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Breed: Twenty-four


  01:33:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 2609 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Twenty-four

?When you asked if I'd take you to Seattle, I kind of thought we were going shopping,? Ben said.
?And kind of hoped we were just taking you to a hotel for a special birthday surprise?? Mira asked with a grin.
?It's not, but I wouldn't have corrected you.?
?Your boyfriend's kind of a perv,? Rox said.
?Hey!? Mira objected.
?Whoa,? Ben said, putting up his hands.
?Boyfriend is a little...?
?Much, right??
?Question,? Rox began, turning to Ben, ?are you trying to see other girls naked??
?Not trying per se; not objecting, though, if you were offering.?
?And that?? Rox asked, turning towards Mira so she knew the question was directed at her. ?Are you okay with that??
?That depends...? Mira said coyly. ?Were you offering? Because I might be down.?
?I forgot you're a perv, too. So I guess then your girlfriend is also a perv. So that sort of works.?
?I... don't know about girlfriend,? Ben said. ?But she is a total perv. And it's great.?
Mira glared at him a moment. ?Salvaged,? she said, softening her glower, ?but only just.?
?But now we can officially have angry make-up sex.?
?That is maybe my third favorite kind.?
?You two seriously need to knock it off,? Rox said.
?She's just upset because she only has one kind of favorite sex: the kind she gets to have with another person. And even then I'm not entirely certain it isn't hypothetical.?
?But,? Ben started, ?if any of that is true, maybe, to be sensitive, we should knock it off.?
?You're still angling for a threesome, aren't you?? Mira asked suspiciously.
?Not angling,? he said. ?Open to it. But I can be both shamelessly horny and conspicuously concerned for the well-being of my friends.?
?You're definitely shameless,? Rox said.
?But don't let my banter fool you. I'm not thrilled you waited until we were in Seattle traffic to tell me why we're here.?
?That's because we knew you'd say 'No.'?
?That's actually worse.?
Mira frowned at Roxy. ?What my friend means is we knew that you would take some convincing, and wanted to be able to do it without hindering the time-sensitivity of what we're doing.?
He sighed. ?Okay, I am actually a little pissed, but acknowledging that this is both dangerous and probably stupid, I'm glad I'm here to be able to help.?
?Because we're helpless little girls who need a man to protect us?? Rox asked.
?Wow, when the mood is over with you it's over,? Ben said. ?But no. I know the two of you can handle yourselves. But the great thing about bringing a giant Indian dude is basically nobody fucks with me, and by extension you. The downside being that everyone calls me 'Chief' and thinks a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest reference is anything but dated.?
?Also, Indian?? Mira asked.
?Yeah, well, 'Native American' is clunky. Better, in common usage, sure. But 'Indian' is kind of our 'N' word, you know, we can say it if we like it. Plus, in that context, it got across the rest of my meaning. The kinds of pricks who are more likely to give two young women crap are also more likely to give me a wide berth, lest I scalp them. You know, cause they're sexist and racist.?
?Well, I'm happy to have the back-up,? Rox said, ?my 'I' word.?
?I'm going to regret this discussion, aren't I??
?Don't you regret most conversations you have with women??
?Those that don't lead directly to sex, yes. So do we have a specific destination? Because Seattle's a pretty big haystack if we're going needle-diving. Because it's kind of worrying that you're leading me into a police precinct.?
?Mahmoud was able to find the name of the detective assigned to Elijah's case. He works cyber crime. Alec Moody.?
?Then why are we here??
?Because he was our friend,? Rox said, her voice trembling. ?And because... I know I need to be here.?
?This is one of those tingling intuition things, isn't it?? he asked.
?I hate those,? he said.
?Me, too. But not as much as I hate what happens when I ignore them.?
Rox led them to the desk at the front of the lobby. ?We're here to see Detective Moody,? she said.
The desk sergeant held up one finger, and turned so she could see the landline handset at his ear. ?Yup,? he said, hung up, and jotted something down. ?Moody?? he asked. ?Look, there ain't no reward,? he said, pronouncing the last half of the word like 'yard' before chortling to himself. ?But if you still got a tip, I can call up.?
?We'll wait,? she said.
