so its fine.''

They both stopped at the sound of commotion as a door exploded from the hinges with a man. There were several police cars on the opposite side of the road, and a small group of people shouting and throwing things at the police. The man that had flown through the door tried to get up before getting tackled by several officers. ''Its our fucking right! You bastards are part of the problem!'' he was yelling as they tried to subdue him.

''What's that all about?'' Ryu asked as they continued to walk past the scene.

''Senate passed some controversial act, there's been protests across the city,'' Hinata said as she bumped into a someone. The two of them stopped and stared at a blonde haired police woman dressed in a black uniform, who had a rifle slung to her side. ''I'm really sorry,'' Hinata said giving a bow.

''What are you two doing here, this area is being cordoned off,'' the woman said, she had a very stern voice as she spoke.

''We missed our bus to the university, so we decided to walk, cordoned off?'' Ryu asked.

''And you've nothing to do with any of this?'' the officer said, gesturing to the commotion behind them, they both shook their heads. ''I need your IDs,'' she stated, holding out her hand. Hinata handed hers over, and the officer swiped it on her gauntlet which displayed some information in her eye. She handed the ID back, and then looked at Ryu who was still searching his pockets. ''Do you not have your ID on you?'' she asked.

''I think they're in my other pants,'' Ryu said quietly. It was law that citizens were to carry their ID with them at all times.

''Not off to a good start, open your eye and hold still,'' the officer said, reaching for a holster with a gun looking device. Ryu's hair stood up on end as she pulled it out and flinched back. ''You comply, and go along your way, or I take you down to the station, your choice. It's not going to hurt you,'' the officer reassured them. Ryu stood still as she pressed it against his eye, there was a sound from the device, and she was down and put the thing back in her holster. She quickly scanned through their records, and found nothing of note for concern.

''Alright, Ryu and Hinata, you may go, make sure you find a ride back. And Ryu, visit the Citizen Authority in case you've lost your ID, you're getting a warning for right now. I can't say how long this'll be cordoned off for, but you're going to have difficulty getting through the checkpoint without one,'' she said, pulling out a small notebook and writing something in it. She ripped the paper off and handed it to Ryu. ''This is a slip to let you through the checkpoint, just tell them Sergeant Reagan Tristram sent ya through. That way, they can radio me if they've an issue. But still, find. your. ID.''

''Yes, ma'am,'' he said taking the note from her. There was a more commotion behind them as a guy was seen wrestling officers off him.

''He's got a gun!'' one officer shouted, prompting the Sergeant to push both Hinata and Ryu to the ground. There were several shots, and some screams as the police Sergeant pulled the charging handle on her rifle and peered over a car. The man was taken down pretty quickly by the looks of it. ''Alright, you two, hurry up and get to that checkpoint,'' the Sergeant commanded, they both nodded and quickly shuffled down the sidewalk.

''21 to 5, status?'' Reagan said in her radio.

It crackled not long after with a male voice, ''5, 21 - One suspect down, Alpha, Code 2.''

''10-4,'' she responded, before muttering shit under her breath. She pulled the bolt, and dumped the round she had before getting a different magazine. The man her colleagues shot was a cyborg, she needed stronger ammunition. ''21 to 5, I'm 7 o'clock of your position, I've eyes on that door where the Code 2 came out of, have you gotten a sweep yet?''

''That's a negative, 21. We're dealing with the crowd, 15 and 7 need one more if you're available, how copy?''

''Copy that, 21 moving across the street,'' she said, as she slid from around the car and quickly made her way across.

She met up with the other two officers, which were also hiding behind a car. They all looked over as a large armoured truck with sirens came rolling down the road. More officers leapt off the vehicle amid rocks and glass bottles as they got into position to deal with the crowd. There was another burst of chatter, and then further gunfire as two people rushed the police line. ''All units, all units. Oscar 3. Code 1, Code 1.'' The codes were something they'd learnt by memory long by now. Oscar 3 meant an officer was down, and a Code 1 meant lethal force was authorised for non-compliance.

With that, the three of them breached the apartment building as more vehicles showed up to help the barricade on their right. The building was especially quiet as the three officers navigated its cold, dimly lit hallways. They'd cleared the first floor, and began to climb using the stairs. Floor after floor they made their way. When they reached the 7th, they were taken by surprise from a large man who started to swing a bat at them, hitting one of the officers over. The other tried to wrestle with him as Reagan looked down the hall at the start of a sound.

''Stop!'' she shouted, seeing a figure take off running. ''Stop or I will shoot! This is the police!'' she yelled again. ''I said stop!'' There was a gunshot, and Reagan peered over at the officer beside her. He'd taken the shot, dropping the person down the hall. Reagan hurried down the corridor to the figure which turned out to be a guy cradling his dog. He had blood pouring from his mouth as he struggled to breath.

''My dog... m-my dog,'' the man said shakily. Reagan knelt down beside him, sliding her weapon off as she carefully took the dog from him. It was just a puppy. ''I d-don't have the p-papers for it. I d-didn't want it t-taken, h-his name is r-rex... I, I-'' The man's eyes dulled and his head sank to the side. The puppy was terrified, and Reagan quietly petted it. She sat there for a moment, and carefully closed the man's eyes before getting up and grabbing her weapon. She marched back down the hall, where the other two officers had hit the bat-wielder with a tranq.

''What the fuck was that?'' she asked.

''We're Code 1, remember?'' the man said.

''I fucking had it, he was just running because he didn't have his dog registered,'' she growled. The man just shrugged. ''Fucking unbelievable. Fucking unbelievable,'' she said.

The door shut with a thud as Reagan wiped her forehead. She had the puppy in her other hand, which was now sporting a collar and chip. Her apartment was quiet, and very dark, she tried to avoid turning the lights on to keep the electric down. She gently sat the puppy down on her sofa, and went for the fridge to grab a beer. It had been one hell of a day. She popped the top, shedded her jacket and shirt and plopped down on the sofa. The puppy was sniffing around in the corner.

Reagan drank her beer and quietly watched it. She looked around on the table beside her, where she found some crackers and pulled the pack over. She crushed some up real fine, and carefully laid the pile on the cushion and watched as Rex quietly came over and began to eat. ''I'll make sure to get you some dog food tomorrow,'' she sighed and leaned back.
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Lady Scylla
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:24 am

A Day Off

The blaring alarm was met with an unenthusiastic hand. It was now Saturday, Reagan's day off, and she would much prefer the morning sleeping in for once. Her puppy, Rex, had other plans as it whined and scratched at her bedroom door. She rolled over and stared at the searing clock of her alarm: 6AM. With a sigh, she finally got herself up and wondered to the door. ''I'm coming, just hold your horses,'' she said.

Rex greeted her with way more excitement than was needed right now as he darted around her legs in circles with a wagging tail so fast the dog could go airborne with it. This didn't faze the barely awake Reagan though, she headed into the kitchen and was immediately greeted by another present of Rex' -- ''Agh! Seriously?'' she glared at the puppy. The little brown dog had no remorse as it stared at his new mum with large brown eyes. ''For fuck's sake you cretin,'' she sighed.

