Chapter 2: FIRST DAY
The next morning Brad awoke like nothing. It was the nanites, it was very subtle but, even those could be controlled to a degree with the neural interlink. He literally had an internal alarm clock. After getting ready for the morning, he walked into his friend’s room.
The jar sat on the floor where Quinn had placed it.
Brad looked at it, “Ready?” he asked.
A shiny blob suddenly poked out from the jar at Brad before oozing out on the floor. It formed into a nice size shimmering pool in front of Brad. It undulated and throbbed into a mass as tall as a human before taking the form of Quinn, and just like that, he stood before Brad.
“Ready.” Quinn said. Being a shapeshifter, he didn’t have to get ready like Brad.
Both men entered a busy elevator, “One, please.” Brad said for someone to touch the button of where to go.
“How was your night?” Quinn asked.
“It was alright,” Brad answered, “Nothing special.”
The elevator was fast and reached their destination in no time. Several people stepped out. Outside, the suns were beginning to rise. Brad phased on his sunglasses and walked with Quinn. Quinn didn’t need any glasses, his ‘eyes’ weren’t even real.
“Try explaining to me again,” Brad said, “How is it you see?”
Quinn explained, “Just try to think of my entire body as one sensory organ,” he said, managing his way around the people and obstacles, “I can ‘see’ or sense everything around me. I’m sure the suns are bright,” he continued, “However, everything appears to me like what you would call a cartoon. Just try to imagine seeing or sensing everything pretty far in all directions.”
“You see colors, right?” Brad asked.
“Yes,” Quinn said, “However, some things are a blur. I can only focus on so much or choose what has my attention. Someone who really practices, like soldiers, can focus on just about everything.”
It wasn’t long before the men entered the station. The reception desk was dead ahead. This time, it had a person standing by. Both men casually approached. In uniform, they fit right in with everyone else.
“Chief?” Brad asked.
The man held out one hand, phased out a 3D map of the building and then made a path with his other hand.
Brad held out his hand, which the receptionist then placed the map on.
“Here you go.” the receptionist said.
“Thank you,” Brad replied, “Quinn, this way.”
Quinn followed until they reached their boss’s office.
Upon entering, both men saluted the man that sat behind a desk. He was an older gentleman with nodes but, robust.
“Chief Carter,” Brad stated, “Brad and Quinn, from Leopold Academy reporting for duty, sir.”
“The recruits,” Carter said, getting up to approach the men, “Good. I can use you two.”
“For what,” Quinn asked, “If I may ask, sir?”
Carter handed them badges, wrapped both arms around the men and exited the room to lead them down the hall, “A girl came in today,” he said, “Won’t stop complaining about some sort of weird signal. My top guys are busy with more important cases so I need someone who can handle this easy one,” The men walked into a room were Carter then excused himself, “There,” he said to the woman, “I got you two of them. You guys fix this and then report back for your assignment.” he said, then closing the door.
Brad placed his badge on as normal. Quinn opened his up and took its paper-thin circuity out and enveloped it into a badge he morphed in its place on his chest. This wasn’t like trying to implant something like a node or a disease. He simply encased it within himself, this circuitry is what would identify him as a police officer to computers.
Sitting at a table at the far end was a pretty green eyed, dark-haired woman, about Brad’s age, maybe slightly younger. Brad and Quinn were a little confused at first, then sat down.
“May I have your first name?” Brad asked.
“Kimberly.” she answered.
Stacy suddenly left Brad’s mind.
“What seems to be the problem?” Quinn asked.
“I’m a communications engineer at the CC or Communication Center,” Kimberly started, “One of my duties is to monitor the quality of incoming and outgoing of all transmissions. Recently I detected a low-band signal. This might be a normal byproduct of all the transmissions but, I noticed these were happening at the same time every day. I can’t make heads or tails of it. It’s like nothing, I’d call it a beacon. Hopefully its nothing to worry about but, I can’t find the person responsible. That’s why I came here instead of my boss. It could be something illegal and I don’t know who to trust.”
She went on explaining but, Brad was thinking, ’What a beautiful girl. I can’t believe she’s an engineer. I bet she’d make a killing as a model. Must have not been hiring that day. I wonder if she has a boyfriend. I don’t see any ring! I wonder how interested in me she’d be if I asked.”
“We’ll do what we can,” Quinn said, then patting Brad on his shoulder, “Right?”
Brad snapped out it, “Uh, sure,” he said, “Let’s go to your place and have a look.”
“Her place?” Quinn said confused.
“Work,” Brad quickly corrected, “Her work place!”
Kimberly stood up, “Fine, I guess,” she said, “I’ll lead the way.”
Everyone arrived by Kimberly’s cruzer.
“Nice cruzer.” Brad said.
“Thanks.” Kimberly said.
