While Captain Lightning worked through all the red tape to release evidence from some alphabet soup agency’s custody for me to try and destroy, I sought out our girl Fortune Cookie. She really should warn me before bringing someone into all this. For all I know, half her friends are going to drunk dial after a night of heavy drinking.
Which is awesome, but still something I’d like to be warned about. One of them might have some daddy issues and low self esteem I can try to exploit. No, as Yoda would say, there’s no “try” only “do”. And while I can’t make a do-angle, I would DO one of Fortune Cookie’s friends who has daddy issues. At least, if I had floppy parts between my legs. Otherwise, I guess it’s mommy issues, and that sounds a lot less sexy than heterosexual parental incest for some reason.
Messages didn’t work, and she’d moved out of the last place she lived. The cell phone had been dumped in the trash outside a subway station, which I didn’t feel much like diving into without my armor on. I didn’t find her until I’d run around a few places and decided to answer Moai’s supposed “urgent” calls. It’s hard to blame me. He has to communicate through button pushes, like some sort of ghost knocking on things for a medium, or a person texting.
When I did, he pushed so many of them in a row, I couldn’t keep up. It took a moment for me to try and replay everything while applying a translator, but he had something in there about turning on the TV, the serial killer, a new victim. About the time he finished up, I had swapped around to local news where they showed a picture that looked remarkably like Fortune Cookie, only with the caption, “Latest Victim” underneath.
It floored me, I admit. I had to sit down right then and there. There weren’t any convenient seats, so I pushed a mounted officer off his horse and stole his. The horse reared up on its back legs instead of cooperating, so I had to hold on and then try to calm it down when it bolted. Well, that didn’t work too well, no matter how much I pulled on the reins and yelled “Whoa!” so I resorted to hitting it on the head. The damn beast ran right into traffic and got hit by an unfortunate cab. At this point, trying to slow it down was like beating a dead horse.
On the plus side, the cab provided a convenient getaway. The driver was none-to-happy with the prospect of sitting around and explaining a dead police horse, either, so it worked out well for both of us.
Rather than try stopping by whatever police precinct was dealing with the killer and his victims, I had the cab drop me off close by where they found Cookie. The driver didn’t want to get any closer than that. In gratitude, I handed him a card for one of the Double Cross mechanics and some cash. They’d get him fixed up in a hurry, and might have a use for someone who can drive. I don’t know where he was from, but he traveled a long way, braved nationalists who wish they could build a wall across the ocean to keep airplanes out, and now he had a shot at the American Dream: Americans robbing each other blind.
It’s the same dream that motivated Carnegie when he came over from Scotland to monopolize steel, Frederick Trump when he came from Germany with his wife and started opening brothels and hotels, and George Romney when he came from Mexico to build automobiles for the military-industrial complex during World War II. That cabbie’s son or grandson could be president someday, provided he’s white enough. And that’s what makes the United States great: the ability for the sons and grandsons of immigrants to accuse their parents and grandparents of destroying America and getting rich off of other Americans.
Is it any wonder I can hide so well in a country with this widespread delusion?
Yeah, my mind’s been busy trying to distract me. It’s better than getting lost down the logic chain my brain assembled as I saw the crime scene. Who did this? The serial killer. Unless someone was targeting me and trying to make it look like the serial killer. Except, Occam’s Razor suggests it’s likely to be the serial killer. And if he was targeting people connected to me, he knows far more than he should, which is unlikely. Fortune Cookie has kept the links between her and I hidden. But it still could be. It could be that they knew somehow. Maybe through the connection to Captain Lightning. I think he’s clear, but they could have had someone mixed up in confidential U.S. Communications. It’s not like leaks are all that difficult.
An officer stopped me before I could walk through the crime scene tape. “Ma’am, you need to stay back.”
The body wasn’t around anymore. There weren’t even bloodstains left around. The killer wrapped them up tight.
“I knew the victim, sort of.”
“Sort of?” the cop wrinkled his eyes, puzzled. “Ma’am, can I ask you to wait for me while I get a detective for you to speak to?”
I nodded, but took the opportunity to scan the area. My cybernetic eyes showed their true colors, or lack of colors, as they flashed through various vision modes to check for anything. Just a normal street corner where someone dumped a body. Corner of 13th Street.
A man in a heavy coat walked up. I covered my eyes as if crying to hide their shift back to normal. “Ma’am, you knew the victim?” asked an older detective with a surprising amount of brown hair above his thin, wrinkled face. He seemed to squint at everything.
“She was my psychic. I called her for advice.” I looked at him, peering into his eyes, wondering if he was another infiltrator. There wouldn’t be much to gain from nabbing this guy, unless they really had set this all up.
In the end, I don’t entirely know if Fortune Cookie herself was one.
“A phone psychic hotline, right. I don’t suppose you can get your money back?” You know, for all the shit I get over my casual treatment of murder, the alleged “good guys” aren’t much better. I just screw fewer women and drink fewer martinis than James Bond. “She didn’t have any ID on her. Did you know her name?”
I shook my head. “I doubt it. She called herself Miss Fortune.” It was a partial lie. I think she did advertise her services under a name like that as part of her cover, but obviously I knew her from when she started guiding me at the end of my adventure in Japan.
I never did get the hang of her powers, completely, but that could be generally due the nature of clairvoyance. Allegedly, she just couldn’t see anything related to anything she did. Technically, she could be caught by surprise at the wrong time and place. Unless it wasn’t.
I peered up at the buildings and alleys, looking for any graffiti or anything out of the ordinary. “Is there any reason she was dumped here?” I asked the detective.
