So far …
Agent Carter is doing his best to stay out of sight as the Agency goes through a self imposed blackout. But given that he is now on the hunt for someone who murdered a close friend, someone to whom he was one of the last to see, his life is anything but quiet. Coming closer to the killer only puts him up against darker foes, and when things finally come to a head, Carter is detailed by the authorities.
Continuing datastream >>
“I tell you, Mr Carter, you are making my life a fucking misery right now,” remarked Detective Satre, as he came into the interview room. He tossed a slicksheet onto the top of the table. “I knew when I first saw you. I told myself ‘Detective, here is a person who is going to end up causing you more trouble in the long run’. I should have thrown you in then.”
“You didn’t have anything to charge me on then, you don’t have anything to charge me on now.”
The wracked looking man tossed back a few pills, and swilled them all back with a short cup of caff. Toa did his best to relax back in the chair. He knew how he probably looked, and the six hours in lock up had done little in terms of letting him catch up on sleep. Satre sat down opposite him, grimacing noticeably. He didn’t look like a well man. Toa could see the meds pulsing through his system, fading through in shades of blue.
“You did me a favor, I have to admit that,” Satre remarked, pulling the slicksheet back towards him. “You keep fine company, Mr Carter. Sully James was on our shortlist of people we had to talk to regarding the unfortunate situation with Hone Preston. How surprised I was to see that you and he were on speaking terms.”
“Preston and I keep the same circle of friends.”
“Did it escape you the first time around to mention to us that Preston bought his drugs from Sully?” Satre asked, leveling a hard stare at Toa. “Especially considering that Preston died of a drug overdose?”
“Sully didn’t have anythin’ to do with it,” Toa lied, although he suspected he might be right.
“But you didn’t bother to mention it, all the same?”
Toa shrugged his husky shoulders, “You have him now. I’m sure you questionin’ him every way you want.”
“You got that right, Mr Carter. It appears that you’re making my life very busy at the moment.” His tone dropped a bit, darker. “I don’t like people who make my life difficult.”
“Are you chargin’ me on anything, Detective?” Toa asked, feigning annoyance. “Because you know that it was other other four men that broke in on Sully and I. You got the weapon, and the handgrip lock, coded directly to one of them. Maybe you aughta be checkin’ in to all that. Because last I checked, Sully and I hadn’t done anything illegal.”
“Sully’s a drug dealer.”
“Party pill’s ain’t illegal.”
“Is there anything else you want to tell me, Mr Carter?” Satre asked, in a way that implied there was meant to be something Toa should bring up. “Like how you made a line straight to Prestons’s apartment.”
“I needed a place to crash. Again, nothin’ illegal in that. You forgettin’, Detective, I turned myself in for questionin’. I remember you didn’t have much more than my sex life to ask about last time. Why don’t you ask your questions now?”
“Because I know that you have about as much clue as we do, Mr Carter,” said Satre. He stared across the table, from behind his ancient looking specs. The scars on his face gave him a harsh, cruel look when the tone took him. “And I know that you’re the sort of person to go all Sam Spade on a vendetta.”
Toa wished that he had the Agency behind him. Not only would he have been able to understand obscure things like that, but he would have someone stepping in and dragging his ass out of this interview room on government grounds.
But it wasn’t. And chances are he wouldn’t be following this up with the Agency on his shoulder.
“Last thing I fucking need is someone stamping mud all the way through my investigation,” Satre said. “If there’s anything you might like to enlighten me on now, Mr Carter, it would be highly appreciated, and might go a long way towards me overlooking what side of the law you’re on.”
Toa considered pleading innocence. He knew his law well enough to know that he hadn’t done anything wrong, other than maybe running from the Jenny, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He took a slow breath, and thought about Preston. Hadn’t he wanted to escape all this and go to Tonga? He hadn’t seemed so fussed that night, other than being pissed at him.
Toa thought briefly about the kid in the alley with the freckles and the baseball bat.
“Chances are I figure you got all the answers you need if you question Sully,” Toa remarked, going through the situation with an agents mind. “Those guys who jumped the two of us back in the Red Bonnett are most likely linked to Preston’s death. I don’t think that Sully knowingly sold any illegal shit to Preston. He’s too much of a fuckin’ pushover.”
Satre leaned back in his chair, taking out a notepad. A small one, that he then flipped through, page over page. He took out a stump of a pencil and made notes, in the same laborous way he had last interview around. Satre glanced over his specs at Toa. The look seemed almost like he was talking to an equal, measuring his opinion.
