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Wyn stared down at the street, a four-story drop and then the hard pavement, damp after the downpour. Taxi cabs splashed through a deep puddle out front of the station as they carried the spent revellers back to their homes from the bars of Light City. The towers of the Garden District loomed on the horizon, blocks of concrete that draped themselves in greenery and lifted quavering trees high above the smog.

The night was in that sweet spot where the loud drunks had fallen into bed, but the dawn was still a few hours away and Wyn took solace in the stillness.

A few floors below her it was all tears, angry shouting, recriminations, and accusations. It wasn’t that she was above it, more that she couldn’t bring anything to the situation. They had suffered a blow unlike any she had experienced before and there was nothing she could say that would make it better. She could still see Kithson’s mother sitting in the captain’s office, Jena doing her best to console her. A caring captain, Wyn thought, and a better friend.

Somewhere down there was Bran’s wife. She would be calm and in control, it was her way, she would say the right thing, but all the while keeping everyone at a distance. The police weren’t her family; they were his. Had been, Wyn corrected herself.

She rubbed at her hands, despite scrubbing she could still see the blood. She didn’t know how many people had bled on her in the last twenty-four hours, there just seemed to be an endless procession of suffering. After they'd caught their breath, Wyn and Doron had entered the hall. Hours had passed but even now with the separation of time she couldn’t process what they had seen; carnage was a word meant for lesser scenes.

The only way that Wyn knew how to deal with a crime scene was to detach herself from it, she didn’t see a dead body but a victim, a bloody weapon was just evidence, and a dismembered limb was just meat to be gathered up and placed in the bag. But the broken humanity on display in the hall demanded to be heard.

Wyn gripped the railing until her knuckles turned white. It was easier for her to think of Bran and how peacefully they sat together than go back to that place.

She heard the crunch of gravel as someone approached. Hopefully, a smoker that would take the hint and leave her alone.

“I brought you a coffee.”

Wyn turned around and lent against the railing. Jena stopped a few metres away, a yellow mug clasped in both hands.

“I will not cry,” Wyn said deliberately.

“I’d be worried if you did.”

“I don’t want them to think I don’t care.”

“No one thinks that.”

“Kithson and Nara, they were outstanding officers.”

“They would have been our replacements.” Jena took a sip from the mug.

“Any word from the hospital?”

“Johnson is in surgery, so no update. Harris and Yin are still in critical, and the others are getting patched up.”

“I told them to stay on the train,” Wyn said.

There were no stars out, no moon, only thick cloud that glowed a deeply shadowed red that made her feel as if she were in the deep end of the pool. Lungs straining against the pressure, looking up for her father’s hand as it stretched down to pull her out.

“They wouldn’t. You didn’t.”

It was built into them. You didn’t join the police force if you weren’t the sort to run into trouble.

“Damn it. This is it isn’t it?”

“Wyn,” Jena sighed and looked down at the surface of the mug. “Don’t make me lie to you, I don’t have anything good to say about anything right now.”

“I want to hurt them.” Wyn flexed her hands. “The god damned militia. They mowed them down like animals. I keep trying to understand how someone can do that, I mean, it must have taken time, right? You don’t kill that many people and not feel it, how can you?”

“Wyn, I need you cold.” Jena came to stand at the railing. She looked up at the towers. The stark light from a lamppost picking out the deep lines of her face.

“I can’t stop thinking about him. I almost had him. If I had just—”

“You were shot. You did your best down there, you all did.” Jena took a deep breath. “I won’t have any of you questioning yourselves.”

“What now? How do we get back up after this?”

“I don’t think we do, at least not as a unit. I expect Command to shut us down by the end of the week.”

“They can’t do that.”

“They’ve been wanting to for a while. The militia has already taken over most of our duties. We had to fight to be part of the colony op. My fear is that they’ll look at our roster tomorrow and decide it isn’t worth it.”

“We just give up? The militia have to pay for what they did. Not just for the civilians, but for us. They killed our friends. We have to do something.”

“When have you ever known me to turn my back on a fight?” Jena asked. “I want the bastards that did this, but we have to be smart about it. I don’t want to lose any more of you, there’s too few of us left.” She took another sip of Wyn’s coffee. “This smacks of a death squad, more than one probably, and if they think they’re about to be exposed they’ll kill everyone connected to it. This isn’t just about us, it’s about the families down there.”

“Even if I got proof of who they are, no judge would touch them,” Wyn said. Her phone vibrated, and she pulled it out. “It’s an email from the transit security team.”

“That’s quick.”

“I may have threatened them,” Wyn said absently. A scowl formed as she read the short message.

