Breed Book 4, Part 08

Eight

“Operation Brown Thunder?” Iago asked.

“I really wish you’d stop calling it that,” Tucker said. “And it’s still a fallback position.”

“Then it’s good we haven’t needed it, right?” Drake asked.

 “Good in the moment.”

“What’s bad in the longer term?”

“The bad is I’ve caught enough background thought off these cops to know that what the FBI’s said holds true, even in the relative liberal bastion of Seattle- human/white supremacists have infiltrated the police. It’s not every one, but it’s some of them, and what’s worse is they’re evangelizing, working on their colleagues to make them more bigoted and violent.”

“Collective mind-wipe?” Demi asked sardonically.

“A mind isn’t a hard drive, I can’t just format them.”

“And even if we did, it’d be pretty clearly a Breed attack on police.”

“Counter-attack,” Drake said solemnly. “You can’t exactly claim they didn’t fire the first shot. Maybe it’s time we fight back with equal ferocity.”

“You,” the voice came from ten-feet away, but it felt like it was shouted from beside them, and echoed in the parking structure. They turned as a group, to see one of the officers pointing with two fingers into their group. At first none of them recognized him, or knew who he was pointing at. No one except Mayumi, who knew him even through the eye he shot out. Despite her years in the field, despite her training, she shivered involuntarily.

“Don’t,” Demi said, as she started towards him.

“I’ll be okay,” Mayumi said, straightening her spine. Her hands were still zip-tied behind her, and he used that to hold her arms at the elbow and lead her towards a squad car- no- not just a car, but the one she was put in after being shot. There was still a splotch of her blood on the trunk where her head was slammed down, blood still flowing from her eye socket, so they could check her ties. He opened the rear door. “Get in.”

“Where are we going?” she asked.

Anger flashed in his eyes, but he forced it down. “Just in. Sergeant said we should have a chat.” When she was clear of the door, he shut it, then got into the front seat on the passenger side. “She said I should start with an apology. And that just saying that wouldn’t count. I shouldn’t have shot you. And I’m sorry for that.”

There was a tremor in his voice. “You feeling okay?” she asked.

“I’ve had the worst day,” he said, then chuckled. “But look who I’m talking to.”

“I think we’re both lucky, all told, about today. You made a mistake, but because I am who I am, and because I put myself in your path, the damage wasn’t permanent. So while it’s maybe not the best day I’ve ever had, I feel like I got a chance to help where I was needed.”

“You’re being a lot more… reasonable than I expected. Or than I think I’d be in your seat.”

“I don’t have any animus towards you. I know I look young, but I served in the Japan Self-Defense Forces. I know what it’s like to be asked to do too much with too little, and have to bear the human consequences of that short-coming. And it feels personal. It feels like you failed. But the truth is, you haven’t. You did the best you could with what you had, with limited and inadequate training, the wrong equipment and otherwise.”

“I shot you in the face with a rubber bullet.” His statement was full of anger, shame and self-pity; there was a menace in it, too, though she couldn’t place whether or not it was pointed at her or himself.

“And if it were just you, then maybe you’d have a point. But it’s not. Pick up a paper, and it’s happening across the country, in cities large and small. This isn’t a question of bad apples at this point- it’s systemic. We asked too much, as a society, used our police as a catch-all for a whole host of societal problems with often contradictory solutions. The police are a sack of hammers, so of course every problem looks like a nail, but the cops aren’t the ones who took on all of these not-nailing responsibilities. We need to pull back on what we’re asking, for you and for the rest of us.”

“And if the violence doesn’t abate?” he asked with a heavy sigh.

“Then we do what we have to, to stop it. If that’s a complete dissolution and rebuild, if that’s shrinking the police until they’re just a tactical response unit, so-be-it. You’re a person of color. How do you feel about the prospect of one of your kids ending up on the wrong side of a police baton? Or a rubber bullet. This I not a cops vs. society thing. This is your society, too. I want a more just world for you and your family, too.”

