By Frederick Chagnon
Calvin Baker’s Apartment, New Daedalia. 19h23
Calvin, Elva and Walt were sitting in the detective’s apartment along with a few good officers of the NDPD. Heavy rain and wind were hitting the windows with severity, indicative of the strength of the storm outside. Stretched over the kitchen table was an extensive map of the city, pins and needles indicating crucial locations. They had learned from one of their sources that the shinka drug was ready and the Children of the Sun would start the distribution tonight. Tonight was the night it all ended, one way or another.
“The article is ready Elva?” asked Calvin between two sips of whiskey. Something stronger than tea was needed.
“Proofread and ready to print. It’ll be in the morning papers. We’re waiting for the right moment to publish it online. We’re detailing the extent of the Children’s organization, how they’ve infiltrated the commissioner’s office and the myriad of companies under the Dragon’s heel,” replied Elva, her long hair tied up in a tight ponytail. “Luis’ interns aree finishing up scanning the entirety of the notebook as we speak. We’ll make it available to the public as soon as it’s finished.”
“Good, good,” absently replied Calvin. “What about you captain? Ready to go?” he asked a tall ginger man, one of the few officers still on the good side of the law.
“We have teams ready to arrest the dealers, if your intel is any good Detective Baker.”
“It is. I have my sources,” he replied thinking of the network of homeless children.
“I’ll see it when I’ll see it,” replied the captain. “We have SWAT teams ready to take in Commissioner Wong, the Mayor, and the executives of the different companies.”
“We have all the paperwork?” asked Walt. They didn’t want all their efforts go to waste because of a missing report.
“Yeah. They took some convincing, but the DA’s office came through. All locations will be hit simultaneously. We’re spread hopelessly thin though, and that’s without counting all of the cops we need to arrest too. If they have any kind of security, it could get out of hand real quick.”
“It’ll be fine Captain,” assured Calvin.
“It’s the single biggest operation in the history of the department and it’s against something no one knew about until a week ago. You better be right about this.”
“Of course I am,” replied Calvin, his green eyes shining brighter than ever. “Now, if everything is set up, that leaves us with one last thing to worry about.”
“Chen himself,” replied Elva right away. “What’s your plan? You’re not sending a team there to help with his capture.”
Calvin answered with a half-smile towards Walt. You could see in his eyes that nothing could stop him at that moment. He wanted it too much. The forensics analyst definitely had a bad feeling about this. A really bad feeling.
North Shore. 19h47
Walt had been ready to go home, read a good book, maybe have a hot chocolate, while all the drama played out with the feeling of job well done. He was a crime scene analyst after all, not a crime fighter. His job was to solve the crimes after they had been committed, not stopping them before they even happened. It would have been so easy.
Instead, because of a reasoning he had yet to fully comprehend, he found himself in the blistering cold of what appeared to be the biggest storm of the year, maybe even of the century judging by the rapidly increasing wind, standing in a common alleyway somewhere on the north shore of the River. Instead of a warm fireplace, he was standing in front of the red telephone box he knew to be the secret entrance to D.R.E.A.M. Labs, the ultra-secretive underground lab no one but a handful of people had even heard of. They were the ones who told them about the potential of the shinka drug a few weeks ago. Walt still thought about that strange conversation he had in front of a door marked “Project C.W.” from time to time.
“So… What are we waiting for exactly?” asked Walt, tired of not feeling his ears.
“We’re waiting for the right moment to make a dramatic entrance,” answered his friend.
“Oh,” replied Walt, midly disappointed. They stood there quietly in the rain for a few more seconds. “Is this the right moment? Because even my bones are wet now.”
“Yup. I’m bloody freezing, let’s go.”
The pair managed to squeeze in the small box and Calvin composed the number and they began their slow descent within the city. The glass elevator gave them the same breathtaking view as before. They reached the ground and Walt followed Calvin who seemed to know where he was headed.
“Why are we here exactly?” asked Walt hurrying to catch up. “Shouldn’t we be at the Crazy Salmon or his Manor to arrest the bad guy?”
