The police in Atlanta are pretty infamous for being not that good at their jobs. Yeah sure, the crime rate’s lowered a lot since the end of the war, but if the police were any better, I’d be out of a career. And, in this circumstance, people would be doing more than just giving very nasty looks.
I will admit that Karina and I carrying Lamar like he’s a dead carcass has bad optics. It looks suspicious, to be completely honest. But it’s not like there was any other way for us to move him.
“You really thought I wouldn’t show up?” Lamar asks, meeting Karina and me at the street corner we’ve been waiting at for the past half-hour.
We actually wandered off a bit from where that one auto-conbini let off, mostly because a nearby Labor Party protest was getting closer, and louder. Also, I was apparently very thirsty because I bought yet another unsweet tea. Anyway, saying all of that was pointless because we’re back in the same spot, and now we’re ready for action, with Lamar in tow.
“Well, that was pretty uneventful,” I say, stepping off the auto-conbini after it FINALLY makes a new stop somewhere else in the city. It took forever!
“I mean, not like we were doing anything better, right…”
Karina’s grumpy. She’s been grumpy ever since we got stuck on the vehicle thanks to those protestors trapping us inside while chanting slogans (also, I can hear another group of protestors shouting a few blocks away, which is terrible). But honestly, Karina’s been in a bad mood the last few times we’ve met up. I wonder what’s up with her.
“Why do they think we can just get rid of robots and make all the old jobs come back…” Karina grumbles. “It’s ridiculous. They can’t actually believe it, can they… Honestly, sometimes they’re worse than the Earth Group…”
“You’re comparing a political party you don’t like to an eco-terror organization,” I say. “Are you sure you’re not the bad guy here?”
The things I do for friendship.
Sometimes those things involve risking my life and fighting giant cyborg assassins. Sometimes those things involve humiliating myself in front of a huge crowd as a distraction. And sometimes those things involve solving the world’s worst mystery because your friend really wants to do it and you don’t want to let her down.
So far, it’s just the latter, but if it evolves into the other two, I’ll be able to use this as a way to say “told you so” to my future self.
“Well, specifically, I’m looking for Magitek Soda,” Karina says.
“Magitek… Soda…” Sorry, I’m not exactly in my most eloquent mood after sprinting down a busy sidewalk for a good ten minutes.
I can feel the sweat dripping from my armpits down my sides. And here Karina is, in a yellow sundress, the most perilous thing about her the fact that she looks like she might have gotten a sunburn being out here.
“Please help. Corner of Peachtree and Juniper.”
That’s all it says. And that’s all I need to know.
Karina is in trouble.
And now for the epilogue, or rather, the punchline of this story.
It turns out I’ve won the mystery prize from The Rotten Peach’s crossword puzzle contest after all.
Back at the garage, Kevin O’Conner has already gone home for the night. I had assumed he lived here or something, since he is caretaker for the robot that does live here, but it looks like he doesn’t care enough to do anything like that.
AR73 doesn’t seem too lonely about his absence. Right now it just seems excited about getting a bunch of new paints to experiment with.