He glared at her a moment, then rolled his eyes and sighed. He picked up the receiver like it was made of solid lead, and with each number he pressed he chewed his gum a little harder and looked back at her, as if he was hoping she'd give up halfway through.
?Alec? Three kids to see you. Didn't say. Don't seem like lookyloos, no way they're press. Okay,? he said with a shrug, and hung up. ?He'll see you. See those stairs?? He pointed to his right, to a set of stairs receding into the wall. ?Up those,? he said, with the same cadence he would have said 'up yours,' then went back to writing notes on something she couldn't see past the frosted glass surrounding him.
An aging, overweight man in a rumpled suit with thinning brown hair met them one floor up. ?I'm Detective Moody,? he said, ?you're here for me? Cybercrimes??
?Yeah,? Rox said.
?Come on. I'll get you a seat or two.? He led them to a desk that matched him in every way, scattered, rumpled papers, and the wood paneling rubbing thin and showing the composite material underneath, with the corners showing the real age of the desk. He fell into a chair behind it, and gestured to a pair of chairs on the other side of it. ?Somebody may have to stand, since as you can see, chairs ain't exactly in ready supply.?
At the prompting, Rox looked around the room. His desk with its two chairs seemed luxurious. Most chairs were stacked high with files, where there even were extras.
?I got a big lap,? Ben offered.
?Shotgun,? Mira said.
?Just keep it PG,? Moody said, ?vice is just down the way.?
Rox took the chair opposite Moody, while Ben and Mira stacked on top of the other chair.
?You're here about the Givens boy?? the detective asked.
?We knew him. Not well, but he went to an orientation up at Baundslow College.?
?In Bellingham? Figures. We knew the kid was transhuman. His posts laid that out pretty clear.?
?May I ask, what exactly happened??
?He was having an argument online. Defending transhumans, as well as his decision to register. He was taking crap from both sides. But one particular prick was given better than all the rest combined- threats-wise. At the end he all but declared his intentions to 'hurt' Givens, right before he doxxed him- that is, uh, posted his home address and full name online.
?Minutes later, Seattle police got a phone call. Number looked legit, had a local area code, requested help, and said a young man matching Givens' description had forced his way into an apartment and was holding the family hostage at gunpoint, and that other unidentified gunmen were on the scene. We sent SWAT.
?You knew him, so you knew he was different. I got a daughter just like him, but, uh, not so functional. You know, sometimes you can forget, until you take her out of her routine, out of her comfort zone, and then it's like she's that same little girl throwing tantrums for reasons her mom and I just couldn't understand. You put a kid like Elijah into that situation, with cops screaming at him and pointing guns... it's going to go bad. Son of a bitch all but pulled the trigger.
?And I got nothing to go on. A solid citizen screen-capped the chat, that's why we know what happened, but he torched his posts, his history, the screen name. I think I can connect it to a kid in New Mexico, got an IP and everything. But doxxing, while threatening as hell, ain't technically illegal. And the shit the kid said stood just this side of constituting something the local police will move on. And the number used for the SWATting turned out to be cloned; if he were in the state I could probably get him on an accessory charge, but there's no way they extradite him on something like that- and the DA wouldn't run with that ball, anyhow.
?I'd ask if anybody had a reason to hurt him, but it'd be like asking after the motive behind a single death in a driveby- by design the violence is random and anonymous. I don't think there's anything you can do, and I'm sorry, using you as a sounding board for my misery. But this one... I'd carve the skin off one arm to fix this one, to put the world right. The FBI's best computer people are sniffing for traces, but they're 'not optimistic,' which is nerd code for, sure, we'll look for this needle, it's your haystack.?
?What if,? Rox started, pausing for effect, ?not saying we can, just asking if, we could burn off some of that hay, make their search a little easier??
He bit his lip. ?This the kind of conversation I never had??
?Might be better for all involved that way,? Rox said.
?They're good,? he said. ?So nothing fabricated, nothing they couldn't have eventually found through diligence.?
?Let me make a phone call.?
?Sure, I, uh, think I need to get some coffee.?
Rox took out her phone and dialed Mahmoud. ?Are you near a computer?? she asked.
?That's like asking a fish if it stays near water,? he said. ?What do you need??
?The boy killed last night-?
