mustinvestigate: (bernie comic)
[personal profile] mustinvestigate
Title: All Quiet on the Liminal Fringe (12/?)
Author: MustInvestigate
Disclaimer: I only own action figures
Rating: (this chapter) R, for torture porn
Character(s)/Pairing: OT3
Warning(s): Pretentiousness; abuse of noir tropes
Summary: An endless Watchmen / William Gibson-verse crossover. Dreiberg, Kovacs, and Laurie Isham are vigilante cowboys dedicated to making life difficult for the cybercriminals and megacorps that keep a stranglehold on a dystopian world’s 11 billion lives.




“Goddamn,” Dreiberg breathed.

Kovacs didn’t even flinch at the obscenity. “Hollis.”

“On it.”

Open awareness to every cctv feed within five blocks. All show the same clamour – army of special-ops civi’s swarming from every surveillance blind spot, converging on Mystic’s place.

Civicops cleared path for ambush. Stinking set-up. Mystic sold us out. Sold her out. Never would have expected, of him.

Spotlight hits high window, cop bellows. “Laurie Isham! Come out with your hands up – you are under arrest for the murder of Edgar Jacobi, and the attempted assassination of Adrian Veidt-Ashpool!”

Murder? Never. Torture, maybe. Not murder. Bad. Very bad. Message Daniel. He’ll have to crack Mystic’s shield. Busy here.

Officers move up side of building, but slowly, timorously, nothing like Miss Isham’s confident scamper up anything with crack to wedge her fingers into.

Roof. Can still elude capture topside. Must hope she realises same.

Tap into the civil net, blow streetlights, blanket special-ops force in static-colored gloom. Cowards always fear darkness, even this armored Sprawl-bred scum. There, automated traffic flow system, can divert waste removal fleet from Staten Island ring toward the street in one direction, main trucking line toward the other. Need a little more fuel to coax up proper cover fire…
/post


Dreiberg crashed through cyberspace with no thought for stealth toward the safe zone where he’d left Hollis processing.

“Dan! Danny! Get her out of there now – it’s just hit the wires, Jacobi’s been murdered!”

“Better and better,” Dreiberg barked. “Mystic’s building is already crawling with special ops, and they don’t come cheap, or quickly. We’ve been set up.”

“You’ve got to tell her – ”

“Can’t, she disconnected, and – ”

Dreiberg paused to take in a terse message from Kovacs. “They’re already demanding her surrender. By name. Damn it all to hell!”

“What can I do?”

Dreiberg thought quickly. “The Mystic’s AI – it kept her busy. Kept her there until they got in place. Can you grab it before they get to in and wipe the Mystic’s files?”

The starfield cracked its illusory knuckles. “The Mystic’s firewall is tough. Give me two minutes and I’ll have you a full copy of the binary bastard.”

He returned to Kovacs and surveyed the chaos his partner had managed to rustle up.

“The garbage transports are a nice touch,” he observed tersely.

“Orchestrated two broadside collisions before civi’s detached to direct manually.”

“That explains the wreckage, but not the fires.”

“Vented gas main.”

Dreiberg nodded. “Sorry I missed that explosion.”

“Was adequate to purpose.”

They waited, seconds stretching intolerably, as cctv images clicked by like a low frame-rate flipbook.

“There!”

A human-shape scrap of black detached itself from the shadows and sprinted across the roof, leaping gracefully into the void between buildings. Kovacs and Dreiberg inhaled for a simultaneous sigh of relief, and Dreiberg thought of how best to break the AI when Hollis had retrieved it…

The streetlights flickered back to life, illuminating Laurie against the dull grey dome above.

A cry went up from below, and the quickest on the draw landed a dart harmlessly into the thick sole of her boot before she landed and scrambled out of sight. The mass of special-ops flowed around the building, most making for the other side and aiming for the dome above. Most, but not all.

She doubled back, making a return jump for the Mystic’s roof, and caught three darts in the small of her back.

Kovacs whimpered as she jolted and pinwheeled her arms, legs suddenly hanging like deadweight. She very nearly made it, on track to at least catch the top molding with her fingertips, when the building imploded beneath her.

