The Reaping

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cadbrowser
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The Reaping

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-10-18 04:22pm

Trying my hand at some original content that is a bit simpler than the Prime Mover project I started a few years ago where I had to take a break from it due to some unfortunate events that happened in my life. This story is set in the same universe as Prime Mover, however much later in the timeline. If reception is good, I'll continue this story. All comments are welcome - even if its to say that I suck. :mrgreen:

Chapter One

I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She sat there distraught, sobbing uncontrollably. It was no use questioning her right now. I'll have to let the Soothers take her to the Medical Ward to calm her. I should be able to interrogate her tomorrow morning.

"He's gone, they took him, my George." She uttered, rocking back and forth, arms wrapped around herself.

She kept repeating this over and over. There was no signs of forced entry, no signs of struggle. Security tapes in the common areas of her domicile and the hallways showed nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, she was right. Or at least partially right. Her husband, George, was gone. Seemingly dissappeared without a trace.

"Sir?"

We scanned the area, three times. Infrared, X-Ray...Nothing. These dissappearances are becoming more and more frequent. They went from one every two months, and now over the course of the last ten years have increased over time to now almost once a week.

"Sir?"

Some believe that there are moments of an intense, unknown radiation that seeps in, collecting in random areas that completely de-atomize a person should they walk through it. However, no evidence of this has come to light. A select few swear it is the work of the dead from ages past, when Earth was habitable from the surface.

"SIR?"

I even requested the location chip to be activated to ping a location. No results, is what I was told. That always meant one thing. The person is dead. Now though...

"DETECTIVE STALLOCK!"

"Yes, Patrolman Baker?" His voice shook me out of my own head. "My apologies, I was thinking."

"It's alright sir, I know these disspearances are weighing heavily on you as they are on all of us."

"It has, it is. Now what is so important that you had to interrupt my train of thought?"

"Oh, yes. We think we may have found something."

"How is that possible, we scanned the area three times?" I muttered as Baker took off towards the sleeping area. He turned his head back and bulged his eyes at me, urging me to hurry and follow.

A team of Scrutinizers were all huddled around the bed, peering at every inch with large magnifying glasses. Baker tapped one of them on the shoulder while he whispered something in her ear. She reached into her lab coat pocket and pulled out a small containment baggie and handed it to him.

"Here, sir. Take a look at this."

I quickly snatched the bag from his hand and pulled it up to my eyes peering hard. The mechanical actuators in my eyes increased the magnification. It was hard, somewhat transparent, crescent shaped.

"A fingernail?" I said in a disspointed tone. I blinked hard to reset my eyes and handed it back. "You get my hopes up that we finally found something that could crack this case wide open; and I get a piece of grooming scraps that the scrub-bots missed?"

He pushed my hand back and looked at me like there was something obvious I was missing.

"Sir. It wasn't found in the couple's domicile." His left eybrow raised slightly as he tilted his head; a teasing smirk crossed his face.

The surprise in my eyes was more than enough for him to continue. My mouth stood agape.

"What you are holding there is a significant chunk of George's fingernail from his left ring finger. You see that chunk there?"

"Yes? What is that?"

"That, from what the Scrutinizer said, is a piece of the root of the nail." Baker's smugness gave me a short image in my mind of me slapping that arrogance right out of him.

As if he had discovered this himself. I thought.

"Ok smartass; what does that prove?"

"It indicates the nail was ripped out."

Those words sinked in, deep. Never, in my time as a Patrolman, Protector, or Detective have I heard of anything like this. Not in twenty years.

"Ripped out? Like, self inflicted?"

His smile widened and his eyes got bigger. "Follow me sir and let me show you where it was found."

We exited the domicile. I could see beyond the small crowd that gathered to figure out what all the commotion was about, a Shuttle Box carrying a Soother and her two assistants on the rail in the center of the pathway. The lighting on the ceiling in the hollowed out cave indicated that it was getting late in the evening. If I'd ever experienced one, I would call it a sunset. Down here, electrical and mechanial means mimicked the wind, stars, clouds, and our Sun that were found in our historical library; and the bedtime stories we were told as children.

It was a good thing too. If all I had to do was stare and a cave walls all the time, I would go mad. You knew, living here, that our population was burried a few thousand feet in rock. The Council, our ruling governement, took great strides long ago to make life comfortable, sane, and safe.

