S7A

1

Cold.

Cold and Wet.

Cold, Wet, and Dark.

That would be me then...

My name is Conan O'Riordan, most people know me as Rio, I work in the city, I carry a badge. That badge says Internal Affairs, and thus I'm not always the most popular person in the world. We're a misunderstood bunch over here, the operatives don't like us because they think we're out to get them, cloak division don't like us because we're not scared of them like everyone else is, and everyone else doesn't like us because we're "better" than them. No real life to lead, but that's the way of things, people should realise that they shouldn't care for what could be, only what they can do, only what is.

Anything else leads to uncertainty, which leads to paranoia, which leads to problems.

Take the case that I'm on at the moment, and you'd be curious how many of these we get called out on, and to make things worse, I'm currently breaking in a rookie, which is never a good thing. The only time they call us out is when they suspect operative involvement in a thing that shouldn't have involved an Operative. Fine in principle, but then consider this...

What do Operatives do?

I'll tell you what they do, they cause messes, that's their job, they're not there for damage control, they're there to signify with sound and fury that SLA has arrived to take care of the problem with speed and impunity. No problem so far? Good, Good, now consider this.

In the course of their duty, most Operatives break things, Shivers, Monarchs, civilians, other Operatives, buildings, that sort of thing, no problem there, that's their job, SLA will replace what they damage, won't they? Course they will, they'll send a nice helpful assessment officer around to your place, and they'll take all your details and in four months, they'll get back to you and give you half what you asked for and you'll be so grateful to get it, you'll take whatever they offer.

But then you'll think about all that hassle you've had, you'll think about all the problems you've had, and why? Because some Operative did something without thinking, and now, it's not alright, it's not their job, it's your life, and what do you want to do now?

You want to get back at that Operative, you want to be able to stand in front of them and say "how about THAT then Mr high and mighty? Hurts when someone screws with your life doesn't it?"

But you can't, Operatives are above you, they've got SCL, they've got guns and training, so you think...

And you think....

And you think....

Who can screw with Operatives?

We can.

Perfect, you place the call, mention the Operative's name, use a few of those good words that you've seen on the TV, you know the ones, Blackmail, Extortion, cruelty to the microwave, that sort of thing. Then all you have to do is sit back and watch the sparks fly, knowing that as part of the SLA mechanics, any complaint, comment or problem with Operatives has to be investigated.

And so it's here that I must say, from the bottom of my heart, to all those people who ever thought to have a word with Internal Affairs and report an Op for something that they didn't do...

Thanks.

Still, now that I've finished complaining about my job, let me fill you in on the more interesting sides of it, we get to see death, a lot of it, up close and personal, and never in anything less than technicolour. Now to some, that might not be too interesting, but believe me when I tell you that one of the most fascinating things that this world has to offer is what the human mind is capable of when it really tries. Of course, now you wonder how you know when people are trying? It's easy enough, when someone's trying, they're coming up with something that no-one else ever would have done. Then I hear you say that there's only so many things, only so many variations on what you can do to kill someone?

Oh you're wrong, you're so wrong, here, walk with me a while and let me tell you a tale..

It starts on a rainy day (surprise, surprise) in Lower DownTown, we've been called out to a suspicion of Operative misconduct. We say that because it's far easier to group everything under the same banner rather than have a separate code for every damn thing some loony can think up. I'm with my new partner, a genuine, dyed in the wool, straight out of the academy rookie. Her name is Petula Septima Evangeline, and lord knows, does she ever like to pronounce it. It took us all of thirty seconds to decide to call her Eve, far easier and as we've got rank, she can't argue (well, she can, but it won't make any difference).

Still, back to the case, semi derelict tenement in Lower DownTown, the fire escape is corroded, the brickwork is damaged beyond all repairable state, the windows aren't there, the door is on one hinge. SLA's finest, Shivers from district 20, are on hand to deal with the matter. Now allow me to fill you in on that bit of jargon, when I say that they're dealing with the matter, I mean that they're removing all the valuable things so that they can sell them on shortly. It's not always this way with Shivers, but district 20 have always been good at this sort of thing, they have the fastest reaction time of any of the Shiver districts in this sector, no one makes mention of why they're so damn fast. SLA don't actually care if they're the most corrupt Shiver precinct in history, their speed makes the rest of the Shivers look good, actually pushes up the averages for the whole sector, which they figure is worth a little corruption here and there.

As senior officer on scene, it's my responsibility to take the point and make sure that as much of the scene as can be has been preserved. There's a faint smell of urine and blood as I walk in the door, which worries me a little, nothing particularly unusual about that smell, but to be able to discern it over the ankle deep sewage of Lower DownTown is a little concerning.
The Shiver sergeant is stood outside the door of the incident, helmet firmly on, and breathing filters enabled. I motion over to him and indicate the room.

"So what we got?"

He disengages his helmet and reluctantly takes the helmet off, taking one deep breath before he does so.

"Not certain, sir."

I raise one eyebrow "Not certain?" I put a little more emphasis than necessary on the last word.

He shakes his head vigorously. "No sir, not certain." He ventures nothing more, and I don't like pressing for information at the best of time, so I take his forensics gloves off him and open the door to the room.

I close it instantly and take my respirator from my belt, the stench in there is almost a living thing. I turn to ask the sergeant when this was reported and find myself alone, the sergeant having made himself scarce once the pleasantries were over.

I take a deep breath and open the door again......