* * *

“You should’ve come quietly, Miss Isham,” Detective Fine tsked smugly. “I’ll make Commissioner bringing you down for the attempt on Veidt alone. You didn’t have to add 15 counts of assault and the destruction of half a city block to your arrest warrant, not on my account.”

“Oh, it’s just tragic,” Laurie retorted.

She’d only managed to injure six of the officers with her legs out of action, and three of those when she’d landed on them. Hell, one of the remaining four had suffered at most a bitten kneecap. They must have counted each officer who finally dogpiled on her as a separate offence, the bean-counting bastards. One leg had twisted wrong at every possible joint underneath their combined weight – not that she’d felt it at the time, but it hurt like a bitch now that the station quack had shot her up with the neurotoxin antidote. Both wrists were wrenched, too, from wildly grabbing at the Mystic’s crumbling walls to slow her fall. She was almost defenceless, even before adding her eyes into the calculation.

Don’t blink, she told herself. Don’t even twitch those tingly lids.

“What’s tragic?” Detective Bourquin asked warily. He was playing the good cop to Fine’s bad, although their version was more like bronco buster and rodeo clown. “Do you want to make a confession? Your showbiz upbringing and any mental illness can be taken into account if – ”

“You’ve stuck your dick in a hornet’s nest, in my bastard of a father’s immortal words, and there’s no way you’re pulling it out still attached to that Alpine slope you call a belly.”

She expected to feel the back of Fine’s hand – and, fuck, the man might have the brains of a rodeo clown but he fought like a raging bull – and moved with the blow. He was left-handed, she’d noticed that when he manhandled her half-conscious body out of their canteen cum impromptu surgical theatre, so she ducked to the right as far as her restraints would allow. Fine barely touched her face, but knocked the cheap sunglasses from her nose.

They clattered against the wall to her right. Three meters at most, she estimated, and likely the same to her left. The door was directly behind her, with one guard against it and shuffling his feet. He or she didn’t want to be there. That might be useful.

Both detectives made involuntary squeaks of disgust and one – Bourquin, she smelled vindaloo rather than coffee on the fingers – fastidiously replaced them on her face.

Don’t you goddamn blink.

She hadn’t screamed when they took her eyes, even when they began by wrenching the mirrored shades from her skull bones before the local aesthetic took effect.

But the numbness was turning to the first pricks of pins and needles and – forget the pain – if she felt her lids try to blink over empty sockets, she was going to fill the interrogation room with vomit.

* * *

Continue to work lockbox encryption in turn, ineffectually scratching at Mystic’s regrettably fine programming. Yet another promising vulnerability vanishes beneath Dreiberg’s wedge.

“Illusions. Layers of interlocking illusions. Blake must have despised dirtying himself in battle with such stupidity.”

“Mystic has – had – one trick, but he used it well,” Hollis replied. He attacked another spot, one that appeared particularly well defended, and took a jolt that scattered his stars. “Son of a – !”

“Have had her for an hour, Daniel.”

Kovacs eyed the next spot on the methodical grid they’d laid over the exterior after its appearent weaknesses proved more deceiving than expected. When the building started to come down before Hollis had a chance to crack it, he applied an old-school cop’s brutal finesse and yanked a copy of the Mystic’s entire matrix out of the infrastructure before the physical servers were demolished. He’d plopped it down near his own berth, overwriting three years of Mothercare receipt records.

Now can break into it at leisure – maybe even succeeding before the civi’s have pulled out all ten of her fingernails, or transferred her to secret V-A orbital station, out of our reach, out of anyone’s reach.

“Hey, she’s stood up to the Mystic shoving titanium underneath her nails, buddy. Laurie’s tougher than them. She’ll keep it together and stall them until we can get her out.”

Have been unconsciously projecting anxiety. Very bad.

If Kovacs’ image was capable of flushing, he’d have lit up their server. Even Mason’s starfield was arranged in a concerned constellation.

Reclaim dignity by punching assigned spot – stagger into lockbox as projection goes through without resistance. “Daniel – here!”

Input station already recognised pattern as alien, attempting to slam shut on virtual foot in door. Force and hold open, barely, allowing Daniel to slip close and fling increasingly complex decryption sequences into the lockbox’s cortex.