We walked past at least seven occupied domiciles, to the end of the row opposite the central shaft that connected the other thirteen levels above and below us. I looked up and noticed that the last three feet were not covered by the security cameras that monitored the pathway. I reasoned that there was no need since behind the all viewing eyes of the camera there was nothing but rock there.

"Right here, Sir." Baker kneeled and pointed at a specific place in the wall of the cave.

In front of me there was a series of lines, faintly carved into the stone. In fact, if you spit on them and rubbed them a bit, they would have dissapeared. I put my hands up to them, they aligned closely with my fingers in a spread position. I was in disbelief. I looked down at the ground, varying my optical implants, zooming in and out, searching. Looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Nothing.

"Definitely not self-inflicted. George was dragged, abruptly. But...how? These marks indicate he would have been in a horizontal position and eleveated at least a foot off the ground! Which would implicate an immense feat of strength."

I continued surveying the immediate and surrounding area. Baker started looking around as well.

"Sir, what I want to know, is why George was in this area to begin with. And where was he dragged to? There are still no signs that he was taken anywhere in particular. Also, his wife saw something. She kepts repeating that they took him."

"No no...I do not think she saw something of any significance. My best guess is she, like everyone growing up, heard the fables our parents would spin to get us to do what we were told as children. You remember those stories, right?"

"No Sir, my parents never told me anything like that. That seems like an unpleasant way to grow up."

"Wait, wait, wait. You were never told about the creatures that would come through the walls at night and take you if you weren't sleeping? And that once a year, a special treat would be left at the foot of your bed if you had been good? Or that if you hadn't been caught not sleeping when they came by, but they knew you had misbehaved, they would leave you something unpleasant instead?"

"No Sir, why would parents say such things to their children? Why instill fear in someone as not yet matured to get them to do what was best for them? So cruel! How uneducated does one have to be to spin such falsehoods to their offspring like that?"

"Let me guess, you aren't old enough to procreate yet are you?" I couldn't help but stiffle a small cuckle.

"I don't see how that makes any difference, but no. I'm in the twenty-second year of my lifespan. I was certified for courtship last year and have found a mate. I have one year left to begin the life continuation training and screening for procreation."

I extended my hand to him in a gesture of friendship, he looked at me confused.

"Take it." I said bluntly looking at my hand. "I have decided I want you to be my assistant. With it carries the rank of Protector Third Class. This is a promotion for you. You have a sharp mind and it is obvious you are a dedicated officer of the law. I am going to need help with this case, and others. Rest assured, you and your mate will benefit from this promotion."

His face was that of shock and disbelief. He reached out his hand and grasped mine a lot firmer than I was expecting. He shook it hard.

"Sir...I...I...I am honored. I...I....just...I don't know quite what to say!"

I grabbed his hand with my other one to brace against the pain my shoulder was experienceing from him treating my arm like it was a hose, whipping about!

I looked him dead in the eye as I slowed the rythmic movement of his hand, "Say, YES."

"Y...y...yessir, oh yes, yes sir, absolutley yes!"

If his eyes grew any wider with joy, I was afraid his eyballs were going to fall out of their sockets on their own. I pulled my hand away and gave him a hearty pat on the shoulder.

"Good. Thank you. I will submit the paperwork and have you transferred under me first thing in the morning. There is the standard ninety day trial period before it will become official, but I do not forsee that being an issue. It looks like there isn't much more here that we can gather. I think we should make our way back and wrap things up."

His face was smiling so hard I was certain it would stick like that. He nodded in agreement and with a pep in his step that wasn't there on the way up, he began walking. I followed in step behind him. He was slightly taller than I, so his strides were a bit longer. I had to walk almost twice as fast to join his side. When I finally caught up with him, he stopped and looked at me perpelxed.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I was just thinking, sir. Based on the information we were gathering before you arrived. There wasn't a single person who claimed they saw or heard anything. Yet, we have evidence that something did happen. George was taken against his will. No screams, no struggle. What was he doing down in that area?"

I decided to continue walking and he followed me. I slowed down my pace so that we could have a bit more time to discuss. Thankfully, his mind was racing enough that he instinctively shortened his stride to match mine.

"Well, I suppose that someone did hear or see something or both. Either they did, but what they witnessed didn't register to them that it was part of this crime, or...another explaination is needed. I think it would be prudent for us to retrace this man's routine, question the neighbors again. This is the first time we have a lead on a dissapearance. The one thing that puzzles me is how was a fingernail ripped out without spilling any blood?"

