Lunet Braga’s Longest Weekend

Lunet Braga’s Longest Weekend

I had just left Cai with the address to an older woman’s house, in a pub made to feel like an Old World establishment.  I entered an alleyway to the side of it, ran around to an adjoining alleyway, and watched the poor kid leave the pub. A few minutes later, a man in a black trench coat followed after him talking on a cellphone.  

“I guess I’m pulling overtime tonight.” I muttered to myself, and waited to a count of fifteen before I strolled out to my Hoverbuggy.

Now, I know what you’re going to say; A meter maid’s cart isn’t inconspicuous! What’s she thinking?!  But there’s one thing you don’t know. IA had it tricked out, as this was a full blown operation to clean out the deepest darkest corners of the CSPD.  When I bring the ‘buggy back to HQ, it goes into the automated parking garage, and then immediately returns to me a different vehicle. Truly what happens is the panels flip around, and the markings and decals are hidden.  Added in with this feature is a whole bucket load of surveillance equipment. Four omni-directional (fish-eye) cameras posted on the corners of the ‘buggy, a gpu dedicated to correcting the video, and sound-selective mics on the top, bottom, and sides to add  depth to the surveillance. It records all of the sound, but automatically mutes animal noises, tire and jet engine noise, horns, and can even isolate individual speech patterns to amplify. This vehicle cost them more than it would cost them to pay my death benefits, so I can honestly tell you that it would hurt the department’s accounts more to lose this vehicle than me if something happened.  Though we’re both protected by armor plating, so I can fearlessly weave through traffic if necessary.

I pulled out into traffic, and turned onto a side street just ahead of Trench Coat. I noticed he’s over 6’, brown hair, dark eyes, 3 day growth on his chin, but average looks.  The idiot would have been unremarkable had he been wearing a normal jacket, but he had to pull this “Ring-Wraith” look out. I drove two more blocks and parked on the street. The buggy’s computer notified the meter I was a paying parker, and the indicator LED flipped to green.

I pressed the release for the dashboard monitor, and dialed my friend in Traffic on my cell as it loaded the video information.  

“Tully.”   A gruff voice greeted me.

“Well, Tully.  You’d better slow down, you’re making me blush.” I whispered into the mouthpiece with a smirk on my face.

“Stuff it, Lu.  What do you need?   I’ve got a pile of $#!7 on my desk a mile high.”

“Oh, well this won’t take long.  I’m going to send you a picture, and I need you to run it through the system.”  My tone changed to a business cadence.

“Ok, Lu.  Kisses.” Officer Tully disconnected with a snort.  He suspected I was working with IA, but he didn’t have proof.  He also was one of those people that had a code of honor so ingrained he didn’t need to check it before he did anything.  By the book, but its spirit more than its letter, that’s Tully.

I isolated Trench’s face from the video, and sent it out.  With that going, I pulled up the tracker information from the one I planted on Cai before I left.  He’d jumped from Mid-town to Yester Park. So he had some sort of propulsion system in that android’s body of his.  

#@(%. I thought to myself… and yes, I might swear, but I don’t write it out.  It’s unprofessional. I pulled back onto the street and rushed to where I thought Cai led Trench before lifting off.  

By 7:30, I caught up to him.  Tully called back and told me his name, Dirk Richins.  Lowlife middle man for hire. He’s who you call if you want to keep your hands clean, while buying the dirtiest of work.  He handles the details and tells you nothing until the job’s done, and then it’s only a “Done.”

I cornered him in an alley coming out of a maintenance entrance for The <name redacted> Hotel.  “Hey, Dick. Oh, I mean Dirk. Sorry, but you must get that a lot, huh?”

“Hmm.  I get something a lot. You mind goin’ for a spin, darlin’?”  Dirk motioned toward the Hotel, with a gravelly lust in his voice.  I knew it was just a disguise – his file had him with a long-time partner of inanimate persuasion. As far as fetishes, tastes, and orientations go, it was better than it could have been, so no judgement here.

