Corporate Ties

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"Kanly. Kanly! Dammit, lad, aren't you listening?"

The Nazzadi started, and broke eye contact with the two young women who were staring at him appreciatively across the atrium and giggling. Both were Nazzadi, both were dressed corporate-style, and both were very lovely. He smiled and turned to face his partner.

Donalds wasn't happy. He had better things to do than fulfil a Uniform job returning lost property. He'd been pacing the floor in the Chrysalis Corporation reception and complaining bitterly until he noticed that Kanly was no longer paying attention to what he was saying. He sighed, noticing where the Nazzadi was looking.

"Leave it, son. You're way out of your league. They're corporate, you're not."

Kanly bristled.

"What the hell do you mean?"

"Look, you're a good kid, but you can't half be dense sometimes. You -"

Whatever Donalds was about to say he bit back, as a young woman approached. She squinted at their visitor pass.

"Mr Donalds? Mr Kanly? Mr Retsonvoork will see you now. If you'd like to come with me..."

Donalds stopped, and Kanly nearly fell over him.

"Not David Retsonvoork, by any chance? Skinny guy, criss-cross scar on his forehead?"

The girl, Welcome-I'm-Anna, according to her name tag, paused.

"Why, yes. Do you know him, Detective Donalds?"

"Yeah, that ba- bloke - was someone I went to school with."

Donalds looked sick.

The office had a panoramic view, almost level with Edinburgh castle. Low-slung chairs faced a desk of anachronistic teak. Whilst the seats looked comfortable, both detectives found them too low to relax in.

"Johnny boy! Been a long time! When you getting a real job?"

The voice boomed out, a trace of a South African mixed with the Edinburgh accent. Retsonvoork clasped both detectives firmly by the hand in a bruising grip as the two detectives struggled out of the seats. He took a seat and regarded them both with an amused look.

The Police Relations Executive was a tall, heavily-built man with a full head of hair that he was obviously proud of – an small criss-cross scar was barely visible on the man's forehead. Although he and Donalds were the same age, Retsonvoork looked ten years younger and in much better physical shape than the Detective; Chrysalis obviously treated their workers well, mused Kanly.

"So, I understand you have something of ours? Terrible business really, and hasn't done our work morale much good. Imagine: one of our own stealing!"

Donalds twisted uncomfortably in his seat again, "Yeah, terrible. Especially with him dying and that. Must really hurt productivity."

Kanly winced. Retsonvoork ignored the barb and held out his hand.

"May I see it? It is one of my favourite pieces from our archive. I felt that a little piece of me was missing when it was stolen."

Kanly handed him the case he had. Retsonvoork looked at him and took it, as if noticing him for the first time.

"Detective Kanly. Dennis Murdoch was a first class archivist and came highly recommended. There were no aberrations on his Psych report. Chrysalis expect one-hundred-and-ten percent from our staff but sometimes people just can't handle it. His suicide was as tragic as it was unexpected."

Donalds face froze, and Kanly saw his jaw clench. That investigation was still ongoing, and he knew Donalds suspected there was more to it than suicide. He kept quiet.

Retsonvoork opened the case and carefully removed a glassy teardrop shaped object. He regarded it reverently and replaced it back into the case, snapping it closed.

"I hear that some transient found it after the terrorist attack last week – I'll make sure that he receives adequate recompense for the injuries he has endured, be they physical or emotional."

Kanly remembered, his blood turning to ice. Dark water.

Dark water swirled around the rescue crews legs. Flickers of red and blue strobed across the splinters of concrete, arcing off the water. There were sudden bursts of activity as yet another body was discovered, a-pod engines of Werewolf A-Pods howling overhead.

There had been no code word, no reason, just a sudden detonation and roar as the banked-up floodwater ploughed through Leith's Shore area.

Several people had thought they had seen grotesque giants in the flood, but this was being attributed to mass hysteria (the victims of which had already been given treatment to alleviate this). Kanly had avoided most of the flood, but had heard the explosion and destruction that followed. When water had poured into the bar, he'd run outside and then got caught up in the rescue efforts.

Everywhere he'd looked, dark water swirled. Then he'd seen the bodies.


He blinked. Donalds was looking him, eyebrows raised.

"Are you coming, or you going to sit there all day?"

Both Retsonvoork and Donalds were on their feet, Retsonvoork with a smile on his face. His eyes were different though. Colder, somehow: almost like those animal predators he'd seen in old human television shows.

Kanly struggled to his feet and followed Donalds out.

Neither spoke until they emerged into the shadows between the buildings on Lothian Road. Donalds set a fast pace, a scowl on his face, heading for their Guardian.

He didn't speak until Kanly fired the a-pod engines and the car lifted off.

"I really hate that bastard. Really. Kanly, let's take a drive to the hospital. I don't know what's going on, but I don't think Mr West will be allowed much time to recover."

Kanly wrenched the A-pod out of traffic.

"Okay. What's going on? You were a total blunt in there. You guys have a lot more history than being at school together."

Donalds sighed.

"Kanly, you don't know much about human teenagers. That bastard made my life hell. The fact he's corporate-style makes it worse. There's something about Chrysalis: it feels... too good to be true. Everyone happy, everyone working for the 'betterment of humanity'. I can't put my finger on it, but it feels wrong, and that scares me. And I'm not the only one who's scared. Retsonvoork was afraid of something."

Kanly lit a NarcLite.

"What's this got to do with West? He's just another homeless guy suffering Aeon War Syndrome."

Donalds growled.

“"Think about it: some homeless guy somehow finds a missing museum piece. What are the odds? Get going."

Kanly pulled out into traffic, saying nothing.

"Who the hell discharged him? He's a person of interest! Jesus!"

Kanly winced as Donalds launched into a diatribe against the state. West was gone, with a group of people that had claimed to be his family. No ID, no questions asked.

The hospital staff were receiving the full brunt of Donalds temper. They'd arrived there to find the CorpSec guards missing along with West. The guards were no longer required as West had discharged himself. The detectives now had nothing, no one to interview.

"Donalds, let's go. There's nothing more we can do here."

Restonvoork sat back in his chair, looking at Poseidon's Tear. He wasn't sure, but it looked like it glowed in the darkness of his office.

He'd put it off long enough. He needed to make the call, but he was feeling something that he hadn't felt for a while. Fear. That was it. The Rite had changed him – most of his associates feared him, so he was familiar with the emotion and how to use it, but the call he was about to make awakened that old response in him.

He activated his Peek, switching to an encrypted channel known to only a few at Chrysalis. The voice that answered was thick, glutinous: it sounded like the speaker wasn't familiar with human speech, or even speech.

When he ended the call, Restonvoork decided he needed to relax. Maybe a visit to the nearby Diogenes club. A little lapdance perhaps, then dinner. He grinned wider than any human could, flicking his Platinum membership card across his knuckles: why not combine the two?..