"Good point. We'll have to ask someone in the medical field to explain it to us. The other huge mystery here is...where is the damn body?"

Yes, indeed. Where was the body? Why are there never any bodies? We walked in silence each contemplating the questions that we just shared. His mind is very sharp, I like that about him. He has a respectful, yet strong demeanor. An air of confidence and strength, and at the same time, respect and sincerity.

"Sir?"

"Yes, Baker?"

A blood curdling scream caught both of our attention. We were only a few houses from the scene of the crime. We both took off in a sprint. For me being twice his age, I didn't have too much trouble staying with him. As we arrived in front of the larger crowd that had gathered, there was much commotion and shouting.

Repeated screams from a horrified woman, "No, you cannot take her. She is mine!".

We pushed our way through the crowd. I saw one of the Patrolman carrying a wad of blankets. Two Protectors along with the Soother was desperately trying to subdue and calm the woman down. To no effect. She was lashing out, angry, violent. She threw around the Protectors like they were nothing. Each time they came back. Finally one of the Soother's assistants rushed the woman with a shiney tube-like triggered device. She jumped on her back and put the tube to her neck and pressed the trigger.

Within mere moments the lady slowed down. Her ranting became softer, her body became slower until finally she collapsed on to the ground. I ran up to the Soother, Baker assisted with crowd dispersal.

"I am Detective Jim Stollack, senior officer in this investigation. This is MY crime scene. I demand an immediate explaination!"

The two Protectors immediately helpled the assistant up began putting restraint devices on the victim.

The Soother looked me up and down and with a cold stare she answered, "Stand down Detective. This woman was caught with an illegal. She will be incarcerated and formal charges filed. We have reason to believe she killed her mate when he found out. So she will be charged with murder, or at least conspiracy to commit murder."

I could do nothing but stand there in awe. Why didn't our scans pick up the illegal?

As they loaded her in a Shuttle Box and prepared to depart, the crowd began to dwindle, Baker returned by my side. The Soother, barking orders.

"Sir? What happened?"

"They found an illegal and are convinced that her husband found out and she had him killed, or killed him herself."

"An illegal? I do not understand. What is an illegal?"

"It is an unliscensed/unregistered birth of a child."

"How? That's impossible! The devices that are implanted in the males prior to puberty prevent sperm production."

"No, in extremely rare instances, in certain men with specific genetic markers, there is a slight chance that they overcome the restrictions of the implant. Usually, these men are marked at birth and are monitored closely. Which means, there will be more incidences where his tracker was activated."

Baker slumped to the ground and sat down. Many like him are unaware of Bunker Hollow's dirty little secrets. This, was one of those that rears its ugly head once in a while. An unfortunate side effect of strict population control efforts. However, I am not so convinced the Soother was right.

He finally looked up and with a sadness asked, "What happens to the baby?".

I could see the sorrow well within his eyes.

"I don't know." I lied.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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LadyTevar
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Re: The Reaping

Post by LadyTevar » 2017-10-18 11:18pm

Where did she get the baby, hmm? From those who took her husband?
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Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

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cadbrowser
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Re: The Reaping

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-10-19 07:55am

LadyTevar wrote:
2017-10-18 11:18pm
Where did she get the baby, hmm? From those who took her husband?
The detective's implication here when explaining to Baker what an illegal is, is that George had developed an extremely rare immunity (due to a genetic mutation) to the population control measure implanted in all males just prior to the onset of puberty. Thus, he and his mate were able to conceive without going through the proper channels and getting permission.

*Que the Jeff Goldblum Meme* Life...Uh...Finds a Way.

So, until now, Baker thought that the potential for having a child was impossible due to said implant.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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LadyTevar
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Re: The Reaping

Post by LadyTevar » 2017-10-19 12:48pm

I will just say you've whetted my appetite, I want to see where this detective noire goes.
Image
Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

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cadbrowser
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Re: The Reaping

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-10-19 02:10pm

And I will just say that you may or may not have inspired me to do something a little more...twisted...with your initial comment.

I'm glad at least one person on this board is desiring more. Thank you.

