Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
Both chairs in the nook were turned out and taken by Ricky and Taro. Monty had joined Kiddo on the couch and everyone but him was eating noodles from foam cups.
“Phone’s ‘re Freddy,” said Ricky. “Clean numbers leading to nowhere incriminating. All they got were texts from Enzo about going out of town. No replies.”
“If anything was 86’d, we’d ‘ve found it,” said Taro.
“Trotsky’s pulled the spy-drive after an hour, but we were already knee-deep.”
“Got neck-deep in the laptop, though.”
“And?” asked Kiddo slurping her noodles.
“Enough dirt to put ‘em away for a dollar or two,” said Ricky.
“And that’s not including their ID theft racket,” added Taro.
“Dollar?” asked Monty.
“Means a hundred years,” answered Kiddo.
“Shushin-kei,” said Taro.
Monty rolled of his eyes. “Christ.”
“But we found nothing about hacking software or a hit on ya,” said Ricky. “You were on a list, but so were a whole of lot of Janes and Joes.”
“Had everything they needed except the program,” said Taro.
Kiddo rested her warm cup on her leg, chopsticks inside. “I got stabbed, sliced, and shot at for a handful of dead ends.”
“Not so dead thanks to ya samurai friend,” said Ricky.
“One out of three,” said Taro.
“Not her friend, hacker,” said Monty.
“So, can you get us into TalSec?” asked Kiddo.
“Absolutely no,” said Ricky with a laugh as he stood.
“We’ve wormed through their sub-systems for ind-ep and tester jobs in the past,” said Taro, “but there’s hardly any protection round there. Where we need to be is gonna get us fingered.”
“Know who ya looking for, Pinkerton?” asked Ricky. She waited for him to finish typing in the nook for the answer. He backed away so they could see one of the vertical monitors. “Charlie Kurt, Chief Executive of Auxiliary Activities. He’s the go-between the cops and the company; supervises how their money’s spent and other things of the morally relative variety.”
“Slimy as your typical corporate suit,” added Taro.
Kiddo had stood as Ricky spoke to get a better look. No way she’d forgotten that face from the meeting with Boss Kyrii. She turned to Monty. “Know him?”
“Not my department.”
“But he was at the meeting before we showed up.”
“That’s company business. Not the Clan.”
“Not much a difference,” said Kiddo.
“Anything we can work with would be appreciated, samurai,” said Ricky.
“What’d I just say?”
“Then we go through Pinkerton,” said Taro. “Who’s your contact in the pigs?”
Kiddo slowly reached for her chopsticks like she was afraid to eat and sat back down. “Not a good idea.”
“She’s under investigation for killing my guys,” said Monty.
“Don’t forget Tak.”
“The point is,” she continued, “I call my guy, my number shows up on their radar, I get pinged. The detective working Enzo’s case also hates Goris.”
The hackers weren’t too subtle about relishing the idea of being needed. “That’s two for the grey-hats,” said Ricky before turning his chair in and sitting.
“Know why we couldn’t pay the whole debt days ago?” asked Taro. “Gave a client a discount for a cat-house wipe on account of he’s a cop.”
Ricky put on a headset with a mic. “Didn’t want his wife finding out he had a taste for synth-strange.”
“Charged him half our rate and made up the difference with a favor.”
“And it’s time to cash in.” Ricky typed before their came a dial tone from the computer speakers. Kiddo and Monty gathered closer to the nook.
Early dusk shined through the windows as the sun held on to those fleeting final hours. The slats were angled low, leaving the fluorescents to flush out the shadows. Mitty was at his desk clicking through his fancy computer. It looked like a pane of glass with a thin polymer backing held up on a small stand. The keyboard and mouse, however, weren’t so sleek.
Mitty had his back to the glass wall that divided his office from the precinct proper. Day shift was on its way out with the night crew trickling in. He was the only techie left, catching up on the last bit of work. He wasn’t the only one as Cory Rodriguez stood behind him in the entryway, the pits of his desk uniform and forehead just about soaked and an earpiece in one ear.
“H-hey, man?” he asked like he never spoke to the guy before.
Mitty swiveled in his chair.
“Uh, Sarge wants me to check something out in the server room. I don’t know anything about circuits and electronics and stuff. Could you help me out?”
Mitty raised an eyebrow. “Why’d he ask you and not me? I handle all the–“
“No idea. Y’know, the guy likes to mess with me and…”
“Keep going,” said Ricky in the earpiece through a modulator.
“…And treat me like I’m still a rookie. You know how it is.”
Mitty held his stare. “No… I don’t.”
