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Alternate Days

by Doug Humphrey

The year is 2047. The place Los Angeles, California. This fanfiction, written by Doug Humphrey, takes us to the familiar Blade Runner universe with Rep-Detect John Holden. What's in store for John?  What's in store for the reader? Read this original story featuring some old, and some new characters from our favourite movie. 


  
For Morgan Paull, R.I.P. - "You've done a man's job, sir."





Alternate Days is essentially my take on how a Blade Runner sequel could go.

Let me take this opportunity to thank Craig (a.k.a. “Kipple”) for posting this work, and for his enthusiasm over the course of this project. I would also like to thank all the Blade Runner fans who have posted all the cool artwork, prop re-creations, fan fiction, and inside info - all of which I found truly inspiring.

And last, but never least, Karen for all of her patience and understanding.

Clicking on the origami unicorn at the end of each chapter will return you to the top of this page.



 
~ Doug Humphrey




 Los Angeles, 2047 A.D.

 

 
“This is central calling BR796934.”

“BR796934, this is central. Pick up, John.”

John fumbled in his pockets as he grabbed his comm radio. Although it was only a few seconds before he responded, he was a little disgusted with himself that he’d let his attention go for that long.

“Central this is 934. What’s the sitch, Katie?”

“Possible ‘cant sighting in the Fillmore district, 45th and Elm. Suspect is Caucasian, black coat and pants, dyed hair. Witnesses say he threw a man out of a window from a business off of 28th street, and then outran local cops into an apartment complex off of Elm. Patrolmen have visual on the building and say he hasn’t come out.”

“Okay, Katie. I can be there in a few minutes. Has a spinner been dispatched?”

“Affirmative. Spinner is standing by around the corner, with another in route.”

“Okay, tell the units there to standby - stay out of sight until I get there.”

“Roger that - Will advise.” John grimaced a little - Katie was an experienced operator and would follow protocol, but there was never any guarantee that the cops at the other end would listen.

John Holden kept his composure fairly well. Despite being thrown into a situation with little info, he knew orders were orders. He quickly glanced over his equipment, looking around at others that were crammed into the subway tram alongside him. It wouldn’t look good to instantly have people scrambling out of his way the minute the tram stopped.

But then again, John mused to himself, the locals have probably already stormed in with the national guard and a marching band.

The tram came to a stop and people slowly began to shuffle out into the street, with rain pouring down. This actually might be an advantage, John thought - if the weather stayed crappy, the noise from the storms might actually allow John to get close to the Replicant and get an easy retirement.

After stepping into an enclosed newsstand, John pulled out his comm unit and signaled the station.

“Central this is 934. Do you have my nav okay, Katie?”

“934 we’re reading you at 45th and Elm, standing at the newspaper stand by Charlie’s.”

“You got it. I can see the building, did the locals paint the door where this guy is?” He could only hope that the nearby unit set their laser “finders” onto the door and let the finder pay attention to the door, and not draw attention to the situation by staring at the building.

“They say they’ve got it painted, but they aren’t positive it’s the right door. But they are saying he is in that building, and hasn‘t left it.”

John looked over the edge of the booth at the building, which had no less than two dozen doors. He sighed, looked down and then recovered his composure. He then pulled out a set of sunglasses, adjusted a small switch on its side, and put them on. He looked at the building where the readout was displaying the laser dot on the main entrance.

“The main entrance….Thanks, Central…” At least they could have watched him long enough to see what room he went into, or how deep he was inside the building with the range finders! He really didn’t mean to sound sarcastic though - at least not to Katie, who was doing her best with what she knew.

“Listen Central, we have a fair amount of people around, can I get a CRI clearance through before I head in?” John hated to cover his butt this way, but if he hit a human while pursing a Replicant, having the CRI (Confirmation of Retirement Immunity) would make the explanation to the incident review board a lot easier. Basically it cleared any Blade Runner from legal repercussions if a human was killed while trying to retire or investigate for Replicants.

“Hang on a sec….will put it through…” John could hear Katie typing away. After a few seconds - “Okay, CRI for this incident confirmed. Good luck, we’ll track at this end, John.”

He looked up and saw a man heading towards the building, wearing a janitorial uniform. John instantly began walking from the booth in the direction of the janitor.

“Central, switch to comm tracking for now. 934 out.” He clicked his comm unit so that central could track him inside the building. He approached the janitor and began to get his attention using gutterspeak.

“Lleon vien betten esta tengo murrtain?” John quickly held up his badge, and then pulled out his wallet. The janitor stopped, and his eyes widened as he saw the badge and the outline of John’s pistol underneath his coat.

“Yes … officer….Listen my card status is-” The janitor began to nervously reply…

“It’s okay, you’re fine - Listen carefully - Police business - I need to borrow your uniform.” He put card vouchers - half a week’s pay - into the flabbergasted janitor’s hand. He looked at John for a second, then quickly handed him his jacket. John hurriedly began to put it on.

Although John was pretty sure the guy was guilty of something, whatever it was it wasn’t worth looking into now.

“Listen, once we get inside, quietly get away from the building, Okay?” The janitor frantically nodded, and began to search through his electronic entrance keys. He found the one he was after, and began to hold it up to the reader…

Only to find it had been smashed. Pieces of it dangled down from the wall, causing some small electrical sparks.

“Don’t think we’ll need those anymore,” John looked down at the name tag on the newly acquired jacket - “Rohan.”

The janitor looked back at the clobbered reader and then back at John.

“I knew I should‘ve called in sick today. ” Rohan muttered as he opened a closet and pushed a janitorial cart into John’s hands. Then hurriedly walked back out into the street.

John straightened Rohan’s cap and then began pushing his cart through hallways. He knew that when the reader got smashed, it probably sent alarm triggers to the local police, but hopefully they’d been listening in before they tried to jump in and make a possible bad situation worse. He decided to push the cart through the main hallways, level by level, hoping to find a broken door or window, or some easily entrance where he’d gone into a room to hide.

After deciding that nothing was happening on the first floor, he slowly pushed his cart into an elevator and headed for the second floor. When the doors opened, the strange architecture of the building afforded John a panoramic view of the city, and also a view of another local cop’s spinner parking alongside the building.

John quickly went around a corner, out of sight, and began text messaging the spinner to slowly move out of sight. He watched to see if it would move or if the locals were going to have an attitude. Please move. Just get out of sight…Don’t blow this. The last thing we need is a Replicant overpowering a spinner and wrecking into a building full of people…

Slowly the spinner turned off its lights and began to pull away nonchalantly, as if it was trying to get through a high traffic area. John watched as it glided around the building, then disappear around the block..

Inside a room, on the other side of the wall, a powerfully built man with dyed hair held an old Chinese lady. Although his ear was glued to the wall listening for anything, his large hand was covering her mouth and jaw while simultaneously suspending her in the air a half a meter off the ground. There was an elderly Chinese man in the room as well, who glanced at a baseball bat tucked away in the corner, and then back up to the Replicant.

The Replicant’s blue-gray eyes shot from the bat to old man, and then waved “no, no” with his free hand, smiling. The old man began to back down in his seat. The Replicant then began to focus his attention back to listening.

John kept pushing the cart through the hallways, trying to look halfway convincing as Rohan’s stand-in. He heard a small commotion in one of the rooms, and as he was trying to get closer, trying to listen in - a couple of older tenants came up to him, speaking in gutterspeak, trying to get him to change out a burned out light bulb a few feet away.

John looked at Rohan’s cart at saw some spare bulbs, unhooked a small stepladder from the side and began to pull back the light cover. He began to feel tense. The noise from the room was getting a little louder, but the other tenants seemed more concerned over the light. Their gutterspeak was more Chinese dialect than anything and getting hard for John to decipher, but John nodded his head without saying anything, grabbing the new bulb.

Finally the tenants began to notice the noise from the room as well. They stopped bickering at John and stared at the room door for a second. Something is not right, his gut instinct told him, be ready but stay calm.

Then the unexpected happened. A blinding spotlight from a spinner blasted through the window and John could see the light come from underneath door. Then a police megaphone sounded off with “YOU ARE SURROUNDED. LET THE LADY GO.”

John had barely a second to regret the local cop’s piss-poor move.

“Oh, shit.”

The Replicant came flying through the wall, knocking into the ladder, sending John flying back a couple of feet. The Replicant turned, looked for a second at John, then ran off down the hallway, smashing through walls as he went zigzagging through rooms in an effort to elude the searchlight.

John quickly got up, yanking the pistol out of the holster, while getting shouted at in Chinese from all sides. He began running in the direction of the Replicant, only to see the it running through another set of walls three meters away. He quickly grabbed for his comm-link.

“Central this is 934. GET THOSE GODDAMN LOCALS TO BACK AWAY FROM THE BUILDING !!!”

“uh…Roger that, 934...Will advise…”

John looked down through the holes in the walls, peering into other rooms with tenants looking back, some beginning to evacuate the building.

“So you want to walk through walls, eh? Two can play at that game…”

He pulled the slide back for the top barrel of his Smith & Wesson blaster, and then went running in the direction where he saw the Replicant last. Finally the Replicant ran out this time using one of the hallways before smashing through another wall, creating another escape route. John ran diagonally, blasting his own “routes” through the wall with the S&W, cutting the distance in half.

He looked up and saw the spinner was still too damn close, and then what he feared would happen did happen - The Replicant jumped through the window, easily clearing a long distance, onto the front wheel nacelle of the spinner. He quickly started clamoring for a better grip, trying to climb closer to the driver side door.

But then John’s luck turned. The spinner’s surface was too slick with rain for the Replicant to get a hold of. He slipped to the point where he was holding himself by one hand as the spinner tried shaking him off - swerving left and right as it backed away. It gave John a clear shot. And he took it, blasting the Replicant’s lower legs off before it lost its hold, falling a story down into the street.

John quickly ran down the fire stairs and out into the street, shouting and waving to get the crowd back. He kept the S&W drawn at the Replicant, who still was full of fight despite having no legs and trailing blood. It eyeballed him for a second, then used it’s arm to fling itself six meters in the air towards John, it’s other hand in a fist whirring around.

John didn’t hesitate. He fired, stopping it in mid-air, and then once more when it’s chest hit the ground. Both rounds hit.

“934 this central, come in John. Are you okay?”

“John, sound off!!”

John stared for a second at the dead torso of the Replicant, and then answered into his comm link.

“Katie…Central, this is 934. Better get a cleanup crew over here, and an ambulance in case somebody got hurt. A Replicant has been retired, I say again, a Replicant has been retired.”

John took a small moment to catch his breath. He looked around to see small groups of people cursing and pointing, as well as a small crowd of on-lookers building around the remains of the Replicant. On one side, a local cop was chewing out the young driver of the spinner, and other police were coming out to deal with the building crowd. Some people hurled insults towards John; others just gabbed pointing at the torso and the building, speaking in a mixture of Chinese, English and gutterspeak.

Then the last thing John wanted to see - The paramedic crew carrying a stretcher from inside the building, with someone suffering from shrapnel from where John had blown a path through the apartment walls. Another came out with the old lady. John looked at them enough to notice they were both alive. Great. Will be filling out reports on this until my 30th birthday. Way to go, John.

He holstered the S&W, showed his rep-detect ID badge to a local cop and looked around at the never ending rain.









John Holden walked into Gaff’s office not knowing what to expect. Captain Gaff was known for being a sly character, the type of cop who had his nose and fingers in everyone’s business. Anyone that didn‘t fit into Gaff‘s “plan” found themselves gone in very short order. Transfers, job assignments that made good cops look like idiots, and countless mind games were but a few of the tricks up Gaff’s sleeves.

In most Blade Runner units, the main thing to be feared was the review boards that followed up any retirements. Question after question - Why did you pull your firearm in a crowded area? How were you convinced that your suspect was a Replicant? Why didn’t you coordinate yourself better with the beat police or local spinner units? Did you notice or care about the hundreds of people that you put at risk the minute you drew your weapon? Some were fairly mundane where a copy of the report would do. Other times, it felt like a frontal lobotomy gone wrong.

But in Captain Gaff’s world - things could get even worseafter the review. Gaff usually pulled the blade runner aside and would want to know, word for word, what was said. Gaff mainly did this to cover his own butt.

John sat down, quickly glanced over himself, and then took a deep breath. Behind him the door swung open and Gaff slowly entered. As unkind as Gaff might or might not be in his realm, time had taken it’s toll on Gaff’s health. His cane clonked heavily on the hard tiled floor. His cold gray eyes fixed upon John.

“Heard much from your Uncle Dave?” Gaff began, talking in cityspeak.

“Not much, other than he’s disappointed with the department still using the Voight-Kampff.”

“He’s been out of the department for far too long. It’s rare when we even pull those old lunchboxes out.” Gaff began to walk behind his desk, pulled open a drawer and brought out a bottle of whiskey.

“I’ve told him that several times. It’s hard for him to let go.”

“Letting go is something we all must do at some point,” Gaff concluded, reversing back to English with a gaze that told John the friendly conversation was coming to a quick ending, being replaced by a more businesslike one. Gaff slowly began to twist the cap off of the bottle.

He poured a small shot glass full of whiskey and then handed it to John. He began filling his own glass, and kept filling it to the point it almost went over. This was a little out of character for Gaff, at least from John’s experience - he usually celebrated a good bust or retirement with a small toast, but rarely ever drank more than half a shot. John was bracing himself for what was coming next - a lecture about the way he used his firearm, very common after any retirement. But here Gaff was, drinking more than normal and talking about John’s Uncle.

Gaff took a large drink and raised his glass to John.

John raised his small glass up as well, and then took a drink, more than a little unsure.

“Is this a parting libation? Am I being transferred, sir?”

Gaff laughed a little. “No, nothing like that. Actually I am a little more concerned with your next assignment.”

“I can start checking into the Replicant’s history. Figure out if it’s working for a local, or maybe see if it was connected to a crime hive an-”

“That’s okay,” Gaff interrupted. “Because of the retirement,” he continued, “the department decided to drop the full investigation for the time being.”

