Haraway at Twilight: Part 1

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Beta Continent

The car swung along the harbour strip, past tight packed, brightly lit multi-storey warehouses that served the duel function of holding goods and shielding the rest of Betasport from the heavy sea breezes. Ahead, Fatima could see lights gleaming on the great windbreak wall that covered the port on three sides. "Is the weather here always this wet?" Madeline, the senior agent asked their driver, a member of the local PD. Water sloshed down the car's windows, the glasses smart coating sloshing it away without need for a wiper.

"Oh yeah Sir. It rains a lot in Betasport." She smiled "It makes the Sunny days even nicer though, and the mist, it's really calm when there's mist."

Madeline smiled back "You sound like you like it here. Been here long?"

"All my life. I grew up just up there." She pointed over at an area near the windbreak on the hills surrounding the town. "My family stayed even during the bad times. PD family, couldn't let things fall apart."

The PD and Madeline continued to talk as Fatima looked forward, eyes searching the rain ahead for first sight of the building they were going to. "Is this it?" She asked, as she saw a white draped building up ahead.

"Yes Sir." The PD sobered a bit and pulled the car into the parking bay next to the warehouse. Each agent opened her door and got out, umbrellas extending. Fatima was still getting wet even with the umbrella wincing slightly at the uncomfortable humidity, she tried to push the feeling aside and concentrated on the building its self. It looked a bit like any of the other warehouses in general outline, except it was surrounded by a thick tent of gleaming polymer sheeting, bonded seamlessly with the surrounding ground.

Only one part of the sheeting was free, the wind worrying at the edges of the heavy material. Before the portal stood a guard stood, her body covered head to foot in blue tinted armour, face invisible behind her helmet's armoured mask, in her arms she cradled a heavy payload gun, attached to one shoulder by a smart mount. Fatima felt at once a jolt of envy for the woman's climate controlled dryness, and at the same time a vague social disapproval that such a measure should be necessary, two years after the end of the war, in the heart of Beta-Continent's largest city.

The guard nodded to them "Welcome agents" and pull the flap aside with her left hand, the right never leaving the payload guns control grip as the three stepped inside the tent. Fatima put down her umbrella and looked around, then stepped into the airlock mounted to the door, inside which two more PD were waiting them, a man and a woman, him tall and with a caterpillar moustache, her shorter and stouter, both clad in white chill suits. It was notably colder inside the building than outside, and Fatima began to pull one of the chill suits over her light clothing even as the PD introduced themselves.

The man spoke first "Good morning, I'm Officer Dan Ruthford, and this is Megan Ardesh, our chief CSI." His manner was stiff and rather formal, perhaps slightly uncomfortable. Was he just unused to Harawayans who weren't violet?

Madeline smiled and took over smoothly "I'm glad to meet you Officer Ruthford, Officer Ardesh. I hope our coming out here didn't inconvenience you too much?" The four PSD agents had their chill suits on now.

Ruthford smiled almost sheepishly "No, not at all, we could always use the help, but I'm just a bit surprised you came all the way from Landing for something like this. I mean, it's not like gang violence is unprecedented..."

"You think it was gang violence then?" Agent Lisa Vult, silent up until this point quirked an eyebrow. While Madeline was officially the team leader, or at least team manager Lisa and Isabelle were the team's investigative element and Lisa tended to take charge on cases. Fatima always felt like a slight outsider, she knew she was brilliant, not just for a red, but in general. She'd graduated her secondary education a year early with near perfect test scores, (and a little help from outreach programs for Reds) and completed tertiary education and reserve officer training as part of the Landing Militia during the war, with plans to enter the military at the end as an officer, but the war had ended before that had come through, instead she'd gone to work for PSD. She still felt, sometimes that the others didn't really value her intelligence though, and then always felt a bit unworthy, and told herself it was just because she was the newest tem member. It didn't help that Lisa Vult was something of an oddball. One of her friends had commiserated with her at getting assigned to her team.