“Oh, yeah.  Let’s go someplace quiet.  For you I’d even waive the first hour.” I said to him, indicating the door he just exited.

“On second thought, maybe another night, hon.  I have a dinner reservation.” He said, seeing I was not going to be dissuaded.

“Not tonight you don’t.  Here, let’s go inside, I’m sure you don’t want this conversation overheard.” I said, resting my right hand on my hip, inches from my unlatched holster.  With some shifting of weight we had a dance played out in theoretics before he decided there wasn’t a chance for him to escape. I got him inside and into a room off the main hallway.  “Now, what do you want with that person you were following out of the pub?”

“Wha-” Dirk started to question.

“Dark Heather Hoodie, Jeans.  Don’t give me any of that crap.”

“Ok, I was asked to play a prank on him by a mutual friend.”

“What did this prank entail?”

“I was just going to follow him around and freak him out.  But he flew off after strapping a jet pack to his back, so I lost him.”

“And did you tell your ‘mutual friend’ that?”

“Of course!  I couldn’t have him thinking I just gave up.”

“And you told him the direction he was heading, I take it?”

“Yes.”

“@&#! It, Dick.  Who did you get to watch him after he flew off?  What was the point of following him?”

“I don’t know anything else.  Look, arrest me or leave it, but I’m out of here.”  He got up to open the door. I put my hand on the door, as if to keep it closed.

“You’ll tell me.” I snatched his phone from the table. “Because if you’re arrested, this is also confiscated.  You don’t want its data combed through by the CSPD cyber precinct, do you?”

“Nothing you’ll find on there.” I found it in the street.  

“Yeah, you found it on the street before you got into the pub, and followed my friend out of it, and then used it to call someone on?” His face started to drain of color, “I’ve got a video of you on this phone, and a conversation.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but I don’t have to save the data from the automated purge in a week, if you just answer my simple questions. I won’t even press charges.”

“Fine.  A… Troubleshooter.  I heard gossip that he did a job earlier tonight for someone I talked to, and needed to be pointed in the right direction for another person he’d been asked to… assist with technical issues.”  He wrote some information on a piece of paper, and ripped the door open.  I heard measured footsteps from the hallway outside as I read the information.  It was too late. The hit was going down as I was sitting there with Dirk.

I got into my ‘buggy, and raced to the address I’d given Cai hours before.  I didn’t have to rely on my GPS, as I saw the lights of police and ambulances reflecting on the dark clouds low overhead.  The aftermath of emergency vehicles and the usual crowd of bystanders – this one made up of elderly and hipsters – surrounded the address.  To my surprise, a police PR spokesperson for sponsored supers was there talking to reporters. I parked a half block away, and made my way into the crowd.  I saw a cop on the list of problems the IA had me working on.

“Sgt Haverford, what’s going on here?”  I asked him, when he was close enough I didn’t have to yell.

“Ah, Officer Braga.  Attempted bombing, suspects in custody.  Heading to holding at precinct, then to the jail to await trial.”  He delivered that in a professional monotone, but at the end his eyes travelled the length of me, and I had to repress a shudder.  His tastes weren’t as family friendly as Dirk’s.

“Thanks, sir.”

“Yeah, seems like a new group of supers was here just in the nick of time, calling themselves Savior of all things.  $@#, how arrogant can these guys be?” He trailed off muttering things under his breath. He waved a hand at me as he went to address a subordinate that had called him.

I went to the precinct, and started to gather information.  One of the desk clerks thought he could wear me down, so it was relatively easy to get the information I needed.  I hid myself when I saw Cai’s new android body entering the lobby with a group of spandex-clad heroes.

I followed behind, and went into the observations room when they brought the suspect into interrogation.  They said a bunch of crazy stuff, like trading and deleting memories, and Cai was acting a bit odd. Distant and detached.  From what was said in the interrogation, I don’t blame him. Facing my possible murderer might make me numb. Most likely I would go into a rage, but that’s me, not Cai.  