Gaff took another drink.

“Drop the investigation?” John staggered. “The forensics unit said it was a Rosen-Grozzi 11.”

Gaff relaxed back into his chair a little. “Yeah, it’s been dropped. Every street camera was working when it all went down, even the ones in the building caught the action in the hallways. The news channels were already running the story by the time you got back to the station. Sending you back on the streets right now is not a good move.”

Gaff motioned with the whiskey bottle, offering a second round to John, who accepted.

“Tough job, tough day.” Gaff noted, but with a look on his face that indicated something more. “And I have another tough job for you, John.”

“Sure.” John replied, drinking the second shot a little more slowly.

Gaff brought out two folders with the names Rick Deckard and Rachel Tyrell and set them in front of John. John didn’t recognize the first name at all, but the last name of the second…

“Tyrell…..any relation to the Tyrell that owned the corporation?”

“Yes.” Gaff nodded. “And no. She was initially listed as relation to Eldon Tyrell, but she turned out to be a Replicant - a Nexus 6 copy of Tyrell’s dead niece, with added memory implants. Deckard was a reactivated rep-detect investigating a separate incident at the Tyrell corporation, involving four other Nexus 6’s. She wound up shooting another Nexus 6 that attacked Deckard, and then they both fled after he got done with his initial retirements.”

This is it, John thought to himself, All those lunchroom rumors about Gaff’s little “excursions” for anyone that went a little too far, it just came true. Might as well be searching for the Holy Grail. Way to go, John. His mind began to race for options to talk Gaff out of this.

“2019.…wait a minute…Wasn’t that when the four-life* rule started? This stuff happened more than twenty years ago - She’s long since gone, sir…So that leaves Deckard - Since when did Rep-Detect start chasing after it’s own?”

“Let me make this clear.” Gaff’s voice began to compose some authority, showing no mood for giving out a whole lot of information. “Deckard is not, I repeat not slated for retirement. He is to be brought in for questioning. That is your first priority.”

“Did you know Deckard personally?” John asked, looking up from the paperwork.

Gaff stared intently in John’s eyes. “The second priority is to find any information related to the whereabouts of Rachel’s remains. Anything that can be used for DNA testing. Anything. I don’t care if it’s an old comb with hair on it, an old shoe, or even a goddamn treasure map with x-marks-the-spot, as long as it leads to a valid DNA sample. And yes, I knew him - but not very well.”

After pouring a final round of whiskey, he looked away and then back at John. “But enough of my trying to beat my rank into you. Instead let me offer the prize. If you take this job on, I’ll bump you up two pay grades, and promote you to sergeant. Both will be effective the minute you decide to take the job.”

“But, Captain…I’m not spinner qualified - Hell, I don’t even own a car.” John was more than a little flabbergasted. But at the same time skeptical. Was this the “prize” Gaff offered to the last ones that faced the review board, and were never heard from again? Gaff began to sense John’s skepticism as it entered. But he also knew John well enough to know that he’d follow orders.

“You’ll be assigned a spinner, and a pilot. I can’t promise if they’ll be pursuit qualified, but you’ll get a pilot.” Gaff waited for John’s answer.

John slowly took the final drink, and then nodded. He glanced back at the files, then toward Gaff.

“Okay. I’ll do it.”

“Great. The review board will see you tomorrow morning at eight. Be there, and look sharp. After that, report to the spinner garage. I should have a pilot lined out for you by then.” Gaff paused, then looked back towards John. In city speak he said, “Make sure to tell your Uncle I said hello.”

John collected the folders on the Deckard/Tyrell case. Picked up some other forms for the review board and stuffed them into a duffle bag. He’d sort through them later. Maybe grab some dinner first, and go over them while watching the evening news. If he was lucky he’d be able to catch the subway, which had fewer stops.

He looked up to notice Gaff was sticking around in his office, pouring another glass of whiskey before tucking the bottle away. It was a little unusual to see Gaff here this late - Normally he’d be long gone after five. John knew there was another Replicant investigation going on. But, it involved another rep-detect precinct. John grabbed the duffle bag and headed out towards the subway station.

As he sat on the subway, he began to ponder, as it would be a good forty minutes before he would get to his apartment complex. Promoted to Sergeant. A personal spinner. He wasn’t sure if he could handle such a lavish lifestyle, being chauffeured all about the city. It wasn’t a good idea to abuse the privileges that came with the spinner. But a lot of cops did anyway. He began to fancy the notion of hopping into a spinner and telling the pilot,Take me home, Jeeves.

But he knew this was to come at a price. Gaff didn’t hand out anything unless there was something in it for him, or to protect himself. How in the hell could Gaff justify this to the department, assigning an inexperienced blade runner his own transport, and an increase in pay and rank? They’d done away with replicant bounties years ago - you either wanted the job or you didn’t, in John’s era - so he doubted if his catching a Replicant carried that much weight. John’s thoughts began to turn to all the rumors he’d heard about Gaff assigning people to far off jobs. Did they get sent out in a vain attempt to find this Deckard character? Does he even exist, or is this more of Gaff‘s bullshit? Running a wild goose chase for Gaff’s amusement did not sound like something that John really wanted to do. So you’ve made your deal with the devil. Guess using the spinner will be fun, while it lasts.

Unknown to John, sitting at the far end of the subway tram, a rather tall man kept an eye on him. He looked back from John to glance at the other passengers, and sometimes at the billboards with all the moving ads, and sometimes at the news TV that was mounted in the ceiling of the tram. He began to light a cigarette, but when some of the locals began to complain a little about smoking inside the tram, he started putting it out, in a very quirky motion. John looked around himself at about that time. The stranger composed himself, and looked at the TV again.

John finally arrived at his apartment complex, which really wasn’t that much different than the building he was at this morning. Slumping the duffle bag over his shoulder, he inserted his security pass and pressed for his level, while letting out a small yawn. After a few seconds in the elevator, he finally arrived on his floor, and staggered into what seemed like a fairly orderly, but very sparse tiny apartment.

What seemed like order had more to do with lacking. Although he’d done well going from being a beat cop to being promoted to Rep-detect in relatively few years, the standard pay they gave out really certainly didn’t reflect it. Often it was necessary (like earlier this afternoon) to pay off people to get anywhere in a case, or even across town. John barely kept the rent and utilities paid, not much else. No artificial animals, no car or scooter, no internet access (a forbiddingly expensive advertisement-ridden luxury at this point, anyway). Who can get sloppy with stuff that isn‘t there?

He locked the door behind him, and grabbed some leftovers out of the fridge. With the duffle bag in tow, he walked out onto the apartments’ balcony and began to unpack files.

He glanced over Rachel and Deckard’s files. He looked at Rachel’s first, noticing the porcelain-like quality of her skin, and unusually high (for its time) Voight-Kampff scores. But what he really found interesting was lack of incept dates in the files. Surely I’m not the only one to have noticed that, if they knew she was a Replicant…He’d have to do some digging to ascertain when she went into self-retirement.

Next onto Deckard. Deckard being a rep-detect meant that there was a lot more to sort through. John looked intently at the picture, taking notice of height, skin tone, shape of the nose and eyes, and tried hard to imagine what he’d look like now - these files were a good twenty five years old - Lots of time for someone on the run to get cosmetic surgeries or forge identities. The guy was good at his job,John mused, thirty-three Replicants retired over the course of a four year career, including the ones that hit Tyrell. Lot of bounty money in those days, not to mention the regular pay. John also noted a fairly long list of medical stuff covered by the department. He scribbled down some more things to look for in his note pad, then decided to call it a night.

John’s thoughts went back to the promotion. He packed the files back into the duffle bag, kicked back into his chair and gobbled down the remaining leftovers. A police spinner shot right by the edge of the balcony, ruffling the review board forms he was going to tackle next. So that’s why people don’t like to live on the lower levels, he mused.

But as he stared at the police spinners going off in the same direction, a light bulb clicked in John’s head.

Make sure to tell your uncle I said hello.




* "Four-life" the ruling mandated by the federal government stating that Replicants could only have a four year lifespan. The name “four-life” was actually a joke started by the pro-replicant life protesters, since the fourth year actually meant death.







Extensions of Power



John walked inside, looking at the review board. He’d dressed up as much as he could, and displayed his rep-detect badge as required. Although he was a little nervous, he’d woken up early and had his paperwork ready.

“Please sit down. We’ve got a lot of cases to go through today, so let‘s try to make this brief.” Mrs. Steinberg ran the review board for internal affairs, and took zero crud from anyone. Gaff was also seated in the room, but he wasn’t on the board. He waited to see John’s reaction.

“We understand you discharged a weapon in a public building while chasing a Replicant, and that you had CRI confirmation.”

“Yes ma’am. I have the follow-up report.”

“Let’s see it.” She said, motioning for John to bring it forward. “Ah, yes. I remember this from the news.” Gaff closed his eyes a little, grimacing, then perked up for John’s reaction. She passed the report to the others on the board.

“So tell me what happened, Mr. Holden.”

“The call came through about a Replicant tossing someone from a building, and then tried to hide in an apartment complex. I responded to the call, and when I saw that people lived and worked in the building, called in for the CRI. I entered, impersonating as one of the janitors, and when a local unit sounded off on his megaphone, the Replicant panicked, went through the walls and was at the end of the hallway before I could get up. In order to close the gap between us, I opened up holes with my blaster so I could gain on him.” John made up his mind that he wasn’t going to paint this story any prettier than it was.

“I see.” She turned to one of the board members. “Did forensics come through with any Replicant ID?”

An older man on the board handed Steinberg a report. “Yes. Forensics examined the remaining torso, and determined it was a Rosen-Grozzi, we believe it’s an 11. We are still working on it’s model type, but judging by the strength displayed in the videotape, we’d say it’s definitely an eleven, maybe even a twelve.”

“Does ballistics have anything to add to this?” Steinberg looked over the tops of her glasses towards a different suit-clad man at the end of the table.

“No, not really. There were three shots fired by a shotgun simulator in the building, which is what opened holes in building. There was a fourth shotgun simulator round that was used when the replicant was hanging off of the spinner, which turned out to be a good choice, because it did the most possible damage to the replicant with the least amount of range.”

“So you’re saying that there was little chance of damage to whomever or whatever was behind the spinner.”

“Well, under the circumstances“ He elaborated, “I would say at least it was minimized. If he’d used a regular 12mm high grain caseless load, it would have gone right through the replicant and into the third or fourth floor of the building across the street.”

“Okay what about the shots fired in the street? It indicates here they were caseless ammo.”

“Yes they were. But if you watch the video feeds, you can see people clearing the street, with a much larger backdrop area.” He began the playback on a monitor for everyone in the room.

“You can see the wounded Replicant as it jumps, and the positions of the crowd and the direction of the street. The round could have bounced off of the street, but it would have lost a lot of it’s steam. If you continue watching -”

Steinberg stopped him there, not wanting to see a repeat of the half-intact Replicant dying. After hearing this, she’d made up her mind about John. She looked around the room for more answers.

“All media cameras off now.” She looked around the room, this time including Gaff in her gaze. “So what’s the story on the Replicant? What was it’s identity? I am assuming it falsified something to appease the license bureaus.” She looked at John.

Gaff stood up. “Ma’am, because of the media, I re-assigned John before starting that part of the investigation.”

“But there is an investigation underway, correct?”

“Yes ma’am. Another precinct has one going on now. I contacted them before the review, but never heard back, so I am assuming that they haven’t found anything out, any more than you have now.”

“Interesting Captain Gaff, isn’t it?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“If they contact you within 48 hours, I want copies of that info mailed to my office.” Steinberg waved off. “You are dismissed.”

Both Gaff and John began to get up. Then Steinberg spoke up.

“I meant you,” she motioned, pointing at Gaff. “Mr. Holden, I need to talk to you further.” Gaff looked a little shocked, then exchanged a glance with John, collected his briefcase and walking cane, and left the room.

An automated news camera hovered its way back into the room.

“Again, all media cameras are to deactivate or leave right now.” The camera made an about face and zipped briskly out of the room. Steinberg got up from her seat and walked towards John.

“Mr. Holden, I wanted to talk to you about something else. You do realize that this strictly classified within the department, but we have noticed some unusual things here.”

“I am not sure what you mean….I am really sorry for shooting inside the building, but I had to make up ground to catch the Re-”

“As far as I am concerned, this incident is a closed case. Next time make sure to download the video feed and visually confirm it’s a Replicant before you get the CRI, that’s the only thing I can see that you did wrong. But don’t dwell on it, because that’s not why I am holding you here.”

Goddammit I knew I forgot something…John bemoaned internally.

“We are very concerned as to your re-assignment, the Tyrell/Deckard case. We’ve noticed a fair amount of officers being sent on this case, with a lot department money being spent, and each and every time they come back empty handed. Seven officers to date, to be exact. Three came back and transferred out of state. Two came back and quit the force, and the other two are dead. Like yourself they were all given spinner privileges and extra pay. Were you aware of this?”

“I’d heard rumors….but didn’t know what to think…No, I had no idea about the guys who died, or the others. Just rumors.” John responded. “Does this mean I’m taken off the case, lose my sergeant stripes?”

“No, actually we are counting on you to do your job. But we feel that can’t just warn you, and hope for the best.”

Finally another member of the board behind Steinberg spoke up. “We want to upgrade your status into a dual role, serving as both part of Rep-detect and Internal Affairs, so that you have more flexibility in your investigation.”

“Jesus Christ and Mercer to boot… My life sucks as it is.” John responded. “Why in the hell would I make it worse?”

His eyes darted back and forth to all the board members. He’d pretty much felt like his brain was going to explode if it heard any more goofy-assed additions. John didn’t like losing his own cool, though, and just wanted to explain his point.

“C’mon. The second I get back to the precinct everyone is going to hound me like crazy trying to figure out who I’m going to rat out first. Starting with the guy in who’s in charge of my paycheck.”

