Adam sat on the curb handcuffed; his gun seized. The officer in charged was on his radio reading Adam’s ID information to the dispatch. An unmarked car drove up stopping just across the street. Adam didn’t need to know who it was as Detective Cutter and Detective Chance exited the car and approached Adam. A.J. looked pissed, and Artie was smiling.
“Well—well Potter so nice to see you again,” said Artie.
“It’s been too long Artie,” Adam replied. The officer in charged heard their exchange and spoke up.
“Hey, Detective you know him?”
“Sadly I wish I didn’t,” said Artie.
“Yes we know him get those cuffs off of him,” barked A.J. stopping just in front of Adam as the officer stood him up and unlocked the cuffs.
Adam rubbed his wrists as the officer walked away, and A.J. addressed him.
“What are you doing here Adam?”
“Well, if you must know this is where my assistant lives I came to see him,” Adam replied.
“Really and where is he?” asked Artie.
“Not here,” responded Adam.
“Was he here when you arrived?” asked A.J.
“So he gave you a key?” asked Artie.
“No, his Droid let me in.”
“His Droid?” A.J. looked over at a female officer who had just come out of the house. “Hey, was there a robot in there?”
“Yeah, cute little thing by the front door but he’s not working,” she responded walking past them.
Artie and A.J. looked at Adam with curiosity.
“He started to reboot himself after saying hello. I just pushed him back inside,” Adam half-lied.
“You pushed him back inside and then what?” asked A.J.
“I thought Justin was home, so I went inside to find him.”
“Forgive me for saying but I think your full of shit,” snapped Artie.
“Hold on,’ interrupted A.J. “Were you alone?”
“Then where’s your jeep Adam?”
“I left it home it was giving me trouble I took a cab here.”
“Was, Justin home?” continued A.J.
“No. I was about to call you.”
But before Adam could answer a male officer came up to them.
“We found something detective.”
“What?” Artie asked.
“It’s a broken harlequin mask. It’s hanging in a room on the main floor,” the officer responded.
“Let’s go take a look,” said Artie.
“Great idea, why don’t I just get out of your hair and get back to my office,” said Adam.
Artie stepped in his path and smiled. “Why don’t you join us Potter to ID it if it’s the same mask used in the attacked on you and Mr. Valdez. You are concern about your assistant whereabouts aren’t you?”
“Of course I am,” Adam said turning around and following A.J., who was already at the door.
“Good,” said Artie, who continued to talk to Adam while he walked behind him. “By the why, do you know where Mr. Valdez is we can’t seem to locate him?” asked Artie.
“I have no idea,” Adam honestly said.
“Funny because the guard at the gate gave an accurate description of him,” Artie continued.
Adam stopped in his tracks and turned to him.
“Just say what’s on your mind Artie and stop the bullshit.”
“Fine, I believe you’re hiding Patrick Valdez because you have a boner for him. And you’re interfering with a murder investigation.” Adam closed his eyes and decided to come clean.
“Patrick was here with me, but he’s not now. Also, I came in a rental car and now that’s missing.”
“Patrick stole your rental? Funny our records show he doesn’t even have a driver’s license,” said Artie.
“I don’t know for sure if he took it because I didn’t see him drive off, I was in the Townhouse at the time.” The thought of Patrick driving inexperience around town caused Adam tension. Hopefully Patrick just never got his license and could handle the drive.
“So you think someone else drove him?”
“I don’t know,” he threw back turning to A.J.
“Adam you know we have an APB out on him?” said A.J.
“There’s more. I believe the Harlequin had Patrick’s place bug with a camera.”
“Patrick’s place?” asked A.J. “You mean his parent’s home?”
“No, he has a condo down at the docks. I believe the camera's in the Droid.”
“What…that robot?” A.J. gestured with his head towards Dante.
“It has a twin at Patrick’s condo. The Harlequin called my cell and told me he had Justin and that he wants me to exchange Patrick for Justin’s freedom.”
A.J. let what Adam said to him sink in as he turned and walked into the house Adam and Artie followed. Dante sat, motionless against the wall.
“What happen to it?” Artie asked Adam.”
“Patrick said a command to it and it shut down. He told me it was rebooting and should only take about fifteen minutes.”
“It’s quarter till now,” said Artie.