“Do you remember those vortex manipulators Mother Camilla used to teleport the first time you were here?” asked Calvin in return. Walt nodded in agreement. “Dramatic entrance. Plus element of surprise.”
“So that’s your plan? Teleport behind Lee-Sun Chen, grab him, and teleport him back to a prison cell.”
“Yes. Part of it anyways.”
“What’s the other part?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Solid plan. What could go wrong right?” sighed Walt in exasperation. He was beginning to realize how all the science-monks were looking at them. “Why is everyone looking at us so umm… weird?”
“It’s in your head,” replied Calvin. “Don’t worry about it.”
They were almost at the “Project C.W.” door when they finally saw Mother Camilla walking towards them.
“You’re early Detective. It isn’t due to begin for a few more hours.”
“That’s not why I’m here for. Not right now,” replied Calvin extending his hand.
“Of course,” she said. From the large sleeves of her robe, she produced two watch-like bracelets and dropped them in Calvin’s open hand. He passed one to Walt and put on the other one himself. “Now listen carefully boys. These are not toys. Do not abuse it. Use the watch’s hands to enter the coordinates of your destination.”
“Easy enough,” said Calvin. He quickly pushed on his watch and teleported behind Walt and touched his shoulders. “Tag. You’re it,” he said laughing before teleporting further in the room.
Now, there are some universal instincts that transcend time and space, no one can deny it. There are some situations that no matter how old you are or where you are, have a fixed end. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you were doing, if someone touches you, says “tag, you’re it” and runs away. There is only thing anyone would do. It’s a calling you can’t resist.
You go and try to give the tag back.
Thus began the first game of “teleporting tag”, a game sure to be hugely popular with children of the 32nd century. Calvin and Walt were popping in and out of existence trying to give the tag to the other under the profoundly unamused gaze of Mother Camilla.
A few minutes later, the pair fell to the ground when their watches stopped working.
“Ow!” they said in unison. They were slowly picking themselves up as Mother Camilla was walking towards them, the stern look of a disapproving headmistress about to discipline some particularly unruly schoolboys.
“I did say these weren’t toys, did I not?”
“Yes,” they replied looking at the floor.
“These are still prototypes. There are still some issues to fix. The battery life is especially troubling as you’ve experienced and the range is quite limited.” She clapped her hands and another science-monk arrived with two more watches. “Take these. I gather you understand how they works now.”
“Thank you,” said Calvin.
“Brother White and Brother Jesse will walk you to the exit. We don’t want any more trouble around here.” Two white-robbed figures escorted them towards the exit. “This is a fixed point in time. There is no turning back. I hope you two realize that. We’ll be ready when you return,” added Mother Camilla as they left.
Walt was wondering how four people were supposed to fit in the tiny glass elevator, instead they were taken to a staircase.
“You were the one who identified the drug weren’t you?” asked Calvin to Brother White.
“I was,” replied the gruff voice.
“I bet you kept studying it, didn’t you? I mean anyone who called themselves a chemist or a biologist would die for the opportunity to study a parasite capable of communicating from one host to another, right?” Brother White and Brother Jesse looked at each other through their robes and a brief smile illuminated the red goatee of the chemist. Understanding what Calvin was trying to do, Walt joined in.
“It doesn’t matter,” he began. “There’s no way to reverse its effects or to protect ourselves anyways.” They had reached the top of the stairs.
“I can’t tell you anything,” said Brother White. “I certainly can’t tell you that I’ve created a reverse-parasite to cure infected individuals, right Jesse?”
“That’s right Mr. White. We also can’t tell you that it’s soluble in water and will be effective through skin absorption.”
“We also didn’t say that these two misplaced vials,” said Brother White producing vials filled with blue crystals from his sleeve. “Contain the cure.”
“Wow,” whistled Walt. “How did you do all that in that short a period of time?”
“Science,” said Jesse before both figures disappeared in the darkness of the stair case.
