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…”
– – –
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.
– – –
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.
– – –
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.
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.
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.
– – –
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.
“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.
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?”
“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”
“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!
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
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.”