“Okay, now I feel really badly I shot you,” he said, with a laugh tainted by a sniffle.

“You should,” she said, and let the answer linger in the silent car for a moment.

“I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said.

“You should feel bad, but you shouldn’t internalize that guilt and let it make you worse at what you do. You should remember it, learn from today. We aren’t enemies. We’re neighbors. And we just want our neighbors safe, in or out of uniform.”

He got out of the car, walked around to her door, then opened it. He helped her out by the elbow, far more gently then when he put her in. She felt a pinch behind her, only to realize he’d cut away her ties. “I have a daughter. She’s mouthy, even at eight. I can’t sleep, sometimes, worrying about her getting mouthy with another officer.” He looked down at his badge, still covered with black electrical tape, and peeled it off, then removed a similar piece of tape on his name tag, revealing the name “R. Johnson.”

“Next time,” Mayumi said, “leave the uniform at home and march on our side of the line.”

He smiled wistfully, and Mayumi started back towards her friends, still circled, and trying not to look like they’d been staring at her the entire time.

“So Operation Ice Dick-Slap a Cruiser is off?” Drake asked mockingly.

“For now,” Iago said.

“There were many and varied- and varying in quality- rescue plans in the offing,” Demi said to Mayumi, before hugging her. “Which is to say we were worried about you.”

“That’s sweet,” she said. “But I could handle myself.”

“We saw,” Mikaela said. “He looked nearly… human getting out of that car.”

“I had to soft-pedal it for him. Cops often don’t seem to grasp that there’s an implied threat to having a conversation with someone while they’re armed and you’re cuffed in the back of their car.”

“Or maybe they’ve spent so much time throwing their weight around that they just assume it’s normal,” Mikaela said. “Maybe they act like violent counter-protestors to peaceful demonstrations against their own excesses because force is the only language they speak anymore, at least collectively.”

“I think he heard me,” Mayumi said. “And that’s too high a bar, to think we can sit down every cop- or even every problem cop- with someone they tried to kill. But it’s a start.”

“Operation Brown Thunder?” Iago asked.

“I really wish you’d stop calling it that,” Tucker said. “And it’s still a fallback position.”

“Then it’s good we haven’t needed it, right?” Drake asked.

 “Good in the moment.”

“What’s bad in the longer term?”

“The bad is I’ve caught enough background thought off these cops to know that what the FBI’s said holds true, even in the relative liberal bastion of Seattle- human/white supremacists have infiltrated the police. It’s not every one, but it’s some of them, and what’s worse is they’re evangelizing, working on their colleagues to make them more bigoted and violent.”

“Collective mind-wipe?” Demi asked sardonically.

“A mind isn’t a hard drive, I can’t just format them.”

“And even if we did, it’d be pretty clearly a Breed attack on police.”

“Counter-attack,” Drake said solemnly. “You can’t exactly claim they didn’t fire the first shot. Maybe it’s time we fight back with equal ferocity.”

“You,” the voice came from ten-feet away, but it felt like it was shouted from beside them, and echoed in the parking structure. They turned as a group, to see one of the officers pointing with two fingers into their group. At first none of them recognized him, or knew who he was pointing at. No one except Mayumi, who knew him even through the eye he shot out. Despite her years in the field, despite her training, she shivered involuntarily.

“Don’t,” Demi said, as she started towards him.

“I’ll be okay,” Mayumi said, straightening her spine. Her hands were still zip-tied behind her, and he used that to hold her arms at the elbow and lead her towards a squad car- no- not just a car, but the one she was put in after being shot. There was still a splotch of her blood on the trunk where her head was slammed down, blood still flowing from her eye socket, so they could tie her. He opened the rear door. “Get in.”

“Where are we going?” she asked.

Anger flashed in his eyes, but he forced it down. “Just in. Sergeant said we should have a chat.” When she was clear of the door, he shut it, then got into the front seat on the passenger side. “She said I should start with an apology. And that just saying that wouldn’t count. I shouldn’t have shot you. And I’m sorry for that.”

