Murder in New Eden
by Charles C. Cole
Welcome to New Eden, an isolated city floating in space, whose founders believed the start of the 20th century was as good as it would ever get. Gun-free police supervise from atop their penny-farthings, carrying only batons. Aggression has been chemically suppressed for years. But then violence erupts. In response, the chief of police weighs the prospect of thawing secret soldiers. In the middle of it all, two bright young women push for equality and recognition.
Chapter 33: Conclusion
Wayne stands outside one of the blocked exits from the water treatment plant. Cody and Boyer, in their dress whites, are listening intently but can’t seem to make sense of her demands.
“I need to go down there!” says Wayne with nerve-wracking urgency.
“That’s really not a good idea,” says Boyer. “We don’t know what they’re capable of right now. You could get hurt.”
Wayne isn’t budging. “This from the guy who shoved a scalpel through my associate’s neck because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed!”
“He was a bad guy! You know he was! If he’d just been honest with me—”
“I guess killers do know guilt,” Wayne taunts.
“Why do you think she’s down there?” asks Cody. He is calm and quiet, trying earnestly to process her request.
“I saw video footage from City Ops of Dom carrying her off.”
“I believe you. We suspected as much. But why take her downstairs when they’re all on their way topside soon? Besides, we’ve got all of the entrances blocked. How did he get by us? How did he get back down there?”
“I don’t know!” admits Wayne. “If anybody knows the ins and outs of that place, he would.”
“We’ll get her back, ma’am,” insists Boyer.
“I hate this!” she says.
“I don’t blame you,” says overearnest Boyer.
“You don’t blame for what? For being frustrated? For being scared? Or for your utter lack of actual response?”
“Wayne, your information is great,” says Cody, offering reassurance. “It proves what we’ve guessed. We know two things for certain: Dom somewhere topside, and he took her.”
“Alive,” she adds. “We know he took her alive. He didn’t have to. It means he still has plans for her.”
“Which can be good or bad,” Boyer observes.
Wayne leans close into Boyer’s face. “Do you know how to be optimistic, Corporal Boyer? Because that’s what I need from you. Anything else, and you’re dead to me. Do I make myself clear?” She gets through.
“Why does it take an entire ace team of trained assassins to guard four doors that are being blocked by four two-ton trucks? Are the brakes on and the keys in your pockets? Who’s going to move them? You’re a search-and-rescue team. New Eden is not a big city, not when I read about Earth of old.”
Cody wavers. “Chief Leo instructed us.”
Wayne pushes harder. “And last I heard, you don’t work for him, I do. You help out around our little burg in space because somebody woke you up. There’s nothing better to do. There’s nowhere else to go. You’re a professional Good Samaritan who’s getting a little rusty while flirting with a new lady friend and, oh, killing time selling ice cream to kids. Does Nakamura mean nothing to you?”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Find the damsel in distress, slay the stinky dragon, and bring her home alive.”
“What if they try to push through the doors while we’re gone?”
“We’ll use some real cops, and we’ll push back. Besides, they have no weapons. What are they going to use, Pelkey’s large head?”
“But they’re going to be hopped up on meds,” says Boyer. “That’s the plan.”
“Does that suddenly give them superpowers? Let me worry about them. If Pelkey did what I told him to, this all goes away today.”
“Why? Did you poison them?” Boyer doesn’t understand the need for personal space.
“No,” says Wayne, refusing to back up, “but I also didn’t give them the aggression drugs, because it was a stupid idea. Because, after they went crazy and started cutting each other up and banging each other around with heavy metal objects, you know who would have to take care of them all and fix them up while New Eden was careening out of control without power because there’d be nobody left to manage the life-sustaining machines? Me. And I don’t like to be around sick people that much, especially whiny men. I like cats. I should have been a veterinarian.”
Cody and Boyer are speechless.
Wayne can’t wait for them to slowly digest the subtext of her rant. “Are you going to help me or not? Because, one way or the other, we are running out of time.”
“Do you want us to go door-to-door? Canvas the neighborhood?” asks Cody, warming to the idea. “Where do we start?”
“If you were Delumbria,” Wayne thinks aloud, “somebody who stands out in a crowd, and you knew next to nothing about the topside of New Eden, you would stay away from the public park and the street cameras, anywhere that was exposed. And you would stick to the familiar. What’s familiar to Dom about New Eden?”
“Mayor Brandt’s place,” answers Cody. “I met him there once.”
“That makes sense,” says Wayne. “He talks a tough game, but he really just wants to be the mayor of topside. So he moves in ahead of his minions and waits for the wave of mob violence to light up the night sky.”
“What about Brandt?” asks Boyer.
“I heard Petrillo moved him somewhere else,” responds Wayne, “modest by his standards but temporary. Petrillo’s earned his promotion, but you didn’t hear it from me.”
Cody is genuinely curious. “Is he a good guy now? Schiavelli had his doubts once.”
“He’s a good guy. He may not be as tough as you or as passionate as Nakamura or as philanthropic as the chief, but he’s proven himself. No more beating him up for the chief’s entertainment.”
“I have an entirely different feeling about Superintendent of Engineers Dominic Delumbria. He’s going to get what he deserves.”
“Agreed. Let’s get him,” says Cody.
“He might have friends,” warns Wayne. “Politicians always travel in packs.”
“I’ve got friends, too,” says Cody with a discernible smirk, looking sidelong at Boyer and clasping the other man’s shoulder in a universal gesture of male camaraderie. “Let’s save a damsel and maybe prevent an uprising.”
“Let’s kick some ass!” adds Wayne, not yet done trying to motivate the men into action.
Boyer and Cody stare expectantly at Wayne.
“What’s the matter?” she asks.
“We don’t have any guns. We don’t have a way to communicate. We don’t have night-vision goggles.”
“I can get you the goggles.”
“And we don’t know where we’re going.”
“The place with the pool,” she teases. “And the tennis court several stories up.”
Cody shakes his head. Wayne takes him by the chin and points his face in the direction of the mayor’s luxurious apartment. It sticks out like an ostentatious oasis in the desert. “That’s where we’re going.”
“Perks of the job,” says Cody, echoing Brandt’s matter-of-fact rationale for living to such high standards.
* * *
Copyright © 2018 by Charles C. Cole