The Precinct was back to a semblance of quiet now that the corporate security agent was in the cell block. She was still the what everyone talked about, but the screaming had gone with her.
They all knew the type, at least once a month they got a visit from one of them, on an urgent job and throwing everything into chaos around them. No one here liked them, but there was nothing they could do but hunch down and deal with it.
Victor saw the captain approach and switch the display to the data he’d been supposed to enter, instead of setting up the recognition program to figure out who had blown up Tristan’s ship.
“Barstone, what the fuck are you still doing here?”
“Going over the files, Captain, just like—”
“I don’t fucking care what you’re doing. You’re a disgrace to this department, I want you out of here.”
“You can’t fire me.”
The man leaned across the desk. “I want you out. You think your life is miserable now? How about I send you to Evidence?”
Victor controlled his rising anger. “You can’t do that, that’s a rookie position.”
This wasn’t about him, it was about that woman, and the argument the captain had had with her. The windows had kept anyone from hearing the words, but the tone had come through them clearly. Now the captain needed to make someone pay and as usual, Victor was his target.
“No, it’s whoever I decide gets assigned there and from this point—”
“Captain?” a woman interrupted him.
The man whirled on her “What?”
“Adrien and Xavier are back, they have a suspect in the Savio case.”
“Finally!” The captain walked away. “I can’t believe it there's actually someone who knows how to do their jobs in here.”
The woman who’d unknowingly saved Victor’s life turned without even glancing at him. Now the Captain would forget about him until the next time he decided to make his life more miserable than it already was. He shuddered at the thought of being sent to Evidence.
Evidence was a warehouse, two blocks away, where every pieces of physical evidence found in cases were stored. It had been set up decades before Victor had become an officer, and he was sure the only reason behind it was to torture rookies, make them appreciate walking the street, dealing with the worse of the worse when it came to the city’s criminal element. After a week in Evidence, that was preferable.
It wasn’t even needed. Everything was scanned and digitized now, and about the time Victor had joined the force the courts had recognized that a reprinted copy was acceptable so long as the digital version had all the security encryption still intact.
He patted his ample stomach, okay, he could probably use the exercise he’d get there, since he’d have to carry each and every piece there to the terminal to confirm that the digital copy was still intact.
Everyone thought it was an easy job when they were assigned there, but after a few days all but the most stubborn were trying to find ways out of their assignment.
And Victor had to be a realist. That was where he was headed. Sinor was right, he could send anyone there, it was just tradition the rookies got the job.
He brought the program up, connected the port’s feed into it, as well as the few images of his most likely suspect and set it loose. He’d heard about the explosion when he’d returned from helping Tristan, he still couldn’t quite believe he was doing that, and because he had nothing important to do he’d looked into it.
He’d been surprised Tristan ship had been the center of the explosion. He’d expected him to better protect it, and it was more curiosity than a need to figure out who had destroyed it that kept him going. At least that’s what he told himself. Tristan was a criminal, someone who should be in the highest security prison, not running around looking for some virus that could wipe the entire universe.
Tristan didn’t care about the universe, Victor knew that, he only cared about himself, and if the universe died, Tristan would die with it. It was the only reason he’d believed the alien when he’d said he was looking to destroy it, not make use of it.
He minimized the program’s readout and brought up his accounts. He had money. Probably more than the Captain expected, considering he’d kept Victor from getting any but the mandated raises. Victor’s dad had been an asset manager and had written a handful of programs to invest money. Victor had inherited them and had made aggressive use of them. He didn’t have enough to retire yet, not if he wanted anything resembling a decent lifestyle, but if he was contemplating a career change…
He accessed medical sites, looked at how much they charged for body sculpting. The cheapest services only offered superficial changes, they’d make him slim again, give him toned muscles, but there wouldn’t be anything behind that. If he wanted the muscles to have actual mass, his endurance to be built up, that increased the cost significantly.
He tapped the surface of his desk as he looked through the options. He could be redesigned to be anyone he wanted, a few companies even claimed they could make him an alien, if he wanted. Why anyone would want to change species was beyond Victor.
He didn’t think he was serious. He couldn’t be. Alex’s words had hit a sore spot, but he was an officer of the law first an foremost. He couldn’t drop this just so he could run off after someone who wasn’t even the person he fell in love with.