“I figure you find out who those guys were, and you get yourself a whole lot closer to workin’ out who offed Preston.”
“Anything else you might want to put on the table for me, Mr Carter? You know that I’m a lot happier when I’ve got an easier case to work with. What with all the time I have writing up the reports to these damn things …” Satre had the aspect of a disapproving school teacher as he stared at Toa.
Toa shrugged, still thinking on the situation himself. He figured that neither of them were too much closer to finding out the truth. He watched as Satre continued to scrawl tight and controlled words down on his notepad.
“There’s another matter you can help me with, Mr Carter. Next of kin.”
“I don’t think he had any. One of those children of the time.”
Satre gave him a dry look, “Exactly. Seems you fucked him, you’re the next best thing. You’re going to help me clear up a little more paperwork that I’ve got sitting on my table. Do this one thing for me, and I might look at clearing you out of here early rather than let you languish in holding until I can think of another meaningless question you’ll probably end up wanting to dodge.”
“I’ve been straight with you, Detective,” Toa said sharply. He put his hands up in protest. “I don’t know anythin’ more than you do. You even admitted it.”
Satre struggled up from his chair, working with effort and gravity. “Do me a favor. Don’t do anything that lands you back at this station. Else I’ll find something to charge you with on spite.” He picked up the slicksheet and knocked on the door a few times. A moment later, it hissed and unlocked.
“After you, Mr Carter.”
* * *
Toa waited just outside the station, under the protection of the eaves. The bag with Preston’s things in it was still tucked under one arm. Clothing and little more. Toa had hung the curious looking crystal necklace he had found among them around his neck for safe keeping. There was nothing of value, nothing that had been released, at least.
The tight press of Downtown closed in around Toa. He stared up at the forest of pristine buildings, everything so clean and ordered. It shined in the light, aided by polite and tasteful signs, advertisements against a backdrop of matte black.
Toa knew he needed sleep. Decent sleep. Food wouldn’t go amiss either.
It took another fifty minutes of waiting, on top of the three hours he had already been standing there before Sully emerged. The kid looked shattered, and his clothes sagged off him with the same state of defeat that hung on his features. Toa stepped in beside the kid, putting a big arm about his shoulders, rubbing at his short shaved head a moment. He felt Sully’s whole body flinch under him.
“You piss yourself, Sully?” Toa asked, thinking as he said it how cruel it sounded. He could smell the stink on the guys clothing. Before Sully could answer, he murmured in a kinder tone, “Don’t worry. I’ll get you fixed up.”
Toa linked a conveyance, and thirty minutes later, he closed the door behind them in his West Sector apartment. He could tell Sully was impressed by the view, before his gaze was caught on the half completed carving.
“Preston said you was a carver, nigga.”
“Nigga me nothin’, Sully. Go get you a shower. Toss your clothes out. They need sortin’ too.”
Toa noticed the way that Sully looked at him, a mix of fear and admiration. He wasn’t too sure where the admiration came from, but he was happy to play on the fear for the moment. The apartment was thankfully silent, vacuum packed against the world. He watched as Sully headed over towards the bathroom. A soft light emitted within, then the quiet hiss of the water. Toa scooped up the clothes that were eventually tossed out the door. He closed it over completely, and put through a voice only link.
“Garly,” he subvocalized. He saw her avatar toss up on his vision, bright and cheerful as always. “What you got for me?”
“Bad News Brown. Frank Apatcha and Mathew Caso. It took a bit of digging but I found out that they have connections with organized crime.”
“The sort that would have connections to illegal drugs,” Toa asked, rhetorically.
“The sort that have connections all the way up.” There was a hint of fear in Garly’s usually otherwise joyful tone. “You didn’t do anything to these guys right, big friend? They don’t seem like the sort of people you should mess with.”
“Or the sort of people Preston should have messed with,” Toa thought. “How could he be so fuckin’ stupid?”
“Maybe he didn’t realize …”
Toa felt the icy cool information trickle down his spine, and he realized the full facts on both of the figures. Names to faces and so much more. Garly appeared to fall into a silence filled with as much introspection as Toa was feeling. He glanced towards the bathroom door, solidly shut.
“You owe me, Toa Carter. It’s not easy skimming this information off the national frames.”
“You’re going to come over then? For a visit, like you promised?” Her voice infused with the same playful joy. “Put a smile back on your face with oogle-oogle on the lightweights.”
The thought almost did put a smile back on his face, but he shook his head, realizing too late that Garly wouldn’t see it. “I will, Garly. I promise. But right now I got a date with our friend Sully.”