Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. For Part 7, click! The next part was Part 8. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.
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Without the shotgun or the assault rifle, I felt ill-equipped as we climbed up the stairs. Samuels and I loaded up from what Lincoln was still carrying; the dog had the wind knocked out of him but seemed to be moving fine. He followed us up the stairs in the rear, while we kept our guns trained on the open door.
When we got there, we saw it opened on to the roof of the clinic. A black, unmarked (and, thankfully, unarmed) helicopter was sitting there, idling. I guessed that the doctor hadn't managed to finish whatever she was doing to get it into the air. Standing by the entry hatch was a beautiful woman, maybe in her late thirties. Her hair was pulled up in a bun, and she wore a white lab coat over a professional blue blouse and matching skirt. In her hands she carried a clipboard and a pen. She smiled and held up a hand.
"That's close enough-"
Samuels fired his gun without waiting for the hologram to stop talking. The bullet passed through it into the side of the helicopter. The face on the hologram exploded into fear, and she dropped the things in her hands, which disappeared from view.
"Don't shoot me."
"I'm tired of listening to you people talk," Samuels said. "Wherever you are, come out."
"I'm currently locked in the helicopter," The hologram said. "Even if I could come out, you've demonstrated that would be an incredibly bad idea."
"We'll just come in and get you," He said. She shook her head, trying to regain the composure.
"No. I've ignored trying to open the helicopter in favor of getting it to take off," She said. "I frankly thought a death squad would be a bit more heavily armed."
"We're not the death squad," I said, showing my identification. I first showed it to the hologram, then I pressed it up against the one-way window of the helicopter. I saw the hologram lean forward; I'll admit to watching the skirt inch up as she leaned. I mean, I know the hologram didn't have to look like whoever was operating it, and since there were no obvious cybernetics, it probably was more the ideal doctor than the real doctor, but it was like seeing a movie star on the big screen, you just had to look.
"Well, thanks for the save officer," She said. "But, if you could just get them to turn off the security lock down, I'll be on my way. We had a deal."
"Can I call you Leann?"
"That name's as good as any other."
"I need you to come out of the helicopter," I said. Samuels holstered his weapon and paced around the helicopter, trying to find some opening we had missed. "You're not going anywhere any time soon, so just what the fuck were you doing?"
"Your job," The hologram said, taking a seat in mid air, crossing her legs and removing her glasses. She chewed on the stem as she talked. "Cleaning up the streets. Protecting the weak. Etc., etc."
"It looks like fucking murder," I said. I decided to start addressing the hologram instead of the helicopter. It had nicer legs.
"Oh please, it isn't like any of those gangers that are dead down there were anything more than a ticking time bomb waiting to shoot a real person," the doctor said. "Which reminds me, you should thank me. The original plan was to put a cortex bomb in them, but I couldn't guarantee it would only blow up when they were near other gang members."
"I'm not going to thank you for deciding to harvest their tech instead of blowing up their heads," I said. She smiled at me, recrossing her legs and winking.
"Come now officer, you think that I did this all on my own?"
"No, we figure someone up high in the department gave you cover," Samuels said. He was still looking at the helicopter. I guess if you were young and tough like him you didn't need to stare at pretty holo-girls.
"What a quaint idea," The doctor said. "And they picked me for this dastardly, nefarious scheme?"
"No," I said. "Not the department. The chief's a bit of a dick, but he wouldn't go in for this. Cleaning up the streets like this? This is the work of a politician wanting to make a name for himself."
The doctor leaned back in her invisible chair, idly chewing on her glasses. "So, you think that some big, influential politician came to a back alley street doctor to kill a bunch of gang members, and steal their tech, all to... create good publicity?"
"No," I said, as I looked at Samuels. "See, your helicopter is too small. No way you're carrying all that tech with you."
"So, where did it go officer? You have a very pretty dog," She said. "It doesn't seem to like me."
"He knows you're not real," I said. "Speaking of which, where's all your tech? It's a sexy hologram, but I expected you to be decked out with all sorts of gadgets."
"Don't worry officer, I'm au nautrale," She said.
Samuels tried punching the helicopter, and the hologram turned with a sudden look of shock on her face. She regained her composure quickly. "Your friend is awfully single-minded."
"The tech you took out of those people. I know what the plan is for them; you've been doing it a lot longer than we thought, haven't you?" I said. "Whoever your mysterious benefactor is, he's been using it to equip guys like Samuels here to do what you're doing: Cleaning up the streets. That's why we've been able to afford it all; it's been ripped out of criminals and given to the city as a sort of hush money."