I left the precinct before they did, and I went to Cai’s condo.  A professional cleaning team was there, dressed in clean-room jumpsuits, and loading equipment into a grey windowless work van.  I threw a tracker on the van, and wrote the plate number on my notepad, then waited until they were gone. They did a thorough job, and it looked like Cai had gone on an impromptu vacation, as opposed to murdered.  They’ve almost certainly gotten rid of all of the proof in the lab, so even if I had a keycard there’s not much I would have been able to do or see. I had run to an end of what I could do. The information linking Cai’s killer to who hired him was already being found by the other precinct, and the van’s data was being recorded, but would not likely unearth more information than was already being uncovered.  Dirk was still a Dirkbag.

Four hours of sleep had my name written all over them.


Sunday morning had me awake and running along the Alpha Prime Memorial Mid-town Gulf-side Jogging Trail.  I jogged past US Robotics, and as luck would have it, Cai was walking in the front doors. I got off the path to stretch, so I could watch the building inconspicuously.  About thirty minutes later, he left. He wasn’t in a hurry, so I didn’t think that he was in trouble or had done something. His tracker data errored out sometime earlier that morning, so I couldn’t keep tabs on him without close proximity.

At this point, you’re wondering why I’m dedicating my time to tail a friend like a criminal.  To be honest, most supers are criminals. Vigilantism is a crime, and it was one before the Maverick laws were enacted.  Well, to be more exact, you’re not protected from the crimes you commit if you say that you were just trying to enforce the laws.  Assault, Battery, Kidnapping, Extortion, Threats… all of which are against the law, and supers tend to do one or all of them when ‘detaining criminals’ and ‘protecting the innocent.’  All of this is beside the fact that Due Process isn’t followed, and the circumstances around anyone but a uniformed officer enforcing law would get any case thrown out of the courts. The Court System isn’t perfect, but it’s there to protect us all, and is better than anarchy.  When any citizen, no matter how strong, or quick, or smart they are, takes it upon themselves to infringe others’ right to the proper enforcement of the Law, it makes the world unsafe for everyone. And in my opinion, sponsored supers are little more than mavericks that can buy their troubles away.  Most of them do not have the proper training in the law to enforce or obey it, and they don’t understand proper crime scene protocol.

Ok, sorry.  Rant over.

Cai left using his hover jet, so I couldn’t follow him, even if I had my ‘buggy with me.

So, I went to church, and went about my usual Sunday activities.

Monday morning, I had a hunch that Cai might return to USR.  So I clocked in a bit early, and made my rounds close to the business districts.  Around 9:43 I heard a crash from one of the top-floor offices, and saw a figure fly away to the south, accompanied by gunshots.  

“#@&%.” I whispered to myself as I called it in.  I walked into the building, and consulted security, and that started the longest day and a half of my life.  Because I was demoted to PEO, most officers shooed me off the premises as soon as they arrived. I called Tully, and asked him to keep an eye on the case, and tell me everything that he could.  I felt bad not telling him I knew Cai, but I had to find out what was going on.

In my off hours, I poured over all of the information that I could find.  What I put together was not painting a pretty picture, until I found information alluding to a frame job in the precinct’s file.  The frame job didn’t add up for me, but at least the officers called off the chase on Tuesday morning – just in time I might add. When he knew he was caught he didn’t fight, which is a point in his favor, but I am not sure he would have turned himself in otherwise.

Adding what I knew to what I gathered, Cai enacted a premeditated revenge killing, then fled authorities.  He had better have a good story, or I might have to turn him in with what I know.

One point that didn’t add up when he was released was this: Cai was found in the direction that the robot fled that murdered Urien Daniels, and the security footage timestamps line up with an immediate escape after Daniels’ death.  Another is that Cai’s body was supposedly created in the middle of the night using unregistered parts – where did this shadow organization get the exact parts and have the time to gather them and put them together without notifying Daniels, CEO of USR?  If Cai had contact with this shadow organization and decided to work with them, the inclusion of “Failsafe Protocol” would make sense when Daniels died. Otherwise, how did that huge coincidence happen that the frame job information included the phrase Cai said to his victim, supposedly backed up by files timestamped prior to Daniels’ death?

