Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Zokusho: Crystal Blade chapter 3

Not much to say today really, other than that you should totally check this out.

Lya Lorne was eating chocolate ice-cream again. She had taken to eating it a lot recently. The corner shop she bought it from had started ordering it in bulk. She was sitting on her sofa with her next door neighbour accompanying her. Rachel had broken the terrible news to her friend, who hadn’t taken it well and was now crying into her food.
“That was my last hope!” she wailed “I was hoping you would become a detective and tell me all sorts of stuff, and then I could be a reporter and then… And then…. And then….” Whatever was to come next never came as she broke down into tears.
“It’s okay. I might not be a cop anymore, but I’m still in the game. I’m a private eye now.” Rachel wasn’t too good with the whole hysterics thing. She had grown up with her twelve older male cousins, so crying was a sign of weakness. She went for the safe approach of rubbing Lya’s shoulder calmingly.
“A PI?”
“Yeah, so I’ll be able to leak to you all sorts of stuff. And I won’t even get into trouble for it.”
“So you’ll still help me?”
“Of course.”
“Great.” Lya brightened up almost immediately. It’s amazing how quickly a reporter can go from miserable to excited, just with the glimmer of a juicy story. “So what have you found out so far?”
“Nothing much. We’ve only just started. Oooh, you know that Miah Faradays?”
“The romance novelist?”
“Yeah. Her husband hired us because he thinks she’s having an affair. And the juicy bit is that she is.”
“This is great! People love celebrity scandals. This could even get me the front page.” Lya jumped up from the sofa, spilling chocolate ice-cream everywhere.
“But we don’t have any proof yet. Mike can’t work a camera.”
Lya fell back onto the sofa once more. “And without proof then it’s just slander.” She began eating what little ice-cream she had saved, but lost it all when she jumped up again “Wait a sec. I could get James to do it. He’s a photographer; I’ll bet he can get clearer photos than you could.”
“Are you sure he would help?”
“Oh please, he fancies me. He’ll be easy. I’ll just go phone him.” Lya rushed to her kitchen where she kept her mobile. Reception in her place was terrible, and you had to practically be leaning out of the window to talk properly.
Rachel however had bought a new phone, which could get reception even if it were buried in a peat bog for a hundred years, or so the advertiser claimed, and it chose that moment to start ringing.
“Ahoy-hoy.” Rachel said as she answered.
“I have a job for you.” The voice from the other end said.

Harvard locked his apartment behind him as he left for work. The crossword had been a particularly difficult one today, but he was happy with himself for completing it anyway. He left the apartment building, taking the usual twenty-seven steps to reach the elevator, and then thirty-eight to leave the building by the front door. Harvard had never read Around the world in eighty days, but if he had he would have found a lot about Philleus Fogg that he liked. With this philosophy he took his usual shortcut through an alleyway. After working at the government for over twenty years, he owned his own jumping crystal and could easily have used that, but he didn’t like to waste the tax-payers money on something so trivial. So, without thinking about it, he entered the dark alleyway.
Anybody who has taken a shortcut through a dark alleyway in a major city, such as New York or London, will be unsurprised to find out that he was then mugged.

“What kind of a job?” Rachel asked.
“I said I’ve got a problem. Can you meet me outside Simon’s café please?” Mike asked down the phone. Unfortunately, due to the inaccuracies of advertising, Rachel only heard about half of this.
“Mike, I can’t hear you. Hello? Meet me in Simon’s café and we’ll speak there. Hello? Blast!” Rachel clipped her phone back down “There’s a story for you Lya. The phones never get reception around here. It’s like a dead spot.”
“Old news. Never get past page eighty.”
“I’ve gotta go. Might be a really good job.”
“What are you waiting for then? Go!” Lya practically yelled. Only after Rachel had left did Lya realise that she had only five minutes left to get ready for work.

