Into the Retrofuture – Chapter 9: I’m Done With This.

“You absolute idiot!”

Chief Baranowsky throws the book at me–literally. I move my head to the side to avoid the tome from smashing into my face. It hits the one-way mirror behind me and falls to the floor.

Coop Yates stands next to him, arms folded, but much calmer, while his police department companion is fuming more than Mr. Larkins after a case of beers.

Why is this already reminding me of the situation I was in just over an hour ago? Oh, that’s right, because I’m in chains and being attacked by assholes in the interrogation room of some random police station.

“I’m sorry, sir,” I say.

“I told you to get out of this!” Chief Baranowsky shouts. “You never listen. You just do what you like, because you like playing the hero while my men and women in blue face all the consequences. It’s pathetic.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

Yates unfolds his hands and places them on the table. He leans at me and stares past my eyes, into my very technologically enhanced soul. “You don’t understand, Morgan. You ruined everything.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“Stop that. You aren’t sorry. You haven’t come to realize what your actions have done to the city. You may not realize for some time.” Yates says this with a steady calmness, measured anger. But it’s boiling hot. It nearly burns the eyebrows off.

Chief Baranowsky adds, “An eight-month operation you killed due to your stupidity. We were THIS close to catching the son of a bitch.”

“Eight-month operation…?”

Yates sighs. “We aren’t authorized to discuss… Oh, well. We were performing an investigation on Blyth Industries and all its dealings. We knew that Donald Blyth was in violation of the Cyborg Act of 1997, but after his untimely ‘demise,’ we knew our chance to catch him was slim. Because you interfered and spoiled everything, we didn’t have time to mobilize. Now he’s God knows where and we’re empty-handed other than some bodyguards and that lanky thug.”

“His name is Dragon.”

“I don’t– I don’t care,” Yates says. “We were so close, and you had to break things like you always do.”

Something flips in my brain.

The lever is broken.

My next response is like a trolley problem– if I say one thing, it’s going to sound like I’m an ass. If I say nothing, it’s going to make me sound like I’m a callous moron. And now I think the trolley has derailed and is about to crash with a spectacular explosion.

I look down at myself and realize I’ve snapped my wrist and foot cuffs and am standing up, fists balled up. Chief Baranowsky is already cowering in terror behind the stoic Coop Yates.

“I didn’t break anything,” I say, just having broken my cuffs. “I just do the the job the police can’t, either because you’re too incompetent or completely corrupt. Probably both.”

“Why you little–” Chief Baronowsky begins, but Yates beckons for him to stop 

“How can you let a scrawny twentysomething outpace an entire police force? You have thousands of officers. I’m just a kid with a few friends! And somehow, despite all the damn money in the world, the Blade Runners have done jack shit while I’ve solved all the technological crimes in the city. 

“Guess who stopped the Social Media Killer? Guess who saved the Social Media Killer, and Mayor Epstein in the process? Guess who defeated the leader of the Cybermancers? Guess who ended a gang war between the Angels and Earth Group, and who fights cybernetic villains like The Vampire and Athena Supreme about once a week? It sure ain’t the asshats with the long coats and anime swords, I’ll tell you that!”

I pound my fist against the table. It leaves a huge dent. 

Baranowsky is shaking, but Yates still has an arm up, holding him back. Yates keeps giving me that look–that dumbass look like he’s trying to use a Jedi mind trick on me or something.

“Working for eight months on a case you could solve in two weeks is the reason people don’t trust cops anymore,” I tell them. “You know those people killed in the tech expo attack? That’s on your hands. You tiptoed around because you wanted more evidence more proof, a big publicity arrest that could get you a bunch of nice coverage. Am I right? Right?”

No answer.

“And let me guess, now that you can’t spring a trap on Blyth, you’re out of options and the Blade Runners have to move onto a new case?”

No answer, but their expressions are telling.

“You know what’s going to happen if you sit on your ass? A lot of people are going to die. Because Blyth was going on and on about some big plan he’s about to start.” I dust off my absolutely ruined work suit, and then throw it on the floor of the interrogation room. “I’m not letting Blyth get away with this. He’s got my friends. If they’re not dead yet, they will be soon, and I’m not getting stopped by whatever invisible red tape or codes of conduct y’all hide behind.”

Finally, an answer. “We can’t let you do that,” says Yates.

“You don’t have to.”

“You’re begging to go to prison for five to ten,” Baranowsky says. “I could slap you with so many charges, your head would–”

“Do you even know about the Ascendants? Or are you just so blind you’re a whole dimension behind the rest of us?”

Yates’s expression changes, finally, from stoicism to a death stare.

Chief Baranowsky is confounded. “What the hell are you talking about?”

But the stare is enough to make me understand. “Um, nevermind.”

Yates steps to my side of the interrogation room and looks at his boss. “Sorry. I’ll have to let the kid win this one.”

“What? You’re out of your mind!”

“Perhaps.”

He unlocks the hand and foot cuffs hanging uselessly on me and points to the door. “Go save Atlanta one more time.”

“No help from the Blade Runners?” I ask.

Yates looks to Chief Baranowsky, then back to me. He shakes his head. “Hurry.”

I don’t know if this is a one-time offer or an all-time free pass, but I don’t stick around long enough to find out. I run out of the police station and make my way back to the abandoned church. There’s not a second to lose.

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