?He was a friend. His killer covered his tracks. But I suspect not so well that you can't pick up his scent. We need a trail, from what he did, to the killing, or at least as close as it gets.?
?Yeah, he's already been doxxed online. Yep. Got his IP and everything, so let's see where you got to... it looks like I can reconstruct enough of his activity to at least give you a direct line to his posts. Hmm.?
?I was following in his footsteps, trying to figure out how he obtained the information for the doxx. Elijah's family are unlisted- at least in the usual, legal directories. That's good,? Mahmoud said. ?It means he broke the law getting it. Wait. Oh, holy shit. He didn't just break the law- he put his balls in the tiger's mouth.?
?What does that mean??
?The information he got for Elijah- he stole it out of the Justice Department's servers- from his registration.?
?They're going to drop the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on the vile little shit. But there's something else. His record didn't stop at the DoJ. His file was forwarded to an NSA facility up in Ellensburg. They all were. And judging by the traffic going there, I bet that's where the new transhuman tracking program is based out of.?
?They're giving those shitheads the registration information??
?Looks that way, though without breaching their system I can't tell you anything other than what the traffic implies.?
?No. That's enough. At least for now. We've got to focus on Elijah's killer, first.?
?He's a pretty crappy misogynist, racist, bigot, too, in case you didn't already hate him enough. And the scum he runs with are worse; they were patting him on the back this morning, and I get the distinct impression this isn't new territory for them.?
?But is there a way to flag this trail for the FBI to find??
?Yes,? Mahmoud said. ?It's done.?
?Same way we had this conversation; I'm bouncing the information around. In the case of getting them on his trail, I made a half-assed attempt to break into the FBI's cybersecurity servers, and made sure the trail would lead back to Hammish- that's his last name. The trail will lead to him, but look like he broke back into the DoJ to clean up his tracks.?
? Elijah was one of us- and they killed him for that. I'm just glad you didn't ask me to hurt Hammish, because I don't know if I could have said 'No,' as much as I know I should. I'll see you back in Bellingham.?
?Bye,? she said, and hung up her phone.
?We're good?? Ben asked.
?Yeah. We should get out of here.? Rox didn't say anything else until they were back on the street. ?They used his registration to doxx him,? she said.
?Registration killed him,? Mira said quietly, her eyes moistening.
?No. It wasn't registration that killed him. It was entitled bigots who believe they so deserve to be top of the heap that falsely calling the police to get somebody killed seems like a righteous act. And it was a police state, and cops that carried out the murder, so violently certain in their course that they gunned down an unarmed, nonviolent 14 year without provocation. But make no mistake, it wasn't the rule of law that killed him. It was a bigot on the other end of an internet connection.?
?But they used the registration to hurt him.?
Rox frowned. ?He said it was like gun control. Criminals are always going to use the law against those who follow it.?
?I don't know if I like that parallel,? Ben said. ?I grew up on the reservation. My uncle was sheriff before my brother, but sometimes he'd end up on the other side of the reservation overnight. I remember getting taught to shoot a gun as soon as I was old enough to hold one. Because there are people who drive onto the reservation to commit their crimes; rape got pretty common, for a while, because it's tough for the tribes to prosecute.
?But registration is not restriction. The one could, theoretically, lead to the other, but that's like saying electing anyone with antisemitic tendencies invariably leads to the Holocaust. And just about everybody used to be pretty wildly antisemitic, yet only one Holocaust, not one a generation. And a Diaspora, if you want to get technical. And I can tell you, growing up in a city, near gun crime, we have a different perspective from someone who lived in a relatively remote, small town, who didn't have cops a few minutes away at all times, and might need a weapon to protect themselves.
?I don't think it was the choice to put his fellow man's fear above his safety that killed him, it was people willing to exploit the good of people better than them.?
?But would you register?? Ben asked.
?It's a personal choice. One I think everyone should be able to make.?
?Then why not treat guns the same??
?Because gun ownership doesn't carry the same stigmas. You wouldn't be targeted online solely for being outspoken about gun ownership.?
?No,? he said, ?you wouldn't.?
?And you're right. This damages peoples' trust. It shows that registering can lead to harm and violence. But we can't bow down to extremists. Because whether they know it or not, if they shut down the peaceful options, there's only violence ahead. And I don't think I like their odds if that happens.?

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