Haraway at Twilight: Part 4

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Betasport

A bit later, after they'd shipped Tod off to the SDF base, the four agents, along with Ruthford sat in the station's mess (a piece of left over terminology from the corporate days) discussing what to do next. "Who works the gang beat around here detective?" Lisa asked.

"Wide selection, there's the whole Gang Activity Unit, over in the new Annex." Ruthford answered, scratching his chin "Why do you ask?"

"Well I was thinking, the Sea Wolves have multiple chapters right? That means multiple leaders, and people who can perhaps give us information."

"Maybe. Most Sea Wolves won't talk to police though." He shrugged "I guess all you can do is ask."

Isabelle leaned back "We should also check the forensic records and any other occurrences of the sign which Agent Vult identified at the scene." She paused, "I have located five hundred and twenty two records of similar symbols being used. I will assign the three of you work loads based on your data analysis score. Objective: to determine if this symbol is used by some particular group who might have been connected to the crime."

This was pretty standard but Fatima wouldn't have thought anyone but Isabelle would say it like that. "How long till we get the forensic results?" She asked.

"The local lab is checking them now. In view of what our witness said, I've also had the raw readouts from the bots sent to Landing for analysis." Lisa pulled a lose strand of hair off her forehead "Officer Ruthford, if you could perhaps see if we can get that meeting?"

"Yes ma... sir. I'll do it right away." Ruthford got up and left, and Fatima began to look through the hundred or so files she'd been assigned. An our later she had just about finished the initial sorting, winnowing out the clearly not relevant ones and categorizing the remainder into those likely to be irrelevant, the possibly relevant and the almost certainly relevant (only 4 in that category) when Ruthford returned, looking a bit surprised.

"You have your meeting, three hours from now, in one of the bay towers" He said.

Lisa rose and smiled "Excellent." She looked over at the others "We'll need some low profile body armour, just in case." She looked over at Ruthford "And a tactical unit standing by. Meetings with gang leadership is a delicate business."

"I'll arrange it." Ruthford nodded "Go see Detective Earling, she's the one who set up the meet."

"Earling, right." The four rose and headed for the GAU.

Three hours later, the four PSD agents and Detective Earling were walking up one of the main internal stairways of the Bay Towers. Earling was a short, handsome woman with very short hair, her walk showing an easy, confident manner. "Do you know who we're meeting?" Madeline asked.

"Otto Freeland, he's the leader of the Sea Wolf's Southern Chapter, real smart guy, and tough." Isabelle sent them a quick profile on Freeland. Apparently son of a corporate executive, he'd spent time in a corporate security unit as a junior officer, (though apparently hadn't committed any war crimes of note), before the end of the war terminated his service and he was left adrift in Betasport, where he'd taken up crime to survive. Now twenty-two, he'd done jail time for assault, but had largely escaped being implicated in crimes, where other gang members seemed eager to take the blame for him.

As she read, Fatima looked around the bay towers. The chain of five great buildings had never been finished, a last great project of the corporations that had founded Betasport, left to moulder in the aftermath of the war and the breakdown of wormhole communications. Sooner or later someone would move in and complete or demolish them, or the wind and tide would do it for them.

Fatima climbed, checking her AR that they were on the correct floor to the meeting then stepped out, looking across the wide gap (with dizzying emptiness below) in this area of the building at the young man wearing gang colours standing with another two behind him. "Yo" He smiled, a large grin splitting his tanned face "Thanks for coming. I wanted to meet some of the aliens in person."

"That's pretty rude Otto." Earling said as the five walked forward to face him, separated by a gap of air three meters wide and eighty meters deep.

"Well, isn't that rather the point of you guys? Building yourself a post human society and all. To become something other than human?" Otto scratched his chin.

Madeline smiled "No, the idea is to enjoy all the benefits of being posthuman, while staying human." She frowned "but that's not what we're here to talk about."

Lisa nodded and tossed him a pack of hard copy photos across the gap. The gang leader shot out an arm and caught them even as the wind did, then looked through them and nodded then looked back. "Why does a bunch of my brothers getting cut interest you ladies?"He closed the file and stowed it in his pocket "We're just gang members aren't we."

"You're still people." Fatima frowned "That makes your deaths our interest."

Her AR beeped with a general message and Fatima frowned at the text scrolling across her vision. Officers under fire downtown, your tactical unit has been redirected. Sorry.

Freeland frowned "There's a separation between us." He waved at the gap "Your world and our world, the world of the state" He pointed at them "and the world of the street." He pointed at himself "traditionally, we leave one another alone."

Lisa smiled "I think you'll find that our job is to narrow that gap Mr. Freeland." She looked at him intently "Where we come from, what you do is not illegal, providing it doesn't harm your clients." She looked him over "besides, aren't you even a little interested in actually catching the guys who did this to your brothers?"

Freeland smiled, opened his mouth to retort then one of his backup moved forward and whispered to him. He frowned, then looked at something behind them "Look out!" Fatima was already turning as hulking men in Sea Wolf colours emerged from the second stairway on their side. Each held a weapon, a club, a hunting pistol, or a shotgun.