I did find and correct some spelling and grammatical errors in my original stored on my computer. Apparently the online spell/grammar checker wasn't working properly or something. Next chapter will not look like a grade school project. :)
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

User avatar
cadbrowser
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Posts: 490
Joined: 2006-11-13 01:20pm
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Re: The Reaping

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-10-23 07:15am

Update:

The second chapter is coming along. I should be able to have something posted by Wednesday. At least, that's my goal.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Joined: 2006-11-13 01:20pm
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Re: The Reaping

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-10-26 04:31pm

A day later than I planned. Without further adieu:
Chapter Two


"Stand." A loud voice called from the blackness.

She slowly stood from the bed she was laying on.

"Place your feet together and hold your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor."

She complied exactly as the voice commanded.

"Now, close your eyes, don't move, don't speak."

She heard a click and the sound of a door opening with a metallic squeal. Her hands trembled as fear coursed through her veins. She dare not peek or let her arms drop. Footsteps came closer, she could tell there was more than one set since they fell out of time as one went behind. Something was placed on her wrists and her ankles. Then she felt something drape over her head. Their hands were not normal, as if they were wearing a soft cloth to cover them.

A different, gentle voice from behind her spoke, "With a nod only, indicate whether the restraints are too tight."

She shook her head back and forth.

"Thank you for your cooperation. You may relax your arms. You will be escorted for questioning." The loud voice remarked.

The two people gently urged her to start walking. The walk didn't take very long. Although she couldn't really see where she was being led, she did count steps and turns. They stopped and then walked a short distance through what sounded like a doorway due to the noises.

The fabric inside the hood became a dark gray. They all stopped again. She heard a long scraping noise.

"Sit here." He commanded while the other man pulled her hood off.

She looked up and around squinting. Her eyes burned from the intense amount of light. The bright white walls seemed to magnify the brightness. It hurt. She brought up her hands to shadow her eyes to allow them to adjust. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy; hair mangled. As her eyes focused she saw that each man wore black robes with white face covers that hid their identity. There was no contours to their masks, just a dome shape. This disturbed her.

"Where am I?" She pleaded softly. She couldn't remember anything after being arrested.

One of the men took the seat at the other end of the table and placed a small device on its top. The other man stood near the entrance.

"I am the High Accuser. The other is my Locum. You have been relocated to the Level One Interrogation Chamber. State your name, domicile address, and occupation for the record."

Her head was swimming, blank.

"Ma'am?" The tone grew impatient.

She shook her head to clear her mind and focused. Her face became twisted with anger. Slowing raising her eyes to the strangely dresses person across from her. She remembered.

"MY BABY! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER?" She screamed and tried to lunge forward. The restraints gave her minimal movement and pulled her back in her seat as the chains were secured to the chair. The immediate resistance clamped her wrist tightly. She ignored the pain and gritted her teeth, raising up slowly again.

The Locum rushed over from the entrance and attempted to force her back in the chair. He placed his hands on her shoulders. She reared her head back, smacking him hard in the cover, then twisted and rocked her shoulders about, causing him to lose his balance and fall onto the floor. He laid there.

"You will settle down, NOW!" The Accuser stood and yelled. "Immediately return to your seat or I will be forced to call a Soother. I can have you put away for up to a year in a dark hole for assaulting an officer of the court. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"

She glared hard at his facelessness, still defiant.

"You do understand that the sentence for this assault charge will be carried out with no judge, no jury, no representation. All of your rights as a citizen will be revoked, your other charges would be immediately put on hold. Let that resonate in your brainpan."

The Locum began stirring and let out a low moan. She looked back at him, then again at the accuser. She realized she had to rein in her anger. She knew she couldn't bear the thought of having to wait for a year to find out what happened to her baby, or her husband. Slowly she relaxed her stance again and eased back into her seat. The Locum slowly stood up and returned to his position by the entrance.

"Now, that's better." He returned to his seat. "Now I repeat, State your name, domicile address, and occupation for the record."


"My name is Susan Walker, domicile address L7Z4R11D43, and I am a Freelance Infiller for the Department of Mechanicals."

"Thank you Mrs. Walker. What jobs are required as a Freelance Infiller?"

"I am the back up to a wide variety of maintenance level responsibilities. If someone becomes injured or ill, they call on me to accomplish whatever is needed."

"I see. Do you understand why you are here?"

"No, I don't."

"You aren't aware that having an illegal is considered treason of the highest order?"

"Yes. I am aware."

"What baffels me the most is how you were able to hide the development of the child. None of your monthly medical scans showed any indication that you had conceived. What's even more puzzling is that your mate was examined not more than a week before his dissapearance. All evidence shown his implant to be operating properly. Can you explain this?"