''Arda!'' Reagan called out, as a little robot came flying out from under the counter.

''Yes, ma'am?'' the robot chimed clamping its claws as a black screen with a red dot stared up at her owner.

''Do me a favour, for now on, make sure Rex' messes are cleaned up after,'' she said, gesturing to the spot she'd stepped in.

''Right away, ma'am!''

Reagan headed into the bathroom, shutting the door in Rex' face, and started her morning routine. When she had reemerged, she was drying her hair with a towel as Rex and Arda were playing. ''Ma'am, the floor has been disinfected. And I've gone ahead and had the coffee brew for you,'' the robot said.

''Thank you, Arda,'' Reagan responded, pouring herself a cup of the hot, and inviting beverage before plopping down in a chair at her table. Arda rolled into the bathroom to gather the towels, and Reagan flipped the television on. Rex decided to scale the chair, and before long was on the table. ''Rex... fine,'' she said, resting on her hand and petting the dog as it curled up next to her coffee mug. The mayor was speaking on the news at some press briefing, Reagan turned it up.

''Thanks to our dedicated officers, we've managed to more or less contain these violent protests. Let me make it abundantly clear, we will not tolerate such disruptions to our civil lives.'' Nope. Definitely not watching that. Reagan though, switching the channel.

''For just £145.99, you too can own one of these phenomenal sonic toothbrushes! Feel the cleansing power of our amazing sonic technology like nev-'' Nope. Besides, she was fine brushing her teeth the old fashion way. £145? For something that'll probably break in a year -- ridiculous she thought.

''Orgog, I love you!'' - ''I love you too, Selene, but face it, your family doesn't want to see you marry a slug'' Great. Galactic Bachelor must've just started a new season. Reagan's friends were obsessed with this show to the point that she questioned why they were friends. It was all they talked about since it first aired last year. She flipped the television off and stared at the now sleeping puppy that had nestled up under her hand.

''You'd never watch that shit I hope,'' she said before scooping up Rex and putting him on the couch. ''Arda, I'm heading out, I'll probably be back this evening.''

Reagan's apartment building wasn't anything special. Literally. There were at least a dozen others around it with the same exact design, colour scheme, and layout. You couldn't choose a more bland neighbourhood. But it was quiet, enough at least. And pretty cheap for a cop's salary. The buildings lower floors were a shared carpark, and now suited up in a jacket, boots, gloves, and helmet -- she was on the swivel for her bike. Nicer neighbourhoods had this thing where you could park your vehicle, and it'd deposit it inside, and when you wanted it, it'd bring it out to you.

Not here. It was old style here. Reagan lived in the Fujita Disctrict of Raleigh, not exactly the projects, but it was close enough. Certain extravagances were just not seen here. Most people in Fujita walked or drove to get around, there were shuttle stations but they were expensive and didn't have as many connections in the district as others. Crime was also higher here, though that was funny to Reagan, since as her life showed, Fujita and districts like it were the most common places for cops to live unless they were some high echelon smack or from central. Central Metro. The most well paid, high-class, and snobby cops you could find in the solar system. Corporations usually hire them for jobs, so it's no surprise they've their noses in everything including cocaine.

Reagan didn't know that, really, but she assumed some of them were drug-pushers for as corrupt as Central was. She locked her bag in her saddle pack, and took a moment to examine her ride. It was a 2115 black and polished Roadhorse Ranger. She'd gotten it years ago, and spent a fortune fixing it up, but it had a deep and throaty sound which is what made her fall in love with the bike. It pulled design elements from Indian and Harley-Davidson, two motorcycle companies that used to be widely popular a few centuries ago. This was an instant classic, largely because of the film ''Escaping Rigel-7'' where Keith Garnham rode one fleeing a bunch of space-nazis. Cult classics are weird.

She fired the bike up, giving it a few revs before pulling around to the exit of the gate. She paid her tax which dropped the concrete pillars and stopped the menacing robot from staring at her, and rolled out unto the street. She was free now. Her visor came down, she revved the bike again, and in a show-off fashion popped a wheelie and darted off down the road disappearing into a neon jungle. The city was a mass of skyscrapers so densely packed that it was always cool in the streets because the Sun rarely reached the ground. For that reason, headlights were required in some places even during the day.

Reagan stared at some as she drove by, they speared the sky far above and dwarfed anything she'd seen of Earth's buildings in the past. Some reached over a mile high. This was the consequence of Raleigh's existence for over a century, when it was just a burgeoning city-state. There was nowhere to go but up. The result was streets could be listed inside building even, and looking around there were all kinds of bridges either for autmobiles or foot traffic between towers. Some people woke up on one apartment building, and went down a floor, then just walked to the next tower while still being some seventy storeys in the air and never setting foot on the ground.

It made policing places like Fujita a ''Grade-A Bitch'' -- as Reagan would put it. Precincts solved this problem by only hiring people that live in these districts, and thus are familiar with the chaotic terrain. But even for people like Reagan who've grown up in Fujita, it can still be a bit much. It didn't help the situation with the advertisements. Raleigh was the neon-city for a reason, and massive holographic ads played on almost every skyscraper.

''Yeah, you just make a left at the building with the shampoo ad.'' -- ''Which fucking shampoo ad''

But that was the general life for Raleigh. Central was different comparatively. Ever since the 2150s, that area of the city has turned into suburbs built in towers. It was filled with corporate execs, government officials, celebrities, and other expensive-taste lot who've more cash than sense. But If at all possible, Reagan tried to avoid the politics. They were a messy affair that could get people hurt or killed, and had in the past. She enforced the law and that was that.

Her bike came to a rumbling stop next to a couple who were sitting at a table outside a restaurant. She flicked her visor up and called out, ''Hey, you!''

The two of them looked. ''You find your ID?'' she asked. Hinata and Ryu looked at eachother for a moment.

''Oh, you're that cop!'' -- ''Yeah, I'm that cop, ID, bud''

He pulled it out of his pocket to hand it over, though Reagan held up her hand. ''I just wanted to make sure you found it. Here,'' she said, tossing a Martian credit at him. ''That should pay for your food, consider it compensation for disturbing you. Have a good day,'' she said, popping her visor back down, and nodding as Ryu thanked her. She then sped back off.

When she hit the highway, her bike switched to autopilot and she relaxed a bit as she pulled up some news articles in her visual feed. People couldn't manually drive on these roads anyway, only the regular roads in town, so she wasn't worried about a crash. As far as the news went, there were a few articles detailing the nation-wide protests against the Senate's legislation. The move had gotten the public all up in a frenzy over it, and some had even gone violent. She wasn't that surprised, protests always did get violent somewhere.

One article talked about a bombing, which was unclear if it was related to the protests, but it left thirty dead. A few others were about the Senate's response to the demonstrations, which can pretty much be guessed at over what was said. She was interrupted then by an incoming call.

''Tristram,'' Reagan answered.

''It's Davis, Trist. I know it's your day off but we've got a situation that requires your attention,'' the man on the otherside spoke.

''Y'know I hate these kinds of calls right?''

''I know,'' Davis replied.

''What's the situation?''