Steinberg continued, not amused a bit by John’s outburst. “Think about it. If you want to start this investigation with little more than extra pennies in your pocket, and a spinner ride to your next review board - please, be my guest. We won’t stop you. In fact, we‘ll look forward to it.”

“Did you investigate those other guys like this, too? No wonder they transferred.” John stated sarcastically. John was not the least bit interested in becoming a stool pigeon.

“You’re damn right we investigated them. Didn‘t you wonder why Gaff was so interested in Rachel‘s DNA?” Steinberg responded.

John stumbled for an explanation. He really hadn’t thought about it too deeply, he’d been more worried about the review board. “No, I just assumed it was for the retirement confirmation, that’s all. Put things to rest after twenty eight years, that kind of thing.”

“She had no incept date.” Steinberg’s cold stare continued, waiting for the moment the light bulb would go off in John’s head.

“What difference does that make? Again, it’s a twenty eight year old case. After four years - even if this Deckard met her two days off the production line, she’d have kicked the bucket a long time ago.”

“Let me rephrase that, Mr. Holden….We believe that she also has no expiration date.”

John sat and looked at her flabbergasted. The head of forensics spoke up again, while the others intently watched John.

“We believe that on the black market, her DNA would be worth billions. Please allow me to be a little long winded.” He began. “Back then, it took a medium size factory to house all the equipment needed to make a fairly small number of Replicants. Even to make smaller parts like eyes or hands, it took up a lot of space.” He walked over to the window, and stared out, then looked back at John.

“Fast forward twenty years. Now the equipment takes up much less space, allowing people to build Replicant labs in their basements like they used to build meth labs in mobile homes. Sure they can’t produce numbers like a big factory could, but huge numbers aren’t their goal. If your basement was overflowing with Replicants, you’d draw attention from every cop and rep-detect unit trying to make the bust of the century. So instead they focus on quality, which also gives them an excuse to jack up the price.”

“These type of outfits are very limited to what they can create in-house, though. They have to steal source DNA code from the factories, if they want to make a high-strength, high agility combat replicant. Problem is the four year life span is encoded in it already, by the government controlled processors.” Pausing for a moment, he looked at the rest of the board.

“Splicing human DNA with Replicant DNA to bypass the four-life coding isn’t an option either, because the difference in organic and synthetic chemicals involved would cause a virus. But if you found an earlier model replicant, say like the Nexus 6 that Rachel Tyrell turned out to be….It could be modified into a Rosen-Grozzi 12 replicant imposter with an unlimited lifespan. My guess is that Tyrell did something similar to create Rachel in the first place, using an earlier model made before four-life took effect.”

John began to see where this was all heading. He was no chemistry major, but he knew a fair amount about the illegal Replicant labs. Imposter Replicants were also notorious for having inferior memory implants compared to their legally produced counterparts.

“In simpler terms, organized crime hives will be equipped with bad-tempered Replicants that have found the fountain of youth.” He ended, sitting down.

There was complete silence in the room. John was thinking long and hard about the future problems this could create. He stammered out a reply.

“This Rachel….is she the only one? With the unlimited lifespan?”

“She is the only one that we know of. There could be others, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But we know for certain, after scouring through tons of reports, emails and communications that Rachel does.”

John’s thoughts began to turn towards the investigation.

“You said that you could make things a lot more ‘flexible’ - what exactly did you mean?” John asked, looking at Steinberg. She smiled at that point, knowing that he’d accept the job.

“Well for starters, we’ll list you as a federal rep-detect Marshall so you can cross state lines if need be, or revoke licenses of any business that gives you any static, no matter where they are. I’ve already spoken to the FBI about this - they’ll approve it, as long as it’s our money being spent, seeing as how our department created the mess in the first place. The downside is that they will not provide backup.”

“Secondly, once this job is done, we’ll set you up with a good job on the off-world colony of your choice. Or any job here in Los Angeles if you chose to stay with the department, with additional pay, of course.”

“And I promise, as long as I’m head of the IA department, that you’ll never have to sit through another long-assed review session like this again. All you have to do is basically the same job that Gaff wanted, but you report to us. The difference is we want to know anyone and everyone that’s involved. We believe a lot of these black market labs are getting inside information.”

“Even if it’s Gaff?”

Especially if it’s Gaff. But you will still have to report to him as well as us. It’s not like our meeting here today is a secret, and your job would be the same. The only difference is we want to know who‘s involved if someone is profiting from Rachel‘s DNA.”

John thought about this for a second. He didn’t like the idea of being another rat for internal affairs, but he understood what was at stake. Still there was another thing on his conscience.

“If I do find this Rachel, and she’s alive, am I to retire her?” John asked, looking at all the members of the board.

“Yes. But when you do, you’re to report to us, so we can arrange for the clean up. Not so much as one drop of blood can fall into another department’s hands.” Steinberg relaxed back into her chair, waiting for the next question.

“What if I find out she’s already dead?”

“In that case, find the gravesite and report back to us.”

“What about Deckard?”

“Far as this board is concerned, Deckard is a criminal to be brought in for questioning. We find it highly suspicious he managed to run off with the only Replicant that could possibly live longer than any of us, and is worth billions.” Steinberg looked back towards John, and then finished her answer.

“From this point on, you have CRI. If Deckard turns into a problem, retire him like you would a Replicant. And that goes for anyone else that interferes with you getting Rachel.”

John’s jaw dropped. A trained blade runner killing a Replicant, that’s one thing…but having permission to kill anyone, that’s another. John began to feel a little uneasy. And Gaff did tell him to collect a DNA sample…he didn’t say anything about destroying it. Maybe all the rumors about Gaff were true, and internal affairs sees this as their opportunity to flush him out.

“If that’s all, you’re dismissed. Good luck with your job, Sergeant Holden.”






Meeting Jeeves



John walked slowly out of the board room, more than just a little exhausted from all he’d just heard and agreed to. He sat down on a bench in the hallway, and then his comm unit began to beep.

“934, what’s up?”

“Gaff says to get your butt over to the spinner garage. Your pilot has been waiting there for over two hours.”

“Copy that, Central. I can be up there in five minutes. 934 out.”

John tucked away his radio, and began to stuff papers back into the duffle bag, and rushed towards the elevator. He climbed in and turned towards the control panel.

“Service hanger.”

After a small bleep, the computer generated voice of the elevator replied.

“Copy. Service hanger.”

After a short time the elevator doors opened, and John could smell the garage - not a pretty smell - he looked around and saw Gaff standing in the service office. He clanked the metal tip of his cane on the side of a locker box, waking up a rather diminutive looking female cop. When she saw Gaff she immediately hopped up and started straightening her uniform. Gaff shook his head a little, but John could tell Gaff was just having fun with the situation. John entered the room and looked at Gaff.

“Good afternoon, sir.” He looked over at the uniformed female. “I take it you’re my driver.” She was very short, barely five foot tall in boots, little on the stout side, and looked a little nervous.

“John, this is Dominnique Cartiverri, she’ll be your spinner pilot for the next month or so.” Gaff said, hoping to break the ice. John looked at her wrist, noticing a medical bracelet that was dangling around her left wrist. Gaff looked back to John. “This is Detective Holden.” John extended his hand to hers, and she shook it. “Please call me Dom.” She looked tired, but managed to give an excited smile. Gaff looked at the Hanger Chief.

“Chief, I’ll need a four door, preferably one with some balls.” He looked back to Dom. “Go ahead and bring her around, okay, Dom?”

“Yes sir.” Dom walked out into the hanger with the chief, who was holding a service clipboard and a set of keys.

Gaff leaned towards John. “I’m sorry John, but she isn’t pursuit qualified. Well at least, not yet. She‘s been busting her butt in the simulator all night. It was the best I could do. Spinner pilots are getting so hard to come by. Might want to take her around the city, make sure you‘re comfortable with this.”

“One way to find out, sir.” John knew the drill. Seeing as how he didn’t drive much, he wouldn’t make much of a judge.

An older two door spinner pulled up on the other side of the window. Gaff thumbed towards it, and began to talk in city speak.

“Be thankful. That’s what I had to learn in.” Gaff stated, looking at the well-worn spinner as it chugged away. “Meet with me tomorrow morning. Go hand out some parking tickets or something.” It’s was Gaff’s way of letting them off the leash for the afternoon.

Dom pulled up next to the door in a much newer gullwing model four door.

John climbed in looking around. So this is what it’s like to be important…He looked back to Dom, who was getting her headgear on and adjusted.

“Where to, sir?”

John’s glow over the brand new spinner began to fade while thinking of the case. He looked back to Dom, who had a look on her face that said she was tired and maybe bored.

“Let’s grab some coffee. After that, we‘ll be heading over to Burbank.”

She smoothly hit the pulse jet thrusters of the cruiser while it circled upward from the hanger. As Dom handled the communications from the flight tower, John took a small moment to enjoy the new ride - you could still smell the factory paint - and none of the twitching in the wind or shaking from refinery-produced thermals that happened with the smaller two doors.

As they flew over the city, John looked again at the bracelet around Dom’s wrist.

“Do you have a medical condition? I noticed the bracelet.”

“Yes.” She looked at John and then forward. “Environmental Autism. I do have to take medication, but it doesn’t interfere with my reflexes or judgment.”

“You must’ve gone through a lot of crap to get to where you are now.” The slang term for Dom’s condition was chickenhead, but it’s not something John would have blurted out loud. Dom must be a very high functioning autistic to have gotten this far.

“Well, yeah - but it’s not like everyone else had it easy. But yeah there were times that I thought I was getting screwed around because of it, not getting jobs, stuff like that.”

They began to hover over a Dunkin’ Donuts, when finally a parking spot cleared. As the gullwing doors of the spinner opened, they got out while talking. A couple of beat cops walked by, and nodded. John looked back towards Dom.”

“Just please do me a favor, Dom - if we ever get close to a Replicant…please just drop me off and back away…and please find the fuse to the megaphone and disable it.”

“Okay….backing off, good….megaphone, bad….”

He turned to the clerk and held up fingers for two coffees. He turned and handed one to Dom, and then began to wonder how to spend the rest of the afternoon.

“So, where to next?”

He thought for a second, and again Gaff’s voice echoed in his head.

Tell your uncle I said hello.






Family Name
 


“Loser. Goddamn bum.”

“Good to see you too, Uncle Dave.”

Dave Holden was a shell of what used to be a man, physically. A metal exoskeleton formed around Dave’s back and legs, which consisted of a bunch of small muscle assisting motors that would boost normal functions like walking. Different servos whined away as he walked up to greet John.

He’d been an excellent blade runner in his day - he’d deny being good, saying there was always someone better, but would turn around and could tell all sorts of wild stories about chasing Replicants and some of the amazing things they could do. He was still living off of the payments coming from his retirement bounties. His life took a turn for the worse when a Nexus 6 shot him while in the middle of a Voight-Kampff exam.

Mentally, though, he was sharp as a tack. Although Dave was medically retired from the force, he couldn’t stand just sitting at home. He gave lectures at the academy, wrote crime story columns for a local newspaper, and answered questions on internet blogs.

Not all of his activities were popular with the department, though - He was an active protester against use of the Voight-Kampff machines, which he claimed was the reason why he was crippled. He attended anti-V- K rallies along with other ex-blade runners that’d gotten the shit clobbered out of them while trying to “question” a physically superior being just because people thought the V-K process was the humane thing to do. Nobody in the department cared until they started a lawsuit. Then Uncle Dave became unpopular real quick.

“Way to go on the overgrown washing machine. They’re still showing that on the news. How to did you get the review board to go along with all that?”

“I promised them I’d get you to stop throwing bricks at department windows.”

John gave his Uncle a clap on the shoulder. “Gaff told me to tell you hello. Listen, they stuck me on a case that dates back to caveman days, and I need your take on it - But my pilot is operating on about two hours sleep and weak coffee - Is it okay if she crashes on your couch for awhile?”

“Yeah, sure.”

John clicked on his comm unit. “Hey Dom, come on up. Room 9822. Please bring up my stuff.”

“What type of Replicant are you tracking down now? I heard the one you took down was a Rosen-Grozzi.”

“Nexus 6.” John replied, stunning Dave.

“Why in the hell are you chasing a ‘cant-”

The doorbell rang, and Dave opened it to see the very plain-looking Dom holding an overstuffed duffle bag.

“Damn. I was hoping for Nicole Kidman.” Dave said, joking while holding the door open for her. John shook his head and motioned for Dom to come in.

Thirty minutes later, Dave was still sifting through paperwork that John had brought over. Dom was in a deep sleep on a couch in the living room, with her arm draped over the side. Dave shook his head in disbelief at the whole situation.

“Deckard.” He thought aloud. “Haven’t even thought about that guy in ten years. Catching him will not be easy.”

“Did you know him very well?”

“We were promoted to Rep-detect on the same day.” He paused, still looking through all the info. “After I got shot, he took over the case.” As he talked, his memories took ahold of him - he didn’t like things from the past distracting him - and he thought of the time he was still in the hospital tube, reading books, and looking up at his friend Deckard from the other side of the glass. What’cha reading? Treasure Island. I interview fifty boring jerks when in walks this guy named Leon, nothing special but very big. It ain’t how it used to be, Deck.

“Would you have any idea as to where he might have gone?”

“No, even if he told me I am not sure I would have remembered. They were keeping me pretty doped up at that point.” Dave’s memories flashed back again. It’s for pain, asshole. John really began to feel what his Uncle must have gone through - he remembered his parents taking John and his older brother Stephen to see him when he was in the hospital tube.

“Still” Dave continued, “He visited me twice in the hospital, and I gave him crud for falling for a Nexus 6 that he V-K’d..” He pointed towards a picture of Rachel. “..Yeah, this must have been the one. He disappeared with her. It stirred up a huge shitstorm. You sure you want to hear all this?” John nodded.

