Haraway at Twilight: Part 3

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Beta Continent
Betasport

The team and the two local PD stepped back out into the rain. Fatima took a deep breath of sea air and looked around "Are you sure that's really a cult symbol Lisa, it could be a gang sign."

"Perhaps, most gangs use paint, not blood though." Lisa shrugged then looked at the two PD "Is it one you recognize?"

"Not really, I'll have the computer run a check though." Ruthford nodded "Hopefully we'll be able to ID the victims too. If this was gang related they're probably also a street gang, they all looked like they had the same tattoos."

"I'll call the meat wagon." Ardesh shrugged and opened her phone. Fatima looked around casually, they'd spend the next few hours sifting through computer information on gang signs and cults most likely. Some people might have found it boring, but really it was the part of the job Fatima liked most. She paused a moment, looking at a figure standing down the end of the block.

She would be too far to make out details with unaided human vision, but all Harawayans had slightly enhanced senses, and more than that, the augmented reality systems (newly implemented in Betasport) supplied Fatima with the view from the CCTV cameras and other sensors she was standing near. The man was young, younger even than Fatima, and looked terrified and distraught... and tattooed.

Madeline stepped up beside Fatima and smiled slightly "If you want to try to catch him, you're the only one of us who can run him down." Fatima nodded, then began to walk towards the boy, not taking it too fast at first, hoping not to spook him. Fatima's gambit wasn't wholly successful though, as she'd only got a third of the way before the boy turned and ran. "PSD stop!" Fatima broke into a run herself, her long legs quickly eating up the distance between her and her quarry. The girl dodged around a corner, and Fatima followed, up a dustbin and over a fence, still gaining. The boy made a mistake, looked, then stumbled and Fatima was on him.

"PSD! Stop right there." Fatima grabbed her, quickly locking the other's arms behind his back.

"Please! Don't! They'll find me! They'll kill me!" The boy began to cry "I haven't done anything! I haven't!"

Fatima sighed "Nobody is going to hurt you, and you're not accused of anything, we just want to know what happened in that warehouse... and your tattoos tell me you can help us." Inspiration struck "They were your friends right? Don't you want their killers brought to justice?"

The boy looked back at Fatima and stopped struggling, then broke down in a mass of tears.

Harl's Delta

Harl's Delta was not a particularly prepossessing place. Anna had seen her share of old buildings back in Poland built of brick, wood and concrete but those had an old elegance about them, or at least harked back to it. Harl's Delta buildings just looked cheap and primitive, constructed through backbreaking human labour, she could almost hear the shouts of the foremen and the crack of the whips. Anna shook her head, shaking off the flash and headed into the centre of the square, looking around at the store fronts. Most of them seemed shuttered and empty, with only what looked like a food market still open.

There were a few locals around too, looking at her rather suspiciously. Anna plucked up courage and approached one "Excuse me sir. Do you know where I can find an electronic store?"

"You be the new staff at the store?" The man was large, a full head taller than Anna and with slightly bulging eyes. He scowled at Anna, regarding her with evident dislike.

"That's right. It's in a bit of a state and we need some components to fix it up." Anna smiled as best she could.

"I'm not rightly sure where you could find any fancy out of town electronics. We mislike outsiders here." He glared then walked away. Anna sighed, it looked like she'd need to explore on her own. Picking a random side street she began to walk, scanning for any other open stores. There seemed none down here, but ahead she could see what appeared to be a wide high street.

It was watching Anna from behind, eyes boring into her from high up, eyes slitted in the brightness. It looked at her and hungered.

Anna shuddered, her vision blurring. She realized she'd fallen to her knees in the middle of the street and quickly got up, looking back down the street and trying to clear her head. There was nothing back there, nothing watching her. She moved up towards the high street area more quickly, trying to shake off the dread.

Anna found the electronic shop after about ten more minutes of searching. It was built into the corner of a street, with a peeling white sign above it, and wire nets over the windows. Anna stepped inside to see a thin, dishevelled looking man sitting behind the counter. He nodded at her when she approached "What can I do for you Ms?"

"Ah, I need some stuff. A type-J circuit, and do you sell robots."

"Can't say that I do Ms, but I can tell you one that does." The man smiled at Anna, no, more of a leer. Anna decided she didn't like the locals when they were friendly anymore than when they were surly. He pulled the circuit out and put it on the counter "If you go down to the docks, Thomas'll sell you robotics." He smiled "You be new in town?"

"Uh, yes. I'm the new manager of the First World General Store." Anna added some light bulbs to her basket.

"Ah." He nodded "Well Ms if you like, I be sure I can help you get more involved in the community. We're a pretty close nit town, based around our worship. I could introduce you to our faith, it'd make people accept you more."

"Uh." Anna tried to smile politely "Well maybe I'll take you up on that, sometime, but right now I have to get the store fixed up and ticking over. Actually, I should get going, there's still a lot of fixing to do." Anna hastily collected her stuff and

"Ah, well see you around Ms." Anna felt him watching her as she hastily, almost seeing the nasty grin on his face. Quickly she headed down towards the docks. She wanted to get back to the store, whatever safety it offered, as soon as she could.