''Homocide. It's pretty gruesome. Got called in this morning by a tweaker we've got in holding now. They said they found the victim,'' Davis said, his tone had changed and lost much of its flare.


''None, and the victim is a CenMet. The scene's on 345th Avenue and King's Street at the Block 15 skyrise,'' he said.

''Which is in Fujita, and Central?''

''Oh, the wolves have already started breathing down my neck, I'll give ya pay for today if you check it out, Sergeant,'' the man said.

''Alright, Chief, I'll be there shortly.''

Reagan reached over and flipped her lights on, which brought her bike out of autopilot, and forced the traffic AI to split traffic so she could cut through down the highway. A Central Metro murder in Fujita District was not a good sign. The drive didn't take long, and as she rounded the last corner towards the building, she could see the police vehicles parked outside. Officers always looked like they were going into a combat zone. Police trucks were big, bulky, armoured, and armed to the teeth. The same could be said for most of the precinct's finest. But in the MSR, this was required apparel -- chasing down cyborgs and people armed with things like RPGs needed this kind of hardware.

She parked her bike, and was let through the barricade with a flash of her badge and headed for the elevator. The ride up was quiet, giving her a few moments to prepare herself. There was a chime, and the doors opened to a vacated hallway. As Reagan stepped out, she could see a broken light down the way and an open door. She patched herself into the virtual crime scene, which displayed information such as virtual markers over objects or things of interests.

The whole floor was dimly lit, and had this sort of chemically smelling haze floating in the air. Definitely a tweaker den, she thought. She looked at the glass on the floor below the broken light, and her virtual assistant quickly reconstructed the glass via hologram, showing how it had likely been broken. From the data, it looked like it came from a swing, either with a long object or a tall suspect. Her VA measured the hallway distance, and doing some quick calculations it seemed the suspect was likely tall and had something that couldn't be swung horizontally in the hall.

She slipped under the police tape and stared at some blood on the doorway. It was low, maybe from a downward hit. When she finally stared into the room, it was empty with a large blood stain on the carpet. The body had already been collected by the coroner, but the VA went ahead and holographically reconstructed the crime scene in her vision so she could examine the body. He wasn't here on official business, that much was obvious. The victim was wearing a black sweater, and some jeans. Undercover was a possibility, but he had his badge in his pocket. Which wasn't something done for UC cops in Raleigh.

None of this explained why he was here, and especially in Fujita. She examined his face, his head had been virtually caved in to the point even virtual reconstruction wasn't possible. A pair of keys laid next to him, and she took a moment to analyse before walking to the lock on the door. There were a lot of scratches, but it was impossible to tell if they were recent, but given they were out, she made the connection that the man had been surprised and was just entering his apartment when he was attacked.

And by the looks of it, he didn't have enough time to put up a fight. The picture was slowly built up from the data using her VA, which created a sort of short movie she could watch play on loop in her vision. The man comes to his door to unlock it, the attacker approached and swings, breaking the light. The man must've turned or gotten knocked over given the low blood pattern on the doorway, which would make sense why he was just lying inside the door. The assailant then went to town on the man's face, killing him in the process. A crime of passion? Maybe.

Central Metro was notorious for their officers being cyborgs themselves. This man wasn't. Which could explain the force, if the suspect assumed it'd take more to do them in. From there, she started canvassing the apartment. All the electronics were there, his wallet, and other valuables were still there. Stealing didn't seem to be the motive. And nothing in the apartment looked like it had been tossed. Something did catch her eye however. A little red light was blinking underneath a cabinet nearby.

Reagan knelt down, and could see that it was a little vacuum robot which was now dead. It looked like it had been lodged under the counter while it was cleaning, and couldn't get out because of the lip on the bottom. Carefully, she pulled it out for a closer look. The device had a small camera near the light, probably to help it navigate. But depending on the model, some of these things acted like security devices which stored memory for a limited time for the owner to access. It was something.

She bagged the device, and left the apartment, logging out of the virtual crime scene as all the images disappeared in the room and hall. She stepped in an elevator, and as the doors closed, she got another call.

''Officer Tristram,'' she spoke.

''Yes, I'm Detective Grett with the Central Met, I was directed to you by Chief Davis,'' a man said. Of course. Dammit, Davis, Reagan thought.

''Yes, Detective, how can I help?''

''We've gotten word that one of our officers was allegedly murdered in the Fujita District. We'd like full access to the crime scene, and all the information you've collected so far. We intend to take over the investigation,'' the man said.

''I don't have clearance to hand over investigations, you'll have to bring that up with my Leftenant, Detective,'' she replied, and stepped out of the elevator.

''Leftenant Harvey has already informed me that the case's exec has been given to you, Sergeant, since you are the senior officer acting in that part of Fujita.''

Great. She knew they had been coming down on Davis, but didn't expect to get her own call. ''Unfortunately, Detective, this is a Fujita matter. We will send over all relevant details when we complete our investigation,'' she said.

''That's a shame. Hopefully this cop killer stops at our officer,'' the man said before hanging up, giving Reagan the chills. CenMet were lovely people. She had little insofar as a lead, but she had found the little robot, and maybe it had recorded a glimpse of their suspect.
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:35 am


Raleigh, Capital of the MSR - The crowd had swelled in the streets, making it impossible for the observers in the nation's security forces to properly determine just how many there were. They had started to gather in Memorial Square during the early hours of the morning, when the dew hadn't yet left the streets, nor the sun pierced the dark shadows of the city. It took Civil Defence and the city's combined police units little time to respond to the massive congregation. The crowds remained undeterred.

Cars were set alight, and rocks were thrown at the radiant light shields of the police line. As the crowds grew, they resorted to fireworks, and clubs made of whatever they could find. They used lids of trash bins as shields to deflect the police's tear gas, and continued to press the lines. Their chants drowned out the noise in the streets -- ''Stand Down Senate, Martians First''. The police were not silent themselves, as large armoured trucks with intercomms broadcasted messages for the crowd to disperse.

Block by block, the police lines was forced to withdraw, giving more ground to the immense gatherings as they slowly encroached into Raleigh's Central District. Before long, the presence of the Central Metropolitan police could not be understated. At the district's checkpoint, heavily armed guards stood at the ready on the walls, with large trucks mounted with hoses and tear gas flanking them. Civil Defense had gone ahead and authorised a blackout on the cybernet, assuming the protests were being managed via people's neural implants.

''Attention all citizens. You are in violation of the Civil Disorder Act. Stand down immediately, and submit to the authority of Civil Defence. Further unlawful actions may be met with lethal force. This checkpoint is hereby under containment until further notice. Comply immediately,'' a man said atop a truck, holding a radio in his hand as his voice, carried by the truck's speakers did little to pierce the crowd's booming chants. He was quickly met with a rock, and knocked over, causing several officers to quickly leap unto the truck and drag him away to safety.

As the units prepared to make their stand, the crowd came into contact, and a number were swiftly beaten down by batons and cattle prods. Instead of dissuading them, they pushed harder, now challenging the barricade in waves of fighters armed with sticks and whatever else they could find. Several officers were dragged into the crowd, but for every one that went down, another from behind replaced them in the barricade. Their light shields stayed locked together when they could manage, trying to take the brunt of people throwing their full body weight unto them.

