[Saturday | 11 August 2266]
It was 5:25 in the morning when that incessant fucking beeping in my head woke me up. It was a transmission. Who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to muscle their way into contact at that God-awful time of morning?
“You may call me ‘Your Eminence,’” she said, shortly after the holographic image appeared. Apparently, ‘Her Eminence’ thinks it’s a good time. Or she was using my sleep-deprived brain to fuck with me. Probably the latter.
She started quizzing me about the operation. As I answered, she commented about my escalating heartbeat. “It seems like any reference to last night still gets my adrenaline up,” I told her. “I mean, it was only three hours ago.” It wasn’t a lie. Not exactly.
“Three hours and twelve minutes,” she clarified, leaving me wondering who the hell this woman is. She then informed me that despite the thirty-eight heat signatures, only four bodies were located. After my questioning of her credentials, asking if she’s a member of the Force, she informed me that the Force reports to her subordinate’s subordinate’s subordinate. Great, this is going to be a barrel of laughs.
I mentioned Adrit’s extracurricular activities to Her Eminence. She didn’t even bat an eyelid, instead just telling me, “Of the seventeen thousand officers tasked with locating Counsellor Adrit, you were the only one who as much as caught sight of the Animalz. There were raids, gunfights, and the slums are still running red today. Despite their failures, the rest of the Force accomplished a lot of good that night. But it is now apparent that with crime in the Seattle Sector currently curbed, your talents are wasted here.”
On one hand, at least it didn’t sound like she suspected me of Adrit’s murder. But on the other hand… wasted? How so? Was she firing me?
No, instead she was going to ship me off to Sector New York—given my history with the sector, it was sure to be a fate worse than death, and that fate had me wishing she knew I was the one who splattered Adrit’s brain against the wall—to go deep undercover. Why? To locate the Slumlord. For those who don’t know, the Slumlord is a myth with no evidence of their existence. But Her Eminence apparently believes they’re real. She apparently has intel—which she won’t share with the hired help—suggesting this Slumlord is bankrolling the Animalz’s operation.
I was being shipped out that day, where I was to meet a slum technician with a side hustle working for Her Eminence. Calling out the instructions as bullshit didn’t go down particularly well. “You work for the City, and the City works for me,” she said. “I’m transferring the details of your flight as we speak. You might be a talented officer, Bakker, but talented officers go missing all the time. Please, don’t make yourself a statistic.”
Threat noted. And at least I had time for a shower and a nutrition bar before my flight.