“I was initially tracking a bunch of Nexus sixes that hijacked an off world shuttle. At first, they got away from everyone, but then we get a call from the Tyrell Corporation saying that two of them died while trying to break in. Sure enough, I go down there to find out two Nexus models that turned themselves into synthetic bacon. I I.D.’d them as the same ones that stole the shuttle. My boss at the time, a guy by the name of Bryant, tells me to set up camp, and start V-K tests on workers to see if any of them got by the HR department.

“That’s when I ran into Leon.”. Dave said, holding up Leon’s pic. “Deckard damn near got killed by him too, in first sector Chinatown.”

“At the time, I was told Deckard tracked Leon down, and got him. But when Deckard got back he told me that Rachel actually pulled the trigger. Anyhow, I’m drifting, because we weren’t prepared for was what happened next.”

Dave looked around and fished out another picture. He held it up for John.

“Eldon Tyrell. This guy had power. He was a sharp engineer, but he had other agendas. The Tyrell corporation was worth trillions when it started, and quadrillions when everything went south. Scared the shit out of me to just talk with him.”

“You talked to Eldon Tyrell ?!?”

“Yep. When Bryant started the investigation, I had to explain to Tyrell what we were doing on company premises, just policy at the time.”

“What did you think of him?”

“Cold blooded businessman. And I mean cold. When the four-life movement started, Tyrell was on every news channel telling us how much safer we’d be if Replicants self-retired after four years, and how the Tyrell corporation was going to cooperate fully. But in reality, he was lining his own pockets. If Replicants croaked every four years, that meant that his factories would be working overtime making replacements. It was like the guy created his own system of supply and demand.. When four-life was passed into law, Tyrell’s stock jumped seventy five points in the market the next day.”

“In the end, Tyrell was killed off by the very same product that made him rich.” Dave finished, holding up a picture of Roy Batty. “And this white-haired Replicant became an underground hero. But this stuff is all old news.”

“After he died, the government stepped in and tried everything they could to ‘salvage’ the corporation, trying to keep people from going out of work - but the politicians got caught trying to embezzle money or corporate secrets. It generated enough bad press that finally it was sold off in chunks to its competitors. It took years to sort out.”

John sat down and leaned back, again being amazed at the level of crap he had to sift through. But he still had a job to do with Deckard.

“Did you see Deckard at all after he took your case?” John asked.

Dave thought for a second. “Twice. At the hospital both times. Once to see me after right after I’d been shot, and another to see if I‘d remembered anything else about the crew who hijacked the shuttle.”

“Did you know Rachel?”

“I never met Rachel, but Deckard told me a lot about her.”

He walked over to a small electric water heater and made a pot of tea, handing a cup to John. “He said that Eldon asked him to V-K Rachel, which was weird because at first he thought he was going to test a regular employee, like I was doing before I met Leon.”

The water kettle began to whistle. Dave retrieved it and filled John’s cup with tea.

“Anyhow, Eldon insisted that he tested Rachel, so Deck humored the old guy - only to find out she was a really intelligent Replicant.” he looked towards John. “Why in the hell do you have to find out what happened to her now?”

John sipped the tea, thought heavily about who he could trust and who he couldn’t, and took a small breath. If I can’t trust my own family, who can I trust? He looked over at Dom who was now snoring lightly. Even if Dom hears, her life is on the line, too. She has a right to know.

“They believe Rachel was made without the four-life encoding, and is still alive.”

Dave’s face went blank. And it took a lot to make the old guy speechless.

“And you’re the only one assigned to the case? One rep-detect and that’s it ??”

John nodded. “Actually they have me listed as a Federal agent, but they are denying me access to any backup. They gave me a spinner, some revised powers and bigger paycheck - that’s it. They’ve sent out other guys before, but they either quit, transferred to a different job, or got killed - with nothing to show for it. Between you and me, I’m not sure if they really are being honest with me.”

“Welcome to Rep-detect, pal.”

“Screw ‘em. They sent me out on this thinking I’m gonna wind up like those other losers. Not going to happen, got me? Not going to happen. At least Gaff could‘ve had the balls to just fire me.” John’s face held a lot of the stubbornness Dave had seen him grow up with. He looked back towards Dave.

“Let’s go over Deckard again. Was there anything about the guy, any special qualifications that got him into Rep-detect in the first place?” John asked.

“Well, no not really, …but, well come to think of it. Yes. There was. Deck was really good in identity fraud classes. They were expecting him to go to the fraud units but he went into Rep-detect instead. Hang on…” Dave began to frantically dig through files.

“Here...yeah. Look at his testing scores from his application into Rep-Detect. He scored at 93% under the toughest prick that ever held a clipboard. Everyone else - me included - barely passed in the 60‘s or 70‘s. It must’ve helped out, though - first thing a Replicant will try to do is get an identity change, get a job, blend in - and Deckard knew his shit.”

“Is that something that could be turned into a meal ticket? Deckard’s gotta eat, right?”

“It’s a start, but has someone else tried this already?” Dave noted.

John began digging through more files, this time bringing up the files of all the blade runners that had been sent out after Deckard. Dave started clearing off his table.

“Let’s spread those out.” John obeyed, and started putting out the files one by one.

“Eduardo Martinez. On the job two months, transferred 2/23/45. Robert Walker, Jr…assigned the job but filed a resignation 2/25/45.”

“Only two days later…” Dave observed.

“Yeah…next up was Ahmed Aldorante. Was assigned the job for three months, looks like he came back empty handed after trying to search black market Replicant labs, transferred 6/1/45.”

“Samuel Cantrell, assigned the job on 7/13/45 and taken off the force after shooting an innocent human, 7/29/45.”

John continued reading aloud. “Now after Cantrell got trigger happy, looks like the department took a break in the investigation. Looks like they waited awhile before they picked it up again, because of the media being all over Cantrell.”

“And the next….Keisha Jackson. Assigned the case 12/12/46. Killed in the line of duty 12/17/46. According to the police report, she was put through a wall by a Replicant she was chasing off of Kennedy and 17th, near the west bottoms.”

“Did anyone else transfer?”

“One more did, yeah. Joe Halberstad. He was assigned the case 1/10/47. He pursued this for about a month before transferring. Looks like he came up empty handed, and received transfer orders 3/3/47.

“Another blade runner was assigned, Joseph Rampini. 3/9/47. Killed in the line of duty, 3/20/47. Was chasing after a Replicant in the west bottoms, was hit by a subway tram. Looks like he was trying to chase him down in the tunnels.”

John looked at Dave. “Three transferred, two fired or quit, and two dead.” He began to plot his next move. “Guess I’ll start by calling all the guys that transferred.”

Dave searched the files looking at the different names. “Look at the two that died. Both of them died in the same area, the west bottoms.” He started thinking aloud. “It’s not what it used to be, but it used to be a place to go to get artificial animals registered as real, then sell ’em for bigger bucks on the black market.” He pointed back to Deckard’s file. “And you‘re chasing an ex-blade runner that excelled in identity fraud.”

John and Dave immediately got into a discussion over what equipment Deckard would’ve needed to counterfeit animal identities.

Dom finally woke up and staggered into the room. She groggily wiped her eyes and yawned.

“Oh, crap it’s almost four-thirty…” She walked into the next room and looked at John and Dave.

“What have you guys been doing?” She asked, looking at the files tossed everywhere.

Dave didn’t miss a beat. John’s head sank, knowing what his Uncle’s answer would be.

“Looking at naked pictures of Nicole Kidman.”






The Ghost and the Owl
 


A Chinese couple looked at Rick Deckard with hopeful eyes. Honor among thieves; it was a code that Rick had to learn to live by over the past twenty years, even after he’d previously been trained for so long to put them behind bars.

“We really need this license. His father is sick and counting on him to run the delivery service.” The female stated.

“You got the money?” Rick asked, looking a little doubtful.

At first the male seemed reluctant, but the female began yelling in Chinese at him. Finally he took a wad of paper currency out and threw it in front of Rick, still squabbling in Chinese.

“All of it?” he asked again, this time looking at the female.

She reached into her bra and pulled out a smaller wad of bills and put it with the rest. Her husband looked at her and began muttering as Rick counted the money.

“I’ll need your old ID”. When she handed it to him, he glanced it over for a second, and then looked at them both again. “Wait here just a moment, please.”

Rick collected the money and stepped into an office behind the main counter. He clicked on a small device, which extended an object that looked similar to a microscope.

He place the card in a small tray underneath, and began to look through the lens. He clicked on a section that stated scooters only and started removing the letters one at a time. Above him, hanging from shower curtain rings were current examples all kinds of driver licenses. He retrieved the one he was looking for and began to forge an entirely new unit, listing Scooters, Cars, Light and Medium Trucks, Forklifts. Normally he wouldn’t have gone so far, but the couple seemed fairly legit, and figured it might make the guy a little less sore at him.

Rick touched a button which caused the card to get re-sealed. He encoded new information on the cd laser stripe, tested it to see if it read correctly, and then walked back to the couple.

“Here you go. I have it set to expire in a year from now. Hope your father begins to feel better.” The couple thanked him in cityspeak, then walked off. Rick looked around to see if there were any more potential customers for the night.

“Think I’ll call it a day.” He closed the top cover to the back of his shop, and reversed the sign in his window from OPEN to CLOSED. Although his business was making signs and templates, in truth his bread and butter was their black market business.

Rachel’s voice broke from the back room.

“I’d bet good money he wrecks the delivery truck by the end of the week.” She quipped.

“So what if he does. Sending him to jail might give him a break from his wife.”

Rick stepped into the small living room in the back of his shop. Rachel was hunched over her own press, working on a huge batch of phony credit vouchers, but neatly making her way through the list.

He held up the wad of money to show Rachel.

“Not bad, eh?”

“I’m impressed! Just hope he doesn’t wreck into us someday.” She replied, going back to her work.

Rick looked at a calendar on the wall. “One more week.”

“I know, I can’t believe it’s finally going to happen. First class flight to the Io moon colony.” Rachel added, without lifting her head from the work station. “I have every intention of breaking the bank with a clothes shopping spree and a three week Penfield -”

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the front door of their living quarters. A young Chinese man began jabbering away at Rick. He pointed over towards local cops that were checking out local businesses. Rick nodded, and walked around to close the display on the other side of their RV/shop.

Rachel immediately started packing up her press and the card vouchers. Rick closed the cover on his own pressed and secured it in place. He quietly pulled up the steps and climbed into the drivers seat of their old RV. Starting it’s hybrid drive, he began to drive off slowly when the cops turned away, blending into a backdrop of a hundred similar looking businesses.






Pursuit


Dom picked up John the next morning at his apartment. After getting back from his Uncle’s apartment he’d spent a fair amount of time going over the files and trying to get some sort of game plan together for Dom and himself.

“Mornin’.” He looked over at Dom, who looked to be in a little bit better shape, but still a little rough around the edges. “Getting more simulator time in?” He asked, closing the gullwing door of the spinner behind him. “Let’s check in with Gaff.”

“Yeah. I couldn’t sleep so I just went back to the station and worked in the sim, and slept in lounge.” She looked over at John. “Guess I slept a little too long at your Uncle’s. Sorry.” She revved the spinner and arced around in a graceful corner. They kept talking while the cruiser pulled itself into the morning traffic.

John laughed. “It’s cool. He had to quit the force some time ago, but he still likes to go out of his way for cops when he can.”

Dom smiled a little. “He certainly has fun with it.”

“It’s just his way. Don’t be afraid to give him crud back - it’s the only way he knows he’s loved.”

As they approached the garage, On of the Hanger bay techs guided Dom to park the spinner in a remote part of the garage, away from the others. As she stopped, she looked back and forth from John to the tech who was motioning them to get out.

“That’s weird. They usually won’t do maintenance inspections until we sign them back over.” Dom noticed.

“Yeah….” John was a little surprised as well. He walked over to the hanger chief.

“Hey, what’s going on? We’re gonna need this spinner - “

“I’m sorry sir - Orders. Captain Gaff ordered me to set it aside. We do have another four door available for you, ready to go.” Dom turned in the keys, and the chief handed her a new set, pointing towards the different spinner.

It struck John odd, but he shrugged it off - Just so long as we have a four door who cares. I’d take a two door but I don’t think Rick Deckard would be wild about sitting in my lap.

He turned back to Dom and motioned for her to follow. They walked inside the main precinct and into Gaff’s office. Gaff wasn’t there, which was really odd.

“Did you see Gaff on the way in?” John asked, with Dom shaking her head no.

“Must be some kind of surprise inspection. Gaff must really be tak-”

All of a sudden a small explosion rocked the entire floor. Vibrations rattled Gaff’s origami creations off of their shelves. People started getting up and looking towards the hallway. John and Dom exchanged glances, then began walking in same direction as all the other policemen. It went from a brisk walk to a slight jog out onto the hanger floor.

Hanger techs, dressed in orange or yellow uniforms were running all over, some holding fire extinguishers, others shouting orders, trying to sort out the confusion.

John and Dom turned the corner of the concrete pillar, only to find the spinner they’d taken to work had been exploded. Smoke belched from the inside of the sedan, pieces of safety glass shattered with bits of fragmentation embedded in it. One of it’s doors lay a meter away; the other barely dangled by one of its hinges. One of the techs hit the rear tire with flame retardant, which had been on fire.

The hanger chief looked around, checking on his people making sure nothing else was on fire - when he noticed something odd. While all the other techs were running to put out the fire, one - a rather large one in a yellow hanger suit - was walking away, out of the hanger.

“HEY!! STOP THAT GUY!!!” The chief screamed, pointing. It caught John’s attention, as well as the attention from some other armed cops. It took a second before people started catching on. Some of the techs and cops began running towards someone John didn’t recognize.

The oddball tech stopped, looked around and began to run. Cops with holstered sidearms were beginning to walk out of the same door he’d been heading for. About this time an older two door spinner landed in the bay, it’s pilot unaware of what had just happened.

The imposter tech ran up to it, and smashed his fist through the glass and grabbed the pilot by collar with both hands. In a swift fluid move, he yanked the pilot back out going through the glass again, dumping his bloody body on the hanger deck.