“You feeling okay?”

“I’ve had the worst day,” he said, then chuckled. “But look who I’m talking to.”

“I think we’re both lucky, all told, about today. You made a mistake, but because I am who I am, and because I put myself in your path, the damage wasn’t permanent. So while it’s maybe not the best day I’ve ever had, I feel like I got a chance to help where I was needed.”

“You’re being a lot more… reasonable than I expected. Or than I think I’d be in your seat.”

“I don’t have any animus towards you. I know I look young, but I served in the Japan Self-Defense Forces. I know what it’s like to be asked to do too much with too little, and have to bear the human consequences of that short-coming. And it feels personal. It feels like you failed. But the truth is, you haven’t. You did the best you could with what you had, with limited and inadequate training, the wrong equipment and otherwise.”

“I shot you in the face with a rubber bullet.” His statement was full of anger, shame and self-pity; there was a menace in it, too, though she couldn’t place whether or not it was pointed at her.

“And if it were just you, then maybe you’d have a point. But it’s not. Pick up a paper, and it’s happening across the country, in cities large and small. This isn’t a question of bad apples at this point- it’s systemic. We asked too much, as a society, used our police as a catch-all for a whole host of societal problems with often contradictory solutions. The police are a sack of hammers, so of course every problem looks like a nail, but the cops aren’t the ones who took on all of these not-nailing responsibilities. We need to pull back on what we’re asking, for you and for the rest of us.”

“And if the violence doesn’t abate?” he asked with a heavy sigh.

“Then we do what we have to, to stop it. If that’s a complete dissolution and rebuild, if that’s shrinking the police until they’re just a tactical response unit, so-be-it. You’re a person of color. How do you feel about the prospect of one of your kids ending up on the wrong side of a police button? Or a rubber bullet. This I not a cops vs. society thing. This is your society, too. I want a more just world for you and your family, too.”

“Okay, now I feel really badly I shot you,” he said, with a laugh tainted by a sniffle.

“You should,” she said, and let the answer linger in the silent car for a moment.

“I feel like I can’t breathe,” he said.

“You should feel bad, but you shouldn’t internalize that guilt and let it make you worse at what you do. You should remember it, learn from today. We aren’t enemies. We’re neighbors. And we just want our neighbors safe, in or out of uniform.”

He got out of the car, walked around to her door, then opened it. He helped her out by the elbow, far more gently then when he put her in. “I have a daughter. She’s mouthy, even at eight. I can’t sleep, sometimes, worrying about her getting mouthy with another officer.” He looked down at his badge, still covered with black electrical tape, and peeled it off, then removed a similar piece of tape on his name tag, revealing the name “R. Johnson.”

“Next time,” Mayumi said, “leave the uniform at home and march on our side of the line.”

He smiled wistfully, and Mayumi started back towards her friends, still circled, and trying not to look like they’d been staring at her the entire time.

“So Operation Ice Dick-Slap a Cruiser is off?” Drake asked mockingly.

“For now,” Iago said.

“There were many and varied- and varying in quality- rescue plans in the offing,” Demi said to Mayumi, before hugging her. “Which is to say we were worried about you.”

“That’s sweet,” she said. “But I could handle myself.”

“We saw,” Mikaela said. “He looked nearly… human getting out of that car.”

“I had to soft-pedal it for him. Cops often don’t seem to grasp that there’s an implied threat to having a conversation with someone while they’re armed and you’re cuffed in the back of their car.”

“Or maybe they’ve spent so much time throwing their weight around that they just assume it’s normal,” Mikaela said. “Maybe they act like violent counter-protestors to peaceful demonstrations against their own excesses because force is the only language they speak anymore, at least collectively.”

“I think he heard me,” Mayumi said. “And that’s too high a bar, to think we can sit down every cop- or even every problem cop- with someone they tried to kill. But it’s a start.”

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