Detectives Carr and Red had arrived at their destination. They shoved past the old man and the little punk who was yelling into his phone and proceeded to barge their way into the little junk shop. Carr looked around with distaste, but Red seemed to have mild interest in the goods. Particularly a suit of used armour left in a heap on one of the shelves. Carr left him looking at it and strolled up to the young redhead at the counter.
“Hello sir, how may I help you?” Fey said with her usual charm.
“The computers out back. Give them to me.” Carr tried the menacing voice he liked so much, but Fey was a different creature entirely to Blake.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you are referring to sir. We do have a range of computers out here which may be suitable for whatever needs you may have.”
“Don’t mess with me! I know you tried hacking into police records just yesterday! Give me those computers!” he yelled, switching back to his default shouting.
“Show me a warrant.” Fey replied, narrowing her eyes coldly.
“This is interfering with a police investigation.”
“Sorry Officer, but I know my rights, and if you want to remove something from my property then you either have to buy it or have a warrant. And if you try otherwise I can protect myself however I wish.” Fey stepped back and picked up a shotgun hidden under the counter. Carr growled, but was powerless to do much else. Instead he left, gesturing for Red to follow him. Outside the shop, now conveniently clear of old men and punks, he turned to his partner.
“We need those computers. If anybody important finds out what we’ve been doing then we are right royally screwed.”
“I know, but how can we get them?”
“Bring your boys round tonight and burn it all.”
“What about the girl?”
“Well, that all depends on whether she’s going out tonight, doesn’t it?” Carr shrugged as he walked off. Red made a mental note to pick up the armour first. He could add it to his collection.

Officer Blake and his partner Buddy had been given standard patrol work to do. Blake had been delighted about the prospect of seeing the detectives getting an earful from the chief, but they hadn’t gone back to the station. Instead, Blake had to drive around pointlessly while Buddy bored him to tears about his private life.
“And so I said ‘Listen honey, I’m doing my best, but the money’s just not coming in’ and she said ‘I thought you said you would become a detective and earn lots of money’ and I said ‘I will, but they don’t just let anyone become a detective these days, you have to pass a test’ and she said-”
“I don’t care what she said. Geez man, do you even listen to yourself speak? It’s amazing that she would stick with you with how you do nothing but talk all the time.”
“Oh she loves it when we do nothing but sit and talk for hours” Buddy looked off into space dreamily as they hit traffic lights “She’s so wonderful. Hey, what’s that?” he suddenly pointed out the window.
“That looks like a homeless guy sleeping in an alleyway. Happens all of the time. Sad really, but it’s just the way of things when you live in a city as big as this.”
“Then what’s that red stuff in a puddle around him?”
“Red stuff? How can you tell the colour from here? That alleyway’s very dark. I can barely see the man.”
“I think it’s blood!” Buddy said as he got out of the car. Blake had no choice but to follow, leading to several honks from behind him as the lights turned green.
“Police work!” He shouted, holding up his badge. When he reached the alley he found Buddy leaning over the prone man, checking his pulse.
“He’s alive!” Buddy yelled. He was trying to simultaneously stop the bleeding while keeping his uniform clean, and wasn’t doing any good at either.
Blake pulled out his radio “Dispatch this is Officer Blake requesting assistance. We have a stab victim in an alleyway off of 51st and Main. Requesting assistance and emergency medical support.”
“It’s on its way Officer.” The woman at dispatch replied.
Blake pushed Buddy out of the way “You keep the civilians away from the crime scene.” He said, gesturing towards the crowd who had gathered. Blake bent down in the pool of blood and ripped some cloth from his sleeves. He did his best, but the man had been cut in several places, some of which were quite deep. Luckily, everything happens quickly in Interplanes, and the ambulance arrived within minutes. Two men got out and rushed towards the unfortunate victim. The first gestured for Blake to move out of the way, while the other unfolded a stretcher. Just as he bent down to help his comrade, a look of fear plastered itself onto his face.
“Oh my God! Harvard!”

Jon returned to the junk shop with his two friends. When James had mentioned Edgar he suddenly remembered something he had found while hacking the government the previous day. He hadn’t paid much attention to it, but maybe it was important after all. As usual they went in the back way, just in case his sister had any customers. But Fey had closed up the shop after the detectives had left. She was waiting in his room.
“What did you find this time?”
“What do you mean?”
“The cops came round earlier saying that someone had been hacking into their records. Someone from this address.” She wasn’t carrying a shotgun, but she was gripping his lamp rather tightly.
“I didn’t find anything, honest.” He waved his arms as he spoke.
“What’s happening man?” James asked from behind him.
“Ah-ha! Your friends are here, and they only ever come round when you’ve found something you shouldn’t have. What did you find?” She advanced on her brother, who tried desperately to back away into a space which was already amply occupied. Luckily David came to his rescue.
“Fey, I haven’t seen you in ages. How have you been?” He said, nudging past his stricken friend.
“Oh, uh. David. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, you know. Secret society stuff. Nothing particularly interesting. But tell me, what’s been going on in your life? Any more funny customers?” he took her hand very calmly, and she was so flustered she didn’t even notice that he removed the lamp from it to do so.
“Well, there was this wacky pair earlier. Some blind guy who thought he knew about swords. His appearance was hysterical.”
“Why don’t we talk about it over tea? Downstairs.” Fey was completely unable to resist the sheer confidence radiating off David. As they left, David gave a sly wink to his friends, which they knew meant that they should get everything onto a file and meet him later.