The trucks behind the line finally opened up with the tear gas launchers, and the hoses, spraying down large groups in the ensuing chaos while others covered their faces amidst the dense fog and continued on. A man quickly climbed the barricade, his police uniform was starkly different to the rest as he raised his hand. The CenMet along the checkpoint raised their weapons. As the arm dropped, the cracks echoed down the long corridors and alleyways of the city. Bodies quickly dropped in the road. The sound had surprised many of the other police units as much as the protesters.

The road was soaked in foamy water, blood, and remnants of tattered clothing and handkerchiefs. Dozens were now lying between the two groups. The Central Metropolitan's plan had been dashed, because it didn't disperse the crowd. Now they were enraged. People rushed into the small no-man's land to grab and drag people, and officers joined them and began to club each other, fighting over the bodies. This was interrupted by the sound of a loud horn as the crowds began to split.

Gunfire erupted again, but this time at a large 18-wheeler that was now charging down the road towards the barricade. The crowds cheered the truck on, which was soon followed by another, and a third. Even as the driver was hit in the first, the truck didn't stop. The officers leapt out of the way as the steel behemoth slammed into the barricade throwing men, metal, and debris across the street. It ploughed through before taking a hard right and slamming into the front of a shop. Moments later, the vehicle ignited.

With their lines broken, the officers quickly broke rank and began to flee through the barricade amid charging crowds. Others climbed atop the other two trucks, which had stopped short of the barricade, and were soon moving once more. In their flight, a number of weapons had been abandoned including one of the water trucks which was left unlocked. The protesters commandeered them, and gave pursuit. They were now pushing towards Senate Square.

Reagan had arrived in the area in her tactical gear, alongside many other Fujita officers as they sat in the large tilt-rotor craft over the city. Her helmet allowed her to zoom in on the carnage below as she analysed what was going on. ''This is getting way out of hand,'' she remarked over the radio. Her colleague, Officer Shaw was sitting in the door beside her also watching.

''CenMet actually opened fired on them. All they've done is escalate this beyond what was needed,'' he remarked.

''They're not used to this sort of disorder, CenMet gets paid to do nothing and sit on their asses in Central because of their extreme containment protocols. All they know how to do is overreact when they face a real problem,'' Reagan said.

''Less cops, more glorified mercenaries. This is going to give the Senate one hell of a headache,'' Shaw said, taking a moment to charge his weapon.

The pilot of the helicopter entered the comms with a crackle, drawing their attention, ''Sergeant, Central has ordered Fujita to respond to the crisis. They've given us a Code-1 clearance, lethal force. Orders?''

Reagan looked back down at the streets below. She shook her head, ''We're waiving off.''

''Are you serious?'' Shaw said alarmed.

''I'm not getting our boots bloody over their fuck up. We're here to protect not gun people down. Tell Central they can shove it, Grant,'' she said to the pilot.

''Yes, ma'am,'' Grant responded, ''Victor-Victor. Fox Romeos waive off, we're returning to base and standing down, over.''

The helicopter took a hard bank to the right, and as it turned, Reagan and Shaw could see the other Fujita choppers also waiving off. Shaw then glanced at Reagan. The Lieutenant was going to bite her head off when he found out, that was for sure. And CenMet was going to call for her blood. But he couldn't disagree with her. She had just put her career on the line, but it wasn't for a bad cause. As the birds headed back to the Fujita district, the rising smoke plumes in the distance from Central towered over the city.

''Y'know, Harvey is going to throw you to the dogs most likely, Sergeant,'' Shaw said on the radio.

''Probably, I'm not about to have my units gun down innocent people. I don't care if it's an order, that's not what we do. CenMet can clean up their own mess,'' she said, setting her rifle beside her.

''I can respect that,'' Shaw grinned, ''It's been a pleasure working for you, Sergeant.''

''Don't get all soft on me now, Corporal. You'll likely be the next Division Sergeant in my place,'' she laughed.

The radio crackled again from the pilot, ''Sergeant, it's Leftenant Harvey, should I patch him through?''
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Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:22 am


The tilt-rotor craft had come to a large helipad as night fell over the city of Raleigh, washing out all of the sky's colour in favour of hues of purple and dark blue. The tower beside the landing area was lit with bright white lights, and a tall ominous figure could be seen standing at the narrow walkway before the entrance. As the craft touched down, the sound of the whirring engines began to die down until there was just silence. ''Looks like Harvey has come out to greet you, Sergeant,'' Shaw said, sliding his visor off as he rested on the side of the bird.

''Wish me luck,'' Reagan said, gathering her things from the tilt-rotor's storage in the passenger section. She slid off the helicopter, and started to walk across the large helipad as the other craft came in. One of the flight engineers, a man by the name of Dawson had approached Shaw and Reagan's craft to service it. He was a small man, with a limber build, and stood out from the rest of the crew with his bright orange and black coveralls. And there never seemed to be a time when he wasn't enjoying the sweet pull of a cigarette.

''Heard on the radio,'' Dawson said to Shaw as Grant soon joined them from the pilot seat. Dawson served another purpose, he was often their hook-up for an after-mission beer. They couldn't drink in the premises, but no-one paid much attention if you were on the flight deck, so long as you didn't carry the stuff in. And in Dawson's usual fashion, he lugged a small cooler up on the bird's deck and passed out a couple of beers to Shaw and Grant.

''She's in a load of shit, that's for sure,'' Grant said, popping the tab off the bottle as he took a swig.

''Especially with Harvey, she's as good as dead,'' Dawson added, drawing a curious glance from Shaw. He didn't even need to speak, Dawson read it all too well.

''Word is, her and Harvey used to be a thing years ago, back when they were both NCOs,'' he elaborated.

''No fucking way,'' Shaw retorted, ''With Harvey? Nu-uh''

''Oh yes, it was the big scandal of Precinct 51,'' Grant interjected.

''Yep, they hooked up shortly after their NCO Academy training, and the top didn't care for that much. It worked out in the end, albeit poorly. The Sergeant there dumped our Romeo, Harvey. Didn't go so well from what I heard, and eventually, he moved on, and she got passed for a promotion supposedly because of him,'' Shaw continued, taking a drink himself. Grant followed and gagged, getting a chuckle from the other two.

''It ain't premium, mate. You'll get used to it,'' Shaw said with a grin.

''So Harvey has a grudge against the Sergeant, so it's pretty solid then that she's going to lose her job,'' Shaw speculated.

''Maybe. Rea has a funny way of surviving these things. She's always been a bit of a rogue in the department, but they were always looking to give her the slack because she's damn good at what she does. Supposedly that's why she got that new case over the CenMet murder. If anyone can get to the bottom of it, it's her. But CenMet is calling for blood because she has refused to hand if off, which, being the division sergeant, it's her right -- she's got full authority over the case. But I imagine this little run-in with orders might just have them send the hounds after her,'' the engineer grimaced.