“Then it should be back up in a few minutes,” said Adam.
“So Justin and Patrick knows this guy personally. What’s his name?
“Cain Rollins he’s a professor at Justin’s college and was one when Patrick went to school overseas.”
“Adam you weren’t going to handle this by yourself were you?” A.J. asked.
“Not after finding out about this,” he waved at the sleeping Droid. “…and Cain’s dungeon back there.”
“We’re going to put out an APB on Justin Shi and Cain Rollins as well,” said Artie.
“No wait, you can’t, he might kill Justin if cops get involved.”
“Hello, Patrick is gone, did you ever wonder why he just disappeared?” asked Artie.
“Adam, he might be involved and you’re the only other witness to seeing the Harlequin. Maybe they’re planning on silencing you using Justin as bait,” said A.J.
“You’re wrong and I’m not risking Justin’s life.”
“Say we wait to put out the APB on them. When is the exchange to take place?”
“Tonight?” Artie snapped. “Where?”
“Come on Potter this is a police matter now,” ordered Artie.
“Patrick hired me to prove his innocence, so this is my case as well.”
“No, it’s not, it’s for homicide you are too close to both missing persons,” said A.J.
“There’s no way I’m going home to wait for a phone call.”
“Would you rather be arrested and wait in lockup?” A.J. suggested.
Adam knew he wasn’t going to win this argument, but he needed to buy himself more time, so he decided to come clean.
“The exchange was going to be at the graveyard where the case began. He said a note will be waiting for me at north gate by the grave with a headstone of a sleeping dog. ”
“Okay, Adam we’ll take it from here, you are now, off the case. Do you want a squad car to take you home?” asked A.J.
“Please,” said Adam defeated.
“Officer Scott,” A.J. called to a rookie officer standing in the hallway by an open door. Upon hearing his name, he approached.
“Take Mr. Potter home and once he arrives you may return his gun?”
“Yes sir.” Adam turned in frustration when A.J. touched his arm.
“Adam, I promise we will get Justin back safe and sound.”
“I will keep you informed and please if you run into Patrick again take him to the police station,” said A.J.
Adam shook his head and followed the officer out the front door when a click than a long whirring sound filled the hallway. They all looked towards Dante whose vacant eyes flickered then its head raised to look at them.
“Hello, my name is Dante you are not authorized to be here.”
“Dante?” said A.J., who stepped towards it but then stopped when the eyes flickered again flashing erratically. Adam continued down the steps when an electrical discharge ignited from Dante and traveled through the house stunning everyone inside. Adam heard the grunts from the officers he left behind and turned to see the bodies hitting the floor.
“A.J.,” Adam yelled as he and the rookie raced back to the house. The rookie stopped at the door and eyed his fellow officers’ unconscious on the floor. He went to enter, but Adam stopped him by grabbing his shoulders from behind.
“No wait. The robot,” said Adam.
“What about him?” the rookie asked glaring at the machine.
“His eyes are red which suggest he was the one who shocked them.”
“Then I’ll shot it,” he said going for his gun. Adam places his palm on top of the man’s hand that rested on the handle of his gun.
“That’s not a good idea he’s defending the house. He might see you as a threat and send out another shockwave and this second one could kill the victims of the first one.”
“So what do we do?” Adam stepped around him and looked at Dante.
“Dante…” The Droid locked its sensors with Adam’s eyes. “…reboot alpha t-99urdone.” The robot eyes flickered and turned to a warm blue then calmly turned black. Dante’s head tilted forward as he shut down. “It’s okay he’s off again.” They and the three officers outside entered and checked for pulses, the rookie was on Artie, and Adam tend to A.J. His pounding heart settled when he felt a pulse on A.J. neck. He listened as the rookie called for ambulance and police backup.
“Make sure they get a tech guy down here for the robot’s battery removal.” The rookie listened and informed his switchboard of the robot. Adam looked out the door, and his eyes fell on the unmarked car that belonged to Detective Artie Cutter. He turned back to the rookie. “You should see if any of the other officers were affected.”
“Right.” He hurried off, and Adam walked over to Artie and quickly searched him. He found the key in his right pocket and glanced towards A.J., who laid soundly on the floor as he walked out the Townhouse climbing into Artie’s black sedan and drove off.