"What an interesting theory," She said
Keeping an operation like this quiet was probably taking a lot of bribes. It required a lot of money to keep officers like me from poking around. It took a lot to build a helicopter pad on a clinic and to get a functioning security system like this set up.
"So, do you see, officers? I'm just being a good citizen. I'm helping keep the bad citizens and non-citizens from causing a problem. I deserve a medal."
"You'll get life, if you're lucky," I said.
"Just because it looks like my benefactors have sold me out doesn't mean much to me," She said. "People will pay for my skills. They'd pay for yours too. Think about it: What has your department done except turn a blind eye to this?"
Samuels shifted uncomfortably. "What's your point?"
"My point is this: You both saw this and did the right thing, you came to stop me. Oops, on your part, this was totally kosher," She said. "But, you have initiative. It is being stifled. People would pay good money for this."
"Money isn't everything."
"What are you talking about?" The doctor said. "Money is the wave of the future."
"Fuck the future," I said.
"Look at your department and the city government," she continued, oblivious to my comment. "They can't even protect my little clinic; it isn't my fault all my orderlies and receptionists were killed. The city didn't protect them. Every day, how many people are getting killed and robbed? All because the city can't afford security. I'll let you in on a secret: I was only giving about half of the tech to my political backer. The other half? Let's say it was going to my next project."
"I guess there's no honor among thieves," I said.
"On the contrary," She said. "I did everything I did for one goal: To be rich, retire early and to not get shot. You think your politicians are any different? They aren't, they cover it up with deceit. The CEOs and corporations are at least honest: Quid pro quo."
Samuels turned over to look at the hologram and walked towards it. "Give us a name, and we'll take him down too."
"Why would you want to do that?" She said. "In a few years or so, you'll be lining up to snap at the option to work for them. I'll keep your names on file, even give you a reference if you like."
"Fuck you, get out of the helicopter, now," I said.
"You really think it is all over for the city?" Samuels asked.
"They're cutting deals with people like me. Then, they put a virus in my system and tipped off a bunch of murderers to come and shut me up," She said. "Does that sound like the foundation of a stable society?"
Samuels shook his head. "No. The chief's been holding us back in the worst places too. Hell, you said it earlier Roscoe: It shouldn't matter if they're paying security fees or not, right?"
"Yeah, so let's get this helicopter open-"
"But, look at the whole city," He said. "You have to pay a fee just to make sure we patrol your goddamn street and keep the gangs from setting up a drug stand where your kids used to have a lemonade stand."
"I thought you were against the idea of my old-fashioned 'protect and serve' crap."
"Yeah, well, fuck the whole fucking system," Samuels said. "The staff here died because they've been paying for services we weren't going to give. We're not able to patrol everywhere, and why's that? Because dickheads like the chief cut corners and politicians make deals with bitches like her."
"I can still hear you."
"Well, fuck all of this," He said. He pulled his gun and began firing at the helicopter.
"Need I remind you that won't work?" The doctor said. "But, I do have an offer. A serious one for both of you: Meet my employer at an address I can have sent to you discretely and get in on the ground floor of our new market-based security firm. Unlike the politicians, we don't care about anything but happy customers and the bottom line."
"Fuck you lady," I said. "There's more to this than the money."
"No, no there isn't Roscoe," Samuels said, as he tossed his empty gun aside. "Give me the address, I'm in."
"Hey, partner, stick with me and we can expose this whole goddamn thing," I said.
"Hey, partner, stick with me, and we'll both be very rich, very powerful, and we'll still protect everyone who pays us our cut," the doctor said. "We're more honest than the police; we'll actually protect the people who pay the bills. We're more honorable than the mob; there's enough other people who can break windows that we won't need to dirty our hands with that nonsense."
"Just give me the address."
"Well," The doctor said as the rotors began to spin. "What an odd coincidence, I fixed my helicopter at just this moment."
"Fuck you lady; you just wanted to give us your damn sales pitch."
"Tell me officer, did you guess that or did you know? Now, Samuels, I'll make sure you get the address, but you're going to have to figure out how to get back home without any complications. I don't think your partner approves of our little business deal."
She was right, I didn't. I approved even less of it when Samuels turned to look at me and shook his head. "Let me walk away Roscoe."
"Can't do that," I said. "She's a criminal. You can't trust her; we need to file a complete report."
"You're probably right. But I can't trust the department. Only person who has ever been 100 percent straight with me is you," Samuels said.
"So, stick with me," I said. "I can't let you go through with this."
I barely stumbled away from him as his punch whiffed the air.
"And since I know you're a man of you're word, I'm just going to have to make sure you don't file that report till I've made my next move."