“REPLICANT!!!” John shouted, pulling out the S&W. The Replicant hopped in the spinner, fired it up and was pulling away.

“DON’T SHOOT!! YOU’RE STILL IN THE HANGER !!! DON”T SHOOT !!” The hanger chief began to yell, noticing other blade runners grabbing their pistols. He began waving them off, not wanting an accident that could wipe out the floor.

Dom fumbled for the set of keys she’d just been given - She hopped into the new spinner, and fired it up without going through the warm-up procedure. John hopped into the passenger side. Dom punched the accelerator and the cruiser’s motor came to life.

“Central, this is BR796934. Please get a lock on our signal. We are in pursuit of a Replicant that just stole a spinner. Respond.” John thought to himself, It must be complete chaos at Central right now.

It took a second to get a response. “934 this is Central. We do have a track on you. Get his number. Copy?” John could hear all kinds of radio traffic in the background of Central’s response.

The Replicant had gotten a decent head start on them, but Dom pointed over to the right at a rapidly moving spinner in the distance.

“There he goes.” She nosed the spinner over and gradually increased the flight throttles. The sirens from the newer four door wailed so loud the dash vibrated. The dual strobe lights were powerful enough, even in the cab you could see light trying to shoot through the crevices in the gullwing doors.

John began to feel a little queasy. Two days ago the fastest thing he’d ever been in was the subway.

“Affirmative, Central. We’re pursuing.”

“934 try to get his number, maybe we can shut him down from our end.”

At first, the fleeing Replicant tried to blend in with normal traffic, but then quickly jumped up and began pulling away, using its own siren. It weaved all over, trying not to let anyone get a good look at the spinner.

Dom finally got her comm helmet to work. “Central - this is unit 359. 934 is onboard, We’re in pursuit and closing.”

As the two spinners passed by, more and more spinners began to enter the hunt as well. John looked behind him at the different cruisers now in the chase.

John looked forward. They were just close enough to see the broken glass on the driver side. Still not close enough to see the number, though. It weaved through some traffic, going in between commercial trams and blimps, heading into the much thicker commercial traffic patterns.

“Yep, that’s him.”

“Attention all units be aware the traffic flight patterns are full. I say again, traffic patterns are full. Sound off with his number once you have it. Let‘s shut this guy down.”

“Amen to that, Central.” Another unit chimed in.

“Cut the chatter. Sound off with his number soon as you can.”

By this time no fewer than eighteen spinners were in pursuit, with Dom’s unit walking slightly away from the pack. John looked over at her. Dom kept her poker face on - inside she was jumpy and nervous as hell but didn’t let on.

John looked forward. At times he thought a spinner pursuit would be exciting, but this was just plain scary. Not only could he hear the other sirens faintly over their own, the lights from the cruisers behind them reflected all over the interior of the cab. He could tell the cruiser was being pushed to its limits, and once they got the other spinner stopped, no telling what damage the Replicant could do once he got on foot.

“359, what’s the status?”

“We’re working on it, Central. Still can’t read his number yet. He’s using the traffic as cover.”

All of a sudden the Replicant’s spinner nosed straight down.. Now the chase was about fifteen meters over the ground. Dom followed, as did the rest of the pack. Now twenty five spinners were rumbling over the streets at treetop level. Although the spinners didn’t hit anything, windows broke, ledges vibrated, people scattered underneath looking up, some pointing, some hurt from debris. Car and home alarms started going off as well. Trash that had collected in the streets was being flushed up in all the spinners’ wake.

Dom stayed as focused as she could. They had finally gained enough ground on the fleeing spinner. As it turned left, she could read it’s number. A big 276 flashed on its left front quarter panel.

“276! CENTRAL SHUT DOWN 276!!” She yelled into her headset.

“Confirmed 359 - shutting it down now.” Dom began backing away from the Replicant’s spinner. Behind their spinner, many cruisers struggled to get slowed down without wrecking into the ones in front or behind.

Inside the Replicant’s spinner, which was now covered in a mixture of blood and rainwater, lights began to flash and go off. A computer generated voice, programmed to sound calm, began to instruct. “The spinner is now being deactivated. The auto-landing cycle has been initiated. Please remain in the vehicle until you’ve been authorized to do otherwise. Ignition cycle has been deactivated. Remain calm. Security clamps have been activated for your safety. Remain calm.” Large bolts went off inside the door. It would’ve been just a minor inconvenience at best - the Replicant had already shattered the driver side glass.

“Yeah that should be far enough, Dom.” She slowly put down the spinner about thirty meters away from the Replicant’s - John tried to keep his eyes fixed on it, and for a split second could see it kick the frame of the door out, bending the security bolts outward, and going out what remained of the broken window.

John pulled the S&W out, trying to keep an eye on the Replicant…

When all of a sudden, at the worst possible time - a hovering automated news camera went over by Dom’s window, and set off a picture flash. John and Dom froze for an awkward moment, looking slowly back at the camera.

John looked back towards the Replicant’s spinner, which was now empty.

The news camera began to sound off with its automated news spiel in a very phony-sounding voice.

“Hi! You’re on the news. Your actions have warranted the coverage by the finest station in town, Los Angeles’s very own KMBC TV chan -”

SMASH!! The Replicant smashed it straight to the ground with one swift blow. He smashed through the window in the same manner that he’d used to steal the first spinner. John yanked Dom face down, and fired a shotgun blast over her back, blowing the Replicant’s head off. It fell straight back and then suffered another volley of lead from some of the other blade runners that had been running up to Dom’s spinner.

Dom slowly sat up, holding her hands close to her head, quivering slightly. It had all happened so fast, she was beginning to go into shock. Rain trickled down over her helmet, as well as a little blood from the small pieces of glass that had nicked her when the Replicant had punched through. Cops and other blade runners began to encircle the spinner, setting up a perimeter until a medic spinner arrived. Several tow truck spinners circled the area as well, like hopeful buzzards.





Unicorns in the Cellar


Dave sat in front of the news report, his eyes fixed on the screen. It had been a normal morning for him - wake up, make coffee, watch the news - when the story broke out about an explosion at the precinct that his nephew worked at. Dave tried to call in to get more info, but the departments’ phone lines became overloaded with calls. Then his phone began to ring off the wall. Friends and relatives trying to find out if John was okay.

“Yeah, you’re telling me, somebody has some balls.” He said into the receiver. “I’ve tried calling the station, lines are all down right now. If I hear anymore, I’ll give you a shout back.”

The exoskeleton’s motors whirred as he leaned forward in his seat. He had been watching the news clip for some time. He paused the broadcast, then resumed looking at news footage of John helping his spinner pilot into an ambulance. Dave could tell she hadn’t been hurt bad, but figured she might have to stay for awhile in the hospital. The picture then flashed the department photos of Dom, showing her face and side profile.

Dave began to get a sinking feeling, like this wasn’t over.

He stopped for a second, and then picked his phone back up. “Hey, Jasper - yeah, been watching the news, too. Listen, I need a huge favor…”

 
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John waited in the hospital lounge. The news cameras were banned outside, but it didn’t stop them from hovering outside the window behind him.

He felt guilty about Dom being hurt. Here’s Dom, working above and beyond what any enviro-aut could be expected, and I get distracted by a stupid news drone and she gets hurt. The ink on her transport-only spinner license was still frickin’ wet. Way to go, John.

A nurse walked up to John. “She’s going to be okay. We had to remove some safety glass that got stuck in her forehead. We recommended to her station that she take time off, give the stitches a chance to set in.” The nurse pointed to a room. “You can see her now, if you’d like.”

John walked around a corner to see Dom standing in front of a mirror. She had a good sized bandage attached to her left temple. When she faced forward, her medium length curly hair looked normal. But then she turned her head sideways - a huge area was gone behind her head, literally burned away by John’s shotgun simulator. Her head sank.

“Dom, I don’t know what to say.” John found a chair at the other end of the room, and sat in it. He looked at her medical bracelet, guilt setting in again.

Then John’s comm unit went off. It was Gaff. He switched it to function as a regular cell phone and took Gaff’s call. His voice crackled through, speaking in city speak.

“John, just wanted to tell you - good job.” John sat up listening a little more intently. “What‘s the word on Dom?”

“She needed a few stitches. They’ll be releasing her pretty soon.”

While Gaff enjoyed people that could talk fluently in city speak, John knew that he wasn’t speaking it out of enjoyment now. It was Gaff’s way of messing with anyone who might be listening with a wire tap.

“Good to hear. Tough little girl. Tell her to go ahead and take the rest of the day off.”

“Any word on who the Replicant was, or who it worked for?” John inquired.

“No idea yet, but if I learn something I‘ll let you know. Stay loose. I’ll talk with you a little bit more back at the station.” Gaff concluded, then hung up.

John’s head dropped for a second, a combination of thinking and exhaustion. He looked back up at Dom.

“Gaff says for you take the rest of the day off.” John looked at her, thinking of the bandage and the burnt hair.

 
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As John and Dom arrived at the station, the man who had been following John watched them from a shrouded bench. He watched John over the edge of his newspaper, and then watched as Dom took off towards another subway stop.

He nudged the person sitting next to him and pointed at Dom. The sitting man got up, walked across the street, cutting through the gridlocked cars, sloshing his way onto the same tram that Dom was boarding. John’s “admirer” flexed his newspaper and then turned the page, still keeping an eye on John, and watched him enter the police station.

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

Rick raised the upper portion of the press up, and started the screening process. He inserted the backing metal, closed the press and hit the pneumatic cycle switch. On the bottom tray it began to spit out signs. After the cycle stopped, he grabbed one and started looking at it with a measuring tape, making sure all the marks were centered. He propped it up on a chair in his shop and looked at it from a distance. He turned to the elderly Chinese customer. “Is that what you wanted? I can change it, if you need me to.” The old man was apparently pretty happy; He babbled and then handed Rick a neatly folded pile of Chinese yen. Rick started putting his signs in a bag, and then handed them over. Rick smiled and thanked him as he walked away, still babbling in Chinese.

“….I have NO IDEA what you are saying….but as long as you’re happy, pal…” Rick muttered, still smiling.

Then a rather large Caucasian man stepped forward out of the rain. “I was told that you do really good work here.”

“We try. What type of sign are you needing?”

The man smiled a weird smile. Rick didn’t like it.

“I’m wanting a sign that will let the world know I was here, that I existed, and that I plan to stay.”

Rick looked at him for a second. He knew exactly what he meant, and what he was.

“That kind of sign…It’s going to cost you.” Rick slowly put his hand on the pistol hidden underneath his counter.

“My benefactors seem to think I’m worth knowing.” Rick looked over his shoulder at a car idling, with two people inside. “I need the kind of sign that tells a man who he is.”

Rick knew right away what was going on. Some organized crime thugs must’ve caught wind of his operation. He knew he’d have to play along and do this job - but he’d pull up his tent stakes as soon as it was done. If he stuck around, they’d charge him a “fee” to “keep” their newly acquired Replicant pet from destroying the shop.

“Come back in about an hour. Sixty thousand, cash only.” Rick kept his eyes on him, and the hand still on the pistol.

“Cash, ah, yes. Money makes the man.” He smiled, arrogantly walking off, heading back towards their car. Rick watched him, then relaxed his hand from behind the counter.

 
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John decided to put off meeting with Gaff. Gaff hadn’t been specific about the time anyway, and so far he had nothing to show for the case with Deckard and Rachel.

He walked up to a clerk and pulled out a piece of paper, sliding it across the desk.

“Can I see the release from your boss?” The clerk asked, following protocol. He wore odd magnifying glasses that contained small lights on the ends.

“Right now, I’m operating as a Federal agent.” John flashed his badge.

The clerk’s eyebrows went up. “Sorry, sir.”

“I would like to see the personal effects of the Replicant shot two days ago in the Fillmore district. I also need to see any effects from an older case under the titles Rick Deckard and Rachel Tyrell.”

The clerk began to pull up the info on his computer terminal. “We have the Replicant’s items here, but the other two have been digitized. I am sorry, sir.”

“It’s okay. That’s what they get for sticking me on a twenty-eight year old case.” John smiled, knowing the clerk was doing what he could.

“I’ll be right back.” He switched on his glass lights, and proceeded back into the poorly lit shelves. He came back with a plastic tub and a envelope. “Sign here, please.” John looked over and signed the release form.

“If you come over here sir, can get you set up with a workstation.” The clerk guided John over to a computer.

“Thanks.” John opened the envelope and poured the small flat computer storage disk in his hand, and then plugged it in. On the table space next to him, he opened the tub and poured out a wallet, what was left of the Replicant’s clothes, and some money, both American and Chinese.

He looked through the clothing, nothing special or exotic. He opened the wallet, again nothing special. A few credit vouchers, a plastic subway tram pass, and a forklift license. John punched a button on the desk and a microscope extended out in front of him. He inserted the forklift license and began examining it. He looked back at the paperwork that had been included with it. John read it aloud.

“Forklift license, illegal copy. Animal symbol embedded in press encryption.”

He looked in the microscope, sure enough, in the small government strip an object that looked similar to a horse. He increased the viewer to notice a small spike sticking out of the horse’s head.

A unicorn.

John leaned back in his chair. Then he decided to put in the digital file of Rick item’s. The screen displayed an apartment with numerous belongings. He started pulling them up one by one.

About three hours later, he’d gone through the entire list. As John yawned he noticed a small marker at the bottom of the screen.

(One) Item found on hallway floor

John looked at it. From the picture looked like a pebble.

“Open item from hallway.”

The computer enlarged the photo. It looked like a wadded up bubble gram wrapper.

“Unfold item.”

The computer then began to display the piece of tin foil completely unraveled into it’s initial square form, sure enough, a juicy fruit gum wrapper. But it had jagged lines that looked really weird, like it was intentionally folded another way.

“Undo last move.”

The computer re-wadded up the tin foil.

“Magnify four times. Unfold again, exclude straight lines.”