For all the joy and pleasure Simon had brought him, there were days when he wished he’d never met him. Had never been picked by Tristan to manipulate into giving him access to the precinct’s database.
The door to the cell block opened and chaos returned. This time accompanied by a group of mercs talking loudly among themselves. The little he caught of the conversations sounded like jabs at the officers who had incarcerated them.
One of them was an alien, with bony plates over his body, He wasn’t speaking with the others. He was looking around with murder in his eyes.
Victor had heard about that one, and the officers he’d injured when they tried to bring him in. He was happy he hadn’t been there.
“Miss Silt?” One of the younger officers tried to get her attention. Victor thought his name was Johanson, but he hadn’t interacted with him. He hadn’t dealt with any of the new officers for a few decades now. It wasn’t that they had orders not to talk to him, but the senior officer considered it their duty to protect the rookies from the stain that was Victor.
The woman noticed him and with a motion quieted the mercs. Victor was impressed at how quickly she’d trained them. Mercs weren’t known for taking orders well.
“This is everything I could find about the people who were at the scene.” He offered her a data chip.
She took it and studied it, like she could read it’s content. Maybe she could. Victor couldn’t know the kind of alteration she’d bought. Corporate paid well.
Maybe that was something he should consider? He’d certainly have more to do there, but could he be the kind of person who bullied local law officers into doing what she wanted?
“How much about the people who walked away?”
“There isn’t much.”
That news didn’t make her happy.
“It hasn’t even been a day since it happened, we’re still gather—”
“Fine. Then you’re going to send me anything else you find out as the investigation progresses, understood?”
“Ma’am, that isn’t how—”
“Do I look like I care how things get done?” she waited. “Well?”
The young man hesitated. “No?”
“Exactly. So you’re going to do what I tell you, or I’m going to come back and you’re not going to like what I do to your career.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” the officer whispered.
Victor watched as the man shuddered. “Johanson?” he risked.
The man looked in his direction.
“What was that about?”
The man looked like he was about to run in the opposite direction.
Victor sighed. “Come on, you really think that the fact I screwed up forty years ago is something you can catch? I’m just offering an ear. She clearly had an effect on you.”
His resolve left him and he stepped closer. “She’s after some blackmailer, really gung-ho about finding him. She screamed the captain into giving her everything we had on what happened, and he put me on that.” He shuddered.
Victor looked at the more than a dozen merc leave. “All that for a blackmailer?”
“Those are the ones who survived. She had twice that, but things turned into a fight and a lot of people died.”
“Who is that guy that he can take down mercs?”
“Some guy named Martin Asinsky.”
Victor hadn’t heard the name before. He ran a search for it.
“Have you heard about the explosion at the drug manufacturing lab?”
Victor nodded. Asinsky had a decent file, but there was nothing in there that indicated he was prone to violence.
“She was tracking him there when everything blew up, almost literally.”
“Wait, she was at the drug lab? After the blackmailer?” That was where Tristan and Alex had gone. Because of the explosion he figured they were lying low, possibly healing, although he was sure it took more than a building blowing up to hurt Tristan.
“Yeah, he killed half her people, according to what she said.”
“Are you sure?”
“That he killed her people? Why would she lie?”
Victor took the information from his display and brought it so Johanson could see it. “Do you see anything about violence in this? Yeah, Asinsky pissed off some very powerful people, but his thing’s blackmail.”
The man shrugged. “People change. You know how those prisons are. They make people worse, not better. Maybe he just got cornered.”
Victor didn’t believe it. Maybe the woman believed Asinsky was responsible, but If she’d walked into Tristan’s job, that’s who had killed her people. Well, let her keep chasing her blackmailer. He was probably dead at this point.
“Look,” the man said, “I’d better get back to work. I don’t mean to just rush off, but … people are going to talk and—”
“You don’t want to be connected to someone like me. I get it.” Victor didn’t bother keeping the bitterness out of his voice. At least this had been a normal conversation.
The recognition program flashed, informing him it had come up with something. It brought up a series of pictures, all within the Space Port. With them was data, explaining how it had decided this was the same person. Gait, body proportions, and other criteria. The programmer had explained it all to him, but that had been decades ago, and even then, he hadn’t paid much attention.
The path the man took went directly to Tristan’s ship. He’d known it was there, and he’d been careful not to show his face to any of the cameras. This man knew what he was doing and where he was going.