Betasport

The interview room was starkly lit, a chair on one side and a two way mirror behind the subject. He sat on the desk, looking small and wet, clad in a cheap looking vest and shorts. Occasionally he'd glance at the one way mirror. People often seemed to know when they were being watched Fatima thought as the four PSD agents behind the mirror looked the subject over. His name, according to the software was Tod. He had a string of minor offenses, mostly under the corporate legal system, including several for drug dealing, and one fairly nasty assault.

Madeline looked over at Fatima "Do you want to help me with the interview?" She asked.

"Ah... um..." Fatima looked over at Lisa "Shouldn't Lisa do it?" She was, after all the blue hung unspoken.

"I'm happy watching with Isabelle." Lisa smiled and patted Fatima's shoulder "Go on, we can all see you're desperate for the chance to do it."

Fatima smiled a bit shyly "Ok... so what's the plan?" She tried to school her face into a more business like expression "He hasn't really done anything so we can't put him under a trawl or anything."

Madeline nodded "That shouldn't be necessary, he's frightened, he's potentially eager to talk. Treat him kindly and I think he'll spill the beans. Just follow my lead and be yourself ok?" She smiled "I mean, you don't want bad stuff to happen to people anyway do you?"

Fatima flushed, then nodded and Madeline paused, then activated the hot drink maker and poured a steaming cup of coffee which she carried into the interview room, Fatima following behind. "Hello Tod. I'm Agent Kal and this is Agent Saj, we're from the Public Security Department, you're not being charged with anything, but we'd like you to answer some questions."

"I ain't heard of it." He frowned regarded the coffee then drunk some quickly "Is it like Island police?"

"Sort of. It's a central agency for law enforcement, our jurisdiction encompasses the whole planet." Madeline gave him an easy smile, then sobered "We're investigating several murders Tod. We were inspecting the sight when Agent Saj saw you. Do you know anything that might help us?"

"I don't know nothing!" Tod said, it seemed automatic.

Fatima leaned forward a bit "Then, why did you run from me Tod? And why do you keep crying?"

"I..." Tod's eyes hunted back and forth and he leaned forward "Listen you got to protect me if I talk! They're everywhere and they'll kill me!"

Madeline gave him a sympathetic look "We can give you protection, but if you want it, you need to tell us who's threatening you, and who killed your friends."

Tod leaned forward. "I... uh. I run with the Sea Wolves, the harbour chapter." Fatima's augmented reality system fed her information on the Sea Wolves, one of the area's biggest gangs "Our chapter was run by a guy named Tony, He was real smart and... well, we were involved in trading things and we were all making a lot of money, way more than anyone else." He took another drink of coffee then the words continued to flow out of him "Like, way more money than anyone else. And we used to ask him "Tony, how you always got so much smash?" And he'd just smile."

He looked around the room "He had a lot of friends, friends we weren't sure of. If anyone got pinched, he'd have a word with the cops and they'd go free. It was fine, we were living it large, up until a month ago, when this guy came to see him."

Tod paused "I don't know what they talked about but they were shouting at one another. I heard the guy sat Tony hadn't kept up his end of the bargain, and Tony saying no smash was worth that, and then the guy left. Tony started to get pretty afraid after that, kept looking around, had us move our stashes and where we slept around, armed guards, everything." He frowned "Then a few days ago, he said it was all fine, he seemed like, beaming happy." He looked at the desk "I decided to go out with my girl because everything was sorted, and when I came back to the place... I saw the lights and... I knew what'd happened." His eyes flicked up, and he looked sick. Fatima thought that part was a lie, but couldn't think what he was hiding, had he witnessed the attack? But then why not tell them about it? He looked at Madeline, them leaned forward, hands grabbing her wrists "Please, they're everywhere. You got to save me. They'll kill me too if they find me. Please!"

"It's ok, it's ok. We'll help you." Madeline frowned "Just stay here, and we'll arrange to transfer you to the SDF post, you'll have to stay in their jail, but you'll be surrounded by troops. That ok?"

"Yeah." Tod smiled, his face manic "Yeah. Even they can't get me there! Thank you!"

"Stay there and drink your coffee and we'll arrange it." Madeline got up, and Fatima followed her out of the room. Inside, detective Ruthford, Isabelle and Lisa were watching Tod.

"He was lying when he said he was away at the time." Fatima reported.

"Most astute Fatima." Isabelle said "That is indeed what my instruments suggest as well. Perhaps he was involved in the attack."

"Or he saw something he doesn't think we'll believe."

Ruthford frowned "Well, it seems more likely he was involved. Maybe whoever did this put the frightners on him to make him show them where the gang was based. I don't like this talk of dirty cops... I'm going to check if any of the corpses had been arrested recently. I'll see you ladies later."

"Good idea detective." Madeline watched him go, then looked at Lisa "Saw something that we wouldn't believe huh?" She frowned "I thought that too." She looked into the cell "Let's get him transferred to the SDF. If he's right about bent cops, he won't live through the night in here."