“Say he wants you to dust off the box,” said Ricky. “He’ll know what you mean.”
Everyone watched the hacker work the guy over while Kiddo let her noodles go cold as she stared at the vertical screen. Kurt’s face lingered in the back of her mind since the meeting with the Shogun; not out of cautious curiosity, but he had features that are hard to forget. And then it came to her like a heart attack, her chest getting hot as burning iron before Kiddo reached into her pocket.
She turned her back to the nook and set her cup on the floor beside the couch. The list of Enzo’s clients had curved before she unfolded it, Steiner and Monty’s names crossed out in red. Kiddo went through two of the papers looking for Charlie Kurt to no avail. On the latest list, however, she focused on the name “Speers, Quincy” stacked among the others.
Maybe it was the distinction of the name for a guy living in the Pacific Northwest, but suddenly Kiddo had this nagging scrape on the inside of her skull. No matter how deeply she searched her memory, she drew nothing but blanks. Could be just a random guy; a regular stiff that Enzo worked on, but Kiddo knew she heard the name before, and the thought would’ve given her a headache had she not realized the hackers were about to make a huge mistake.
“That’s not a thing, Cory. Sarge is messing with you,” said Mitty through the speakers.
“I know, Freeman. He’s done it since I got here. Can you just humor me? For my sanity’s sake?”
The client list scrunched into a ball in Kiddo’s fist before she shoved herself in beside Ricky. “That’s my guy he’s talking to,” she said quickly. “Freeman? Mitty Freeman? He’s our middleman. Get your guy–“
Ricky wrapped on hand around the mic and spoke with a loud whisper. “No way do I trust this idiot to do the job of a–“
“Who’re you talking to?” asked Mitty.
“Uh, what?” asked Cory. “Nobody–“
“Then take out the earpiece. Makes you look like a moron.”
“Man, I’m just–“
Ricky tapped a key and took off the headset. It made the others relax, backing up to give him room to move out of the nook. “Up for a break-in, Pinkerton?” he asked after a couple nods to himself.
She opened her mouth about the same time her phone went off. After pulling it out, the hackers calmly panicked with the caller ID showing “MITTY.” Kiddo tapped the red “end” button and the phone went silent. The hackers let out a sigh.
“Gotta move fast,” said Taro.
“I’ll walk you two through a plan we’ve kept on the back-burner for just this occasion,” said Ricky gesturing Kiddo and Monty. “Ever broke into a police station?”
“’Course. Won’t believe the dirt I’ve–“ She cut herself off when there came a flashing in her peripherals. Kiddo looked at her hand and her phone screen was striped in white and black static. Between the distortions she made out the incoming call window with “MITTY” again and the hackers went to full-blown panic.
“Bake it!” shouted Taro.
“Put it in the microwave before–“ started Ricky.
“What did I tell you?” asked Mitty through the phone speaker, loud enough for everyone to hear. “What did I tell you, Pink? I said mourn and let me do my job. All you had to do was remember the good times with Enzo, maybe stay in bed for a week or two, but you decided to start a gang war!”
The hackers tried to take the phone, but Kiddo had to listen, putting up an arm to keep them away.
“All the guys in Organized Crime are losing their minds! First you wipe out a squad of Yaks, then you get caught doing something to the Trotskys, apparently. All the snitches say something huge is about to go down because you wouldn’t let us do our job. Now the whole PD is focused on cleaning up your mess before it gets outta control.”
Kiddo hesitated when he paused, like Mitty was waiting for a response. “Then help me get the guy. I know where to start if–“
“I don’t want anything to do with you or the Family or anymore of this Flapper gangster nonsense! Find a new middleman because you couldn’t leave it to the professionals. I’ll live without the money. You started the fire; have fun burning.”
The screen went black and everyone could see themselves reflected in the glass.
A thick cable feeding into Mitty’s computer was plugged into his phone before he yanked it. On his monitor scrolled code in a small black window with an audio visualizer that ran in a straight blue line across a grey field. He stood with a sigh and turned to leave, but didn’t go anywhere.
Pierce leaned in the entryway with a wide grin and Dom behind, flanked by two beat cops with helmets on: the Copper and Jacobs.
“Who’re you talking to, Freeman?” she asked with a hefty dose of sarcasm. “Maybe an ole business partner?”
He couldn’t speak no matter how much he wanted to. Just past her shoulder, however, Mitty watched Dom put his phone to his ear, and give him a wink.
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
13 Assassins, Directed by Takashi Miike
Old Boy, Directed by Chan-wook Park
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.