Ruthford took a moment before answering "That's our uh, working theory." The officer frowned "Occasionally this kind of thing happens around here, gangs of drug dealers kill one another. It's unfortunate but there's not much we can do about it."

Madeline smiled "Well, PSD is here to make sure you have the resources to prevent incidents like this in the future. Perhaps you could give me the background while my colleagues look over the site."

"Sure, uh, Megan, would you mind?" Ruthford smiled, a bit insincerely, and the other PD led them to the door.

"I hope you didn't have breakfast on your flight in, because it's pretty nasty in there. It's better if you put on your masks." She suited action to words "The cold keeps the smell down but it's not perfect."

She swung the air lock inner door open into a glittering wonderland of white frost, stained in places with whirls of crimson. It was well it, with numerous lights strung from the forensic remotes hanging in the ceiling like giant spiders from some children's story. Fatima gulped slightly, looking down at the corpse just inside the door "Oh yeah, watch your step." Ardesh carefully avoided the body. "Once you're done, we're removing the bodies for the coroner." She looked back "though honestly I don't think she's going to have much difficulty, it's fairly obvious what killed most of these people."

Fatima had to agree, man by the door had had an axe or other sharp bladed instrument smashed through his face. There were more bodies sprawled around the warehouse, bodies and bits of bodies, hacked to pieces. Lasers showed the trajectory of bullets, and dozens of AR icons shown above marked areas of the Isabelle spoke for the first time "How did you find out about the crime?"

"We had a report of a disturbance here at midnight last night, some Uniforms arrived and found this."

"And how long after the crime was the scene frozen?" Isabelle knelt by the corpse of the doorman inspecting his hands.

"Time of death on the victims suggests the uniforms got here about half an hour after it was... finished. We froze the scene twenty minutes after that."

Fatima looked around as Lisa and Isabelle began to walk through the place "It seems like they were surprised. Most of them seem to have been killed where they stood."

"No defensive wounds either." Isabelle rose as Lisa walked into the second room "And the door is intact. It seems like they let whoever did this in."

Ardesh nodded "That was our conclusion too." She frowned "Maybe punishment for owing a debt or something... that's the CIDs department now mine though."

"Do you have CCTV of the incident?" Fatima asked as she gazed around at the ice caked boxes.

"Some, from a few buildings over. This buildings cameras were busted and the drives removed. The camera's show a dark minivan without a transponder arriving and unloading five guys, no facial IDs on any of them, and the van vanished out of the city later that night.

"Are transponderless vehicles common around here?" Fatima asked, a bit shocked. Such illegality wouldn't be tolerated on Landing.

"A lot of vehicles coming in from the outback don't bother with them no." Ardesh frowned "things slip by a lot out here."

"More to the point, this is a lot for just five men." Isabelle knelt by another corpse "Perhaps they were boosted in some fashion, these blows were driven extremely hard. A normal human wouldn't be able to do this... it would take someone almost as strong as you Fatima."

Fatima blushed slightly then frowned "Could you identify the sex of the suspects on the video Officer Ardesh?"

"Uh, they appeared to be male, you can see the footage yourself later if you like. You don't think they were reds do you?" She didn't look like she really believed this, but then again Beta Continent didn't have many Reds, it was in many ways the homeland of the Violets.

"It's possible." Fatima looked around "It'd explain the quickness, strength and lack of effective resistance."

"Hey guys, come look at this." Lisa's voice called from the other room. Fatima followed the other two, her boots crunching slightly as they compacted the ice. Lisa was waiting in the next room, standing behind the corpse of a large bald man, his head placed neatly beside him. "Was his head like this when you found it?" Lisa asked Ardesh.

"Yes Sir." Ardesh nodded, obviously a bit uncomfortable at the ghoulish scene.

"I see. And his blood was used to pain this symbol." Lisa pointed at the wall and Fatima saw the pattern, a sloppily painted eye symbol, the blood darkened by the freezing process. "If this is a drug crime, then some of the drug traders around here are in a cult." Lisa said, stepping carefully down to join them, her feet deftly avoiding the body. "Let's see upstairs."