The computer unfolded the image, but this time it left the shape of a dog. John could see more at the top.

“Magnify top right section two more times.”

The dog’s “head” started to reveal other details.

“Move area 245633 up 100, and move area 372846 up 20.”

The head began to unfold, small pointed, horse like ears.

“Magnify again two times. Take area 523524, and swing up 45.”

A small sliver of the head began to break away, forming a spike pointing upward.

The computer now displayed the (un)wadded up tin foil as a small caricature of a unicorn.

John looked over at the clerk. “Can I please have the effects of the last ten retired Replicants?”

After some more confirmation, John noted that a lot of forged identities were using a small encoded unicorn. Usually a forger would figure out a way to stamp one in so that he could recognize the work was his; sometimes it was a statement of quality, similar to what LSD printers did with elaborate backing patterns. It was a thin lead to go on, but John felt in his gut that this would lead somewhere.

Rachel’s personal effects file was much larger - but at one point John looked a computer generated image of a picture of her standing by an Tyrell poster with an Owl logo mascot.

He then looked back at some of the licenses - sure enough, at one point there was an small Owl caricature embedded as well.

John leaned back and nodded, looking at the results.





Two More Attempts


Dom arrived at her small apartment, very tired and looking forward to just crashing on her couch. She fumbled a bit for her keys, knowing it was a sign that she’d have to take her medication soon, which would keep her from getting erratic.

As she entered, she noticed a new janitor working on the entranceway to her floor. He looked up from his work at her and smiled; she smiled back. He had kind of a weird round face, with a protruding nose, and was wearing the apartment complex’s uniform. She hadn’t seen him before. He quickly went back to work, installing the trim around a light.

She walked into her apartment, which had kipple strewn about everywhere (one of the signs of a enviro-aut was sometimes the disorganization). She cursed herself, No wonder they make fun of us chickenheads, and then began to get the living room a little better in order. Like her mother once said, You never know when someone is going to show up.

As Dom began to move further into the apartment, the closet door opened behind her. He could see her heading around the wall through the crack in the door.

Dom headed around the wall to her bathroom looking for her meds. She opened her cabinet, no not there. She looked on top of her dresser, again no luck. She went around the wall back towards the kitchen-

When up stepped a man, well over six foot. He had woven hair, and an evil smile.

Dom turned and ducked - his fist whistled in the air above her head. She tried to run to the side, but he moved to the right to block her path. She dodged to her right, crawling underneath a table. His fist slammed through the table, and he narrowly missed her with a kick. She’d run out of room to even crawl out.

“Oh no….No….please god no NO-” Dom shouted out in complete fear.

The apartment door smashed open, and the janitor come rushing in, tackling the hitman and pinning him to the adjacent wall. The hitman tried to break his hold, but the janitor was something else. He finally slipped away when the janitor ripped his coat apart trying to wrestle him down. Dom screamed from underneath the table.

The hitman was finally at a distance and tried to pull a small pistol. The janitor smacked it out of his hands, sending it flying across the room. The janitor flung the back of his fist into the hitman. Sending sprawling back, tripping with his feet in the air. The janitor grabbed him by the shirt and flung him head first into the countertop, breaking his neck.

The janitor stood over the body for a few seconds.

His odd round eyes circled back to where Dom was still under the table. He lowered himself quietly to where he could see Dom, and she could see him. He extended a very large hand. She was shaking like crazy.

“I’m Leon. Dave Holden sent me. They said if I helped you, they could get me off-world.”

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

“Okay Dom, just stay patient - I’ll get over there as quick as I can. Don’t worry. We’ll figure this thing out.” John closed his comm. He was in disbelief, and quickly threw on his coat and started walking fast out of the station. Gaff’s report would have to wait.

As he walked, the stalker resumed his chase. He followed John onto the subway tram. John began to get a gut feeling…Fear?….Maybe something he’d found in the crime warehouse…Then it struck him….The spinner getting bombed, the attempt on Dom….John, you’re being watched.

John stood up and started walking to the exit of the tram. He hopped off at the next stop, and ducked inside the nearest shop. He turned and looked back at the people getting off the tram. His stalker had no choice but to follow, cautiously looking around for John.

It was the middle of rush hour, massive hoards of all kinds of people clogging the streets and sidewalks. The pedestrians were the mobile ones - the ground traffic, outside of the subways, were at a complete halt in the pelting rain. Loud traffic signals belched out safety warnings. A huge billboard showed a man smiling after taking a drink of it‘s companies’ liquor.

John joined one of the many “packs” of people crossing the streets, then slowly drifted in between two magazine stands. He crouched down as the next batch passed, and examined them.

Sure enough, all with the exception of one man walked with their heads facing mainly forward. The stalker was looking all around, which gave away his anonymity. John began to move forward, growing a little more confident that he’d lost him. People poured in around him, in a never ending hurry to get someplace. John drifted in with the pack and got away.

 
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Steinberg looked around at Dom’s destroyed apartment. Small, basketball sized forensic crime robots hovered in the room, photographing everything, taking air samples and trying to recover blood samples. An unexpected voice broke from behind her.

“Admiring your handiwork?” Gaff said, causing her to spin around. He leaned forward on his cane.

“All robots pause investigation.” The robots quit taking pictures and shut down. She turned towards Gaff. “A police employee has been attacked and disappeared. I hardly think is the time for jokes now, Captain.” She replied.

“Never said I was joking. Personally, I hope she made it. God only knows what you’ve put her through.” Gaff’s rough voice said, in a tone that conveyed something more.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Sending a Replicant to kill a person afflicted with environmental autism. How very sporting. I figured it out, bitch.”

“Captain Gaff, may I remind you that as a fellow office-”

“You can remind me all you want. Give my regards to the rest of the IA scumbags, and the whoever else is on the Rosen-Grozzi payroll. Have a nice day.” Gaff exited the room, feeling that he’d said what he needed to say.

Steinberg flew around the corner after him. “How can you even say that, when Holden is doing the same job for us that you wanted done in the first place ?!?!”

“There’s a big difference. I need Rachel’s DNA as proof. You need it, or need to get rid of it, for payment. Rosen has gotta keep those factories going, eh? Heaven forbid some rinky-dink trailer park outfit comes up with a model that out-performs and out-lasts Rosen‘s perfect little children.” Gaff turned and began to walk away.

“So what are you, completely innocent? You or Deckard should have retired her in the first place!!”

Gaff stopped, then turned around. His own words echoed in his head. Letting go is something we all must do at some point.

“No, I’m not innocent. I’m guilty of letting a Nexus 6 and a blade runner off the hook so that I could have a better shot of making lieutenant. Feel free to report it. After I get through with you, it won‘t matter.”

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

“Hey open up, it’s me.”

Dave let John in and looked both ways down the hallway before closing the door.

“Sorry I’m running late - think I had somebody try to follow me. We need to talk.”

“You’re telling me, kiddo.” his Uncle said, pointing at Leon, who was sitting by Dom on Dave’s couch.

“Thanks for letting them come here.” John looked at Dom. “You okay?”

Dom nodded slowly. “Thanks to him.” She said, looking at Leon.

John looked at his uncle. “Let me get this straight…You hired a Replicant to save a blade runner’s pilot??”

Dave shrugged. “I didn’t know what else to do. The department went nuts after the bombing. I figured somebody was going to try to put out a hit on you or her, but I couldn’t get through. So I called Jasper and got the biggest Replicant I could hire.”

And I appreciate that…” Dom chimed in. Leon looked nervous, looking back and forth between John and Dave. John covered his forehead with his hand, feeling the headache coming on. He took a deep breathe, and sat down.

John knew right away what his uncle meant about Jasper. Jasper was a character that dealt in cheap black market Replicant labor, but after he got caught, turned into an informant. He turned in lead after lead of crime hives all across the city - took a lot of violent criminals both human and Replicant off the streets. In turn, Jasper got to keep his business, but could only deal in construction workers, ones that genuinely wanted to stay out of trouble.

“Hell, he’s the spitting image of the one that shot me - I should be the one upset about it.” Dave stated.

Then a light bulb clicked in John’s head. He looked at Leon. “Say….did Jasper get you set up with an identity?” John and Dave exchanged glances.

“Yeah. He had to go to some guy in Chinatown, ‘cause I’m not a real Replicant.” Leon replied.

“So you’re an imposter Replicant, then?” John asked. He looked over at Dave. “Somebody must’ve gotten a hold of some old Nexus 6 molds.” Only my uncle would hire a clone of a clone. What a world, John thought to himself.

“Well, I don’t know about that stuff, but it cost a lot to get my ID sorted out.”

“Is it okay if I see it for a sec?”

Leon dug through his pockets and handed John his ID. Dave looked at John.

“I think I know where you’re going with this…hang on…” Dave came back holding a crime lab microscope. It was an older one, but still had PROPERTY OF L.A.P.D. stamped on the outer case. John smiled and looked back towards his uncle, who shrugged. He placed the ID card and began to look at the far edges.

Sure enough, on one end there was an owl, and on the other a Unicorn.

“Leon…Did you happen to get a good look at the guy who made this?” Dave asked.

“Yeah, I had to sit there for hours while he worked on a fake license and that ID chip they put under your skin.”

John pulled out a time progression picture of Rick Deckard.

“Yeah that looks like him, pretty much. Runs a little shop out of the back of an old bus, camper thing…or something like that. A lady works with him, too.”

“Leon….tell me everything you can remember about his shop.” John said, as he pulled out a his pen and a notepad.





Into the China Sea


John stepped off the tram into Chinatown. He started walking towards the areas that offered “business parking” - sort of flea market of all sorts. All kinds of artificial animals in small cages. People approached John with all kinds of various goods. No sooner did he wave them off, they were on the next person stepping off the subway.

Looking around he saw a lot of trucks being used like shops. Unfortunately, none with the markings that Leon described. He walked past a few shady looking characters that looked like Trikuza (a mix of Chinese Triad and Japanese Yakuza gang members), wearing mafia-like suits but wearing black headbands with white Japanese or Chinese symbols written on the them. They looked at John for an uncomfortable second, but went on about their business. A spinner shot hovered slowly overhead, causing some to start packing up contraband goods - but as soon as the spinner headed off, they started unpacking.

John cursed himself for not prepping better. This was dangerous ground, and he knew it. It wasn’t uncommon for beat cops to get killed in the west bottoms; and the thought of the two blade runners that got killed in this area crossed his mind as well. Relax, John. This is going to work. Keep your cool.

He walked up to a animal vendor that specialized in cats. A small asian man walked in front of his kiosk and gave a small bow.

“Good afternoon. Are you interested in buying a cat?” He asked, speaking in city speak.

John, inflicted a response, trying to change his voice some. “Yes. I am looking for a gift for my wife. Something really nice.”

“We have several breeds we can offer. Domestic, Maine coon, Egyptian Mau - many breeds.”

“Would you have a longhair Himalayan?”

“Yes we have four of those.” He pointed over to some cats in cages. “Very high quality, with an enhancement that makes them a little healthier.”

John began to look one in particular over very well. “That one - how much do you want for that one?”

“That one is on sale, because he’s a little older. He still has many years left in him, though. For that one I would take seventy-five hundred…”

“Wow…” John paused, hoping like hell he could pull this charade off.

“I assure you sir, that price is very fair. Especially for this breed.”

“Well, actually I don’t have a problem with the price, its very fair, but - Well, let me be honest. My wife and I got into a terrible argument. Terrible. She thinks I am a loser with no money. I was hoping to get her a real one, to impress her.”

“A real one? That would cost a fortune.”

“Well, yeah - but, and I know this is illegal, but I really want to make her happy. Is there any way you could recommend someone who could register one like this as a real one?”

The old man smiled. “Ah, hard to keep them happy, yes indeed. But that depends, are you actually going to buy today. And how much you are willing to spend.”

“Well, yeah, but I mean whoever changes it, he needs to be really good. If I buy the cat, can you help me find someone good? I mean really good, she can tell.”

“You must buy the cat first.” John understood perfectly what this meant; The old man was testing him to see if he was for real or not. The old man eyeballed him cautiously.

“Well, yeah - here, sure.” He opened up his wallet “Seventy-five hundred.” John counted out bills and handed them over.

“Now the price is eight thousand. But you get someone really good.” John paused for a second, then reluctantly handed over more money.

The Chinese man smiled, and then picked up his phone. He talked to someone for a second, then motioned for one of his grandchildren in Chinese. One teenager ran over to him. The grandfather then began to talk really fast in Chinese, and then motioned for John to follow the young one. The old man bowed, and handed John the cat. John turned and bowed likewise. The grandchild began waving for John to follow.

They zigzagged around to bunch of various businesses, going through several shops. John would look at it and when it didn’t match Leon’s description, he’d bicker about price until the teenager would recommend a different shop to go to.

They finally arrived at an RV that had a sign shop in the back of it. Before crossing a street, the teenager motioned for John to stay put. He walked over to Rick Deckard, who was running his sign press. They exchanged some words, and then finally the teenager handed Rick some money, and Rick looked warily up and motioned for him to come over.

So this is Rick Deckard. I’ve finally done it. Maybe now we’ll finally get some answers, Maybe internal affairs and Gaff will be happy, or at least as happy as internal affairs or Gaff could possibly be, and-

Then all of a sudden the there was a loud THUNK! and John saw stars.

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

Rick began to yell, and then someone told the local Trikuza who was watching the street. No sooner had the Stalker knocked John out, the Trikuza and their newly minted Replicant were all over him, beating the living daylights out of him, kicking and dragging him out of sight. Rick and the teenager dragged John into the back of the RV, with Rick running back to pick up the cat, who was now hissing madly in its cage.

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

John slowly came to. His head felt like someone took a jackhammer to it. Pretty soon, his wallet would, too.

“Kid, I gotta feeling this is gonna be the most expensive day you’ve ever lived.”

Rick held John’s wallet. John still had a sizable amount in it, figuring he’d need it for the animal hustle he pulled to find Deckard’s shop. Rick handed over a huge wad to the Trikuza who were standing there alongside their Replicant. They laughed like crazy as they walked out, all smiles.

