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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

EXCERPT: QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted

An excerpt from QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted. Issue #1 of the comic will be available in print soon.

City homicides this year will total slightly more than 700, marking the third year in succession of a declining murder rate, Lord Mayor Mondereth Platen said today. Trans Paradis had 702 killings as of this morning, according to Nikal Vorgna, a city spokesman for the Lord Mayor’s office. The continued reduction in crime was attributed to the new data analysis augments acquired by the Trans Paradis Police Department two years ago. The record low was 571 in 3385; the record high was 18,477 in 3299, according to police statistics.
—from “Homicides fall for third year in a row,” the Trans Paradis Times, 3403.380

They hurtled through the official airlines of the city with sirens blaring, lights flaring, and Baby’s emergency override sending bureaucrats and private citizens sufficiently well-connected to acquire public transponders spilling left, right, and downward out of their way. Tower was driving on manual, listening as Baby and Hildy took turns sharing information that was being divulged from the civilian and military nerve centers. According to the red light that kept blinking on his controls, his speed was “dangerously excessive” but Baby had overridden the override.

“The fatality is the assassin. I repeat, the fatality is the assassin,” Hildy said as if she was simply repeating whatever Victor was telling her. “ID indicates Xeno—”

“ID X3042ML018493061,” Baby interrupted. “Male Valatestan citizen by the name of Giuseppe Andrea Milazzo. Ex-military. Eight years in the Valatestan Deep Space Marines. Unmarried, no children. Two years on-planet serving as bodyguard to various visiting dignitaries. Employment nominally private, in reality front corporation owned in full by the Valatestan Embassy in Rhysalan.”

“Looks like you get your case back, Tower.” Hildy frowned and wrinkled her lip.

“What case? The targets nailed the hitter and I have no doubt the sponsoring embassy will very convincingly deny all knowledge of his actions and disavow any responsibility for them. If we lean on them hard enough, maybe they’ll send a junior deputy undersecretary to the ambassador’s chief food taster home and blame him after the fact, all the while vowing to never again do what they swear they didn’t. A few weeks later, rinse and repeat with a new hitter, a new embassy, and a new target.”

“Sounds like you know the drill.”

“Not my first xeno,” Tower said, a little bitterly. “You know what they say, embassy is just another way to spell invasion beachhead.”

“Sounds frustrating.” Hildy commented, looking slightly mollified. She wasn’t the only one feeling disappointed. Sooner than he’d wanted or expected, he would have to fish or cut bait. It felt too soon to ask her out on a genuine date, and yet, Tower knew that if he didn’t do it before the case came to a complete close, he would probably never find the courage.

The creaky old building in which the Morchardese embassy was installed came within sight. Tower slowed and began angling the car down toward the ground. The traffic parted, as before, and he eased the var onto the ground gracefully enough to merit a nod from Hildy. The vehicle had barely stopped before he and the detector were leaping out of cockpit and rushing toward the group of people, mostly Morchardese judging by their military stances, openly displayed weaponry, and similar attire, standing around the scene of the near-crime. He didn’t see any sign of Prince Janos or the queen; if they’d been the targets, no doubt they’d already been hustled back inside to a secure location.

Paramedics were working on one man who was sitting up, looking rather dazed, amidst a pile of shattered glass and placrete that appeared to have come from the gaping hole in the building above them. That would have been the disruptor shot, Tower observed as he realized the man, whose arm was being bound, had been struck by the debris and was likely no more than an unlucky passerby. The dead Valatestan was about sixty meters away, to his right, lying in a sprawled heap on his side, the body warded by a pair of skittering quarpods who beeped and whirred and meaningfully focused their camera eyes on anyone who stepped too close to them. There was a scorch mark on the building behind the dead man about 150 centimeters off the ground, as well as two tell-tale bore holes of a charged particle beam.

“That was some nice shooting,” Tower mused aloud as he mentally calculated the distance between the body and the entrance to the embassy building.

“What’s that?” Hildy had been mumbling to herself, or rather, to Victor.

“Seven shots fired, six by the good guys, right? The assassin has just enough time to get one shot off and it didn’t come within 30 meters of anyone in the Morchardese party. They fire six shots back, from at least fifty meters away, and get three hits. That’s not bad.”

“Two hits, Tower. The third shot explains why the Valatestan only fired once. He couldn’t shoot again. Look at the disruptor.”

His right contact zoomed abruptly and focused on the area between the trigger guard and the charge pack. The disruptor, which he now saw was a Mosin-Nyarla Upsilon 32, a mid-tech military model known more for its rugged construction and heavy power suck than its accuracy, was ruined. It was very nearly blown in two. A section of the chunky, oversized bullpup design was simply missing, as if the designer had made a strange decision to narrow the section between the guard and the action on an otherwise solid weapon.

Laser or PPG?

“PPG. The edges are smooth, but they’re cut, not melted.”

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6 Comments:

Blogger Lovekraft February 20, 2018 8:39 PM  

Broader themes hinted at inside a well-paced detective story. So much to work with in a sci-fi setting. Well done.

Blogger JACIII February 20, 2018 9:22 PM  

Sure would be nice if Vox RR Day would write some more of these.....

Blogger Hammerli280 February 20, 2018 9:35 PM  

A story very reminiscent of James H. Schmitz' work. Which is high praise, I consider Schmitz to have been vastly underrated. One wonders if the convergence of SF did not start a lot earlier than people think.

Blogger Zeke OF Confettii February 20, 2018 11:33 PM  

Schmitz is indeed vastly underrated and Vox can pull an incredible number of rabbits out of the hat.

Blogger bob kek mando - ( I love the smell of Autism on the internet. It smells like ... victoREEEEEEEEE ) February 21, 2018 12:51 AM  

if i'm going to get deleted anyways, i may as well go down with my tag lines flying.

Blogger Not a lefty February 21, 2018 7:34 AM  

Haha! I started reading the "look inside" on Amazon and there are SJWs in the future. Tower complains he doesn't want to come on too strong to the girl at the crime scene because it's being recorded and if the SJWs at "bio resources" get a hint of it he will spend the next 2 weeks getting reeducated over sexual harassment. Why can't these creatures just die out of existence someday? Arrggggghh!!! Their genes survive probably multiple catastrophic civilizational events in order to make it to the QM future .

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