Cai was released into Multi-Billionaire Richard Grey’s custody. I kept tabs on him, but he didn’t come out of the new Community Center Grey built.  I called Tully to check into the APB on Cai, and nothing had been reported. He’d disappeared. I finished out my shift, and followed up on some tips for my other job, and sacked off early.  

And it’s a good thing I did.  


Four hours into my REM, Robots terrorizing the town demolished half of my apartment building.  As much damage was being done by the Iron Brigade, but the papers won’t talk about that – the bills are paid, so no foul, right?  

I pulled my hair into a quick tail, slipped on some leggings, a CSPD Police Academy hoodie, strapped on my shoulder holster with my personal firearm – a Desert Eagle – and left the apartment to see what I could do to help the bystanders.  A long morning ensued, followed by breakfast of a McGriddle and Coffee. And two hash browns. Yes, I’m a carb girl.

I had a minute to sit down, and make sure my apartment was still intact, and think that owning a construction company in Century Station would be a very smart financial move.

When I had gotten up the courage, I finally dialed Cai’s cell.

“Hey, Loony!” He answered with a bit too much exuberance.

“Hey, Baby Face.  We need to talk.” I said somberly, but interjecting the light-hearted pejorative to soften it.

“Mkay, where do you want to meet? And what’s up?”

“I’ll wait ‘till we see each other face-to-face, and I can come to wherever you’re staying.”

“Oh, ah… I’ll be at the new Community Center.  I think there’re some rooms we can use to have a talk.  If nothing else, the roof’s always open.”

“Are you homeless?  I saw what they did to your condo…  But you can go back there, can’t you?”

“Honestly, I don’t really know.  I don’t know what the protocol is here, after being murdered by the company that leased out the condo to me.  I’ve got a place to sleep, and it’s not on the street or in the park – I haven’t had to rely on the tricks you told me about when you were a kid, not yet.”

“Oh, at least there’s that, eh?  I’ll be there in fifteen.”

“Ok.”

I hopped into my ‘buggy, and drove to the Center.  When I got there, I was accosted by members of the Church of Reflections.  Weren’t they there the day before? Locking my ‘buggy, I detached one of the wireless mic leads and put it in the hoodie’s pocket with my clutch and keys – I HATE WOMEN’S CLOTHING! Not enough pockets!

“Yeah, could you page Cai Govannon, please?” I said to the polite pre-valedictorian teen behind the service desk.

“Jussec.”  Came nearly listless the reply.

I didn’t have to wait long before Cai came around the corner in Class 4 Body Armor and a strange gun strapped to his forearm.  His gait was one of confidence and purpose, not like the cowering child he was a few days before. “You’ve changed.” I said in lieu of greeting.

“Hah! Yeah, I feel changed.  So much has happened since Friday that it feels more like I’ve been in this Robot Body for 10 weeks, not half of one.”  His effervescent demeanor started off warning bells in my head.

“Hey, can we go somewhere to chat?”

“To ‘chat?’  Yeah, we can.  Is this as a police officer or my friend?”

“Does it need to be with a police officer?”

“No, not necessarily, but I’m not the only one that’s changed Lune.”

“You’ve got me there bud, but I came by it honestly.  I’m worried about you.”

We wound our way into a room with several computers and a locking door.  “This should do. Do you want something to eat or drink? Have you had breakfast?” Cai asked before sitting down

“I’ve eaten, but I wouldn’t say no to a donut.”

“… Are you making a joke at your own expense?  Cop… Donut?”

“Stereotypes can be funny and still germaine to the conversation, Cai.”

“So….”

“Forget it, I’m not really that hungry.  Tell me about Urien Daniels.”

“You just jump right in, don’t you?  No foreplay, just right to the good stuff.” If he still had a human face, it would be reddening.  He was always a bit naive and cloistered, despite being half raised on the street.

“Well, we’ve known each other long enough, I didn’t think we needed prelude.”  Cai started to pull his violin out of a trap door in his chest as I was talking.  He started tuning the strings, and wiped the wood down with a microfiber cloth. The silence started to drag as he drew the block of rosin along his bow.  I would have broken the silence if not for the haunted expression on his face.