“Ouch…..my cat….did you happen to see a cat?”

Rick pointed over to a lady, who was holding the cat on a countertop. Beside her there was a camera screen. As she waved a device over the cat, you could see a magnified view of every individual cat hair, which had a factory serial number stamped on it. She picked up another device and began to move it over the cat. On the computer screen, you could see the serial numbers beginning to disappear.

“Your cat will be ready in a minute. I‘ll check him for some other marks after he settles down.” She lowered him back into the carrier.

The lady turned and looked at John. Porcelain-like skin. Gorgeous brown eyes. A sharp sounding voice.

Rachel. Rachel Tyrell. A Replicant with an unlimited lifespan. This is what a mythical creature really looks like, forget the unicorns.

John slowly shook that thought away and began to gather his bearings.

“What’s a guy like you doing in this part of town?”

“I was buying a gift for my wife, wanted to make it something ni-”

Rick threw the Smith & Wesson down on the floor in front of John.

“Now tell me why you’re really here.” Rick said, holding an old PKD M2019 blaster.

Letting go is something we all must do at some point, Gaff once said. John’s swirling head really couldn’t come up with anything more than the truth.

“I was sent here by the L.A.P.D. to bring you in for questioning. I’m John Holden, blade runner. BR796934.”

John braced himself. So this is how the other two bought it.

“And you’re here to retire me, I take it.” Rachel said, standing behind Rick.

Rick slowly began to get up, the barrel of the M2019 being trained closer at John. John’s heart began to race.

“Yes.”

“Lemme guess, Captain Gaff? I heard they promoted that brown-noser.” Rick pulled the hammer back on the PKD.

“No. Internal Affairs.” John began to get nervous and stutter. “C-captain Gaff, he, he doesn’t even know about Rachel being a-alive, I don’t think-”

Rick put the barrel to John’s forehead.

Rachel began to plead a little for John. “Listen, maybe we could just let him go. Look at him, he’s scared half to death. We could disappear and -”

Rick didn’t take his eyes off John. “Sure. And what about the asshole that was following him? Think he’d let us go, too? They’d turn you into a lab donor and me into corpse.”

John finally blurted out the only thing he could think of.

“I’m Dave Holden’s nephew. H-He got shot working on the same case y-y-you did, b-before you met her. He said you visited him in the hospital before you two disappeared.”

Rick paused. If this was some kind of trick…

He motioned to Rachel, and then handed her the pistol. She kept it trained on John.

Rick looked at John. “Don’t even twitch.”

Rick pulled out John’s comm unit. He scrolled through the cellphone listings and sure enough, found a listing for Dave Holden. He dialed it in front of John.

John could hear it ring. His heart raced. His uncle answered.

“John, where the hell have you been, we’ve-”

“Dave.” Rick was speechless. He hadn’t heard that voice in years and he still recognized it!

John could tell his uncle was shocked, overhearing his voice a bit.

“Rick….Where’s my nephew? Listen we can work this out…”

Rick slowly put his hand over the PKD, taking it gracefully from Rachel. He slowly withdrew the hammer and engaged the safety.

John took a deep breath and relaxed.

Rick picked up the phone and talked to his old friend for a minute. He handed the phone over to John. John talked to his uncle for a second, nodding, and then closed the comm unit.

“My uncle wants us to meet up at his apartment. He’s got an idea. He says to bring your shop.”

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

Rick closed up the shop and removed the wheel chocks. He climbed back into the room that Rachel and John were sitting in. He still held onto John’s Smith & Wesson just in case John was pulling something, but deep down Rick felt that he’d spoken to his old friend.

He looked at Rachel. “Stay back here and keep an eye on him.” He went forward, into the driver’s cab. He started the RV up.

Rick pulled into a lot, and then began to activate the flight motor of the RV. It’s wheels retracted inward and the RV slowly began to hover upwards into the traffic patterns.

John looked at Rachel. Rachel shot him a look back. “What ?!”

“Nothing. Why?” John responded.

“You looked like you were going to say something.”

“No…well, yeah. I mean you’re Rachel Tyrell. From the corporation.”

“Sort of…” Rachel responded.

“I mean, you were programmed to be Eldon Tyrell’s niece. Eldon Tyrell. That company was worth-”

“Trillions,” she said, finishing his sentence.

“Yeah, Trillions. What was it like, being around Tyrell, growing up rich?”

“…Growing up…” Rachel began, reflecting on John’s words. “You want to know something? I am the first Replicant that ever grew up. And I grew up the minute I stopped being a Tyrell. Before that, I was just another artificial owl in his collection.”

She paused, looked out the window. She hadn’t seen this part of Los Angeles in years.

“I thought I was there to learn the business, and take the reigns of the company when the time came. Then one day I go to work, answer the door and play twenty questions. The next thing I learn is that I’m a clone of little girl that probably never even knew Eldon Tyrell to begin with. And who do I learn it from? A guy who’s job is to run around and blow up other clones. Imagine having to sit and read about a corporation you were supposed to lead being run into the ground, and by people who couldn‘t care less.”

“What’s it like to be you?” She asked back.

“Me? Flat broke. Especially after today.” John had no idea how he was going to make rent after all the money he’d blown on the silly cat. And the Trikuza.

“Would you have retired me?”

John stopped and thought about it. This lady-Replicant?-has been lied to all her-its?-life. Why try to BS her now?

“Yes. I’m supposed to, anyway.”

Rachel showed a bit of shock, then began to nod, understanding.

“I should know. I’ve lived with an ex-blade runner for twenty eight years. All part of growing up, huh?”







One More Stop


 

“It’s been a long time.”

Dave opened the door expecting to see Rick and John, and instead found himself looking at Gaff.

From the other room, Dom heard the voice and grabbed Leon. They stuck to the other side of the wall and listened closely.

“If this is about the bombing at the precinct, the anti-V.K. group didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“John’s in deep shit. They need to get Off-world, Dave. So should you.”

“What are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere. John didn’t say anything to me about what he was working on.”

“Their spinner log said they were parked over here for five hours. I didn’t just pick John’s name out of a hat. I knew you’d help him find Deckard.” Gaff pulled up a kitchen chair and set his hat on the table.

“What have you gotten my nephew into? Rick disappeared damn near thirty years ago, and all of a sudden you care about it now?” Dave didn’t hate Gaff, but he didn’t completely trust the guy, either.

Gaff relaxed in the chair, putting his hands on the top of his cane. “Internal affairs has been bought out by Rosen-Grozzi. Over the course of the past few years, they have been using the department to dig up any corporate secrets that could help them. They’ve removed anyone in Rep-detect that hasn’t gone along with the program.”

“Then I found out about it,” Gaff continued. “At first I started transferring guys to keep them from getting used by Rosen. When that didn’t work, I either fired them or talked them into resigning.”

“By this time, internal affairs felt I was a problem child…They started investigating me and found out that I let Deckard off the hook.”

“So this is all about you, covering your butt?”

“Actually it’s more about Rachel. Back then, I didn’t think that it would matter. But once Rosen found out about Rachel, internal affairs started digging into Deckard’s case, thinking they’d get rid of me and find Rachel - kill two birds with one stone. So I pulled some strings, and hid Deckard in the west bottoms.”

“You knew where Deckard was the whole time?” Dave’s head began to spin a little in disbelief.

“Not exactly - I didn‘t keep in contact with the guy after I got him there. But I knew roughly where he operated. I had to stick him in someplace where he’d be able to make a living, and that cops would fear to tread.”

“Did you cut the orders that got the other two blade runners killed ?!?”

“No. Internal affairs approached them the same way they approached John. I was kept in the loop but IA was pulling the strings. The crime element in the west bottoms got them.”

Gaff stood up and put on his hat. “They started putting out hits on John when they found out he contacted you. They began to worry that if he found Rachel, he’d go to me instead of IA.”

“Then why not just leave the department, resign?”

“And leave Rosen and internal affairs to run the department into the ground? Turn myself into a little person? No thanks. At least not until I’ve pinned them with a conspiracy case. Dave, if John’s found Rachel, I need her DNA, or my case will be worthless. I won‘t be able to protect them. Or you.”

Gaff slowly walked out of the apartment, clanked into the elevator, and disappeared in his spinner.

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

Rick , John and Rachel watched the police spinner take off from Dave’s apartment complex. They watched it disappear into the night sky.

John looked down at his comm unit. A text message began to appear on the screen.

ITS CLEAR.

Dom had managed to get a quiet text message off to John warning him about Gaff being there.

He showed the screen to Rachel, and looked over at Rick, nodding. Rick started the RV and rumbled into the back of a parking lot nearby.

As he engaged the parking brake, Rick looked over at Rachel. He then looked to John, handing John his Smith & Wesson back. John holstered it, then looked back at Rick.

“Don’t blame you for not trusting me.” John smiled a little, picking up the cat’s cage as he exited the RV.

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

“Goddamn it’s been a long time.” Rick said, choking up a little bit. Dave began a handshake which turned into a small hug. Rick looked over Dave’s metal exoskeleton.

“Looks like you fired the plumber.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t make you try it on.” Dave replied, smiling. He stepped back a little as the three of them entered the apartment, with John trailing behind closing the door.

Leon quickly entered the room. Rick and Rachel’s faces lost a little color as he entered the room. “Is this the guy that’s gonna help us get Off-world?” Leon asked.

“Yeah, Leon.” Dave looked back to Rick. “I’m sorry to cut this reunion short - but things are getting really messed up at this end. Gaff just paid me a little visit. It’s not my place to tell people what to do, but Gaff said we needed to get Off-world. Quickly.”

Dave looked over at John, who was walking in with the cat. “Jesus, did you have to buy a cat?”

“Yeah, they probably would have known I was a cop if I’d bought anything cheaper. Why, are you allergic?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” John placed the cat’s cage on the counter, and pulled a bottle of beer out of the fridge. He walked into the living room to check on Dom, and sat down in Dave‘s recliner holding the cold bottle next to his temple.

Dave turned back to Rick. “Thanks for not shooting my nephew.” Then he looked back towards the cat. “…I think..”

Rick smiled. “So what’s the plan?”

 
–                                                –                                                 
 

Rachel snapped some quick pictures of Leon, and began the process of forging passports for spaceflight. “Turn to the right…okay great Leon….”

“Hey, John can I borrow you for a second?” Rick asked tapping John on the shoulder.

“Just hold this and get ready for these to come out.” John grabbed the bag, holding the mouth of it wide open as credit vouchers began to spit out one after the other.

Rick pointed to another machine. “Okay. What you do is insert them in this press, and they’ll get a small cd strip burned onto them. I’ve got the computer set to spit out random amounts, so we won’t draw any attention by showing up with a bunch that have the same…” John nodded, trying to learn as fast as he could.

Dave was on the phone with Jasper. John could hear Dave talking.

“Jasper…I have got the deal of a lifetime for you…” They began hammering out a deal for Rick’s RV spinner in exchange for whatever passport forms Rick couldn’t forge, as well as the sizeable chunk of money to put towards the spaceflight tickets.

After a certain amount of time, everyone was taking a break. Leon dozed off on the couch, with the cat sleeping in his lap; Dom opened up the last of Dave’s beers; Rick gave Rachel a small neck rub.

The only one that was still working was Dave. He’d been calling like crazy. He finally hung up, and looked at everyone.

“Well, the good news is the flight leaves in two hours. The bad news is I could only get four seats.” Dave looked at the table. “I can get another ticket on a later flight, depending on who wants to risk it.”

Everyone around the table was quiet for a second. John spoke up first. I called the tune, I’ll pay the fiddler, John thought to himself.

“I’ll stay. It was me taking the case that got us into this mess in the first place.” John said, knowing that a hit might happen again. He looked over at his uncle.

“What about you?”

“What about me? There’s a shitstorm coming down, I intend to enjoy every second of it…I’m staying put.” John knew there was no talking his uncle out of it.

Dave looked over at Dom. He walked up to his bureau, and retrieved a snubnose blaster. He flicked open it’s cylinder and loaded it with 9mm shells, then checked the bolt on its shotgun simulator.

“This belonged to a good cop.” He handed it to Dom. “It deserves to go to another. Take care of yourself. And him,” Dave said, looking over at Leon.

John looked at them as they loaded into the elevator. Rachel began to climb into the elevator, but then stopped and went back, kissing both Dave and John on the cheek. She ran back into the elevator to join the others.

John stood and watched them as their spinner taxi took off. Maybe this is the happy ending we’ve all waited for, he thought to himself.






The Final Run 

 

John cautiously went into his apartment, looking back and forth while keeping one hand on the S&W. He would’ve rather stayed in a motel room as a precaution, but wanted to save cash - as Rick had promised it’d been the most expensive day he’d ever lived. He looked around a little bit more, but then the headache began to act up again. John winced as he closed the door behind him, locking it.

He sat the artificial cat down. It had complained pretty bad on the subway ride, but was beginning to calm down a little bit. Okay, what’ll it take to make you happy? He yanked out a baking pan (Like I’d ever have time to bake, anyway) and made an impromptu litter box, and then turned and filled a small dish with some water, and another with some canned tuna. John opened the cage, and the cat trotted out towards the dishes.

John pulled the bed from his couch, and fell asleep with the S&W in his hands.


–                                                –                                                 


“It’s open, come on in.” Dave stated, after hearing the knock on the door.

The Replicant opened the door, but couldn’t see Dave. The Replicant walked in, holding an automatic pistol in his hands.

“Hey, I’m in back, you mind giving me a hand with this?” Dave’s voice broke out.

The Replicant slowly entered the apartment, when all of a sudden a crackling discharge, followed by a screen of laser beams, created a virtual wall behind him, emitting waves of sonic energy. As quick as that wall went up, one in front discharged, slicing the Replicant into thin layers, as he passed through. The slices began to fall onto the floor, and an electric ozone-ish smell began to fill the room. The pistol also fell to the floor, cut into two pieces.