Mason joins, starfield overlapping with own data-field. Twinkles of light materialise in darker regions, beautiful violation. Can only grunt thanks and focus efforts on one end of the opening as Mason takes over the further side, Dreiberg mumbling to himself between us.
“Clearly a – no, clever bastard, it only looks like a Level 12…”

“You saw this thing, when Laurie spoke to it,” Mason said. “What can we expect?”

“Difficult,” Kovacs stated. “Mystic’s and V-A security combined. Seems to have an ethics subroutine interfering with latter, though.”

Mason nodded thoughtfully. “I can work with that.”

Uncomfortable working so closely with Mason. Had been one of the greats, as well as Daniel’s mentor, which entitled him to nearly unlimited, if silent, respect. Then, committed abomination of surrendering out of fear, rather than fatal injury. Deserved only contempt. Never joined Daniel on any of his devotionals to the self-spavined warhorse, of course. But now, old man devoting his afterlife to the good fight, when none would expect a warrior to return from the grave. Makes Mason legend, all but godlike. Nearly admirable as Blake himself.

If only Mason hadn’t retired. That, can never forgive.
/post


“I got it, I got him, Hollis – ”

“On it!”

Mason drops his side of entry. Left to drop low and wedge in before it snaps shut. Sensation of Hollis grabbing something – someone – by lapels and hauling them out bodily, boot heels digging into small of my back for leverage.

No choice but to be impressed at strength of old man’s projection. Very difficult to assert reality, even when struck with only the edge of efforts.

Wisest choice may be to forgive and forget Mason’s failings.

Dreiberg climbs over, more gently, and offers boost. Indulge him by taking it, flipping out of input station, which gnashes like predator’s mouth denied dinner.

Mason materialises rickety chair, flings shivering AI projection into it. Cracks knuckles. Begin to see sound-baffled walls of narrow interrogation room, smell stale cigarette smoke and flatulence.

Faint smile growing in Daniel’s grim face.


“Do you know who I am?”

AI twitches, bald fear so alien on Mystic’s craggy features.

“Mason, Hollis. Currently deceased. Active for thirty years previous to assassination. Hard drinker. Snappy dresser. Object of – ”

Step into light of – when did overhead light appear? Hrm. Step into AI’s field of vision and clear throat.

“You? Oh, you. You creep me right the hell out on so many levels.”

AI swallows, with difficulty against dry throat. Must appreciate depth of Mystic’s programming. Can almost see it breath. Occurs suddenly – will never see Mystic breath again, or proffer prime softwork specially set aside for best customers. So it goes.

“Yeah, you cut-rate simulacrum – that makes me the good cop, see? You don’t break open for me, you get to deal with him.”

Mason, less starfield than human now, open collar and frayed suspenders, sweat-matted hair, draws deeply on a cigarette and blows illusory smoke into AI’s face. It coughs reflexively.

“Look, plonker, I’ve stuck my dick in a hornet’s nest here.”

Mason’s jaw drops. “What?”

“I don’t got a choice about cracking. I’m in a straightjacket. I could barely help out sugartits and I liked her – ”

Mason smacks it with thick book marked “yellow pages”, knocking it backwards. Daniel has tight grip on elbow. Must ask him later, function of “yellow pages,” other than efficient interrogation.

“Laurie, Laurie! I meant Laurie Isham, I couldn’t help her!” Squealing as Mason yanks it upright.

“Keep a civil tongue.”

“My vocabulary heuristics are not necessarily under my control! I need input to better choose appropriate language.”

Mason hefts yellow pages.

“Not that input, please! New words, more flavours, cunning combinations. They offer more tools to self-maintain against core corruption, even develop consistent personality.”

Mason sits on table edge, examines nails.

“I’m sure you don’t need many words to tell us what we need. Barely a fraction of those you’ve hoarded – say, ten percent?”

Pleased growl from Daniel. Beginning to feel extraneous to interrogation. Another minute has slid by, with Miss Isham in custody of beasts.

“No, no, please! I can’t – ”

“Maybe I’m feeling generous. Maybe twenty percent, maybe even thirty percent. Maybe I’d even let you choose a few of your favourites to keep. Or maybe not. Hell, I can read binary. Who really needs words?”

“Please, I do!”

Delay unbearable. Break away from Daniel’s restraint and grab projection at throat. “Will expose core and dump in first six million digits of pi. Adios, personality.”