“Come on,” said Calvin after picking up the vials. “We don’t have much time.” The door opened directly next to where they had left the car. “We have a plan now.”
Crazy Salmon Factory, 21h12
From the very beginning, everything always led back to this place. A struggling salmon cannery. There wasn’t anything special about it per say. The owner didn’t just wake up one morning and decided that his legitimate business would become the front for the biggest criminal organization in centuries. These things just sort of happen over time. Time that was quickly run for Calvin and Walt.
The car was hovering above the factory, hidden by the storm. From their vantage point, they could see the henchmen loading truck after truck of the shinka drug. It was impossible to unload that much drug in only one night, especially with a new product. The important point was that the secret would be out.
The rain drops were exploding on the ground like a million grenades. Nothing seemed to stay in place for long being pushed by the strong winds. It had been showering heavy rain for the most part of 2 hours now and it didn’t look as if it was going to stop anytime soon.
“Why are we even doing this?” asked Walt from the rocking car. “We already poured one of the two vials in the city’s water supply. Tomorrow morning, everyone’s going to be either cure or immunized. The whole thing will just be a nightmare from the past, just like the storm.”
“Because women and men like Chen are only the beginning,” started Calvin while analyzing the situation down in the factory. “The biggest evil isn’t war or famine or diseases or money. It’s greed. The root of all evil is greed. If it’s ever allowed to even take root, it will grow and grow and consume and corrupt everything until there’s nothing left and then… Then it will keep eating until the whole thing collapses. This is why we do what we do. To protect the people of New Daedalia against this gigantic beast against which they don’t stand a chance.”
“But do we do? Do we stand a chance?”
“This is an enemy we can’t defeat. The only thing we can do is to buy them some time. And then more time. To keep the beast at bay for as long as possible, knowing that the fight will never be over and the war never won.” He remained silent for a few instants before turning to face Walt, his eyes never greener. “Do you think you do this Walt?”
“I… I think so,” replied Walt, unsure of what he was getting himself into.
“Good!” exclaimed Calvin patting him on the shoulder. “The guard just changed. It’s now or never. Remember the plan?”
“I remember part of a plan.”
“Good enough!” replied the detective. “See you on the other side!” He jumped from the car and disappeared in the night.
“I am absolutely not doing that,” thought Walt as he activated his teleporter from inside the car.
Walt re-appeared in a dark hallway. Unless something went wrong with the teleportation process, he knew exactly where he was. He went straight ahead and hid behind a corner. He took a quick look. Two guards were guarding the door as was expected. He rolled a smoke grenade at their feet. Two seconds later, a thin gray cloud rose from the floor. A minute later, Walt was walking over the unconscious guards and through the unlocked door.
He got in and unscrewed an access panel on the floor. The closed circuited sprinkler water system passed there. He opened the right pipe and poured the blue crystals in the running water. Footsteps were coming his way. The unconscious guards had been found. This could have meant trouble if he didn’t have a teleporting watch. A button push later and he reappeared behind the guards and ran to the meeting point.
Calvin and Walt were hiding on the ledge overlooking the main warehouse. Lee-Sun Chen was sitting on a makeshift throne. There were two guards at each of the 6 exits and 7 more were loading up the trucks. Only the rain hitting the ceiling was breaking the heavy silence.
“Ready?” asked Calvin.
“No,” replied Walt.
“Let’s go then.” They both activated their teleporters.
“What the-“ exclaimed Lee-Sun standing up from his throne. One by one the guards were disappearing before his eyes. He was in shock for a minute before catching on what was going on.
“It’s over Chen,” said Calvin in between disappearances.
“I knew I’d see you again,” started Chen, remembering their encounter at the charity gala. “It’s far from over Detective. It’s merely the beginning. When I’ll have control of this pitiful city, then I’ll branch out. Why limit yourselves to only one town, when you can have the whole world?” Walt and Calvin had taken care of all the guards and were standing in front of the Dragon. “It’s a neat trick you have there. You took out what? 15 people? Too bad I have more obeying my every thought.”