Fatima's own gun was in her hand and speaking before Earling, Madeline or Isabelle could really process what was happening. Lisa was drawing her weapon, but even she was slow. Fatima hit the first ganger in the face, then adjusted down and fired into the one behind him.

Freeland's henchmen were dragging him towards one side of the platform, and Fatima saw a rope there, as more gang colour clad men began to emerge from the stairs on both sides. He pulled a hook from his colours, snapped onto the rope and dropped away out of sight, his henchmen following.

"We need to get to the stairs!" Lisa yelled, firing at the enemy on the other side. A shotgun blast slammed into Fatima, almost knocking her over as her impact armour went rigid. The other three, with merely human reflexes had just about caught up, Isabelle faster than the other two as they laid down fire.

"I'll lead! Follow me!" Fatima charged to the stairs, firing across to keep any more gang members from emerging then swung around the corner, kicking a man with a heavy pistol in the face then riding him down the stairs, slamming into other men as they fell. Fatima landing with a thump at the bottom and turned to see a man pointing a machine pistol at her. She bought her own gun up and fired, then blinked as the round hit him but he failed to go down, despite the gout of blood from his back where the round had expanded. His finger jerked the trigger down and he fired the entire magazine into her. There was a rapid fire burp and pain lanced through Fatima's arm and leg. She collapsed against the wall, noticing blood was leaking everywhere.

The others, she could vaguely here were high above. The ganger pulled out a new clip and stepped forward, leveling the gun. Fatima closed her eyes, winced and there was a loud bang and something wet landed on her. Blinking she saw the ganger topple to one side as figures in SDF armour swung into the building.

Harl's Delta
First World General Store

Namik looked over the massive bags of rubbish, spoiled food, plastic scraps and disgusting rags he'd spent the last few hours assembling and breathed out, sealing the tops of each. He'd assembled the usable parts he'd found on the work bench, and moved the gutted robots over to one side. Maybe they could be repaired.

The only thing left to do was repack the shelves, then they could open. Namik had decided to leave that till last in the hope that maybe Anna would bring back an automated shelf packer and save him the trouble. Now he looked at the pallet and sighed, he'd finished everything else, so he'd have to bite the bullet.

Unfortunately, so far there'd been no sign of the mechanical keys (though he'd found the room's spare key cards) so unless they could come up with something they'd be sleeping on the floor.

As he thought of that, the loading dock door began to open and Anna ducked under it, dragging several bags "Hey!" She smiled, getting everything through and then pressed the down button, letting the door close with a sigh, and leaning against it "I think we should start ordering our own electronics."

"Didn't go well?" Namik began to dump the rubbish into the recycler.

"I got the stuff, but the electronics store guy is a creep." Anna frowned and then shivered "He looked at me like I was a piece of meat."

"Charming... at least you got the stuff right?"

"Yes, all the circuits and light bulbs we could possibly need." Anna smiled, and pulled out a large box "Annndddd... a robot shelf packer. I got some parts for other kind of bots, but they didn't have replacements for the forklifts so we'll have to load it by hand."

Namik smiled "Great. I cleaned everything up. The only problem is the mechanical locks. I can't find the damn keys anywhere."

"Really?" Anna groaned "He probably lost them when the Owl Bear chomped on him." She frowned "hmmm... Mechanical locks aren't used anymore because they're easy to pick right?"

"Uh yeah, that's what I've heard." Namik didn't particularly want to get into that "Though you need special equipment, a lock pick gun is the most basic, or a smart pick."

"Well, I used to be a mechanical engineer. I recon I can put together a lock pick gun." Anna pulled her hair back and she flipped on some virtual interface glasses "I'm sure the plans exist somewhere in my data store." She looked over at him "You start on packing the selves, I'll get working."

Namik nodded and unboxed the robot, plugged a cell into it and then began to load it. Quickly the little thing was off, and Namik turned to watch Anna working busily, there was not much else to do, the load was already sorted efficiently, and the robot would return when it was done.

Suddenly the store's front door chimed. "I wonder who that is." Anna said, raising her glasses.

"I'll get it, keep working." Namik headed forward to see a bulky police officer, taller even than his considerable height standing outside. He opened the door "Uh, can I help you constable."

"Yeah." The man leaned forward "You're new in town, so I'm here to make sure you understand local laws and customs. We're quiet folk in Harl's Delta. Simple Folk. We don't like noise or interference." He poked Namik in the chest "Keep quiet and don't pry and you'll be ok, but if you make noise and look into things that aren't your business, it'll go hard for you."

Namik frowned "Very well." He said, keeping his expression neutral. The cop walked into the store "You just restocked?" He lifted a bottle of whisky from the shelf, checked the date then walked out. Namik watched him go, no point starting a fight. He locked the door after the cop had gone and went back.

"Well the local law is as unfriendly as everyone else round here." The Turk muttered as he began to load the shelf packer again. Anna looked up, sighed and shook her head, and went back to work on the lock pick gun.