“It makes no sense,” Jena mused while Wyn concentrated on the email. “Was it retribution, a message to the gangs? The colony clearance was a stunt for the election, at least that’s what I thought, but doing something like this, it’s just going to get the people riled up.”

“Damn it, there’s no footage,” Wyn said scowling. She waited impatiently for the attachment to open.

“What, how can that be? Transit has the metro wired, even the colony station is monitored.”

“Turned off that morning.” Wyn scanned the attached memo. “The gov didn’t want it being hacked by the Arcists. They received an order this morning from the governor’s office.”

“Show me.” Jena took the phone and peered closely at the screen.

“It’s a copy of the written order to shut down the cameras at station seven,” Wyn said. “Signed by Governor Kaplan himself. Now, why the hell would he do that?”

“You don’t buy the Arcist line?”

“Do you? It’s nonsense.” Wyn paced back and forth, her boots crunching on the gravel. “The militia came in through the street doors and we only moved into position once the operation was underway. Access to the metro surveillance system would have been no help at all.” She came to a stop, an idea coming to her. “Did the governor of the sector sanction a massacre?”

“No, don’t even start down that line,” Jena warned. “We have enough trouble without bringing him into it. I think someone knew about the order and took advantage of it. Hit squads hate like no one else, they thrive on it, and gunning people down like that, they wouldn’t break a sweat.”

“There’s a timeline where one of us says that we were just unlucky. That if the train had been a few minutes later, we would have missed them. That it wasn’t personal, and we should just let it go.”

“We should.” Jena took a sip of the coffee and grimaced. She tossed the contents onto the gravel. “We should ban Doron from that machine.”

“Is he still here? I should thank him.”

“He’s in a pub somewhere, but he knows. Go home, Wyn. You don’t need to be here tonight.”

“I should say something to Bran’s wife.”

Jena was shaking her head before Wyn finished speaking.

“No, you really shouldn’t.” Jena smiled for the first time that night. “That woman scares me. I never understood those two. Bran was such a softie.”

“He loves her. Loved.”

 

Wyn took the stairs down to the garage. She didn’t want to talk to anyone. There would be time in the coming days to rehash what had happened, but right then she just wanted to go home. She was nearing her car when she heard footsteps coming up behind her. Wyn spun around, dropping her bag and reaching for her gun.

“Detective! It’s just me.”

“Shit. Sorry, Rosie,” Wyn said, taking her hand from her gun. She scooped up her bag and turned back to her car.

“Sorry,” Rosie said. She was out of uniform and back in her street clothes. “I just saw you and wanted to talk before you left. I should have announced myself earlier.”

“It’s okay. I’m just wired.”

“I think we all are. I didn’t see you upstairs.” Rosie stepped forward to stand under the light. “I wanted to say, well, you know...”

“Thanks, Rosie.”

“Detective, are you going to be leading the investigation?”

“Call me Wyn, and officially, no.”

“Unofficially?”

“I’m going to hunt the bastards down.” Wyn heard herself and gave a tired sigh. She wanted to be home and in bed, not standing around in a car park. “Have you got something to add to it?”

“I was at station six, waiting for the next train to come through. We heard the shooting but didn’t know what was going on. I wanted to use the service tunnels to reach you, but...”

“Just as well you didn’t. We think the attackers used them to escape.”

“Shit.” Rosie shook her head. “Should have gone through the main tunnel like the junkie.”

“What?”

“We stopped someone in the tunnel, eastbound. They said they escaped and just ran.”

“What happened to them?”

“I let them go.”

“You let a witness to a massacre escape?”

“I wasn’t about to send someone to the militia barracks,” Rosie said. “I know what they do there.”

“Does your partner know you let them escape?”

“Maybe, but he won’t say anything.”

“Did you report the encounter?”

“He did. The militia will have it.”

“Damn it. Tell me you at least got a name?”

“Tay Garson. She came stumbling out of the tunnel, all scratched up.”

“Say again?” Wyn said, not believing what she had just heard.

“Garson, Tay. Late twenties, average height, female. You know the name?”

“No,” Wyn said trying to cover her surprise, “no. It just sounded familiar. She witnessed the attack?”

“That’s what she claimed. Said the Militia opened fire on them, but I think she realised the danger after saying it.”

“How so?”

“Being a witness against the militia? That doesn’t go so well.”

“There won’t be any witnesses. This will get swept under the rug.”

“They can’t get away with it.”

“It’s their sector.” Wyn stepped forward and rested a hand on the younger officers’ shoulder. “I would have let her go if I’d been in your place. I’ve got to go. Take care of yourself, Rosie.”

“You too, detective.”


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