He whistled and every door and window shattered to make way for about a hundred armed guards. The odds were not in their favor. They wouldn’t have enough battery life to teleport all of them away.
“Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves shall we?” started who remained extraordinarily calm. “You can’t do what you want to, you know? I mean, conquering the world, really? Are you really a Saturday-morning cartoon villain? I thought you were better than this!”
“The world shall be mine!”
“Yeah yeah, but then what? You’re only person with freedom of thought left. Literally everyone else does whatever you want them to do. Isn’t it going to be boring after a while?” Calvin had moved during his speech. He was now standing under a sprinkler.
“I’ll deal with that problem when I get there,” answered Chen icily.
“Too bad. I was hoping you would reconsider. I have to stop you now.” He nodded to Walt and lit a lighter.
It happened in a split second. Calvin and Walt vanished. Calvin re-materialized on the ceiling and the lighter’s flamer close enough to trigger the sprinkler system. Throughout the warehouse, a blue rain started to shower. Everyone who had been compromised by the shinka would start feeling the worse hangover of their lives once they wake up. Calvin returned to the floor followed by guards falling to the ground unconscious, expecting everything to be over.
There should have been 4 teleportation bangs. He only heard two. He turned to see the throne. Chen’s arm was through Walt’s chest. Blood was foaming at the corner of his mouth.
“You are predictable with your teleportations, you know?” asked Chen. Calvin was frozen. “As soon as he flickered out, I knew where he would reappear. Only needed to put my arm in the right spot.” He pulled his bloodied arm out of Walt’s body which fell to the ground. “Now where were we?”
Before Calvin could say anything, the wall behind Walt and Chen exploded. The shockwave propelled everyone away. The police had arrived.
“Lee-Shun Chen, you are under arrest for just about everything you can think of and then some. Resistance is futile,” said the police captain as the officers circled what was left of the room and apprehended Chen.
“This isn’t over,” he screamed as they were taking him into custody. “You hear me! This isn’t over! The Children of the Sun will return! The Sun will always rise!”
“You okay?” asked an officer to Calvin, helping him up to his feet.
“Yeah,” he replied dusting off his overcoat. “Walt!” He saw a burnt hand in the rumble. He began to dig through the bricks. “Help! We need to get him out of there!” Several officers then began to dig through the rumble to get Walt’s body out.
Walt had been too close to the explosion. His left arm had been cut off by the debris, his right hand burnt to a crisp. His legs were broken in a million pieces and there was a gigantic cut on the right side of his face, the white of the skull making a macabre contrast with his skin. Not to mention the hole in his chest.
“My god…” said a few officers. Others simply threw up.
“There’s only one way to save him now,” whispered Calvin, silent tears running down his cheeks.
“Save him? What do you mean?” asked the redheaded captain. “His body is broken.” Calvin didn’t reply. He simply disappeared with a bang, the broken body of his friend in his arms.
Daedalia Ledger offices, the day after.
“Everything turned out great, didn’t it?” asked Elva. “The city is immunized against the crazy mind-control drug, no more organized crime, the police and the mayor’s office are no longer corrupt. Oh and we never sold more copies or have as much traffic on our website.”
“You’re still crazy for thinking it would work out,” replied Luis, chief editor of the Ledger. “But I’ll let it slide this time.”
She looked outside. The city had never been so beautiful. The sun was reflecting on the skyscrapers and on the river. She didn’t know what tomorrow had in stores for them. What she did know, was that yesterday had been one hell of a ride.
Calvin reappeared in D.R.E.A.M. Labs. The Project C.W. doors were opened for the first time.
“Now!” cried the detective. A legion of science-monks appeared with a stretcher and took Walt into Project C.W., the heavy metal doors closing behind them.
Mother Camilla walked next to a distraught Calvin on his knees covered by tears, dust and the blood of his best friend.
“Is he going to make it?” he asked between two sobs.
“You know he does. We’ve been preparing for this day for more than a thousand years. Cyborg-Walt will rise.”