Sam wanted to get away from the cold, pawing his way through the plastic folds of the entrance. The building was once a meat warehouse, repurposed to be an underground gym for all the freakos on the street who sought to make dry fruit out of other dumbasses like them.
Coincidently, that's where Corporal Velimir Zimin liked to spend most of his time. As a child, the fellow was an unfortunate victim of a video-streaming service's playlist algorithms. Once left alone in his crib to watch 3D cartoons, they gradually switched to the animation of Hitler juggling plastic phalluses.
At least, that's what Sam presumed happened to him - because he should have been, by all standards, been considered clinically insane, which made him just the right fit for the job. They were old pals in the Psychosquad. You had to have something fucked up in your head if you wanted to make a living hunting coked-up cyborg cunts prowling NC. Now Sam knew he was doing his thing in the Weapons Division, a quiet and insignificant place for a man like Zimin. That ought to change.
He looked the hall over, unknown men viciously beating their fists and feet into each other's bodies, some hulking and heavy, some slight and speedy. It was no matter, he could recognize Velimir's own style anywhere. He took a sidestep to avoid a right hook, only to bring about his own clenched hand in a murderous arc that left the opponent reeling. Sam quietly approached from the back as the Slav turned about, throwing him a wet rag. He caught it with razor-sharp reflexes, his sensors instantly recognizing him.
"Hello." Zimin nodded, wiping his split brow and shaking Sam's hand with a steel grip.
"Still planning on staying in this hole, Vel? I've got a real punching bag sitting in the precinct for you. And maybe a dozen more if you're up for the job." He didn't want to beat around the bush. They were colleagues, not friends, he thought. It's not right to keep a man waiting whilst sweetening him up, Vel knew he wasn't more than just muscle, but he liked to stay that way.
"What job, Turk? You can't make a man talk without my help? I'm all tied down." Zimin playfully smacked Sam's cheek, going to pull on his shirt, wrapping a velvet scarf around his neck.
"Word's on the street-" He began, though one look at Velimir's face was enough to stop him in his tracks. The boxer knew well enough just what kind of nonsense was going down. Nevertheless, Sam cut to the chase. "I convinced management to distract you from all that bullshit in your division. We're on a special kind of case here, so I'm hoping you can lay down some firepower when needed.
Vel rode shotgun in Karga's old Loafer, quietly rolling himself a cigarette as Sam fiddled with the buttons on his display. Eventually, the crackling voice of Laotian Mike materialized, reverberating off the car interior.
"Hey Vel." He greeted him sourly, quickly getting on with what he found - "About the salvaged footage of the fight, there's nothing concrete, but these guys were from different gangs, teamed up or something. That's why we had so much trouble figuring out initially. Funny enough, from what I understand, they were after just one or two people. One of our ripperdocs tipped us off about one of the posers from the fight earlier, he came into his office decked out with some good shit he scavenged from the corpses. Well, we caught him hot, now he's sitting in the freezer. You want to come in and ask him some questions?"
"For sure." Samed grumbled anxiously, thumbing over the connected infopod and manually setting a route through the absurd maze of alleyways and tunnels. Fifty by fifty, he sometimes liked to break the cycle and stop trusting the trackfinding algorithms inside his smartcar software.
Velimir lit up the synthetic cig, pale smoke spilling out of his mouth, almost obnoxiously. Rolling down the window, Sam flapped at the air for a second, gritting his teeth and tolerating the man's behavior for now. They were almost there anyway.
Flashing badges at one of the side-entrances, their steps echoed in the long, winding corridors - the blinding light irritating the two detectives - they were more used to the dark, and their visual implants only seemed to worsen the effect that the dangling lightbulbs overhead had on their eyes.
Sam rubbed at his temple for a moment, finding a wire connecting to the dim-lite cyberbloc and turning it off. They could see Laotian Mike ahead, the grin on that bald fuck almost serving as a catalyst to all that pent-up anger they were about to let loose on the poor poser in the room.
The slim man clapped Sam on the shoulder, tactfully avoiding contact with Zimin - "He's all yours," He said, though one look at Vel's face was enough to have him let off one more detail: "Don't go all gung-ho on him. There's a pair of eyes on the other side of that mirror, Turk. Some young guy pulled in from another division, to act as oversight or something." Mikey quickly adjusted his tie and disappeared in the dazzling light of the corridors. Sam and Velimir shared a brief glance. The boxer stepped into the room first.
