May 17, 2010
From the personal collection of Adam Cho:
The city is screaming. Not literally. I’ve heard that can happen but that’s not
goddamn this doesn’t make a fucking lick of sense FUCKING GOD FUCK
The city is screaming. Silently for the moment, but it’s a scream all the same. It’s been four days since the thing that happened at the Cosmo. 24 hour news cycle gives everyone short term memories like goldfish and somehow we’re still talking about THIS. Meanwhile, the Spiders are out there terrorizing the streets. Looting, fires, overturned cars. It’s like they’re redecorating for the apocalypse. Is anyone talking about that? Well, yes and no. It gets mentioned in the same breath as the terrible job I’m doing as mayor.
People are scared. They’re right to be. They’ve got their heads on swivels and eyes over their shoulders. They should be having the biggest party of the century and instead they’re getting out of town or sheltering in place until order is reestablished. None of this is great for attracting investors, which is what city council wanted when they agreed to hosting all these events.
Why does this keep happening to me? Is this what running a Super City is like? And right in the middle of National Police Week too, when cops from all over the world are in town watching how we do things in Jet City. Oh God. We basically don’t have a police force right now. I have cops on every corner but that’s just for show. Eric is running a skeleton crew running on vapors. There’s nobody on patrol, the case load keeps stacking up, and the super teams I signed off on to supplement security are all amateurs with no heavy hitters. I need the big guns! I need the Nationals or Team Fusion. Okay, maybe not Team Fusion. Too soon for corporate teams given what happened. Bad P.R.
Shit shit shit shit shi
I just had to have my little moral crusade, didn’t I? I was vice mayor to a guy who turned out to be the leader of a secret vigilante death squad and I never even knew it. I wanted to restore trust to this office by rooting out corruption and smoking all these snakes out of their dens. Well, that left me with no cops. We hired a legion of replacements, but they’re still in academy. Ah hell, what good would a bunch of rookies do in this situation?
Another problem. I’m running out of booze. I’m finishing the last of what Peterson stashed away right now. Good shit. Expensive though. Like drinking liquid gold. And paid for with taxpayer funds! God, how did I end up here? Seattle’s been doing their Hundred Years of Heroes Month without a hitch but we can’t go a week without this kind of shit happening? Why did the Spiders take over a convention center? Why did they not have any demands? Why did Nobody kill all those people?
Fucking … ……. Why me?
I’m sticking a gun in my mouth and my ass at the same time and pulling both triggers I swear to fucking CHRIST
This investigation needs to be over yesterday. I need to tell the people something. Anything. They’re getting restless out there. They want answers. I’ll get them some answers. Nobody and his friends aren’t going to take me down with them. I’m a fcking super mayor. Fuckin suuper. mayor. I can do this. I can do this.
“Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I’m on my way right now. You got it, sir. Yes, sir. I know. You’re my number one guy too. Okay. Okay good bye.”
Police Chief Wright hung up the phone. He wondered how long Cho had been on the sauce today. He noted it was six in the morning.
A call from the mayor meant a personal visit was in order. Cho was delicate these days. He liked in-person confirmation. Eyes on. Luckily it was a short drive from City Hall to the precinct police station where the city’s investigation team had set up for the duration. Unfortunately, the investigation was nowhere close to being finished. Only the barest of facts could be confirmed, but even those were shaky as eye witnesses gave conflicting and confusing testimonies. Cosmo staff hadn’t been much help, barricading the exits instead of cooperating with law enforcement. Then came the revelation, publicly denied but somehow leaked anyway, that the Cosmo had enough explosives concealed throughout its structure to level half of downtown.
Cosmo’s corporate lawyers circled the wagons quickly after that. The police needed warrants to even look in Cosmo’s direction. Then there were the federal investigators running around, hoovering up evidence wherever they could and stonewalling Wright’s team left and right. The Spiders were part of something bigger. Something much bigger. But the Feds were, understandably, tight lipped about the details until they could be sure the new Police Chief wasn’t yet another secret death squad leader.
Wild stories were making their way into the daily news that other buildings in Jet City’s prominent skyline were wired to explode. Conspiracy theories were going viral all over the internet and even making it into headlines on actual new networks. Wright wondered when it had become more important for news to be “clickable” than to serve the public good.
A group of demonstrators picketed on the steps of City Hall. They’d started as a candle light vigil, mourning the loss of those in the Cosmo on that fateful day. But after days of City Hall dithering, hemming and hawing, now they were angry. They waved signs and sang chants demanding answers about the tragedy. Or Cho’s resignation, either would suffice. Wright couldn’t entirely blame them either. How had a simple street gang slowed everything in the city to a grinding halt? How were violent crimes skyrocketing with so many superheroes out in force and cops apparently on every corner? Cho could probably see the protestors from his office, Wright realized. When this was over, he would have to get the free speech zone moved. The mayor didn’t need undue stress like this. A block away, a news van had their cameras pointed at the dour scene, waiting for something violent or exciting to occur.
