A Braeden Wolf Short Story
Detective-Sergeant Angela Grey calmly slotted a fresh clip into her service issue sidearm as bullets slammed into the bulk of the armoured Urban Patrol Vehicle she was sheltering behind.
Just another night in the big city, she mused. The lights of the city reflected off the boiling mass of clouds above which threatened rain, but had not, as of yet, delivered.
Angela looked aside to her partner, Siobhan, who was sharing the cover of the vehicle with her. She was an oddity on the police force. It wasn’t just that she was straight edge; few cops were anymore. The overwhelming lawlessness and corruption got to even the most idealistic in the end. Some ended up bent, others took to drink and most simply just didn’t care. Siobhan wasn’t like that; she should never have been assigned to homicide, where the depravity of the city was on full display, yet not even that had broken her spirit; yet.
No, the biggest oddity was that she wasn’t human. There weren’t many paras on the force; vamps and demons lacked the moral compass for starters, and while most cops lost that, it was felt that they should at least start with one. They weren’t exactly banned from joining, just that they tended not to make it through selections. The Aos Si, like Siobhan, did at least have that moral compass, but they tended to be clannish and keep to themselves. Not as much as trolls, but trolls never seemed to cause trouble. There were a few shifters on the force, and of course a number of Incanters, but they at least where human, or could pass for human.
Siobhan was tall, and pale, even to her hair which was more white than blonde, with the finely sculpted, almost ethereal, beauty that seemed to haunt her people. She wasn’t exactly a friend; like all of her time she was aloof and insular. Not cold, just very Aos Si. They remained…distant.
Yet, with all the pressures of the job, working in such close proximity and seeing sights best forgotten together, there was something more than friendship there; a bond, of sorts. Angela had never looked at another woman in that way before, yet if was to have been anyone, then it would be Siobhan.
And Braeden would have a field day with that.
Of course thought of him would crop up at the most inopportune moments. It wasn’t that he wasn’t charming, in a roguish wannabe badboy kind of way, but that he was a bit full of himself, and rather obvious about what he wanted. At least he wasn’t pushy about it, even if was a bit of a flirt. A lot of a flirt, she corrected herself. Not that I can really blame him given the manner of our meeting.
“Ready?” she asked Siobhan, pushing other considerations aside. The pale Aos Si woman gave a simple nod.
Angela slid into position at the front of the car and then quickly glanced at the building opposite. It was only for a fraction of a moment and then she was ducking behind cover again. Even so the glance had resulted in a deluge of fire.
No more than a glance had been needed though. Her tin eye had done its job, quickly capturing a view of the building through a number of spectrums; IR, UV and more. The data was fed back via wireless link to the datapad Siobhan held, across a secure connection. There it was broken down onto a display. State of the art cybernetic optics were required to manage that; she had those and a number of other bits of high end cybernetics installed.
If Annabelle knew just how much bodywork I’ve had done, she’d be jealous.
It was a hazard of the job. Over the years she had been bitten, scratched, stabbed, shot, burnt and caught in explosions. Few officers hadn’t been patched up with repair work, though few could afford the gear she had had installed.
“Got it?” she asked Siobhan.
“Got it.” Siobhan’s long fingers danced across the touchscreen of the pad, calling up the map they had of the building; not that it was necessarily accurate. Building codes and inspections tended not to apply in that part of the city. The glance from her tin eye and the data captured was being mapped to the plans they had, showing the rough locations of those holed up inside.
A scurry of feet announced a new arrival behind the car; an older officer in an armoured vest, most of his dark hair turning to grey. Chief Inspector Munroe was their boss at Lomond Local Area Command, deep in the heart of Southbrook, the southern suburbs of The City. A man overworked, he should not have been out on the streets.
“What brings you out here, boss?”
“We are running short handed.”
“Aren’t we always? What happened to the Soggies?”
“Busy. Caught up in a hostage situation downTapping Street. This the lot you’ve been gunning for?”
Angela nodded. Word on the street had led to this place; for a change there had been more than a few eager to help out. In the space of a week a dozen bodies had turned up, all bearing signs of having been questions, and all also apparently having been bitten by a vamp – except oddly none had been drained of their blood.
Even so, it was enough to convict the vamp responsible to the stake. Blood drinking, and vamps themselves, occupied a fairly nebulous part of the law. Being a vampire wasn’t illegal, even if many were of the view it should be. Nor was blood drinking, exactly. Killing someone to feed on them, or while doing so, was. Anyone they feed on had to volunteer, though in that lay the biggest problem; vamps could ‘persuade’ victims into ‘volunteering’ their blood.
The dead they had been investigating were from varied ages, races and walks of life. Only one thing they shared in common; they were hackers and runners of the ‘net. Most the Cyber Crimes unit had been eager to talk with as well. The only conclusion that Angela could come up with was that one of their kind had obviously infiltrated somewhere they shouldn’t and retrieved some data that the parties behind the attack really didn’t want out – but that they had no idea who was responsible and thus were questioning other hackers in an effort to uncover the identity of the culprit.
Cyber Crimes were handling that side of things; hers was to stop the murders. The investigation had led them to here, to where one of the most feared gangs in Southbrook, the Iron Crow Razor Gang, hung out. Whoever was behind the murders had outsourced the actual killings to this lot, a heavily augmented band of killers, drug dealers, kidnappers and extortionists, amongst other things.
“What are we looking at?” Munroe asked.
“Eight confirmed targets in there,” Siobhan announced, studying the datapad, “Plus another five probables.”
“A little too heavy for us to deal with.”
A screech of tyres announced the arrival of a heavily armoured van lumbering onto the street. The sides bore the stencilled markings of the Special Operations Group.
“Thought you said the Soggies were occupied,” Angela said.