Taking a look around, Velimir didn't like the arrangement of the room already. Seated before him, the tattooed ganger looked like he was about to be interviewing him for a job. No, that won't do. The cop shook his head to himself, bringing up his foot and kicking the perp's chair, together with his lithe, bare frame, toward the corner.
"The fuck?" The poser growled, trying to surge up - his twisted, metallic mess of an arm confined to the chair awkwardly, cuffs grinding on the material noisily. "You pigs can't do shit like t-" He almost began, but he was cut off by a rough hand pressing up hard against his cheek, pushing his face against the wall. "Ok." He smiled a tad as the ganger tried to bite against his fingers, only to feel hard titanium fiber digits caressing his gums.
"Well, that was stupid of you, wasn't it?" He laughed now, letting go now as he was satisfied with the interior of the interrogation room. The suspect always had to feel small and backed into the corner. It was step one to getting good intel out of a punk. Pride and ego down approach.
"Fuck, man.. That was a bitch move." The fellow spit some blood into a plastic cup, just seconds before Vel deprived him of it, throwing it into a bin at the other side of the room. He was set on the path of total, relentless antagonization.
"You can call it whatever you want, my friend, but it doesn't take away from the fact that you're looking at a super-max facility in an offworld colony." The cop's words stung hard, dripping with venom.
"I told the guy before you. I don't know shit."
"I guess you didn't know that's where one of your slugs landed, huh?" He shoved a picture in his face. A gruesome close-up of one of the bodies.
The ganger bit on his lip, averting his eyes. He would've fidgeted his hands, if they weren't robotic appendages. "How you gonna prove it?" He hissed.
"I can read you like an open book, you dumbass. This is the easiest case I've done in my ten years of field work. It's fucking there." The corporal lit a cigarette, throwing another photo onto the table. "The guy's from a different gang, you were feuding - motives are clear as day."
"Hold up, god damn..." The perp grimaced, cold sweat dripping down his calibrators. "I didn't kill no one from that gang, we weren't-" He stopped himself short of letting on more info, only to groan out in pain as the corporal stomped the cigarette into his circuits, frying the neural connection controlling his cybernetic hand.
"Go on. You weren't what?"
"We weren't after them gangs that night, nah.." He breathed hard, his hand dripping motor oil onto the floor.
"Okay, that's better." Velimir offered him the crumpled up, still lit cigarette. The captive sucked in the smoke greedily, letting the butt fall to the floor. The detective waited for a moment before showing him a picture of Golemeth's heavyset frame contrasting against the gunfire.
"You were after this guy, right? We have enough evidence here to put you away for good, so you better start sucking up."
The ganger stared up in disbelief at him, blinking for a second as an expression of utter helplessness began to set in. "Yeah."
"... you gonna tell me his name?"
"Golem or whatever the fuck. Lit up a whole crew downtown."
"And you snatched those sweet implants outta him?" Vel leaned against the wall, crossing his hands. The suspect nodded.
"How'd you manage to do that, exactly?"
"I didn't do shit, man. It's that spider. Came out of nowhere and popped the guy's links. Dropped him like a sack of potatoes. I was just lucky, standing nearby. Swear to god, man, I didn't do shit."
Sam quietly slipped into the adjoining room, looking through the glass at the rough treatment of the gangbanger briefly, turning to acknowledge the younger detective standing at his side.
He saw him a few times here and there, but never really got the time to speak or introduce himself to him. Perhaps it was because the man seemed so... unremarkable. It was a laudable quality to have as an investigator, but it never helped in cross-department dynamics.
Certainly Velimir or Mike were more recognizable, like poster boys of their respective divisions. This Kraber guy made him a bit uneasy, almost at a molecular level. Still, they had to interact. It was Magnussen's decision to pull him into the case, something that Samed couldn't be happy for, but it was better to establish some contact instead of going in blind and trying to pull the blanket away from each other. At least that's what the Turk reasoned.
He offered the man a handshake. "You must be Kraber?" He gave a low murmur, absent-mindedly watching the interrogation - "Heard you're working with us now."
Interrogations were dull to behold. Not that Kraber ever had an issue with sitting behind a glass panel, but it did leave one with remarkably little to do. The reel onto which the audio was being recorded onto scrolled around in the background, and he tried to sip his coffee from a slightly cracked mug as quietly as possible, every now and again fidgeting or shifting about in his chair. He felt uncomfortable. He looked uncomfortable. Hell, he was uncomfortable. His tie wasn't fitting against his neck correctly, his eyes were dried out and tired, and his muscles ached like he had actually been using them.
