This event kicked off a secondary storyline that’s centered on Earth in the Stellar Consortium:
Raleigh Devrees, chief of police for the massive and sprawling city-state of San Angeles, sits in a reserved seat aboard the A3 train as it approaches the Crawford Street metro station. He has a datapad in hand, reviewing the top-priority overnight action reports.
In a nearby seat, District Attorney John Bannister re-packs his leather briefcase and latches it shut as the train approaches the station. A quick glance at his watch before waiting for the train to slow to a stop.
The AI conductor speaks over the public address system: “Now arriving at Crawford Street Station. Please await full stop.”
Devrees tucks the slim datapad into the inside pocket of his dark suit jacket, momentarily revealing the shoulder holster with the pulse pistol. A Castori sitting across from the police chief sees the weapon and burbles with concern. “It’s okay,” Devrees assures him. From the same pocket as the datapad, he produces a police shield in a black flip case. “I’ve got a permit.”
The Castori doesn’t appear all that relieved. Devrees returns the badge to his pocket, then lets the jacket fall back into place. Maybe if the gun’s out of sight, it’ll stay out of mind. Then the train stops and the issue seems destined for a short life. Doors hiss open. The Castori waddles away with haste.
Bannister watches the Castori waddle away quickly, even with the demonstration of the shield. “Rather distressed, that one.” he says to the chief as he stands to disembark.
“You know, John, actually, it’s kind of hard to say, isn’t it?” Devrees chuckles as he follows others toward the opening doors. “I was watching an old crime show. Really old. Like, centuries before ‘Law & Order: Interstellar Extradition Force’. The cops in those old shows put a lot of stock into studying facial expressions. Mannerisms. They had entire training courses about reading people. Someone’s eyes move up to the left when they’re talking to you? They just lied. That kind of thing.” He steps onto the transport platform and continues to talk. “But how do you really read someone when they’re an alien? Ever tried interrogating an Odarite? They don’t blink. Can’t. They’ve got lots of little eyes inside their eyes. I refuse to play poker with one.”
John chuckles. “If you think interrogating one is hard, try grilling them on the witness stand. You can’t tell if they’re lying or not, I had a hell of a time trying to slap one with perjury charges.” he says. “But, you have to do what you have to do, and the wheels of justice have to keep turning.”
A grim-looking Timonae male strides past Devrees and Bannister, stepping onto the train that the two enforcement officials just left. He’s wearing a bulky trenchcoat. That gets a frown from Devrees, who stops and says, “Maybe we should catch the train to another stop down the line. We can always ride back.”
John nods, “Not a bad idea. In fact I hear the next stop has a very good coffee shop..” he says.
Devrees leads the prosecutor back onto the train, finding a loop to grasp on the rail running along the middle of the ceiling. He stands about twenty feet from the now-seated Timonae. “Might be nothing,” the chief mutters to Bannister. And, he thinks, even if it is something, he probably ought to call it in and let patrol handle it. Alert the Metro security personnel. If it is something, it’ll mean paperwork. A lot of it. “Please be nothing.”
John takes up another nearby loop, his briefcase held to his side. “Nothing is good.” he mutters. “Last thing we need is shenanigans.”
The train’s AI conductor announces: “Now departing Crawford Street. Next station: Miner Street.” The train car shudders as it starts moving.
Now that the vehicle is in motion again, the Timonae rises from his seat. He approaches the hatch leading to the next car forward. The door slides open to allow him through.
“Damn it,” Devrees grumbles. “It’s something.” He doesn’t pull his gun yet, but the chief does make his way toward the transparent hatch so he can keep an eye on the Timonae.
John curses under his breath. “Great… another case to throw on the pile in my inbox.” he says, shaking his head. He pulls a commlink from his jacket pocket, ready to call for assistance.