“You remember how it was, when you’d come over to eat Sunday dinners with us?  I think about that a lot. We were a family. Poor, but it didn’t matter who did what or whatever happened during the week, it was just about being together.  Have you spoken to my dad since I left Glasgow?” He put the violin under his chin and started to play a song softly. staring into the distance. Grieg, I think.  Something from Peer Gynt. Second suite maybe? Then he started to play an accompaniment using his robot’s speakers. Pure cheating, that is.

“Yeah, he calls me on Mother’s Day, and Christmas.  He called the day after I graduated to make sure I got my diploma.  He took care of Moira until she passed.”

“Hm.”

“Why don’t you call him, Cai? He asks me if I’ve seen you.”

Cai continued to play, and he responded without moving his lips and chin. “We had a fight, did you know?  He basically told me I was just running from my problems. We spoke again when I got hired on by CSR, and it just turned into another fight. ‘You were going to do something great.’  and ‘You’re not bringing beauty into the world, you’re destroying it.’ and ‘Robots are cold, just like your heart. You chose right.’” The beauty of the music in the moment giving lie to the words, while the lack of tears spoke its truth.  “I didn’t talk to him again, partially because he was right. I had dreams to improve robotics in the medical fields… can you imagine how many people a surgeon with robotic-aided accuracy could save? Could’ve saved mom. I joined up with USR because they have a Medical division.  But when my aptitude with weapons was realized, I wasn’t going anywhere. They sabotaged my applications with other robotics firms.” He saw my surprised expression, and hurried on, “I can’t prove it, of course, but no one wanted anything to do with me, and USR wouldn’t move me from Weapons R&D.”

I tried to bring the conversation back to the murder, feeling it slide almost irrevocably down the rabbit hole. “So, you were working on AI, and found a way to get out.  Get fired by USR and have another black mark on your record?”

“Yeah, heh.  I didn’t plan it through.”

“Obviously.”

“Anyway, my body was killed.”  He seamlessly transitioned into Danse Macabre by Sain-Saens. “I was given a different lease on life.  Life had started to stagnate, but suddenly had been kicked into a lower gear. I wasn’t held back by petty mortal criminals.  I started to think maybe I could make a difference. Bring the beauty of the world back and help it flourish.”

“You’re making a soundtrack for our conversation?” I asked, half scandalized, half appreciative.

“And so what if I am?  This is part of what I’m saying.  This tragedy has also opened doors that wouldn’t have been available to me last week.”

“So you think you’re somehow above mortal rules now?” I asked, getting frustrated.

“No, of course not.”

“You went to Urien Daniels’ office and killed him.”

“Yeah.”  Though he was escalating before, this knocked the air out of him.  He deflated.

“So, what?  Did you have your buddy Grey pay off the officers?  Is this just another Sponsor paying Insurance?”

“No, he didn’t have anything to do with it.  I shouldn’t have even pulled him in, but I did.”

“How did you start the rumors about being set up?”

“I didn’t, but I think I know who did… but that doesn’t matter anymore.”

“It doesn’t matter?  Of course it does. If the truth comes out… and I don’t know why I’m not reporting this right now… then you’re done for.  Who was it?

“It was an AI who called itself Thanatos.  It doesn’t matter because it was destroyed earlier this morning.”

“Ok, and do you know what he did to substantiate the rumors?”

“No idea.” He transitioned to Pachelbel Cannon, throwing in some melodic licks from other songs that use the same chord progression.  I got from the tone that he seemed to be cheering up.

“Ok.  So, you killed a man and don’t feel like you have to make that up to society? Whether or not the truth comes out, it still exists and that leaves you with a debt that must be paid.”

“He was scum, Lune.  He was part of a group that did nothing but spread terror and pain throughout the world.  I don’t think there’s a debt here.”