He was pretty sure he was sick, but he had already had two weeks off, so what could you do. Stifling a yawn, he took another sip of his coffee- his third one in as many hours. With the other officer leaving the room, he straightened up, switching off the recording software so that they could have a conversation in peace.
A hand was offered, and a hand was taken. Sam was an interesting figure, he had to admit, but he hadn't taken much time to learn his character. After all, this investigation had been what he was assigned to, and until yesterday, Kraber had barely even known about it. Well, that was incorrect. He had known about it- nobody in the forces didn't at this point, but he hadn't 'known' about it, so to speak. Kraber squeezed down hard, and then cleared his throat slightly.
"Good work, I must say. Clean. But yes, the name's Kraber. Senior detective." A pause. "They decided that after my leave I should be in the deep end, it seems, so here I am."
Sam shrewdly sized up the fellow. Watching his mannerisms, the way he talked and observed the mental beatdown Velimir dished out onto the ganger, he had the realization that the man would be one excellent undercover operative. At the very least, his nature seemed to make him an excellent prop, the extra sipping coffee in the background. He was absolutely boring. Though Samed hoped to god that wasn't his only positive feature.
In a second, however, a third detective joined them in the room, watching the Russian rough up the criminal with a twisted curiousity.
Laotian Mike's processor was receiving the interrogation's transcription in real time. Deftly typing in the lines of code developing algorithms in the police search engine, he overtook camera footage in a three-pronged direction, trying to recognize the exact time and place when the cyberware spider arrived, and where it left. Twisting around a mysterious joystick in the tech-panel set up on the table, Mike gave them a nice showcase of the video feed from several cameras on site, hitting the jackpot.
Sam could only wonder how Kraber didn't stop sipping on the coffee as they watched the arachnocyborg crawling up and down the walls, sizing up the moment to pounce down on Golemeth down below.
"... hold up, pause for a sec." The Turk narrowed his eyes, his tech-savvy colleague playing back the footage frame by frame. "What's that in his hands, after he dealt with the big guy?"
Mike zoomed in on the grainy video, a flashing disk on the grip of the hardware spider. "So that's what he was after." He glanced at the youngest of the trio, interested in watching his reaction.
First, Kraber rubbed his chin, but the quick rub soon turned into a long scratch. Rather than giving him the look of someone deep in thought, he seemed distracted, even as his eyes remained focused on the 'spider as the information inside it was weaned out. As the footage played past, he frowned slightly, taking a long, slurping sip as ideas floated through his head. "Fast forward a bit. x4, so I can still see this." He indicated with his fingers, watching as the footage whirred past at quadruple the speed.
"Yeah, that's what I thought. Those two jumped up gangbangers." He tapped on the screen twice, a little pleased with himself. "Corpse disposal's always a good place to start searching through. Maybe find something that'll give us a few more leads. Who knows." He set his mug down at last, the only thing left in it a few dregs. Adjusting his gloves, he arched his back until he heard a series of clicks, and then turned to the other agent.
"So, excuse my lack of experience in this case, but what would you do if you were in my unenviable position?" An innocent enough comment for one of the officers to make to the other, but Kraber's mind was always on information. Not to mention two weeks out had left him a little rusty, and there was never anything wrong with a refresher course.
"That's interesting." Sam raised a brow, almost disappointed that he hadn't thought to look for what remained of Golemeth after the spider was done with the guy. He certainly took note of the man's astuteness, even if he looked like a complete bore whilst rummaging through the heaps of intel laid out before them. NCPD had the toolset to work nigh every case that they had, just not enough clever folks to find ways to make use of it. He ran a hand through his hair thoughtfully. "Most jackals out there just took off with a bit of what Golemeth had, leaving him out on the street. The smart ones know that, to get the most worth out of him, they'd need to dismantle the entire core and motherboard." He gave Kraber a sly smile. "I think it's better to check some places nearby that they could have used as a shelter, slash warehouse. Velimir and I could go after the spider's trail."
"Sounds good to me." The agent nodded to himself. "No time like the present. I've been out of action for a little too long for my liking, and they always say there's no time like the present." Cracking his knuckles, the man began to make his way towards the door. "Good luck with your investigation I suppose."