As his car got further away, Wright saw the protestor’s outlines fade from view, dwarfed by the building’s large grey façade. City Hall was built in a Neo-Modernist style after the old one had to be torn down in ’69. It was an exemplary example of anti-beauty expressed through architecture and the staff counted themselves lucky that didn’t have to look at it while they worked inside its walls. The downtown precinct police station, by contrast, was a squat brick structure that hadn’t changed much since it was built in the early 50’s. Several mayors had made noises over the years about updating the quaint building, but the money had a habit of not showing up and eventually they slapped a “historic landmark” seal on it and called it good.
Wright arrived at the station, passed through the aged brick entrance and navigated through its guts until he came to the Investigative Task Force’s improvised work space in the basement. A dozen cops, several detectives and even a few county sheriffs were here, using up every square inch of the cramped room.
The ones heading the investigation were in the middle of an early morning pow-wow when Wright arrived. The smells of fresh coffee and old coffee mixed with poorly hidden cigarette smoke and too much cologne hiding unshowered bodies. He caught a bit of conversation as he entered the room.
“-spinning our wheels on this thing. We should be out there cracking skulls and taking back the streets.” That was Detective Sergeant Quinn, formerly vice now on the gang squad, tackling the Spider angle. He was balding, short and stocky. The better to keep his nose to the ground, he would say. And reaching vulnerable nards, he would also say.
“At least the mayor’s finally throwing money at this thing.” That was Deputy Sheriff Whitmore, representing the county’s response to the incident, covering everything outside Jet City’s limits and within county lines. He was a blonde, blue eyed golden boy and the only one aside from Wright in uniform.
“This thing was doomed to fail from the start. I mean, we don’t have bodies to cover the basics and now we’re stuck doing this?” That was Captain Torres from the West Precinct, which included the Cosmo within its borders. She was a Latin woman with a fine mix of European features and a healthy dose of melanin.
Detective Hastings, of the superhuman crimes investigation unit or more colloquially the super squad, didn’t say anything. He just shook his head, clearly not wanting to be there. His unkempt circle beard was even more unkempt than usual and his clothes were wrinkled like he’d slept one too many days in them. His tall, imposing form was hidden by a sleepy hunch as his body fought a losing battle against gravity.
Rounding out the dream team was a civilian liaison from the American Hero Society, one Alan Watson. He hadn’t shown up yet. Wright wasn’t super familiar with him but his name had come up as a resource to be tapped as part of an obscure “break in case of emergency” clause hidden within Jet City’s bylaws. He’d been a costumed hero in a past life. Now he was a meta consultant who showed up whenever law enforcement needed an experienced hand dealing with the strangeness of the super world. He had mixed reviews, but at least he was cheap.
“Morning,” Wright said, deciding to make his entrance.
“Morning, sir,” they said, in a staggered, shot gun blast of a greeting.
“Tell me we have something,” Wright said. Their grave faces were plenty answer for him.
“We made a lot of arrests yesterday but none of them are talking. Not a god damned one,” Torres replied, ready to pull her greying black hair out.
“They’re gang bangers. Just lean on them a little and they’ll break. Most of them are kids, anyway,” said Wright.
“Spiders are different. They’re fiercely loyal. Even the new ones,” said Quinn.
“Uncommon trait for a bunch of thugs,” Wright mused.
“That or they’re scared,” said Quinn. “We’ve all seen what Spiders do to people they don’t like. I’m sure that kind of thing inspires loyalty real quick.”
“So what’s the plan?” asked Wright.
“They’re refusing food, water, even cigarettes. I don’t know, we wait them out I guess,” said Quinn.
“We don’t have time for that,” Wright said.
“Duly noted, Chief,” Quinn replied, leaving out the Captain Obvious.
“Okay, where are we on security footage?” Wright asked. A tired chuckle was their reply.
“FBI’s still sitting on it. National Security,” Torres said.
“So we have nothing? Absolutely nothing to go on?” asked Wright.
“Fraid so, Chief,” said Torres.
“Shit. Shit!” Wright cursed, slapping the table.
“You’re not wrong,” said Hastings.
“Great. Nobody is lifting a finger to help us. What the fuck are we supposed to do?”
“You get friends high places.”
All heads turned to see Alan Watson enter the room. He was a short, rotund man dressed in his Sunday best, freshly shaven and clean cut, but rough enough around the edges that the others could tell this wasn’t his everyday look. He held a travel mug that read “#1 Detective”, hiding something warm and not non-alcoholic in its porcelain confines.
“Speaking of Nobody, who’s ready to catch the worst mass murderer Jet City has ever known?” he asked, before taking a sip.