Someone like Tristan had enemies, but what were the odds one of them had followed him here? And why destroy his ship? Did he really think that it would keep Tristan from—”
Victor watched the ship blow up. Where had the man gone? He added parameters to the program, asking for different views of the explosion. He ran them simultaneously.
He watched as the man walked up to the ramp, did something to the panel there, probably forced it open, none of the cameras had a good view. Then the ship blew up.
The man hadn’t destroyed the ship on purpose. He’d been looking to break in and triggered some safety measure.
A measure that had blown up the ship. Talk about overkill. That was typical Tristan.
Who was that person and why target Tristan’s ship?
The program was already working on getting a face for the man, collecting sections from reflections, or times when part of his face became visible.
Victor watched, as over half an hour, a face formed. It wasn’t finished, but more than three-quarter of it was there, more than enough he recognized it. He brought up Asinsky’s file.
That was him. That was the man that woman was after. The man who had been at the drug lab? He checked the time index. This happened before the incident at the lab. Did she have a false lead? She certainly was brash enough to go after whatever came up first? But then why insist Asinsky was responsible?
Her name was Silt, what was her first name? He had to search through the database, Narcosy had taken her statement at the hospital, for the little she’d cooperated. Corporates could be like that, enough power to think they don’t have to help the locals do their job.
A Bunch of results came back. When he could search a universe of people, there was a lot with the same name. But he also had a face, so that narrowed the results.
Silt Security, the company she ran with her Husband, Thomas. Pictures of her with her face intact. She’d been a good looking woman. Silt Security took care of the security for Luminex.
Victor frowned. He knew that name.
He brought up his Tristan file and quickly found it. Delaron Four. It’s where Tristan had been recaptured. Luminex had been attacked hours before that. The attacker hadn’t been revealed, but Victor hadn’t needed anyone to tell him Tristan was involved.
Like all corporations, Luminex kept what happened to it from becoming public, but the death toll couldn’t be hidden. It had been in the hundred. Victor double checked the information, yeah, a hundred twenty-eight dead, most of that security personnel, including a Thomas Silt, although he’d died previously. The report didn’t say how, but Victor could work it—
Wait a minute, her husband was dead?
He looked at Silt Security, and there was no indication there that he was dead. He was still listed as active. If he was dead and she was in the field, who was running things at Luminex?
That proved difficult to work out, he didn’t have the authority to enter their servers or even ask for information, but a lot could be inferred when you knew how to look, and a lot of investigations ran on inference.
Silt Security hadn’t received any cash influx in years, right around the time of Tristan’s attack, in fact. So where was she getting the money to operate from? Getting her finances was impossible, not without alerting her to it, but he could look at the transactions coming in and out without her knowing. A large transaction had happened a little more than a year after that. It took him some work, but it traced it to a shipyard. She’d bought a ship.
Now, why would someone who, supposedly, had access to a corporate account need to buy a ship with her own money? If she didn’t have that account, then she didn’t have the authority that came with it.
Victor looked up at the exit. She’d conned them all.
Victor stood, he had to tell the captain. He’d be able to get back at her now. He sat back down. Did he want to make that man happy? No, he didn’t. And this was information he could use. Katherine Silt was here under false pretext. If she wasn’t after that blackmailer, who would she be after? With the information he had, it was clear. She was after her husband’s killer.
His first instinct was to tell Tristan, as were his second and third. It didn’t matter that the alien had hurt him, and would vanish on him when this was over. Victor wasn’t stupid. Tristan wasn’t interested in him, not beyond how he could use him. And maybe he was right not to be, after all, he wasn’t much of a specimen, not like Alex was.
He brought up the medical clinics. He’d have to pay for it, but he could become the kind of man Tristan couldn’t ignore. He could take Alex’s advice and ignore the doom and gloom he added to it to scare him off. Sure, merc life wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t the horror story the man had made it sound like.
Victor added Katherine’s information to Tristan’s file. She was someone he was going to keep an eye on, and maybe he’d be in a position to make use of what he knew. He wouldn’t blackmail her, he wasn’t Asinsky, but he could definitely keep her from taking advantage of the officers here if she showed up again.
Then he began looking through the clinics’ referrals. If he was going to get that kind of work done on himself, he was going to make sure the clinic was reputable.
He smiled. Alex had better watch himself the next time they met.