Meanwhile our main character was having a wonderful time with the Old Man, who had considerable difficulty listening to Mike’s directions.
“I’m telling you, the café is in the other direction.”
“No it’s not. It’s on the corner of our road, and our road is that way.”
“But that’ll just take you around in one big circle. Why don’t we just take a shortcut through this alley?” Mike tried to steer the Old Man towards it, but without luck.
“Have you never been in a big city before? You never take a shortcut down an alley. If you do, then you’re just asking to get mugged.”
“Have you ever been in a big city?”
“Yes I have. I found you in one didn’t I? It’s not like I stayed in the village my entire life you know.”
“We’re going down this alley. We’ve been following your directions for over an hour and if we do any more we’ll just get lost. I’m going down this alley!”
“Well why were you following me in the first place? I’m blind, I’ve been lost since we left the junk shop.” Mike would have ripped hair from his head if it were not for two things. One, the Old Man was being difficult purely for difficulties sake. And two, he really didn’t want any strangers to see him without his hat. He contented himself with storming off down the alley instead. Naturally, three large men stepped out of the shadows carrying knives.
Mike turned to the Old Man standing next to him “You are just impossible, you know that.”
“Give us all of your money!” one of the men said, holding the knife out in what he thought was a threatening manner. The Old Man just smiled.
“How many of them are there?”
“Oh, only three of ‘em sir. I think you might as well stay out of this.”
“Okay, I’ll just have a sip of tea then.” The Old Man said as he turned and sat on a doorstep. He pulled a thermos out of his pocket and took a sip. “But hurry up, I haven’t got all day.”
“Just give us the money!” The mugger said, this time less sure of himself. He waved his knife towards Mike, and fresh blood dripped off of it.
“Have you ever heard of Rule one?” Mike asked, pushing his trench coat back a little.
“Shut up!” The mugger said. His brain obviously wasn’t capable of working out such strange behaviour, and he did what most thugs do in situations of confusion. He attacked.
Mike drew his sword with blurring speed. The mugger only had split seconds to work out that his opponent was better armed then he before he realised that his opponent would now be permanently better armed. He stared at the arm lying on the ground, only vaguely aware that it used to be attached to him. The other muggers drew small knives too. This was not a wise move. They only realised this after Mike closed the gap between them. The first one got off pretty lightly in that he only lost his hand, but the other was possibly the unluckiest of the trio. The sword had pierced through his delicate region, effectively performing a very cheap vasectomy. All three men looked at the blood that was pouring over the ground. They looked up at Mike, who was calmly cleaning his sword with a piece of cloth.
“Don’t scream. Just run.” He said as he sheathed his sword. The would-be muggers took the hint. The Old Man finished his tea and stood up.
“I told you. I said never to walk in a dark alley in a city, but would you listen? Oh no! You had to try your luck didn’t you? And now you’ve had to injure three people.”
“Well, at least they won’t be mugging anybody else.” Mike replied as they continued walking.
“And one of them won’t be having any children either.” The Old Man said, deftly stepping over where the third man’s, uhm, body parts fell. He bumped into Mike abruptly. “Why’d you stop?” He asked, rubbing his nose.
“It looks like there was a fourth.”
The dark figure walked towards them through the dark alley. Thanks to the shadows, Mike couldn’t make out his face, but the Old Man took careful note of the footsteps.
“Be careful my boy. This one knows what he is doing.”
The dark shadow stopped about ten feet from Mike, still masked in darkness, but now Mike could work out what he was wearing. It was a traditional Raiga samurai outfit. The shadow drew a long sword with his left hand and spoke in a deep voice.
“Are you Mike? From Raiga Detective Agency?”
“Yes, I am. Who wants to know?” Mike drew his own sword once more, and subtly changed his stance.
“My name is of no importance, but you may call me your executioner.” The shadow said, just before he lunged.

Back in Simon’s café, Rachel was onto her third cup of coffee.

No comments:

Post a Comment