|Monsters of the Sprawl
Author: Sacron PM
After the events of the first book, Caligari believes he might have a period of calm with the Mais Kinnderan in ruins. But, something begins to target Corps Police officers, killing them in increasingly violent ways. Worse still, the killer seems to have selected Caligari as a personal target and is getting closer to him with each passing second. And, the killer is not human...Rated: Fiction M - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 18 - Words: 64,803 - Updated: 05-17-13 - Published: 01-16-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3092711
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Caligari walked down the street, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his duster, his hat pulled low over his face. It was late morning in Sprawl City, around ten thirty or so. It had been one day since the assassin and the Corps Police squad had finished off the remnants of the Mais Kinnderan. Now, the hired gun felt more at ease, as if some weight had lifted from his shoulders.
However, today was not a day for celebration. Today, a funeral was being held for most of the officers that had perished during the Mais Kinnderan invasion. Although not all of the cops could be honored today, (as there were simply too many bodies to commemorate in one sitting), but another funeral would be held later for those officers.
Caligari was dressed in fancy attire, at least, fancy for him. He was wearing a white button down shirt, one that had been ironed out multiple times to dispose of the wrinkles it had possessed. The shirt was tucked in, as the assassin wanted to look nice, although he normally despised doing such things, as fancy suit practices made him uncomfortable. But the hired gun felt it was his duty to look his best, as an honor to his allies that had perished. So, he put up with it, keeping his inner discomfort down.
The assassin was also wearing a belt, one that was slightly tight, although not too tight. Over his button down shirt, Caligari was wearing a grey waistcoat, which was buttoned together. To complete his look, the hired gun was also wearing a red tie, one that was offset rather nicely by his white shirt and a pair of slightly ruffled khakis. However, the assassin was still wearing his duster and wide brimmed hat, as he never left home without putting them on, regardless of the situation.
These clothes were the best Caligari owned. In fact, they were the only "fancy" clothes he owned, which had been bought for him by the Corps Police, like most of his other possessions. Despite his job as an assassin, the hired gun still had relatively little cash in his pocket and thus, he relied on the officers for any sort of income. He did ask for quite a bit sometimes, (his house in particular had cost quite a large sum of quid), but Harris thought he was worth it, so the other officers were forced to put up with the situation.
The assassin was headed for the White Memorial Center, which was about twenty blocks from his house. It was a long walk, but Caligari enjoyed walking the streets of Sprawl City, so he didn't mind. Besides, he didn't have any money on a cab and if he drove his tank, well, that would scare the living hell out of civilians.
Caligari moved through a crowd of people gathered at the edge of the block. They were standing in front of a small apartment building, block its entrance. As the hired gun moved past the back of the crowd, he peered through the people and saw they were surrounding a little bald man. The bald man was dressed in the clerical clothes of a priest.
One fat woman jabbed a finger at the man. "You're a liar and a cheat! You told us that the Mais Kinnderan's invasion signaled the End of Days! You took all our money, claiming we wouldn't need it in the afterlife. Well, today is the date YOU said the apocalypse would occur on and look at that! Nothing has happened!"
"I…" The priest stammered, trying to back away. "The…the…uh…please, my friends…the scriptures…they say that the End of Days will not occur until midnight! Yes, at midnight! Now just go home and await it! I shall pray for you in the eyes of the-"
The crowd moved closer, and began to shout at the priest, demanding their money back. They all clustered together, blocking Caligari's view of the events.
The assassin moved off, sighing. People reacted to tragedies in different ways, but it was sad how some felt the need to worsen the events by taking advantage of other's momentary weaknesses. He would have liked to stay and watch the priest get what he deserved, but he didn't want to be late the funeral. It was still ten blocks away from here.
Caligari reached the end of the street. He halted, as the light across was red. Looking down, the assassin could still see empty glow sticks and other bits of trash littering the streets from the celebration two days ago. It was strange that cleanup crews hadn't gotten all the garbage yet.
As if on cue, there was a loud slurping noise to the left. Caligari turned and saw a large truck moving down the street. The truck was box-like in shape and was a dirty yellow color, with black stripes along its sides. A logo was painted onto its left side, which depicted a huge vacuum cleaner bearing down upon some cartoonish, humanoid pieces of trash that were fleeing in terror. Below the logo were the words, "Stamp Out Garbage!"
On the truck's underside was a long tube, which had a strange shape front. The hose was moving across the street, sucking up pieces of garbage into itself through its front. The truck moved along with the cleaning hose, slowly and methodically.
This vehicle was called a Dirt-Slurper and it was the primary means of cleaning up trash on streets. The large truck moved forwards, continuing to suck up trash, its yellow form passing by the corner Caligari was standing on.