"Maybe your equipment is faulty." She fired back

"Mrs Walker, do not play games here. I think you fail to understand the severity of the crimes being levied against you. Tell me. Did Mr. Walker know?"

"I have not been made aware of any other crimes agaisnt me other than the allegation of treason. I refuse to answer the last question on the grounds of potential passive incrimination and hearsay. Furthermore..."

The Locum spoke up interrupting Susan, "Item 1: Failure to report an illegal conception. Item 2: Concealing an illegal. Item 3: Conspiracy to commit medical fraud. Item 4: Conspiracy to incite public danger. Item 5: Suspicion of Murder in the Third-Degree. Item 6: Reporting a false crime. Item 7: Unlawful disposal of a body. Item 8: Resisting arrest. Item 9: Public display of violence. Item 10: Refusal to cooperate with an officer of peace."

"Murder!? Unlawful disposal!? How?" She threw her hands up in frustration. "My mate is missing! How dare you accuse..."

The Accuser interrupted this time, "Let me tell you what we think happened." She began to protest and he increased the volume of his voice, shutting down her attempt, "You had an intimate relationship with another man who was cleared by the Council and Medical Board to begin a family with his mate. He may or may not have told you this. You conceived and hid it from your own mate. Our records show that you and your mate have not been selected in the Breeding Lottery. This gave you the motive to keep it hidden, and somehow was able to fool the scans into not picking up the hormonal changes a female body goes through during the incubation phase. You were able to have the baby...trust me, those that have helped you will be tried for treason as well - we will find them...and hide it for a while. Our records show that on the day of George's disappearance, he came home early. We think he found out about the illegal and planned to turn you, and the baby in. In a fit of rage and desperation you killed him, disposed of the body, and then called in a false report to say he was missing."

A disturbing smile came across Susan's face as she slowly stood up and began clapping. Both of the others looked at each other in confusion.

"Bravo boys. You have nailed it exactly how it happened!" She mocked, the applause increasing in volume followed by laughing.

"Are you confessing to..." The Accuser began.

"No, I'm not confessing anything you waste of human excrement! That is called sarcasm, asshole."

"I warned you about playing..."

"Fuck you. I'm not saying a damn thing more until I see my representative."

The Accuser stood up from the table, looked at his partner and nodded. They both exited the room. She sat there, angered, fuming at the idea that she had been accused of murdering her beloved. The man she'd been with for almost twenty-five years. All she could think, was that she was going to need help. Just then the door opened and in walked the Accuser who positioned himself in front of her and two men in red robes, one by each side. They grabbed her by the arms and jerked her up to a standing position.

"What is this!?" She demanded.

"You are hereby charged with assaulting an officer of the court..."

"Bullshit! You wouldn't dare!" She tried twisting her arms, but the red robed men held her with almost unhuman like strength.

"This Accuser finds you guilty as charged sentencing to begin immediately." His faceless hood lowered to look directly at her and cocked to one side. "Maybe, three months in the pit will convince you to be more cooperative." He looked at the Red Robes and ordered, "Take her away."

*click*

Soothing inspirational chimes play overhead while a cheery male voice speaks over the intercom, "Goooood Morning sleepy heads! Its seven am, time to wake up and get productive. Remember, the whole community needs you and you need it. Everyone has a part to do. So let's work together and be great!"

*click*

"Barker King here on your relaycom and that was your wake up call. Rise and shine people and join me on this glorious day!"

I had already been up for a few hours. Thinking; trying to figure out my next move. How was I going to obtain more information? She was caught with an illegal. The system is swift and strict about such violations. It will be very difficult to question her to obtain more information about her mate, George. This is a much undesired complication.

"While searching the Book of Webs I stumbled upon a melody that is sure to bring a smile to your face and wash your cares away!"

How do these people find a way to be so cheery every morning? And no, just no, the cares on my mind are more than any ancient melody.

"This song hails from nineteen fifty-four by The Chordettes, enjoy!"

*click*

"*Mister Sandman, bring me a dream
Make him the cutest that I've ever seen
Give him two lips, like roses and clovers
Then tell him...*"

Hmmm. Not bad for being over seven hundred years old. A nice playful catchy tune. If I was involved in any other profession, I would undoubtedly be wisked away.

I turned the sound down a bit more. It is time for me to get going to the office. Baker will no doubt be there as early as he can, so I better take the Shuttle Box. Luckily for me there should be one ready by the time I walk out the door.