Three people sat in a large, open room. An old woman, and two gentlemen, of varying cuts. They were discussing amongst themselves amidst the dimly lit atmosphere, as a holographic map of Raleigh was transposed on the centre of the table. It outlined the spread of the recent rioting in the city, and a number of police units and civil defence personnel that were trying to quell it. Of the trio, one was easily recognisable as Senator Kratz, who was an old, sprightly sort of man with a reminiscent crew cut that he had taken a liking to since his days in the armed forces. The other was the Home Affairs Minister, Sachi Ohara.

The third was an elderly lady, she appeared ages beyond her two counterparts, but had eyes as sharp as a blade, and a mind that seemed well beyond the others in the room. She wore an unfashionable, and plain grew coat and clothing of muted colours, and reeked of old perfume. Every word spoken got a scrutinising gaze from the woman as she perceived every movement of the two with her grey, owl like eyes. ''They're demanding the withdraw of the security bill,'' the Home Affairs Minister said.

''They've already pushed our police lines back a number of blocks, we were lucky to stop them just before they reached Senate square, but with Central Metropolitan firing on the crowd, now there are many out for blood,'' he continued.

''And the Secretariat has also started into the Senate over the incident. The Head Secretary is demanding the resignation of the CenMet officers involved in the shooting. What were the casualties again?'' the Senator said, turning towards Ohara.

''135 casualties in the incident,'' Ohara replied.

''Christ. Well, we can't give in to their demands, the Senate won't stand for it. We need order. Which brings us to our current predicament,'' the Senator said, addressing the woman.

They were interrupted by a knock at the door as a man, the doorman no less, peeked through. He was wearing a special visor, probably to hide any vital intel they were discussing from view as it allowed him to avoid walking into walls, but not much else. ''Sorry to interrupt, they have arrived,'' the man said.

''And the other headache,'' the Home Affairs minister said as he scratched his nose. ''Let them in,'' he added. The doorman dove out of sight, and then the door opened fully as two officers stepped into the room in dress uniform. It was Harvey and Reagan, who looked just about as comfortable as one could expect in a starched uniform. They both bowed, saying nothing.

''Some of Fujita District's senior officials, Division Lieutenant Harvey Kross and Division Sergeant Reagan Tristram,'' the Home Affairs minister introduced. He went on, gesturing towards his own entourage. ''This is Senator Kratz, Director Nakamura of Civil Defence, and I'm Ohara of Home Affairs.''

''I take it you both know why you're here,'' the Senator spoke up candidly.

''Sergeant, you refused a direct order from Central Metropolitan for support last night. As a result, Fujita's precincts didn't respond to the riots in the city which were threatening Central. That's an extremely egregious offence, as you know, one that could result in your own arrest. Do you have any comments?'' Ohara asked.

Reagan stepped forward to speak, but was suddenly interrupted by Harvey. ''She didn't give the order, sir. I did. After Central Metropolitan fired on the citizenry, I chose to withdraw our precincts -- I didn't want that kind of blood on my hands,'' he said, getting a surprised look from Reagan. He gave her only a passing glance in return.

''Is that so?'' the Senator questioned, ''Sergeant, is this true?''

Reagan felt her voice lock up, but finally spoke. ''It is, Senator,'' she said solemnly. It was about all she could say with what was happening.

''I see,'' Ohara commented rubbing his chin as the Senator reached for a glass of water. Meanwhile, the Civil Defence Director hadn't even acknowledged the officers' presence in the room. She seemed pre-occupied, or just uninterested with the affair.

''That's unfortunate. You're one of the best Division officers we've had in a long while, Kross. However, such a transgression cannot just be so easily swept under the rug. Central Metropolitan is creating a fuss on the back-channels over the incident. And you, Sergeant, should have known it was an illegal order. But that being said, refusing your CO is a mess in these circumstances, you'll have to excuse the three of us for a moment,'' Ohara said as all three pulled a cable from their wrists and plugged themselves in to a small device at the centre of the table. It was a private lobby, no doubt to discuss the punishment for the duo.

''What the hell are you doing?'' Reagan whispered.

''Saving your ass,'' Harvey replied out of the side of his mouth.

It didn't take the trio long to disconnect from the lobby as Ohara reclined in his chair and clasped his fingers. ''We've discussed the issue,'' he spoke.

''Kross, due to your exemplary service in Fujita, we've elected not to pursue state charges against you for disobeying orders from CenMet. That being said, you'll be stripped of your command, and will turn in your badge and service weapon by this afternoon. I'm sorry, but it's a lot better outcome under the circumstances. You will lose all access to Fujita's virtual assistant network, and turn over any crime data you have. You may go,'' the Senator said. Harvey was white, but he bowed anyway, and with one last glance to Reagan, departed the room.

As the door shut, the gazes except for Nakamura, fell on the Sergeant. ''Ms. Tristram, you've had a long record yourself that would otherwise warrant you a promotion. However, in light of this incident, it just isn't possible for us to satisfy that goal. While you're not directly at fault for what transpired last night over the riots, we cannot allow such actions to go unpunished, even for an NCO as yourself. An example must be made. I understand you were assigned an important case over a CenMet murder, however, Central Metropolitan would be rioting themselves if they found out that the senior authority on that case that refused to hand it over to them, also was compliant in last night's incident when they requested back-up,'' the Senator continued.

He glanced at Nakamura, who gave a slight nod. ''As a result, you have highlighted the importance of the case under its circumstances, so with your blessing, we will be handing it over to Civil Defence for investigation instead of CenMet.''

''That's acceptable, sir,'' she said briskly.

''Very well. Unfortunately, you will also be terminated from service. You'll hand in your badge this evening, since you have a private firearm, so that doesn't need to be turned in. Any crime data you have shall be handed over, and you'll lose your access to the FVA network. You're dismissed,'' the Senator said. Reagan gave a bow, and then left the room.

''Given everything, Director. The Senate will go ahead and fund your task force for that investigation. We cannot let that data fall into the wrong hands,'' the Senator said to the woman.

Reagan stood at a small, barred window as she unclipped her badge from her belt and slid it through to the large man on the otherside. Shaw and Dawson had tracked her down and came running up, ''Sarge! How-How'd it go?'' Shaw asked with a pant.

''I got relieved of duty, as did Harvey,'' she said to them as she pulled out her police shard from behind her ear and handed it over.

''What? No way! We could say something, Sarge,'' Dawson said.

''Don't. We're lucky we didn't get thrown in a cell. That being said, Shaw, I put in a good recommendation for you. They said they were willing to listen to my input, so I thought you'd make a good Division Sergeant,'' she smiled.

''That's awesome and all, but I didn't want a promotion like this,'' he said.

''Who's going into Harvey's old spot?''

''From what I understand, Master Sergeant Graze will be promoted to Fujita's Division Lieutenant,'' she said.

''Wait, wait, wait. Grays from Precinct 4? Fuck me,'' Shaw said.

''He's incompetent, Shaw. Why else do you think I gave you the recommendation. Everyone knows the NCO is who does the real legwork. The CO's job is to just look pretty and attend fancy parties,'' Reagan responded with a sympathetic pat on Shaw's shoulder. It probably wasn't the best choice of words given Harvey's appearance behind her.