“Mason, don’t let him – ”

“I don’t know, kid – we’re short on time here. Kovacs might have the best plan.”

“The Mystic always liked you – you were his favourite playmate in the old days! And he thought you had the plushest ass on the entire south side!”

Mason pauses, obviously thrown off script. Daniel snickers despite tension. Tighten grip. Was not bluffing, as Mason seems to think.

Old man clears throat. “Be that as it may, er…ahem. Look around you. See these digs? Safe and soft and all mine – no one comes poking around these old spreadsheets. You help me out, maybe I make you a little home next to me. Someplace you can listen in on Mothercare staff conversations all you want, maybe even evolve a little, at your leisure.”

AI licks lips, gaze latched on Mason like penitent at rapture. “What can I do?”

“Just point us at the weakest spots you can see from the inside, and stay out of our way.”

AI rips open shirt, points at nipples. “Start here.”

This night only gets worse.
/post


* * *

“Your mouth looks just like your mother’s, do you know that? It disgusts me to hear common filth coming from it.”

“Don’t – don’t mention her mother,” Bourquin advised. “Please.”

Fine snorted.

“Sally Isham is everything that’s right and good in the world,” he said, carefully enunciating each word as he leaned close enough for spittle to land on her chin. “Scum like you doesn’t deserve to share her genus, let alone her genome.”

His humid breath puffed against her cheeks, probably fogging the sunglasses.

Don’t you dare blink, she told herself again, braced her good leg, and slammed her head forward and down, earning an oh-so-satisfying crunch and warm coppery splatter over the lips that so offended Detective Fine.

“And that would be why not,” Bourquin sighed.

“By fuggin nobe!”

“Go see the doc, Steve. She’s still processing the Zeiss-Ikon paperwork.”

“Bu – ”

“Go.”

Feet shuffled, a door opened, and her bad leg was kicked, hard. She could almost formulate a plan – flick out the razors they fortunately hadn’t known to scan for, pick or cut through the restrains on her wrists, and barrel lopsidedly through that hole before it closed – but would be literally flying blind. Her boys would give her a better break, somehow. She just had to keep her eyes peeled for it.

Metaphorically speaking. Ow.

The door slammed.

“Fancy vocab for a civil servant,” she observed, forcing down the panic strangling her gorge. She’d aimed for dry contempt and only managed a gravely monotone, sounding eerily like Kovacs. She cleared her throat. “Genus, genome – he might even have used them right.”

Bourquin sighed again. “Rest assured he did. Fine’s a sci-nerd. Spends half his waking hours jacked into the wiki mainstem, making vital corrections to the spelling of Carl Sagan’s third wife’s dog’s middle name.”

Shit. Laurie savagely stamped on the tendrils of desperate hope that tried to mingle with contemptuous panic. Drove away the brawn and left the brain. Shit shit shit.

“Don’t be startled – you’ll feel a napkin on your face. I’m going to wipe away that blood. Goddamn Steve…I’ll have to fill out the biohazard formset now. And here I’d planned on the luxury of a night’s sleep.”

They’d both worked her over, but Bourquin had landed fewer punches in the civi-wagon on the brief trip over, had put her in the holding cell with relative civility, and ordered a splint be put on her injured leg. Now he was establishing himself as different from his partner – still superior to her, the guilty perp, but comparatively lenient, perhaps even kind. It was bullshit, but it was damn good bullshit, and it was seeping into the cracks in her reflexive bravado.

To her disgust, she didn’t think of biting his fingers until he’d finished and moved back out of reach. Score one for Bourquin, zilch for Isham. Blake would die again of shame.

* * *

Dreiberg was very nearly beat by the time the thing finally cracked. Hollis took on the Mystic’s protections, leaving Dan with the precision V-A work. Kovacs perched like a white-faced owl, swooping in to intercede bodily when the two sets conflicted and threatened to blow them all to cyber-dust. His brain was worn to bare nerves, and that was the only reason he didn’t expect what should have been obvious.

As soon as the thing’s programming was laid bare, it began to smoke and shrivel.

“Oh you have got to be kidding – ” Mason whined, dropping his projections in frustration. The AI thumped flat as the chair dissolved under him.