Quinn was beginning to notice Brad’s gawking. He found it quiet amusing and decided to keep observing.
As Kimberly approached, a tiny implant in her sent a signal to the building to allow her access and open the doors. Brad and Quinn followed her through the building to an empty office that was about 12x12.
“Welcome, Kim.” A computer voice said. It seemed to come from all over the room.
“This is it,” Kimberly said, “My office. That voice you heard is just our computer. It’s in all of the rooms in the building and monitors everything.”
A counter expanded from a wall on one side of the room all the way to a chair that rose up from the ground.
“Can’t you just ask it who’s sending the signal?” Brad asked.
“I’ve tried,” Kimberly said, “I get the same response to everything. Central!”
“Yes.” Central said.
“I asked previously about a strange signal,” Kimberly began, “Is your response any different now?”
“No,” Central answered, “That information is not available.”
Kimberly sat and the lights in the room dimmed as several monitors popped up around her. She manipulated the information on the monitors with only her hands. Brad and Quinn stood by on either side of the chair and just watched. Actually, Quinn spotted Brad gawking at Kimberly again.
“Here’s the signal and its history.” Kimberly said, as the information came up across the monitors.
Brad pulled his eyes away to look at the screens, “Yup, same time every day. Noon.”
“I suggest we see if it happens again today,” Quinn said. “Then we can use a police tracer to track where its coming from.”
“Really?” Kimberly asked.
“It won’t tell us who it is,” Quinn said, “However, we’ll have an idea of where to look.”
“We still have a few hours,” Brad said, “We’ll come right back.”
Quinn didn’t say anything as he followed Brad outside. Once out there, away from Kimberly, he spoke, “Focus, Brad.”
Both men talked as they walked.
“What do you mean?” Brad asked.
“You’re gawking,” Quinn replied, “Kimberly.”
“I wasn’t gawking,” Brad said, “I was observing.”
Quinn grunted a laugh that came out more like a scoff, “Call it what you want but, remember I can see you without ‘looking’.”
“I’d love to have those peripheries.” Brad said
Both men came to one of the busy streets.
“Let’s get some breakfast,” Brad said, “There’s a waffle house this way.”
At a waffle house, they sat at one of the tables after ordering.
Brad was happy with his tray and took a sip of his drink, “I know you don’t eat food,” he said, “Don’t you ever eat anything, or how do you replenish yourself I’ve always wondered.”
Quinn shook his head, “Nothing,” he answered, “I don’t need any sustenance. When I do engage in it, it’s just for recreational purposes.”
“Well do it now,” Brad said, “I’ll feel weird eating in front of you and you have nothing. Get at least one thing.”
“This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve eaten with someone,” Quinn said, “I’ve noticed your kind gets uncomfortable in these situations. Can you explain why?”
“No,” Brad said, “It just does. Now, get something. I’m Starvin Marvin here.”
“Who?” Quinn asked perplexed.
“Just go get something already!” Brad replied.
In line, Quinn waited patiently for his turn. When he was next, three men came up to him from behind.
“Number four, please.” Quinn said.
One of the men got a close look at Quinn before holding a knife up to his throat, “I don’t see any nodes,” he said, “Todays your unlucky day.”
One of the other men spoke to the girl at the register as he pointed a knife at her, “We’ll do this nice and quietly,” he said, “Just put all the money in a bag and hand it over or this cop is done for.”
Only the people in the immediate area grew alarmed but, the commotion was enough to get Brad’s attention, he looked over a partition and phased his suit on. With his visor he could see the men only had knives. With little to no threat to his partner he decided to the best course of action was to do nothing. He phased off his suit and started to quickly eat.
“You’re all under arrest,” Quinn said, “Just put your weapons down and no one has to get hurt.”
All three men just laughed. The one who spoke to the girl suddenly took his knife and plunged it into Quinn’s side, “Shut your pie hole!” he said.
What surprised the would-be robbers was Quinn’s reaction, or lack thereof. As the man who stabbed him tried pulling the knife back out, a hand formed near the stab site and held it in place. All of the men grew scared. The one holding a knife to Quinn’s throat suddenly tried releasing his hold and jump back but, Quinn formed some kind of anvil on his back that shot out like it was on a rubber band and knocked the robber out. The third guy made a run for it but, was quickly caught by Quinn extending his arm to cover an impressive distance. The man nearest Quinn was too scared to move as the hand holding the knife became one of Quinn’s arms.
“As I said before,” Quinn smirked, “Your all under arrest.”
Brad came over, “Looks like you got everything under control,” he said, “Lets hand these guys over to patrol and head back the CC.”
“Your food?” Quinn thought out loud.
“Never mind that,” Brad quickly replied, “I’m not hungry anymore. Let’s go.”