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Next of Kin, Chapter Fifteen: 43%


  10:24:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1340 words  
Categories: Next of Kin

Next of Kin, Chapter Fifteen: 43%

Fifteen, 43%

TurdGargler posted a link in the chat room as I walked out of IA. ?TurdGargler: I'm horrified by this game I found posted under the name DukeGagger. What does everyone else think?? I opened it up. It was a rudimentary game where you could shoot a picture of John by tapping on the photo. Everywhere you clicked, a realistic gunshot would appear. There was an 'alternate firing mode' where you could shoot semen at him from a CG penis. The game encouraged you to use both, to more accurately portray John's death.
Petunia warned TG, but he claimed he was just joining the conversation, hadn't created the game, and wanted other people to denounce it as loudly as he had. I lost several more points, after that, as he ginned up another protest over censorship. I sighed heavily. I wanted to hit someone. But they were random assholes on the internet, and I learned pretty early in life that punching wifi antennae didn't do the trick.
Chase was waiting outside the police department for me, inside his car. ?If it isn't my favorite puddle of Santorum,? he said. ?Sorry audience; I know you hate the commercial breaks, but your eyeballs mean more money into the DCA program. You're helping stop crime by being pissed off. Plus, it's fun pissing you off. Police override.?
?You know you cost me points every time you do that, right??
?So?? he asked. ?It's not a popularity contest. It's a check and a balance on the extra police powers you've got as an advocate. And the freaks who watch that shit like it's a reality show- are about the unstablest collection of what I'd generously call humanity imaginable. I hate the audience. But I didn't come here to talk about my loathing. How did things go with IA??
?Strangely,? I said.
?They're pricks. In this particular case, it's starting to look like they're crooked pricks. Martens, by the way, isn't the liaison with the DCA.? I frowned. ?The entire office is bugged. We did that years ago, to catch anybody stupid enough to try and corroborate a lie while they're in the police station. He works IA, that much is true. But his interest in your brother... it doesn't exactly feel kosher. The main reason I'm here is to make sure you get away from the station.?
?Why would that be a problem??
?Because IA are little better than gangsters. They're the only cops left who have any autonomy at all. And there's nobody watching the people who ostensibly watch the watchers- so without oversight, they've become as if not more corrupt than we were at the height of the bad old days. Nobody's giving them a tank, so I guess that's a positive difference, but they control the tactical response team. They're not quite as militarized as SWAT, but I guarantee if John Q. Public got a lens-full of it in action, they'd dismantle IA that afternoon. They won't, though. IA have it set up so everybody around them loses connection to the grid except them. That's the real reason they won't do a raid into the dead zones, by the way. They can't control the pirate networks, so they can't stop news from getting out.?
?What about my car?? I asked.
?I'll have a buddy of mine move it for you.? I creased my brow. ?He'll be fine. IA isn't going to put a bomb in your car.? He thought about it. ?Not this fast, anyway. That's why we're moving it.?
?Do you really think they might??
?I think whatever's going on, they're willing to do quite a lot to keep it shut the hell up. And I wouldn't make bets with your safety where they'd draw that line. So keep your head down, keep investigating, and watch your ass.?
?You don't think that solves the murder? He knew something they didn't want getting out, and killed him for it.?
?That's a theory, kid. Fits most of the facts. But it's about as useful in court as a wet fart unless you can back it up. If I had to put money to it, though... they probably didn't kill your brother. It's just not their style. They'd have framed him for a crime, or blackmailed him into cooperating. Murder's a last resort, mostly because it means there's a concerned family member wandering around asking uncomfortable questions. The IA connection is interesting, but I doubt it's relevant beyond that. And the only way to prove either hypothesis is to keep on going with the investigation. They give you his interface??
I'd forgotten. ?Yeah,? I said, and opened it up. At that precise moment, the chat came back on. My rating dipped a few more points. I opened his schedule. He had a long series of stops to make, the ones we tracked on his GPS. Before those, there was the stop at IA. There were several blocks of data corrupted, a few sentences of description lost. ?They cleaned off any information about themselves.?
?Duh,? Chase said. ?That's why they took it in the first place. But what else is there? You've still got an investigation to complete- which means you need leads.? I sighed huffily. I liked the IA angle, and chasing anything else felt like willfully ignoring the elephant holding the smoking gun. ?And it's possible that they left you clues inadvertently- that the things that are now missing will paint a picture, too.?
He was trying to prod me along the right path, and if nothing else he was right. Whining about it wasn't going to get the wiped memory back. ?Next he's got a stop at 'CHT.'? I started up a search, cross-referencing his GPS comings and goings with the initials.
?Crimson Heron Technologies,? Chase said, as if I should have recognized it. ?Sontem subsidiary. A lot of lens tech comes from them.? I turned towards him, at least as well as my seatbelt would allow. ?They had an active shooter on their 'campus' a few years ago. I got tasked with doing the background, in case they needed to prep the negotiator. Instead, tactical shot him through a window,? he said nonchalantly.
?You don't seem broken up about an execution,? I said.
?You wouldn't either, if you remembered the case. Jerkass believed his wife was sleeping with his boss. So he went on a killing spree in the office. But he didn't start with the boss; didn't even check to see if he was in. Killed his secretary, and a whole lot of innocent bystanders. But neither of the people he was pissed off at- who, incidentally, weren't banging. She was fucking his neighbor, the boss was fucking his secretary- both of them were cheating on their spouses, but neither with whom he thought. So an angry, impotent prick opening fire in his office place? I don't mind summary execution. Had he been a dad or a mom having a nervous breakdown because they lost custody of their kids, who took some folks hostage but didn't ultimately hurt anybody? Then I'd maybe have some leeway. But when you start killing people just for being in proximity, I tend to get old testament pretty quick.?
?Yeah,? I said. ?I'm feeling mighty wrathful right about now.?
?Good. Fury's a part of being a detective. But you've got to channel it. Use it to smash through the usual socials barriers, like being too polite to accuse someone of murder, or to intimidate them into talking about something that would usually embarrass them too much to mention.?
The car stopped. ?Pep talks over. You're here. I'll send you a message as to where you can find your car. He'll leave a single piece of tape with his initials on it. If the tape's gone, or looks like it's been moved or cut, don't get into the car.?
?Seems awfully cloak and dagger,? I said.
?Kid, IA are the cloak and dagger brigade. If they are involved, no amount of paranoia is too much.?

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