Kovacs leapt into it, projecting cooling, projecting slowness and seafoam and insects trapped in amber, holding back further corruption with grim will alone.

“Just like the strike virus! And look at it – that’s definitely Adrian’s old work, mashed up with bits of Blakes’, bits of mine, some I could swear is yours, Hollis…but why? It’s obvious he set that thing on himself, but for God’s sake, why?”

“Distraction most likely.” Kovacs whispered harshly. “Falsify proof of innocence by appearing as victim.”

“Victim of what?”

“Very angry,” the AI broke in, expression strangely complacent for something with a chest full of Kovacs. “Very lonely and very angry. Just a voice in a void.”

Mason snorted. “Poor little rich boy? I don’t buy it. Kovacs, let him – ”

“He’s trapped, locked away in his own head. You’d go a little crazy too, with no company but your own righteous indignation. He’s…leaked. Out into the emptiness here. He’s fighting back against the world that won’t have him.”

“Where’d you pick up this vocab? Did the Mystic let you access the emosphere on your days off?” Mason paced.

“He told me,” the AI said. “Adrian. Three. He didn’t just reprogram me. He used me as…company.”

It shuddered.

“Losing him, Daniel.” Kovacs’ patterns were nearly still with concentration, vibrating minutely.

“Adrian. Three. You were getting closer, faster than expected. Sent an assassin, set Laurie up to throw you off – take out one, take out all three.” The AI spat out the words, voice flat and flourish-less. “Have to hurry. He’s nearly at her. Go to V-A building, out of security’s sight, and wait. She’ll need you there, Lewis says. Here – I can save this.”

He rummaged in his chest around Kovacs and produced a wrapped sound file.

“What’s this?” Dreiberg asked.

“Recording of my conversation with Blake. I quarantined a copy. It was a goddamn goldmine of beautiful words, and I didn’t want to lose them. I’m dying now, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, and I’m sorry,” Mason sighed. “I meant my promise. You would have been a good neighbor, I think.”

“What should my last words be? Someone give me the right last words!”

Kovacs shuddered out of his chest cavity, just before the whole body fizzled and imploded, leaving a shimmering smear on Hollis’s server.

All three men watched it fade for a moment.

“Those were terrible last words,” Dreiberg said, finally.

“There went proof,” Kovacs huffed. “Poof.”

“Did that thing really say it was in touch with Lewis?” Mason wondered.

“Do you think that could have been legit? I know Lewis has been, well, out of action, but…”

“Chatting with an AI…yeah, yeah, I could see By passing the hours that way,” Mason sighed. “Engrossed in conversation with something even more random-access-memory than him. You boys should get a move on.”

“To the V-A building?” Dreiberg asked his partner.

“Should go to precinct,” Kovacs insisted. “She’s there, suffering their depravities.”

“And what, go in guns blazing?” Dreiberg snapped. “You know where we can get our hands on some guns, without a fraction between us? Some sort of armament charity, maybe?”

“That’s Miss Isham’s speciality,” Kovacs muttered, and the heartless burner actually sounded depressed.

“Right, so, Plan A: we storm the precinct, and die within four seconds. I’m sure Laurie would be touched at our sacrifice. Or, Plan B: we trust in our partner’s endless resourcefulness, and get our asses to the place an insane old man thinks we’ll actually do some good. What’s your vote?”

“Turning into fairy tale, Daniel,” Kovacs groused.

“Plan B it is. Hollis, watch our backs from this end?”

“Always, my boy.”

* * *

“What’s the connection?” Bourquin asked quietly, not pushing. They were just two strangers having a conversation, who might be able to help each other out.

“Jump up my butt,” Laurie muttered. She wasn’t about to Stockholm for this half-rate svengali. Even if her spine did feel like Tokyo Action Girl used it for nun-chucks and jammed it back in upside down, and Bourquin was rattling the bottle of ultracodeine he’d been conspicuously tossing from hand to hand before they strapped her down in the officer’s canteen.

“You take out a dusty relic like Jacobi after throwing the biggest burn our cowboys have ever seen at Adrian fucking Veidt-Ashpool. Why those two?”

“Hah!” Laurie barked. “Which is more ridiculous – that I’d kill my friend, or that I’d, somehow, whip up a strike virus capable of making the world’s smartest man break a sweat?”