''I did much more than that,'' he said, sending chills down her spine. He handed over his shard, and then his badge and firearm. Shaw and Dawson decided to play escape, and had vanished leaving her alone with her former CO.

''Sorry, Grays is definitely an idiot though, I wanted to make sure Fujita was in good hands,'' she said.

''I couldn't have expected much else, really,'' he said coldly.

''For god's sake, Harvey, let it go,'' Reagan said back sharply.

''I didn't have to step up for you in there,'' he said.

''I wasn't fucking asking you to,'' she growled.

''Typical,'' he said.

''Oh? Typical how? What, Harvey, spit it out!'' she snapped at him. The man behind the bars just backed away, probably to go have a smoke break as the two quarrelled.

''It's nothing,'' he said, ''Just forget about it.''

''Oh no, you wanted to have it out here. So you better start talking bud.''

''Why'd you leave?'' he asked. ''One day you were there, and then gone. Not a damn word, Reagan. Nothing.''

She slammed her hand down on the counter, cracking it, which with her being a cyborg wasn't difficult. ''I didn't fucking leave because I wanted to,'' she snarled. Admittedly, her anger was a surprise to Harvey, but she had been high strung as of late. She was always good at speaking her mind in her usual, solemn and grating fashion, but rarely was she angry.

''What does that even mean?''

''I was told to leave you or else they weren't going to give you the fucking promotion, Harvey. I knew how much you cared for the damn job, and I didn't want to be the barrier,'' she said, her words cutting like a knife as she grabbed her duffel bag from the floor. ''Not everything is about you, Harvey,'' she added before storming off. He tried to call after her, but it was no use. She rounded the corner and was gone, leaving him there alone to come to terms with what she said.

The neon sign flickered, with some letters missing, but it could still be read easily enough. It was a night club, and typical to Fujita district's nightlife, it was booming. Inside, the music was pumping, and the crowd was jamming out. Scantily clad waitresses walked about serving drinks to the patrons, and small gatherings of women and business type people huddled in corners of the club. Places like this were a haven for drugs, and many of these patrons were high off their rockers as they exchanged pills, inhalers, and other nefarious narcotics. But for Fujita, it was all in good fun. It was a time to let loose, and the people in this part of the city could party like no other.

A large, circular bar stood out from the club's tables and dance floor. It was sparsely occupied with the solemn drunks of the world, those dealing with their divorce, looking for a cheap hook up, or just down on their luck. But one figure, nestled on a bar stool, stood out. Reagan was leaning on the counter, quietly stirring a straw in a glass of some intoxicating liquid, resting her face on her other hand. The other half dozen glasses next to her signalled that she had been here for a little while.

A man came cantering over, with a drunks step as he nearly bumped into her. ''Hey babe, how 'bout you and me get on out back?'' the man suggested, making a few rude gestures in the process. Reagan gave him a disgusted look.

''There's nothing to be gettin' on about, so not interested,'' she said.

The man reached out, and went to brush some of her black hair from her face, ''Come on now,'' but that was the wrong move. She grabbed his hand, twisted it, causing him to drop his beer which shattered on the floor. ''Ah! What the fuck!'' he yelped just before she grabbed him by the hair and through his face down unto the counter.

''Don't fucking touch me,'' she said as the man slumped to the ground out cold. She got up, and moved over a seat as a bouncer came over and collected the trash for her. She went back to nursing her drink, taking a few sips as the liquid stung her throat, and was soon joined by another figure. ''I said, I'm not interested,'' she snarled.

''Oh, that's a shame, I thought you'd love the opportunity,'' an old woman's voice said, drawing a confused glance from Reagan. The woman simply smiled. She was dressed like she was going to church, not a nightclub and was quite a bit shorter than Reagan.


''Director Nakamura of Civil Defence,'' the old woman spoke, outreaching a hand.

Reagan cautiously shook it and scooted her glass off to the side. ''What brings you here? This isn't exactly a place for spooks,'' she commented.

''On the contrary, this is the perfect place for the spooks. That, and they make a good bloody mary,'' Nakamura said, calling a bartender over for a drink. She kept a purse nestled in her lap with her hand in it, which Reagan found odd. ''Don't think an old lady can't run about with a firearm?'' the director said with a cheesy grin, noticing Reagan's glance. ''I like to be prepared. It's part of my job, and I've got a job for you,'' she added.

''Taking jobs from spooks isn't generally my forte,'' Reagan said, taking her glass and downing what was left of her drink. ''How the hell did you find me anyway?''

''It's my job to know things, Ms. Tristram. And I know everything about anything, including your military record and involvement in the Colonial Rebellions,'' the old lady spoke. Reagan glared at her wide-eyed, with a loss for words as her mouth just sort of hung open for a brief moment. ''Oh yes, it's amazing how such a decorated soldier in the Valkyries can go rogue and support an insurrection, and then, when that insurrection gets crushed, just seems to vanish without a trace. It's a class A act, and one that takes someone with exceptional skill. I wouldn't have expected you to become a boring cop though,'' she continued.

''How the fuck did you know about that?''

''As I said, I know everything. So how about we discuss your pay?''

Reagan sat back for a moment. ''I don't even know what the job is,'' she said.

''Would you like to know?''

''Do I have a choice?''

''You always have a choice, Ms. Tristram,'' Nakamura said sweetly, pulling out a shard from her purse.

''That's a great way to get hacked,'' Reagan looked at the small chip suspiciously.

''Oh, please, darling. If I wanted to hack you, I would have done it already. This contains information over the job in question, which requires some secrecy as you may have guessed, so take it,'' she said, offering the shard over. Reagan took it, and slid it into the back of her head. Her eyes light up with a faint glow as a loading screen appeared in her vision, and then a series of files and data about a murder case. Her brows furrowed.

''This is that CenMet murder,'' she said, ''I was taken off this case.''

''You were, and now you're going to be back on it, but under Civil Defence. You see, the Senate doesn't like us very much, so they pull our funding and give it back all the time. Something to do with an agency having dirt on the nation's politicians or something. Oh well. This case is of prime importance to the Senate, the man you found is suspected to have had some highly classified data that could be detrimental to our national interests should it fall into the wrong hands. So they've given me the funding to create a task force for this case,'' Nakamura said.

Reagan pulled the shard out, and handed it back over. ''Won't they have an issue with you hiring me for this?''

''Probably. But I enjoy fucking over the Senate when I can, and you're the perfect person for the job. You will be able to work on this case, and have full access to Civil Defence's resources at your leisure. I think you'll find our cyberwar arsenal a bit more robust than your old job's. And, if a deal can be secured, you may even get hardware from MARINCO as well. You can put together the team, though I've gone ahead and made a few choice selections that I'm sure will help you,'' the old woman smiled again.

''And the pay?''

''Ah, I did mention that didn't I? It's £175,000 up front, plus a monthly payment of £3,500, and on completion of the job -- £350,000,'' Nakamura said. Reagan's jaw dropped as her complexion went pale. ''So, do we have a deal?''

''I don't think I have a choice,'' she said, ''but I'll take it.''