The assassin watched the Dirt-Slurper move past and briefly wondered if these cleanup crews also had to clean up the blood and body parts that had littered Sprawl City in the aftermath of the invasion. That must have been tough on the drivers, but it was their job, so they probably dealt with it.
The truck moved past, leaving the street free of trash. The light turned green and the assassin stepped onto the road, quickly crossing the street, his duster blowing behind him.
Caligari stepped onto the opposite block, and passed by a street vendor. This vendor was standing behind a small table. The assassin eyes drifted to the table and he saw, to his surprise, that on the table were a number of Mais Kinnderan masks, most of them half-destroyed, but some were in fairly good shape, except for a number of dried bloodstains on them.
"Hurry up and get this limited time offer!" The street vendor shouted out to the passing civilians. "I've got there the masks worn by the madman that attacked this city! Collect them while you can, so you can have evidence that you were here when they attacked! Buy them now, before they're all sold away! Only 2 quid!"
Caligari regarded the vendor for a moment, his eyes passing over the masks. He then adjusted his duster and walked off. Several civilians ran past him, hurrying towards the vendor, holding out money.
The assassin walked the rest of the blocks, moving through the crowds of people, keeping his mechanical arm hidden to avoid attracting attention. Sometimes, Caligari did consider upgrading his robotic limb to a newer model in order to be less conspicuous, but he always changed his mind. He couldn't stand the thought of parting with his arm. Besides, the hired gun, for whatever reason, didn't feel that much of an attachment to the newer prosthetic limb models, despite how advanced and lifelike they were.
At last, Caligari came to a small, quiet street. There were not many people here, except for couple of homeless people hanging out in a back alley. The assassin looked forwards, to the opposite street across the road, and laid his eyes on the White Memorial Center.
The name for the building was slightly ironic and outdated. Originally, the White Memorial Center had been painted a sleek coat of white to fit with its name when it had been built many years ago. However, as the decades went by, the paint had eventually faded into a more subdued brown color. For whatever reason, the management hadn't bothered to repaint it and simply left the building the way it was.
Caligari strode forwards, walking past a sagging telephone poll and onto the street. He looked forwards again and saw a number of police cars parked in front of the memorial center. Two cops were standing guard at the building's doors, perhaps worried that somebody might attack them with so many Corps Police personnel gathered into one place.
Finally, the assassin reached the other end of the street. He moved through the police cars and up to the White Memorial Center's entrance.
One of the cop raised his hand and Caligari halted in front of him.
"Who are you?" The cop asked, folding his arms.
"Caligari Necatarios," The hired gun answered, standing up straight. The officers looked at each other.
"Let me see some I.D.," The first cop replied. "Just need to make sure, as we can't be too careful."
The assassin responding by pulling his left arm out of his pocket and holding it before him. This arm was his robotic one and he let the officers get a good look at it.
After a moment, the first cop nodded. "Okay then. Go on in." He stepped aside to allow the hired gun to pass.
Caligari lowered his mechanical arm and said, "Thank you very much." He strode in between the two cops, and pushed open the main doors of the memorial center, moving inside.
The assassin looked around, as the door shut behind him. The lobby of the memorial center was a large waiting room. The walls were painted a subdued red color, and the floor was covered by a brown carpet. Several chairs and couches lay around the room, some of them occupied by police officers, who were talking amongst themselves in low tones. A few paintings hung from the walls, all of them depicting the founders of the center.
Caligari strode forwards, past the cops gathered in the waiting room, all of whom were dressed in nice suits. The assassin looked about, until he finally spotted Harris.
Harris was standing at the other end of the room, next to an elevator. She was wearing a black dress, and was wearing makeup, along with a pair of gold earrings. She was leaning against the wall, talking quietly with a man who the assassin guessed was a curator.
Harris turned and noticed Caligari standing nearby. She nodded at him and whispered something to the curator, before walking forwards.
"Well, well," She said, inspecting the assassin. "Look who actually got dressed up for the occasion. I'm impressed Caligari…except for one thing…"
She pointed a finger at his duster. "That coat of yours. Did you have to wear it here?"
Caligari gave a little smirk and patted his duster. "I don't leave the house, ever, without this. Sorry, but where I go, it goes. Besides, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, for one, you look like you belong on the set of one of those old Western movies," Harris muttered, crossing her arms. "Plus, it looks dirty and unkempt. Have you ever washed it?"
"Of course!" Caligari said. After a moment, however, he added. "Just not recently. I've been…busy and all."
Harris sighed and replied, "Well, I guess I can't force you to take it off. But thank you for getting dressed up for this. It does mean a lot…"
"Thanks," The assassin answered. He pointed at Harris's face with his mechanical arm. "I see you also put on makeup."