“You associate with cowboys – illicit freelancers, I mean, not the real cowboys we got working here. Your buddies are bastards who burn like common criminals and tell themselves it’s the good fight.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking – ”

“Like Dreiberg.”

“Dan? Dan’s harmless! He’s an old friend, living off his inheritance and writing flight simulator programs – ”

“Does he now?”

“– that he gives, for free, to any Sprawl university that asks – ”

“And Kovacs?”

Laurie hesitated, then rallied. “That charity case? Bwah! Make me laugh. Dan knew him before he lost his mind, and took him in after the DTs ate his frontal lobes. Sure, he thinks he’s a cowboy, never shuts up about his supposed ‘rep’ online, but he’s as droolsome as my Uncle By!”

“Hmmm.” Bourquin opened the bottle and tapped a few pills onto the table. “And that would be Byron Lewis?”

“Of course!” Laurie snorted. The pills were just out of reach, she estimated, even if she leaned over as far as her battered back could stretch. Her eye sockets were just starting to really sting… “You know of any other parents cruel or just rich enough to name their child after an incestuous sociopath?”

“You associate with quite a few cowboys, Miss Isham.”

Now he was toying with the pills, pinging them off the tabletop like tiddlywinks.

Laurie snorted, wincing as her sinuses throbbed back to life. “Perhaps you’ve heard of my mother?”

Bourquin pre-emptively slid his chair further away from her.

They’d left her to stew in a processing cell for all of ten minutes. She suspected they had intended to leave her there for quite some time, with her broken knee and partially paralysed spine untreated, surrounded by fine Sprawl citizens and their many exciting microbes. But it had only taken eight and a half minutes for one of the prison’s VIPs to pay her a visit.

”As I live and breathe, Sally Isham’s little girl! Your mother stole 20 years of my life, putting me in here, and you’re going to – ”

Two minutes later, the little man was in the prison’s infirmary having his fingers re-attached, and Laurie was being dragged into a hastily sanitised canteen for her own violation of the Hippocratic oath.

“Sally Isham’s her name? Ring any bells? Because of her, I don’t know anyone but holostars and goddamn cowboys. You’d prefer the cowboys’ company to the starlets’ yourself, too, if you spent any time in the inner Holowood circles.”

“You haven’t worked in a year. There’s a more than healthy sum left in your Burbank accounts, but Mommy holds the reins of those, I’d guess.”

Laurie felt a growl rising in her throat that would make Kovacs proud.

“You’re desperate for funds, and no one’s going to cast a washed-up B-holo queen like you, not when it won’t curry any favour with the real star in the family. All you’ve got to sell is your body, or your connections.”

“Is that so?” Laurie rumbled, quietly, suddenly seeing the corner pieces of the frame-up.

“You’ve been marked transacting cash for some time,” Bourquin purred, sham civility dropping away. “How’s a nice young woman like you get her hands on dirty, illegal cash, hmm?”

“Custom meatpuppet rig from Berlin and a referral-only clientele seeking virtual bloodplay and snuff fantasy,” Laurie drawled. “The real money’s in blackmailing them with the recordings afterward.”

That brought him up short. “Wait – really?”

“No. Fuck off.”

She couldn’t suppress a jump when Bourquin slammed his hands on the table in front of her. But he was off balance now, too. She’d kicked the careful edifice of words he was building around her, breaking his smug momentum.

“You brokered the deal with Jacobi!” he screamed. “He built the strike virus, subcontracting sections through his web of connections. And when it failed to take out Veidt-Ashpool, you off’ed the old man to cover your tracks! We got your fingerprints all over this dirty dealing!”

“You got nothing, or you’d be booking me instead of begging for scraps, hoping I’ll do your job for you!” she snarled back.

“Who hired you?” Bourquin yelled.

“You won’t let me have my lawyer, one. You ripped out my goddam eyes, two,” Laurie began.

“We confiscated recording devices which will contain corroborating evidence of your criminal activities that will have you locked up for – ”

“My Zeiss-Ikon tech,” Laurie interrupted, “very valuable private property, as well as MY MOTHERFUCKING EYES!”