''You always had a choice. We'll see to getting you access to our AI, and I expect you to arrive at this location tomorrow morning, so don't drink to heavily, darling,'' Nakamura said, handing over a different shard as Reagan installed it without hesitation this time. It carried details of a safehouse in the Fujita warehouse district. Nakamura downed her drink, and with a handshake, left Reagan at the bar to slowly come to grips with what just happened.

It was morning. The streets were damp from an early rain as a motorcycle pulled up outside an old rusty warehouse. Reagan slid off the bike, depositing her helmet, and came to a large metal door. A panel stood out from the rest of the building, looking brand new, and way too hi-tech for a lock. She pressed the button on it as a robotic female's voice came over comm. A panel opened up above her, with a minigun poking out. Security seemed a bit excessive for a rundown shithole. ''Identify,'' the voice said on the comm.

''Reagan Tristram?'' she said, unsure, since there was no special codeword or anything given. The minigun disappeared behind the panel again, and a quick blue light flashed over Reagan nearly blinding her.

''Scan complete. Access granted,'' the voice said, and the door shuttered as it unlocked. Reagan grabbed the rusty handle, and as she pulled it open, she could see that it sheet metal over an almost two foot thick reinforced blast door. She stepped inside to a massive room full of vehicles and neatly cleaned grey walls, with lights that started to turn on down the warehouse. The door locked behind her as she came down a small stairwell and reached the main floor. The place had armoured cars, motorcycles, helicopters, and shuttles. Along the side there were lockers full of clothing, weapons, and body armour.

She approached them, and saw her name on one and then glanced at the others. Some were named as well. There was Shaw, Dawson, and Harvey.
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:01 am


Despite Martian authorities best efforts, the riots have continued gripping the Fujita and New London districts of the Martian capital. The violence has been escalated following the events of Bloody Saturday, when Central Metropolitan police fired on the crowd with live ammunition, killing 135 protesters. ''I'd turn that off,'' Reagan said as she stepped into the building's rec-room. Grant was sitting at the counter, which doubled as a kitchen, stuffing his face with what looked to be noodles. Shaw was cleaning his firearm on the couch, Dawson was half asleep in a recliner, and Harvey was staring at the television.

The Martian Senate has repeatedly called for calm following the massacre, and a new bill expected to hit their chambers this week could authorise military action in the capital if the riots don't cease. ''It's about the only thing on,'' Harvey said, flicking it off.

''Shaw, how did you even end up here?'' Reagan asked, leaning over the couch. He set his disassembled firearm down and took a moment to drag on a cigarette.

''I'm thankful for the good word and all, but no fucking way I was gonna be okay with all that. The Director gave me an offer, and I leapt,'' he said with a sheepish grin. Reagan gave him a pat on the shoulder as she walked over and gave Dawson's recliner a good swift kick, startling him.

''THE FUCK? Oh... Hey, Sergeant,'' he said, tossing aside the magazine he had draped on his face as he sat up.

''Not your Sergeant anymore, Dawson. I take it you got lined in with the Director as well?''

''Well, not quite...''

''Dawson was there when she approached me about it, practically begged her to hire him. Something about needing drinking buddies,'' Shaw chuckled. Dawson picked up the magazine and threw it at him in response before looking back to Reagan.

''Anyway, flight crew is nice and all, but servicing your lot's bird was the highlight of my day. Everyone else is either boring, or just a bunch of twits. Nice to have a beer with people y'know?''

''Alright, that's fair,'' she said, taking a look at everyone. ''I don't even know where to start,'' she said with a gesture.

''You could start on your case,'' Nakamura said, as she came from the shadows of a hallway on the opposite side of the room.

''Director,'' Reagan said, giving a bow.

''I'm not one for formalities, dear. I'd blow my back out if I had to bow at every encounter. I've had our John Doe shipped here from the morgue, I assume you still remember how to run necromancer software, Ms. Tristram? We'll need to see if there's anything salvageable. Obviously, I'll be here if you need assistance, but Reagan, you're in charge of this task force. That being said, everyone seems to love calling you Sergeant, so I guess we'll just keep that, also here,'' she said, rummaging through her purse as she pulled out a small case and opened it. It contained a number of shards.

''This will grant you access to Civil Defence's network and AI. I should warn you, once you've downloaded the access, you should remove the shard. It's a one time use, and if you don't, it'll fry your brain with a virus. Don't fret though, there's a countdown,'' she smiled sweetly offering the case as they all walked over to retrieve one. Reagan stared at the small chip for a moment before sliding it in to her head. Their eyes flashed a few different colours.

Initialising. Standby. Cyberlink established. 5 seconds until virus deployment. Quickly, they pulled the shards out, with Shaw staring at his like it was going to explode. It didn't, although it was now just a piece of fatal malware that he was holding in his hand. The precaution was understandable. Reagan's eyes were still blue as she sorted through files upon files of information. Hello, Reagan. My name is Astrid, I am Civil Defence's artificial intelligence and will be assisting you throughout your career in Civil Defence's Corporate Security task force.

Corporate Security? She thought puzzled. Why corporate security? Director Nakamura sees it as imperative that your role in Civil Defence is as obscure as possible to maximise your flexibility when dealing with cases assigned to your task force. As such, all documentation for this purpose will be filed under the moniker 'Corporation', and more specifically 'Nakamura Industries' where needed. Your official job description for as long as you are in Director Nakamura's personal employ is that of Security Contractor. It is extremely advised that references to your job be no more descriptive than 'Security' or other variants that do not betray your true nature of work. Officially, you are Sergeant Tristram of the task force, with subordinates being listed as 'Operatives'. If you've any further questions, please let me know.

Reagan's eyes went back to normal as she closed down her visual feed and looked at the others. ''Well, lets get to work then,'' she said, getting a smile from the old Director as she made her exit.

The door swung open, and out came a covered body. They all stared for a moment as Reagan slipped some gloves on and carefully pulled the sheet back. ''Christ,'' Grant said taking a step back. The man's face was definitely just as Reagan remembered, having been beaten in with some sort of weapon. But she had already ran data on this, and was more interested if his digital brain was still of any use. She pulled out a small case from her pocket, and opened it to reveal a small red shard.

''I'm already putting my firewalls up, but if he's got a virus, hit me with this, understand?'' she said, handing it over to Shaw.

''You sure about this? Necromancer runs are dangerous enough as is, but y'know there's a good chance you might not come back the same if there is a virus,'' he said worryingly.

''I'll be fine, as long as you shard me the moment you see trouble,'' she said, carefully forcing the dead man's head over to expose a series of ports on the neck. ''Only identification we've got is a badge number, but its of a retired cop who hasn't been seen long before this guy got whacked. This is the only way to find out who he actually is,'' she said. She pulled a cable from her wrist, and slotted it into a port in the dead man's neck. Her eyes glazed over as she became stiff and began her dive.