"Ugh, don't remind me," Harris growled, touching her face. "I hate this stuff. Makes me feel like I'm soaking my face in chemicals. I'm REALLY going to enjoy washing it all off later."
Caligari nodded. He turned to the side and noticed a mirror hanging from the wall. He looked at himself in it and adjusted his tie with one hand. He did like this look a bit, actually. Although he knew Harris would disagree, the assassin thought the waistcoat went well with his duster and hat.
"Anyway," Harris said, sighing. "This is really hard on me. I hate to lose people, but to lose so many, in the space of a single night…its bad. Very bad. I would have liked to think that killing the Mais Kinnderan might have avenged their deaths, but it didn't help that much."
"Don't worry, Harris," Caligari said, turning away from the mirror. "Its okay. They died in the line of duty, defending this city from madmen. They wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
"Yeah, maybe," Harris said, unfolding her arms and glancing at the other officers in the room. "I've tried telling that to myself, but for some reason, I can't really believe it. I don't know if any of these officers would have really wanted to die such violent deaths, even if they were doing their duty. All of them, I think, would have rather lived to old age and died peacefully in bed, surrounding by loved ones, rather than being shot or beaten to death on a dirty street by crazed terrorists."
The assassin didn't answer that. Mostly because he believed Harris was right.
"But hey…" Harris continued. "What's done is done. We can't change the past, even if we really want to. Those officers knew the risks and they at least helped slow the Mais Kinnderan down. And they'll always be remembered for their heroic sacrifices for the city."
The assassin looked around the room briefly, before saying, "Did you want me to talk?"
"Talk?" Harris said, raising an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"I know your giving a speech for each of these officers," Caligari replied. "Do you want me to say anything?"
Harris shook her head. "No. You didn't know any of these guys personally, so I doubt your speech would sound genuine. Just you being here is enough, Caligari. Don't worry about it."
Caligari nodded, and then said, "Yeah, okay. By the way, is Jeremy here? I never did get the chance to formally talk to him after the invasion."
"Nay, he's training a bunch of new recruits for his squad this morning," Harris answered. Well, that, and I figured it would be kind of awkward for him to be here, since he can't remove his armor in public."
The assassin looked at her. "Really? Not even for this?"
Harris shrugged. "Hey, I don't make the rules, I just follow 'em."
At the moment, the curator suddenly turned and motioned to Harris. The female lieutenant sighed, and said, "Well, its time."
Harris turned around and said, in a hushed tone to the gathered cops, "Okay, everybody, everything is ready for us upstairs. Let's go."
The officers moved forwards, all moving slowly and carefully towards the elevator. Harris moved forwards as well, and Caligari followed behind.
However, there was a sudden buzzing noise from Harris's pocket. She halted and reached into her dress pocket, plucking a buzzing communicator out of it.
The assassin started to move past her, but Harris held up her hand, signaling for Caligari to wait. The hired gun did so, moving to the side to allow the other officers to pass by.
Harris clicked the communicator and held it to her ear. Her eyes widened, as someone on the other line spoke to her.
"Yes, I see," Harris said, nodding her head. Her eyes went to Caligari several times, as the other person talked.
"Alright, I'll be sending him over," Harris said. "Yes, don't worry, its fine. No, really, it is. Okay then, he'll over in five minutes."
Harris lowered the communicator and clicked it off.
"What was that about?" Caligari asked, as the cops crowded into the elevator behind him.
"Okay, Caligari, your gonna get a free pass today," The female officer replied, smoothing her short hair. "I want you to get to the police station now."
"Why?" The assassin asked, confused. "Has a new case opened up that I'm needed for?"
"No, nothing like that," Harris said. "Its just that the morgue doctors are performing an autopsy on Dante's corpse."
Caligari's eyes went wide. He stepped forwards, and said, "And..."
"…And I would like you to be there," Harris continued. "You were the one who got closest to that guy. You knew him the best and I want you to be there to look for anything that might have been hidden inside of Dante's body. Also, perhaps give an official statement of his psychological profile, so we can finish the report on him."
"I see," Caligari said, rubbing the back of his neck. "You think Dante may have hidden any surprises inside himself for us?"
"Yeah," Harris answered without hesitation.
"Okay then," The assassin replied. "You okay with me missing this then?"
"Its an important event…" Harris said. "But this autopsy I think will be more important for you. I need you over there, okay?"
"Yes, boss," Caligari said, smiling. "Mind if I borrow a police car to get over there?"
"Be my guest," Harris replied, striding across the memorial center's waiting room, towards the elevator. "Just hurry. The doctors are waiting for you."
Caligari gave a mock salute, before jogging for the exit. As he ran, he loosened his tie and his belt.