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"Alright, so you mean to tell me that you just fancied a walk through the lovely streets of this part of the Sprawl? And you stumbled upon the massacre at Pendleton ISM station quite by accident?"
Detective Sanchez from MetroSec didn't like me... I could tell by his mocking tone.
"Yes, sir. That's exactly how it happened." "And then, instead of notifying MS authorities, you decided to investigate on your own? Armed with the military grade weapons we found on you?" I shrugged, "I have a permit for those." I did... a forged one, but the good detective didn't need to know that particular information. He sighed. I held a sigh of my own back. It had all gone wrong...
When I had taken out the combat hacker, I hurried to lockbox A-211. I could hear the sirens, MetroSec troops were already on their way. I guessed that I had at the very least 7 minutes until they arrived. That should have been enough time for me to retrieve the package and leave the ISM station before the cops arrived. Not much, but enough.
After a very short search, I found the box. I opened it with the key that Jac had provided me. I looked inside, and... found nothing. Nothing but an opened stasis box.
That... was not good.
I didn't... feel too good.
I felt weird... and with that, I blacked out.
I had no idea how much time had passed, but when I came to, I looked into the barrels of four AR 11-A standard MetroSec assault rifles. Not the most welcome sight when one regains consciousness. Behind the barrels I could make out four cops in full-body armor. Those weren't ordinary cops; they belonged to MS Exterminator troops. I stood up very, very slowly, making sure that my hands were visible at any time. You should do everything very, very slowly while being at the center of attention of four Exterminator troops. These guys were the cavalry. MetroSecs last line of defense... so to speak. They took my weapons. One activated his external communicator: "Come with us. One aggressive move and your history. Understood?" I nodded. What else could I do?
They led my out of the ISM station into an amassment of even more MS troops. There were a lot of multi-wheeled APCs and a real horde of UAVs... they'd really shown up in force. My guards led me to the nearest APC and stuffed me in the troop compartment with them. The one who spoke to me earlier turned to the cockpit, "To Sector HQ". For this sector that meant a longer drive.
Good. That meant time were I could try and figure out what happened with the package... at least that's what I told myself.
It was just too weird. The box didn't show any sign that the crazies had gotten to it, opened it. It had seemed completely undisturbed when I opened it. And yet, the package had sat there, opened. I was in some serious troulbe, I reckoned. I mean, I didn't know who had ordered Jac to have me bring the package across Sprawl, but I doubted they would react kindly to me.. well... losing the package.
Even weirder was me blacking out. That's not how I react to stress. I should know; I lead a rather stressful life. I could make neither head nor tail of this.
Being totally lost in thought, I nearly missed the arrival at MS Sector HQ. Not that I could see it from the inside of the APC anyways. The APC stopped and my guards and me left the troop compartment. I must admit, for a second I was as awed as any law-abiding Sprawl citizen (I know, I know.. cue laughter here). The HQ was as high as any corporate sky-riser (though not as big as a corporate arcology) and it dwarved nearby buildings. It was clear that the HQ was indeed designed to awe citizens. It was a massive block of glass (no real windows, just really big plates of glass), polished and emblazoned with a giant version of the MetroSec star-shaped logo. The main entrance to where my guards led me was an almost cavern-like affair. Sheltering and threatening at the same time. The message was clear: If you're law-abiding and good, you have nothing to fear. But if you're bad... Oh boy, will you get a thrashing.
I briefly wondered where people like me, who work in... er... greyish areas, fit in.
I guessed I would find out soon enough.
END OF PART 4
Credit to Beck for the shaded rails and to Eagle for the smooth blending technique. Done in PMG 0.6 and an oversight corrected in Paint (forgot to colour the background of the second trigger).