The van slammed to a halt and a large man hopped out, wearing combat armour. Under one arm he carried a grenade launcher with a six round magazine, used for lobbing tear gas and stun grenades, while under the other was a heavy Squad Automatic Weapon with a large magazine drum. More gear was strapped to his armour; two sidearms, one a 9mm, the other a .45, spare ammunition mags, grenades, a knife, handcuffs and more. His tin eyes glowed an icy blue, while the left side of his face was a mass of bruises and his cheek bore many stiches that had sewn it back together.
“You are meant to be in hospital, sergeant,”Monroetold the man.
“I ghosted, cob,” came the growled reply, slipping into street lingo. “Scut is ya got ganger bov that needs knocking.'”
Senior Sergeant Johann Hammar, better known as Jack, was the type of man the vets on the force said would never have been allowed in during the old days, yet as the city spiralled slowly into the pits, sometimes a man who could hit back harder than he got was needed. Jack was such a man. All the augments that had been done to his body were of a big help with his Special Ops duties, though at the same time had brought him close to being unhinged; there were those who said he had been that way even before the augments.
“What are you planning to do?” Munroe asked.
“Bring the pain and don’t stop til they stop.”
“Hardly a plan.”
Jack grinned, straining the stiches on his cheek. “Ain’t failed yet, cob. Link me up to the data.”
Siobhan’s fingers worked at the datapad, allowing Jack a direct wireless link into it, feeding the data to the display in his tin eyes. He grunted as he took it in. “Plenty of wares in the wheels. Suit up.”
The gunfire from the building kept up as the three of them, Angela, Siobhan and Munroe, hurried over to the bulk of the armoured van and opened it up. The interior held a wide array of combat armour and heavy ordinance; shotguns, SMGs, rifles, grenade launchers and more. Jack kept the building under surveillance as they started to mattress up in the bulky combat armour and equip themselves with weapons heavier than the sidearms they had been carrying.
“You planning on getting involved too, boss?” Angela asked.
“I’m not too old, or too long gone from the streets to not be of some help.”
There was a dull crump as Jack stood up, raised the grenade launcher with one hand and fired. The grenade smashed through an upper floor window and there followed a flash of light and the thump of sound. The magazine whirled as he fired again and again until all six grenades had been lobbed through different windows.
The sound they had made wasn’t like those of the normal, non-lethal ones they used, but of the decidedly lethal frag grenades. The volume of fire in reply dropped off.
“Just bringing the pain,” Jack explained when asked about it. “They shot first, for cert.”
He started to reload the launcher, this time with ones colour coded that marked them as a mix of tear gas and stun grenades.
“Kay, ears on me,” he said when the others were geared up. “This is how we game it, cobs. You lay down the lead, I bust in and knock some heads, sav?”
“I do want some for questioning,” Angela told him.
“See what I can do.”
It was madness. There was no plan beyond ruthless aggression, not exactly an unknown commodity among the Soggies, but to Angela’s way of thinking this was far from the most sensible course of action. And yet they had to back the man up in it. He was the expert; possibly certifiable, but the expert nonetheless.
“Game time,” he announced, jumping from behind cover of the UPV, levelling both the SAW and grenade launcher. The other three boiled up, cyberoptics sweeping the windows for targets and snapping off bursts at any that wavered into view, keeping the gangers at bay.
Jack ran across the intervening ground, firing off single rounds from his SAW while levelling the grenade launcher at the front door. A single grenade flashed through the air, smashing through the door, and exploding in the unmistakable brilliance of a stun grenade going off. Anti-dazzle in Angela’s optics quickly overcame it as targeting sights continued to track new targets.
Another grenade followed and tear gas billowed forth. Jack plunged into it, through the front door, his nasal and lung filters dealing with the gas. Bursts of gunfire followed; some from the SAW, others from sidearms, plunging deeper into the building.
They followed the sound of the battle with the amped up audio of their tin ears, progressing from floor to floor, room to room. At one stage a ganger came tumbling out a window, heavily tatted and with bright and outlandish streetware.
At last the firing died down and after a short wait the front doors burst open. Jack came striding out, dragging two gangers with him. One had a mohawk treated with reactive chemicals so it glowed like multicoloured neon lights. The other was a vamp, his leg a bloody mess from taking a number of rounds; enough to slow him down but not kill him. The vamp was cursing up a storm as Jack tossed the pair at Angela’s feet.
The stitches in Jack’s face had come open so that his teeth were visible through his cheek as he grinned. “Ain’t all of ’em knocked, Ang. Even bagged you a leech.” His armour had been dinged up by bullet strikes; one had even punched through into her left arm, blood trickling from the hole.
Angela and Siobhan pulled out handcuffs and bound the two prisoners. “Thanks for the assist.”
“Sergeant, go back to hospital,” Munroe told Jack. “And don’t leave until ordered this time.”
Jack laughed and touched two fingers to his forehead in way of a salute. “Will do, cob. You know where to find me if bov boils up sooner.”
Angela stared down at the too bound prisoners. The ganger had the glazed eye look of one blitzed out on heavy pharmaceuticals, and enough cybernetic hardware to outfit a small army. Both arms, a leg, eyes, ears, interface plugs, jacked up reflexes, body plating and undoubtedly more. Gangers flocked to the steel and chrome, but few could afford as much as this one had, which marked him as not your standard ganger.
The vamp had begun to recover his posture and returned her stare with one of his own, cold and menacing. There was no fear; there seldom was.
Jack had chosen his prisoners well. If any could shed light up what was going on then these two could.
“Let’s get them back downtown,” Angela said. “Time to get some questions answered.”
Neither would break easy, she knew, but they would in time, and then they could go for those behind the murders.
But that was for another day. Today had seen another small victory, and another day survived on the wild streets of The City. It was enough.