"Have a good day, Detective." A smooth female voice sounded as the door to the domicile closed.

Sure enough, I walked to the edge of the raised walkway where a Shuttle Box was waiting for me. Its a small rounded transportation vessel that can hold a maximum of four people which rode on a comperized wheeled rail system. These systems can be linked if you have a lot going to the same place. I stepped in, fastened my safety harness and sat down. There were no controls, only a small angled platform with a finger screen, a sounder, and a listener. The interior was clean, brightly colored, and somewhat comfortable.

"Destination please?"

I leaned forward close to the listener and spoke, "Level Seven; Zone 3; Central Core; Department of Civil Authority."

"That is a restricted area, place your thumb on the screen for clearance."

"Thank you, Detective Stallock, you will arrive at your destination in approximately seven minutes."

As the Shuttle Box accelerated into the main flow of traffic, I looked out the windows. There were various fruit trees lining the center of the thoroughfare. Despite being located inside a mountain on a large island, the designers and builders of this massive colony sure did an amazing job. I marveled at the simplicity which hid the complexity with great efficiency.

Each level was laid out in a combination of a concentric rings and arrayed zones starting from the central shaft. The central shaft, or Central Core, houses one member of the counil, a voting auditorium, all of the environmental equipment which is interconnected to the other levels via a central shaft inside the core, and of course the Civil Authority. The first ring after the Central Core began the array laid out like the hands of a clock where the #12 position always faced North, which contained the Department of Safety and Medicine. Each zone serves up to one thousand individuals. Between each zone held the Citizens Access Pathway where the Shuttle Boxes ferried passengers to and fro their destinations all interconnected between. The rest of the rings were dedicated to primarily to domiciles, with every fourth ring containing agricultural facilities.

All too soon my thoughts, looking into the artificial skyline, focused again on the dissapearances. I decided to try to prioritize them so everything wasn't so scrambled and jumping out to be done all at once in my head.

First, I need to get George's pathmarks to find out where he's been, who he's been in contact with. Second, I'll have Baker get in contact with the other Level Seven Detectives to request access to all of the files regarding dissapearances. If need be, we may have to expand that request to the other twelve levels. I'll probably need to requisition a few iSAB assistants if it gets that messy. Fourth, that nail...we need to understand why there was no...

"Destination please?"

I was so deep in thought that I handn't noticed that the Shuttle Box had slowed down and stopped to pick up another person. Nor had I heard the access panel open to a larger, muscular looking man with a dark complexion getting inside. He was bald, by choice it seems, with a tightly trimmed beard that clung to his face. He was wearing an orange jumper. Not wanting to be rude, I greeted the new passenger.

"Good Morning."

"Good Morning, Detective." He replied in a most pleasant, deep, and husky voice. "Level Seven, Zone 4, Ring Four."

"Thank you, citizen, your destination is prioritiezed lower than the Detective, you will be dropped..."

"No, no. SB7A0155, there is no immediate rush for me to get to the office. Please allow this agricultural worker to get to his destination first, as it is on the way."

"Yes, Dectective. Time arrival modifications are as follows: The citizen will arrive at his destination in four minutes and twenty-one seconds; your desitination will be lengthed by one minute."

The large gentleman buckled himself in and extended his hand in gratitute, "That was mighty kind of you. Thank you very much."

"It is no trouble at all. No sense in making you wait longer to do your job." I took his hand in kind and shook it. "Detective Stallock, pleased to meet you." I offered a smile.

"Jonathan Black, sir. Nice to meet you too." The center pocket of his jumper vibrated. "Excuse me, please." He pulled out a small communicator, flipped it open and answered it.

Not being one to pry, I left the man alone with his discussion. Bits and pieces did leak into my ear. Something about moisture levles, acidity tests, harvest potential...things of which I knew nothing about. My mind soon wandered onto the scenery passing us by. Children playing in the safety area just outside of the education center.

I remember those days running around, laughing, carefree. Learning was fun. We were never drilled with facts. Logic and the fundamentals of critical thought encouraged us to seek out the answers for ourselves. I miss my best friend Charlie. I should reach out to him and check in on him this weekend.

Jonathan's conversation continued until we reached his destination. He did make it a point to thank me again and shook my hand once more. I wished him a good day. I sincerely meant it.

A few more minutes and I will be at my destination.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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