“The killer’s been keeping score. See, this is 13th, and he goes through two a month, so he’ll leave the next one at 14th. Do you know if she had any enemies, ya know, maybe disgruntled customers?”
Probably every bookie and casino in the world, but I didn’t tell him that. “Not really. It’s not like we had group telephone sessions. You know, unless the spirits from the Great Beyond got mad at her for hitting on a dead woman’s widower, maybe.” Ignoring his rolled eyes and minor shrug, I queried,”There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or unusual…anything?”
The detective put a hand on my shoulder. “Listen, honey, let me worry about the investigation. When is the last time you heard from her?”
I answered some more questions with some more lies, up until he asked my name. He didn’t recognize me, though. Just reminded me they were on the job and to call the number on his card if I remember anything else that might be pertinent to the case.
I did have something that would be useful to him, if I gave a damn about that. I didn’t even care if that one was an alien, too. Fuck the police. I had a bit more personal version of justice in mind. Fortune Cookie was my asset, and one who didn’t have to help me, at least as much because saving the world was slightly more important than ensuring the death of one individual. And what’s the point of being a murderous supervillain if you can’t use that to avenge people on your side?
So I went back to the cell phone, and found it in the grip of a street person. I couldn’t be sure of their gender at first, but I guess the fellow just really liked wearing that dress. When you need all the layers you can get, beggars literally can’t be choosers. Or maybe the guy wanted to look pretty. I can understand that one.
Either way, I stopped him before he left the alley by holding out a bundle of cash. “Hey there, mind if I buy that phone off you?”
“Whatchu want?” he asked, turning to look up at me. After a second, he looked back down at the phone in his hands. “Got to have a phone, in case Bebe calls me.”
Bebe could be an alien name. Maybe.
I grabbed my phone and blanked it of the few contacts I had on there. It was mostly for sure, anyway. I wrapped it in some cash and held it out for the man. “Maybe you could use this one instead. That one’s battery must be close to dead, don’t you think?”
He looked between the two, and reached out for the bundle in my hands. He held both phones in his hands, one sleek new black thing, one thicker and pink. Hell, Fortune Cookie’s old phone would probably stand up better to the kind of wear he was likely to put it through, so I also took out a Double Cross card and wrote a note on there. “And if that thing breaks, or you need a warm place, or a meal, take this to any place that has that logo on it. You understand?” I held out the card for him.
He looked at it, then back at me, then back at the card, then at the phones, then back at the card. Good thing there wasn’t anything up in the sky, like a bird, plane, or some sort of super man or that prior sentence would still be going on. After deliberating for a moment, the man took the card away. “Thanks. I’m going to go now.” He held out Cookie’s phone for me. “Here.”
I took it and nodded at the man, wondering if he was trying to throw me off the scent. Does that dirty exterior hide the Gecko-hating heart of an alien? Is he a snake? Some sort of slimy goo? Have I pissed off a race of evil space-squirrels due to my policy of violence towards nuts?
Walking away back to my tower over almost the whole of Empyreal City, I began to formulate the trace program. It worked slightly different than finding a phone’s present location, but it’s possible to trace a phone back in time. That’s what I did, looking to find out where that phone had been before someone dumped it there.
I stopped when I realized it spent four hours the next neighborhood over. I sent for backup and a car from Moai, then headed over. I jumped a fence to find a guard dog chained up in back. Some sort of mutt, with shaggy hair all over the place. He ran at me, then jumped for my chest, so I kicked him in the head. Then I punted his balls. He took off for a far corner of the yard, my dominance firmly established without the need to hump him.
Live and let live, at least until the cops show up and shoot the damn thing just for being there. Never found that much reason to shoot a dog. It’s an insult to bipedalism for an adult hominim to be taken down by that small of a four-legged critter. But I suppose that just makes dog punching an ad hominim attack.
Fucking dog better not be an alien infiltrator, I know that much, or I’m coming back to finish the job.
The backdoor didn’t present a problem, even taking a moment to check for tripwires or anything. Our killer wasn’t some sophisticated trap master. The tiny house proved absent of furnishings, dust, and, after much thorough searching, a killer. Which I figured when, in the course of my search, I found a series of letters and numbers written across all four walls of the living room.
Ah, one of those types. The “Match wits with the cops” types. They don’t do so well in the information age. After scanning it with my eyes, the same program that learned English in no time flat displayed the completed, bloodwrit message.
“too slow heroes she is not my type nor who i wanted but she stepped between me and my target i could not say no i will be back on track soon you will see what i mean”
Surprised he didn’t come up with some contrived name like “Murder Death Kill” or “Calendar”, but this might be the first time he taunted anyone.
I downloaded the rest of the locations the phone had been to for the past couple of months, wiped it clean of sensitive contacts and fingerprints, and dropped it off there.
That night, I wrote a message on The Order’s forum, where they’d been talking up this serial killer. Some were jealous of the loss of publicity, some entertained the idea of catching him themselves, while others thought he was a major asshole. Regardless of his enrollment in the body part army, I posted as Psycho Gecko to call dibs. “He killed one of us. This is between me and him.”
That stirred up a flurry of activity from those surprised by my presence. And a betting pool for how long it took.
Probably scared some heroes when the same message appeared on the Hero.Net forum discussion about the killer. Regardless, they all now knew I was in town and intended vengeance, and damn anything Captain Lightning said!
I know it’s going to distract, slightly, from my greater business, but I have to know how deep this goes. Who is this person? Why are they after me? And now that I’m here, which one of these snakes, in the grass and flying the sky, will turn out to be controlled by the aliens. Who can I trust? Who do I kill? Who do I have to sleep with to find out who I get to kill, before then killing the person who fucked me?