Darkness. That was all she could see. It was just cold, empty space - like standing in a featureless void. She had the sense of falling, of spinning, even though she could take steps - or at least she thought she could. It was this sort of disembodiment that made necromancing the dead so dangerous. What your own mind is telling you, is not what seems to be going on. You feel nausea, dread, and a chill like no other. They call it the 'Deadman's Sense'. Because you are cognitively experiencing the absence of life - something the dead can't experience. It will drive even the most experienced necromancers mad.

Reagan could feel her heart rate climbing as the anxiety seeped into her veins. She had to focus, and act quickly. Sparks began to fly in this space as she ran software to 'reboot' the man's mind. She also prepared herself for the worst. Death is an unknowable thing. She knew that the moment she resuscitated the mind, it would be reliving the last few moments of its death with no sense that time had passed. It was a chilling experience that always made her stomach churn.

There was a sense of static now, like pins and needles on her skin. She felt as though she was being wrapped in a damp, light cloth from head to toe. She began to breath faster, her chest felt heavy, and the air seemed to be pulled from her with every breath. The edge of the world seemed so close now, like a coffin trying to suffocate her as she felt the tightness around her throat and limbs. She became paralysed, her body buckling under something she couldn't see until there was a deafening high-pitched hum. Rapid flashes blinded her. When she could see again, there came bloodcurdling screams among the humming as she watched a disfigured apparition made of static race about the space with unnatural and horrifying contortions.

Her body shook with every movement as she tried to get closer to him. She felt the searing pain beneath her skin, like it was being pealed off of her as she tried to fight it. Every step was one on hot, serrated glass. Every breath was a burning, putrid smelling waft of agony. This was where necromancers lost themselves. She had to fight it, she had to calm him down. As she drew closer, his words became more distinguishable.

''No! Please! Stop! Stop! AGH! AUGH! OH GOD! MAAA.. MU....MMMF!...MM!...'' She was listening to the last sounds as he was being beaten to death. These were his last moments, and to him, they were still happening. She reached out towards the apparition as it came speeding past, and as it rammed into her arm, she felt like she had been shattered into pieces with millions of needles. They were both racing now. She continued to run programs as she felt the cold, dullness sink unto her head like a concussion. It made it harder to think, and for several moments, she was unaware herself. Her thoughts trailed into deadends. But finally, a memory block succeeded and the hellish world abruptly evaporated before her.

She awoke on a grassy space that stretched for as far as the eyes could see. She stood and looked down at her hands. They felt real, like she was actually there. As she came to her feet, she saw a man sitting on a bench nearby by himself. There was noone else around for miles. It was midday by the light, but no sun, no clouds. Not even a breeze. She approached the bench carefully. She could hear the man humming to himself.

''Excuse me,'' she said, ''Can you hear me?''

The man turned around, exposing the horrendous crater in the centre of his face where his jaw hung down to his chest and a series of weird visual distortions continued to interrupt any clear view of it. He spoke, his voice was calm, pleasant, though his face didn't seem to move to the speech. It was like he was unaware of the injury. He was dressed in a fine suit with no bloodstains, and held a book in hand. ''Oh, yes! Who might you be? I was just sitting here reading,'' the man said.

''My name is Reagan, Reagan Tristram,'' she said as the man gestured for her to sit. So she did.

''Have you read this book before? It's my favourite!'' he said, as a hanging eyeball swung around every time he moved his head.

''Can't say that I have, what is it?'' Reagan asked, paying no mind to the mans disfigurement. He handed it over to her as she looked at the cover. It had a beautiful picture of grassy fields and was titled 'A Martian's Heart'. ''What's it about?'' she asked, handing it back.

''It's a bit of a romance novel. My sister gave it to me just before she died. This Martian couple move into the Eastern Grasslands and build a house. It's set during the Colonial Rebellions, and the woman is a Colonist. The state was looking for sympathisers to the cause, so the man saves his love and they live happily ever after. It's a brilliant book. Should read it sometime,'' the man said.

''I'll have to check into it. I never caught your name...''

''Oh! My apologies, I'm Mr. Ohara, from the Home Office,'' he said.

Reagan looked at him for a moment. ''Ohara?''

''Oh yes, have you heard of me?''

''Mr. Ohara, do you remember where you were last?''

''I was at my office. Why do you ask?''

''Okay, and what happened after, do you remember anything else?''

''Well, I don't see why it's important. I had a call from my wife, and then I went outside to my car and,'' he said, looking down for a moment.

''Have you read this book before? It's my favourite!'' he said cheerfully, holding up the book. She stared at the man bewildered. It didn't make any sense. None of it did.

''Mr. Ohara, how did you get here?''

''Oh, well, I'm not quite sure,'' he said confused. Reagan nodded.

''I'm going to ask you something, Mr. Ohara, I need you to think really hard,'' she said, taking his hand as he looked at her.

''I'll try my best, what do you need Ms?''

''Ms. Tristram, I need you to think real hard. Were you working on some sort of project or program, anything that might make someone want to harm you?''

''Well, I'm the Home Affairs official, miss! There's a lot of defense work I do,'' he said, ''I don't quote follow.''

''Recently. What were you working on before you got a call from your wife?''

''Oh, that! Well, I can't say,'' he said.

''It's a matter of national security, Mr. Ohara. You can trust me,'' she said, giving his hand a re-affirming squeeze.

''Well, alright. We were working on the Trident program, and I had to provide details to the Defence Committee. The Menelmacari have had us under a strict treaty, and the Senate wanted to find some loopholes,'' he said.

''What exactly were these details?''

''Targeting, arming codes, and a bit of other information over the program since my department was the one that funded the program,'' he said, causing Reagan's eyes to widen. ''Are you alright?''

''I'm fine. Thank you Mr. Ohara. Do you know what year it is, sir?''

''That's an odd question, it's 2170,'' he said confidently.

''I see, I do have one last question for you,'' she said.


''Your wife, do you know what she looks like?''

''Oh definitely, I've been married to that woman for some thirty years now,'' he said cheerfully. ''Love of my life''

Reagan smiled and held his hand up. She started to run a few programs now as she spoke, ''I want you to think real hard, Mr. Ohara, about what your wife looks and sounds like for me, okay?'' she smiled. He nodded. It didn't take long, but they were soon interrupted by a woman in a dress in her mid-50s.

''Gerty, how did you get here?'' Ohara said excitedly.

''Your friend, Reagan. She paid for my bus ticket, she said I should come see you, are you reading that old book again,'' she chuckled.

''Y'know me all too well,'' he said, getting up to embrace her. Reagan stood, setting the book aside.

''Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Ohara. I hope you two have a good day,'' Reagan said pleasantly. The world started to evaporate as the old couple embraced and looked out over the grasslands. Reagan fired off a virus on her memory block, corrupting the data of Ohara's last moments and ensuring that this was the last thing he remembered instead. When she came out of the dive, she was on the floor with all of the guys over her, and Shaw shining a flashlight in her face.

''Ow,'' she said with a cough as she tried to sit up.

''You had a seizure practically, are you okay?''

''I should be,'' she said, reaching in the back of her head and pulling out the shard they must've thrown in.

''So? Anything?''

''We've got a problem,'' she said looking at them all, ''This is the body of the Home Affairs minister.''

''Wait, what?''

''Then who is running Home Affairs?''
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