“Yes. Yes there is.  Whether the man was Hitler or Ghandi, a life was extinguished by mortal design outside the law of the land.  Otherwise those that kill innocents would be punished even harder than they are, and those that happen to accidentally manslaughter useless scum would be praised.  What would happen then?”

“The world would be a better place, I think.”

“No.  Anarchy -”

“How bad would that be?  With the good being upheld by the individual, and everyone accountable to themselves? No bloated fat-cats getting rich off of everyone else’s work.”

“In utopian lala unicornville, yeah.  But then you would have profiteering, extortion, racketeering.  Unless everyone involved has the same morality, Anarchy only breeds pain and suffering.  Who’s going to keep the infrastructures in place, principally medicine? Do you really want to die at 30 from a stubbed toe?”

“I died in my 20s from a bullet.”

“Yes, but it isn’t the norm.  Despite the constant reports of death and destruction, a vast majority of people are safe.  Take this attack this morning. Sure, the majority of the work was done by corporations’ sponsored super teams, but unless they had the infrastructure of the government to piggyback off of, there would have been a lot more blowback, and the isolated pockets of destruction would have bled into all of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Each time someone gets hurt, or a loved one, there would be another flareup, causing the bleeding to spread.  The aftershocks would be felt for days. That would only cause more suffering, which causes more good people to go bad, creating more villains. But Anarchy isn’t what I wanted to bring up exactly. In our society, we have rules. I am trying to use a technicality to skate this whole thing, and I still don’t know if I should, but that doesn’t mean you have an obligation to fix the devastation you caused.  With the death of Urien Daniels, the company will probably land on its feet – as long as the corruption didn’t spread too far, or if they protect themselves from blowback. But with each report of mayhem, and assumed guilty parties walking free, people feel that the world gets darker.”

“But I’m already trying to make the world better.”

“In your own way, yes.  But too much depends on Supers in this town.  Too many people think that the city would die if not for the Sponsored and the Mavericks.  If you can help me, I have a plan to return the power to the police, and in turn to the average person.  Rule of the minority has never worked, whether by bloodline, or by money, or by superhuman genetic abnormality.”

“Ok…” He paused as he transitioned into The Fray’s ‘How to Save a Life.’ “What do you have in mind?”  I could tell from his expression that he felt the need to atone, and the brief respite from guilt was giving him a lift.

“Could you help me by giving me an extra pair of eyes from time to time?  If there are things that I need help with, where the presence of a hero or a faceless automaton would help, or surveillance, or something?  I’m working with IA to clean up the police force, as step one.”

“Ok, I think I can.  I’ll send you a text when I’m becoming unavailable, and then another when I’m back.  Emergencies are usually unplanned, so that’ll be the best way I think.

“Perfect!  Also, eventually I would like to have some sort of bionic forces as part of the CSPD.  Or maybe Robotics?”

“Yeah, that could be possible.  It’s not cheap, but it might be necessary.  Like when they implemented SWAT after the sniper in Austin?

“Right.”

“I think, though, you should implement an AI safeguard brigade around your systems.  And I think it would be best if they were Transferred Intelligence officers.”

“We already have some robot nerds in the Cyber Precinct.”

“Hey, I resemble that remark.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I might want to work with them, could you…”

 

We had a good talk after that.  Since the day IA put me on my detail, this was the first really good day.  We were really going to do it. A new day for CSPD was going to dawn soon.


6 Replies to “Lunet Braga’s Longest Weekend”

  1. Yeah. He has the professional violin skill, and so I wanted to actually make some use of that. He’s evolving a lot through the insanity of the last week.

  2. Lunet is a great character! I loved this perspective of events from her viewpoint, and seeing her investigative gears turning.

    1. Thanks! I enjoyed dragging a character through the last 5 games that just didn’t show up on stream and telling why that was. She had to be investigative, or there’d be no benefit to her at all. ?

  3. We were really going to do it. A new day for CSPD was going to dawn soon.
    The question is what time of day will it be? Love these 2 characters!

    1. Yeah, they’re fun. ? As far as I’m aware they’re platonic… It may grow, but this transgression of Cai’s really put a damper on things romantically.

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