Dave popped up from around the backside of the door, holding the control for the electric field. After bolting the lock, he quickly swept up the pieces into a bag, and set them aside with another Replicant he’d fried in the same manner. He re-armed the electric field and unbolted the door. Mama didn’t raise no dummy, Dave thought to himself.

 
–                                                –                                                 


As John slept, the cat jumped up on his bed. The cat stared out through the blinds of the window, watching the traffic and the flashing signs and streetlights, when all of a sudden an automated advertising blimp registered him as a human onlooker. It popped up in front of the cat and touted its foghorn, which sent the cat scrambling out of sight, and then began with its huge spiel. A new life awaits YOU in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again…

John woke up to the sound of other tenants yelling at the blimp. On the lower floors where he lived, the advertising blimps were a pain. John wearily got up, still feeling the blow on his head from yesterday, but not near as bad. He looked over at the cat, who was hiding underneath a chair.

“When it comes back around, we’ll toss an old shoe or something at it, okay?” Don’t blame you a bit, cat. Lots of mornings ruined by that silly-assed blimp. The cat began to come out from under the chair towards John, who was holding out his hand.

Behind John, a closet door barely opened. The intruder could see John’s back through the crack in the door.

The cat came forward to John, then stopped, arched its back and let out a hiss, looking at something behind John, then ran underneath the bed.

John whirled around and fired two rounds out of the S&W. The intruder had made it halfway out of the closet when John shot him. He fell to the floor, arms and legs kicking away in reaction. John hit him once more but this time with the shotgun sim set at the closest possible range. It impacted the Replicant’s left shoulder and arm, taking out a layer of flooring behind it.

All of a sudden John began hearing more footsteps coming out of the elevator, getting louder. John bolted for the door, then ran back inside after seeing two guys scrambling out, both armed. He holstered the S&W and crawled out on the ledge. John started climbing out of the balcony towards a window on the lower floors.

The Replicants broke through John’s door and walked in. The cat shot off past their feet and down the hallway, which shook their concentration for a second - then they ran towards the window and looked out, seeing nothing. They heard a commotion on the lower floors and ran back towards the elevator.

John jumped into an apartment, interrupting a families’ morning breakfast. The mother began to yell, and John pulled out the S&W while running for the door. They scattered at the sight of the blaster as John ran out into the hallway. He looked around and went for the fire stairway. Behind him he could hear the Replicants getting off of the elevator, running.

John clambered down the stairs as fast as he could, and went through the door to the next lower level. He holstered the blaster again, knowing that if he dropped it he might not have a chance to pick it up. He ran over to the fire stairs on the other side of the floor, propped the door open to trick the Replicants into going down it, and then John ran over and pressed both sets of elevator buttons. One chimed indicating it was ready to open.

John drew the S&W and aimed it towards the door, trying to be prepared for a Replicant. Instead it was an middle-aged lady who dropped her grocery bag. John quickly pushed her out and threw her bag out beside her. He quickly pressed for the lobby. The doors finally closed and he began to feel the downward momentum of the elevator.

He checked the S&W and recharged the shotgun sim. Then above him he heard a loud CLANK! One of them must’ve jumped onto the top of the elevator. They are so fast! John began firing caseless rounds through the roof. The Replicant fired back but John’s rounds struck first, with some blood beginning to run down through the bullet holes in the roof.

The elevator dinged as it got to the lobby. John backed out quickly firing the shotgun sim upward. The body of the Replicant came crashing down as the elevator’s roof collapsed, flourescent light tubes being shattered sending glass everywhere.

About this time, the fire escape door opened with a Replicant drawing a gun at John . Fortunately the door was in John’s field of view, alongside the elevator door, and John was able to fire first. He shot four rounds of caseless into him. Walking towards the Replicant he kept his blaster trained on him, then kicked the pistol away from the corpse’s grasp and collected it. John quickly looked for the other Replicant’s pistol but didn’t see it in all of the broken framework and glass.

John took a deep breath and began to come down a little. He looked around and pulled out his comm unit.

“Central this is BR796934. Come in please”

Nothing.

“Central this is 934, come in……C’mon Katie, pick up.”

Then finally there was something on the radio. An unfamiliar pair of male voices broke the silence. “Listen, he’s in the lobby, think he got the two we sent up, over? We can- Oh shit, he’s listening -”

John’s anger began to boil over. Internal affairs must have completely taken over. They had been tracking him through his comm unit!

“You COCKSUCKERS!!”

John looked around and saw a subway tram about to depart. He quickly ran for it. People saw the gun and got out of his way. John stepped on the tram, and took the comm unit and threw it in the subway’s trash bin.

“Track this, motherfuckers.”

He then stepped off the tram and watched the subway as it shot off. John turned and then began walking in the opposite direction. He holstered the S&W and began to blend in with the crowd. He looked up, and a pair of spinners shot overhead following the subway. John grimaced, knowing it would take them a little while to sort that out. Outside of using a public vidphone, he had no way of contacting his uncle, or Gaff.

John’s detective instinct began to take over. He began looking around at the crowd. He’d have to react if someone made a move.

Suddenly, behind John, a person got flung sideways about ten feet, being sent into a glass window. He could see the crowd part as the Replicant ran straight for John. Automated news cameras began to circle the Replicant, flashing away trying to get a picture, while still sounding off with their vocal spiel of, Hi, you’re on the news.

John climbed up a flight of stairs that led to a different subway tram system. The Replicant was closing fast. John was able to get on the tram…Only to see the Replicant board it at the far end. The Replicant drew his pistol as John ran out the exit door on the other side.

John’s heart felt like it was going to burst at any second. He knew the Replicant would get off the subway as well, maybe he could trick him…

John bolted up a stairway which led to a bridge that went back over the subway. He hopped over the security railing and jumped on top of the subway tram as it pulled away. The rain really made the subway’s roof slick, but John felt he could ride it for a short ways, and was grateful just to catch his breath. A few hobo-like transients were also riding the subway in the same way, putting up with the rain to get a free ride across town.

Then John could see a news camera hovering around the rear tram. It began to get a little higher, focusing on someone climbing up the back the subway. He could see the Replicant’s hand as it grabbed the top of the roof. Goddammit! John pulled the S&W, but the jostling of the moving subway tram made keeping the barrel steady very hard.

He crouched to get a better shot.

Then as the Replicant pulled himself over the edge, giving John a perfect shot….

“Hi. You’re on news! KRQT Channel 12 feels that you and your actions have warranted the atten-”

When the news droid popped up, it knocked the S&W out of John’s hands. It tumbled off the roof of the subway into the crowds below. John’s jaw dropped and he almost lost his footing trying to scramble away from the Replicant who was now bearing down on him at full speed. As they entered a tunnel, both John and the Replicant ducked, but the news droid didn’t. It crashed into a mixture of crumpled up metal and broken camera lens glass.

The Replicant recovered quickly on his feet and drew his pistol. The subway started to decelerate, approaching its next stop. John tried to get up and run but slipped on the rain-coated surface.

Thwapp! The hiss of the Replicant’s bullet went by John’s ear.

John slid off the side of the subway, and rolled into the corner, as the rest of the train rolled by. John got up and started running for a service ladder to get out of the tracks. He climbed it as fast as he could. He looked back at the Replicant who was jumping off the subway roof, straight into the crowds waiting to get onto the tram. John could see they were slowing him down.

John ran and ducked into a building, looking around, trying to get his bearings. His breathing was heavy and his rain soaked clothes felt like they weighed a ton. The building was not in really good shape, he could see a street sign that said 23rd. He looked around, no people. I must have wandered into one of the vacant businesses off of Minnesota…John began to rationalize.

He caught his breathe and began to back away from the windows, staying close to the floor. The Replicant walked by, John could see his silhouette. He quietly crawled out of sight behind a rotting desk. As the Replicant passed, John waited, then slowly got up. He started to get up and walk towards the door.

“Peek-a-boo. I see you!” The Replicant laughed. John began to run for the door, but the Replicant moved towards the door as well, and would clearly make it. John turned around and noticed an old stairway in the center of the building, and ran for it.

The Replicant started chasing him, but was galloping as opposed to running full bore. There was at least a ten meter distance inbetween this building and the ones surrounding it. He’d have to get past the Replicant in some way, shape, or form.

“Did you really think you’d get away? Did you really think you stood a chance?”

John scrambled as high up the stairs as he could. The higher he got, the more rain soaked and damaged everything became. He finally reached the roof. John barred the door behind him with an old chair. The Replicant kicked right through it. It pulled out a pistol, and leveled it at John.

“At first, when they told me I was going to kill a cop…I wasn’t going to do it…But, when they told me you were a blade runner…How could I refuse?”

John began to back away. The Replicant had a perfect shot at him. John’s mind began to race for options. Maybe he could climb down the side of the building and re-enter through a window on the lower floor, like he’d done at his apartment.

The Replicant looked down at the pistol, then tossed it away.

“Let’s make this fun, shall we?”

It charged at John. John scrambled around, trying to climb down the side of the building as fast as he could. He could barely keep a grip on the slick ledges as he tried to make his way down. It was a good four stories down.

Then John’s brain finally kicked in…The other pistol

The Replicant poked over the side to see John hanging with one hand, and holding the small pistol he‘d collected from the dead Replicant. John fired four times before hearing the empty click of the firing pin. It struck the Replicant three times, and John watched as it flung the Replicant backwards.

John dropped the pistol and tried to regain his grip and began to climb back up over the ledge, breathing a small sigh of relief. It was a struggle just to hang on.

Then the Replicant popped back up. He quickly kicked John off the ledge, and watched as John fell to his death on the pavement below. A crowd began to gather around John’s body, and the Replicant looked from the streets, then up to the sky, at the never ending rain. It didn’t live much longer, being fatally wounded by the small caliber rounds.

 
–                                                –                                                 


Gaff packed things into a box, getting ready to move out. Steinberg was appointing a new Captain to run Rep-detect. Gaff finished up some paperwork and began to pack up his various origami creations. Then a mail clerk stopped by Gaff’s office with a package. When the clerk said it was supposed to go to Gaff only, Gaff became very suspicious.

“What’s this?” Gaff asked, trying to be prepared for anything. Gaff picked up a phone.

“I need someone from bomb squad to get here with a scanner ASAP.”

The small box was barely eight centimeters wide, and three centimeters thick. It’s return address showed it was sent from an Off-world space port.

A uniformed agent showed up at Gaff’s door, holding a small device.

“Scan that.” Gaff commanded.

The agent ran the scanner over the box several times, then look back towards Gaff.

“It’s safe. No explosives of any kind.” He closed up his scanner and left the room.

Gaff began to cut at the tape, and lifted off the top of the box, revealing a coaster-sized origami bird, an owl. Gaff picked it up and began to unfold its wings a little.

A small neatly tied clipping of hair fell out of the right side wing.

Running across the futuristic paper, a small message began to scroll across.

Remember John Holden

Rachel

Gaff smiled and began unpacking his boxes, setting the owl on a prominent shelf.

Rachel’s DNA, and wiretaps that caught Steinberg’s communications with Rosen-Grozzi, gave Gaff all needed to create a watertight case. Three weeks later Steinberg and the entire internal affairs department were dismissed and later brought up on charges. Even the police chief resigned.

After failing a lie-detector test, Steinberg finally confessed to her involvement with Rosen. After all, Letting go is something we all must do at some point.

 





Dave was excited. And Dave Holden was not the type of guy that gets excited over much of anything. Sure, he liked helping cops out, sure he enjoyed a good debate with sharp classmates when they asked him a question on his blog. But normally those things didn’t get Dave excited.

He’d taken a month to get himself right after John was killed. Not just emotionally, but also to get John’s personal affairs in order. Because he was family, Gaff gave Dave the okay to inspect his apartment. The first thing that happened was the cat slowly came out from underneath John’s bed. It had wandered back in his apartment through the broken-down door, not knowing where else to go.

But still, here he was, on a flight to the Off-world colony of Io. In his hands he held the cat in its cage. He figured it would make a nice housewarming gift for Dom and Leon. Over the course of many phone calls and emails, Dave had become good friends with Dom and Leon, and decided to take them up on an offer to live with them on Io.

When the PAN-AM ship the Proteous approached the docking port, some alarms sounded off, followed by a signal from the stewardess to be ready to debark. A green light above the walkway sounded off, and Dave began to walk off the ship and was greeted right away by Leon. Dom was in tow, and gushed when Dave presented her with the cat. Leon grabbed Dave’s bags and motioned for where Dom’s taxi spinner was parked. The day’s surprises weren’t over, though.

“Hey, old buddy.” Dave turned to see Rick and Rachel. Rick walked up and stuck out his hand, and Dave shook it. “I was really sorry to hear about John. He seemed like a good kid.”

“He was.” Dave responded.

A security guard walked up to their “group”. We must look like troublemakers…Dave thought to himself, chuckling. Two Replicants, a creepy old guy with a noisy frame, a chickenhead, and a silly artificial cat. We should get a picture taken…Rick’s the only “normal” one of the bunch.

“Can you all please step forward for security screening?”

Rick spoke up. “It’s normal at spaceports here. No big deal.”

They all went into a room. When they stepped in, the lights dimmed and another red light came on scanning them for weapons or other contraband. Dave watched them all, just really happy to be with his friends.

But Dave noticed something a little odd. A light red glow formed in the eyes of Leon, Rachel, the cat, and Rick. Dom’s eyes didn’t glow at all, and Dave didn’t see anything in his reflection, either.

Rick looked at him for a second. “Everything all right, pal?”

Rick Deckard? A blade runner Replicant? Dave was a little shocked. But then he looked over at Leon holding Dom’s hand, and noticed Rick holding Rachel’s. Then another thought popped into his head. What difference does it make? They’d still be my friends, so who cares. After what we’ve all been through I’m sick to death of reality, anyway.

Dave smiled and looked back to Rick.

“Everything’s great. It’s just good to see everyone again.”