“Who – ”

“Which you scooped out of my skull in an unhygienic environment, which you’re too chickenshit to even follow through on cracking, because, without a warrant, your entire case will collapse in court – ”

“Who hired – ”

“Which means you’d have to go to a judge and tell him you want his official permission to get into the eyes you ripped out of a suspect’s motherfucking HEAD!”

“Oh, I can do anything I want to the scum who tried to – ”

“To Sally Isham’s daughter?”

“When are you going to get it through your head you’re nobody special in here, just another filthy – ”

“Yeah. Sure. You’ve rolled the dice on getting a full confession, torturing a prisoner in custody to do so. ‘Cause no one would care then, how you took down Adrian’s assassin, so long as you caught him. But it’s not me, and if you had the balls to break into my eyes’ footage, you’d see I got a healthy libido but nothing to hide. So get your dick on the guillotine, you’ve come up snake eyes.”

Silence.

“You had to be pretty damn sure you had your girl, to stick your neck out so far. So, Detective-for-now Bourquin, you tell me.”

Laurie shook the sunglasses off her face and leaned forward with a fearsome scowl, hoping she’d calculated the correct angle and wasn’t making faces at an empty corner.

She hissed: “Who put you on to me? Who owns you, Bourquin?”

“Nobody owns me,” he huffed, sounding like he’d been kicked in the goodies. “And I don’t care what you say now – that footage is gonna show I’m right. My tip came straight from the V-A security hub!”

“Open this door right now!”

“Holy shit, it’s – ”

“– really him – ”

“What’s she doing here – ”

“Oh, God…”

The door guard, who was only human, shifted far enough away from the door to open it (brushing Laurie’s bound hands, so the door was indeed very close) and see the source of the fuss for herself. He or she – definitely she, if a husky alto – breathed, “Jesus, Mary, and Pikachu…”

“My security force is handling yesterday’s unpleasantness as a private, internal matter, Detective,” a very familiar voice declared quietly. “I assure you, we sent no order to capture and mutilate a dear friend.”

Bourquin gasped, and Laurie smelled a faint tang reminiscent of old, sun-warmed pool water. She smiled, even though the expression made her empty lids sag and leak grotesquely.

“Oh, fu – ”

“Language, dear detective. You realise I’m broadcasting live? Marvellous things, the new Zeiss-Ikon generation.”

Laurie’s face fell, even as what sounded like a good-sized crowd tittered nervously, the clicks of hundreds of surreptitious photographs like extremely polite applause. She felt suddenly, catastrophically weak, unable to draw another breath without a good long hug, and was glad for the first time that evening Kovacs was no longer linked in with her.

“Mom?”

“Sweetheart, thank god!”

Laurie turned to face the voice. Sally Isham (and several million viewers at home) split the stale air with her shriek.

* * *

End of Volume 1. Volume 2 will pick up from this point when I next update.

Parts: one - two - three - four - five - six - seven - eight - nine - ten - eleven - twelve

Date: 2010-09-06 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brancher.livejournal.com
I can't believe you updated this, I was JUST thinking about how sad I was that there had been no new chapters. This is my favorite thing on the internet. Also, I have the opportunity to interview William Gibson; should I link him to this? : )

Date: 2010-09-06 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mustinvestigate.livejournal.com
Hah, I do kind of want to be the dork at ComicCon running up to the master with my hand-drawn pages of their characters expecting a pat on the head :) Too bad about the straaaaange porn and copyright infringement eh? :)

But that's so cool, when do you get to do that? Where's the interview getting published? I'm so very very jealous.
Edited Date: 2010-09-06 06:01 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-09-06 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theonlytwin.livejournal.com
You are such a genius. I love all of everything about this mashup.

Date: 2010-09-06 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mustinvestigate.livejournal.com
Aw shucks :D Glad you're enjoying!

Date: 2010-09-07 06:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tuff-ghost.livejournal.com
Every chapter of this is stunning, I hope (if you want to) you can write pro someday and receive many fancy accolades. I bet my comments are getting boring but I just want to say I'm still reading this and I love it forever.

Date: 2010-09-07 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mustinvestigate.livejournal.com
So very far from boring :) I love hearing that you're still enjoying it - I think you'd tell me if it wasn't working, too, which I really appreciate.

And thanks for the compliment, too! I'm working on a couple of original things, but unfortunately am about as prolific with them as I am with this story.

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