One drink, the silence of my apartment rotates around me like a starship looking for the proper place to fire. Two drinks, my head is woozy with smoke. Three drinks and I am gone from this plane of existence, deep into the vortex of my memory.

Crashing through the second story window is the easy part, aiming for the softest vehicle to land on is the hardest. It takes a second for me to find my footing, but when I do I run. The building behind me is on fire, and if memory serves, it is about to blow. Just as I leap behind an O.R.B. vehicle she explodes with such force the windows of all the buildings around us blow out. The ground shakes, and a flash like a hundred suns bursts around us. I can hear a few of the unlucky O.R.B. officers who couldn’t find cover scream as the light hits them, but just as quick as the flash dies so do they.

When I duck out from my cover the damage is nothing like I have ever seen before. Every bit of my hiding spot that was facing the building is melted. The ground is scorched, except for where the vehicles left their shadows and where the unlucky officers left their boot prints. The Landen building is gone, replaced by a molten pond.

“WE HAVE AN OFFICER DOWN!” someone yells. I rush over and find two officers kneeling over the body of another. One of them can’t take it and just weeps over it; the other is trying to find a way to remove the helmet which looks to be fused with the face. “Talk to me officer. Fucking say something, come on!”

“Bruce, move out of the way let me try,” I say, pushing his hands away from the helmet. “Did you check for I.D.?”

“I-it f-fucking m-melted.” The weeping man chokes on every word, and the only thing I can do for him is pat a hand on his shoulder.

I turn my attention back on the hurt officer. The O.R.B. tactical gear is too thick to tell if they’re breathing, so I lean close to one of the holes in the faceguard. I can hear breathing, but not much. “Officer, can you hear me, it’s Detective Papiernik. I’m here with Officers Bruce Alcove and Wallace White, you’re going to be ok.” I lie because I’m not to totally sure.

“I-I’ll get a m-medic.” Wallace says, he stands shakily and makes his way to the closest vehicle. He can’t get the door open so I nod my head to Bruce, between the both of them they wrench the door off the hinges.

“Help me, please.” A woman’s voice calls out from behind the faceguard. Looking over the down office, I can see she didn’t make it to cover in time and the light took her legs. “Take it off me.”

“No it’s fused to your skin, wait till the medics arrive, Wallace is on the line with them already.”

“Take it off me, please.” The strength in her voice is returning, “I don’t want to die looking at a burnt visor.”

“You’re not going to die, the Medics are on their way.” I have to stop her from reaching up to the helmet. “Where are those medics?!”

“Thirty seconds Detective!” Bruce yells out from the car.

“What the hell is keeping them?” I ask him, looking over and shrugging. In that split second, almost as fast as the light, I hear a ripping noise and a scream.

“Holy shit.” Bruce runs over to help me stop the bleeding from the fresh wounds caused by the officer tearing the helmet off her face. “Goddammit Dora, what are you fucking doing?”

“Fifteen seconds!” Wallace yells from the vehicle.

“Give me your torch.” I demand Bruce, he rummages in his vest and finally hands over a small cylinder we use to signal. I take it and cut the top with my knife and it ignites in a brilliant red flame, cutting the bottom releases sticky yellow ooze, which I use to hastily attach the signal to what’s left of the roof of the vehicle Dora tried to hide behind.

She has started to shake, first sign of shock, it takes both Bruce and I to flip her on her side and restrain her, all the while keeping pressure on her face wounds. I look up to Bruce staring intently at me; we both know she is going to die if the medics do make it here in time.

“Five seconds!” Wallace yells out. Both Bruce and I look up; there is a glow in the atmosphere. “Two, one.”

We are bathed in a blinding blue light as the medic craft kicks up the scorched earth around us. The bottom opens up, and two medics jump out, landing on either side of us. Bruce and I move out of their way as they help Dora, I hope they aren’t too late.

“Papiernik, what’s the report?” I turn to see a razor toothed mouth inches from me, Commander Romdar.

“Horace blew the place up, he pulled the detonation switch on a half a ton of Icktar before I could get to him, and I had two minutes to get out.”

“Why do these psychos always put a timer?” he chuckles in a gravely tone. “Don’t they know it’s much more effective to just blow shit apart? Where is Detective Alell?”

“Horace brought up The Master. I think this is linked to the murder case on Granton, the bombing on Ritech and with the Landen boy’s death.”

“Is that right? Well I’m sure to read all about it in your report. Though I’m also sure that Detective Allel’s will be much more illuminating, where is she?”

“I have sources in the black market saying there is a new player coming up in the ranks, sir.” I almost yell, “You keep brushing off the fact that anything with the Landen name on it is either burned or killed.”

“Watch your fucking mouth Leonardo, I am not brushing shit anywhere. There are procedures to follow, and as long as you have that shiny badge you have to follow them too. Now where in the hell is Anita?”

I look him dead in the eye with as much malice as I can muster, but I can’t stop the tears from falling down my cheeks. In a voice not my own, void of emotion I answer, “Horace blew her head off with my gun.”


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