There’s a soft burble from behind Bannister and Devrees. The chief turns and looks down to see the Castori from earlier, now holding a plasma pistol and moving the barrel from one human to the next. “You should have stayed off the train at Crawford Street,” the furry alien hoots. Into what Devrees suspects is a subcutaneous transmitter, the Castori speaks: “Initiate.”
In the forward car, the Timonae opens his trenchcoat to reveal a vest packed with explosives and two hip holsters with pistols that he pulls to aim at potential troublemakers while declaring: “This train is now under the management of the Trilogy! Do not interfere. Remain calm. Survive.”
The train slows to a stop inside a dark tunnel. Lights flicker.
John frowns as the Castori re-appears. He does, however, have his commlink in his hand. Given that it’s a government issued commlink, it has a feature the Castori may not be aware of. Very gently, he squeezes a hidden button, which begins to transmit a silent distress signal.
The prosecutor isn’t the only person in the train car trying to use a commlink. Several people are whispering urgently into their devices, and shaking them, and staring angrily at them. Devrees notices the activity and uses his tongue to nudge the mesh imbed in his right cheek. That should switch on his own link to the downtown police station switchboard office. Instead, all he hears are a series of empty clicks. The Castori announces: “We’ve cut off communications. No transmissions in or out. Don’t bother.”
John narrows his eyes. “Clever little fuzzball.” he mutters.
“What’s the point of hijacking a commuter train?” Devrees asks. “This Trilobyte group doesn’t feel like paying for a monthly access pass?”
“Trilogy,” the Castori corrects, a bit peevishly. Maybe some things about language are universal, after all. “Our issue is with the Consortium Council’s invitation to the Shohobian Mystics to petition for membership.”
“And what do the folks on this train have to do with that?”
“Simple,” the terrorist bear-being answers. “They vote. They pay taxes. Their representatives sit on the Council.”
John raises an eyebrow. “What pray tell is your issue with the Mystics? From all reports they are rather peaceful.”
“The Trilogy doesn’t want their kind using prophecy and mad ramblings to influence Consortium policy,” the Castori replies. “The Shohobians are a dying breed. We think the Consortium should leave them to disappear into dust.”
Devrees rolls his eyes. “I don’t care who joins the Consortium, but I have to say: it seems damned counterproductive to try to send that kind of a message to the Council from a train full of innocent people with jammed communications in a tunnel under the city. Maybe you should file a complaint in person at the government center? They even have time set aside for public comment. You should hear some of the lunatics that take up their five minutes with all manner of nonsense.”
John just shakes his head. “Typical. Hundreds of years of history showing terrorism is not a good method to sway public opinion, and this is what you choose? Do you honestly believe this is going to sway public opinion?”
“I’m curious,” Devrees goes on, crossing his arms over his chest. “Does your transmitter still work with this blackout bubble or whatever you’ve got running?” He glances toward the car where the Timonae continues to menace passengers with a vest full of potentially high explosive padding. “Maybe it’s based on frequency or…” His voice drifts off.
The Castori grunts, then speaks, presumably to his partner: “Wave to the police officer, Threy.” The Timonae does not respond. “Threy?” The Castori clacks his teeth together, snout wrinkling in disdain. “Threy,” he says once more.
“Hey, Threy!” Devrees shouts toward the other car. The Timonae looks surprised as he hears someone call his name. He glowers at the police chief. “Oh,” Devrees says, turning his attention back to the Castori, “we’re not supposed to use real names for this operation, are we?”
John chuckles. “Threy… hmm. I’ll make a note of that.” he says with a smirk. “It’ll come in handy when we prosecute.”
The police chief scratches his chin, then looks toward Bannister. “Do you suppose that guy’s explosive vest works on the same transmission functionality as their commlinks?” He then peers toward the other train compartment. “Is that even a real detonator in his hand? It looks like…” His eyes narrow. “…some kind of inhaler?” Devrees shouts: “Are you asthmatic, Threy?” The Timonae glares at the plastic tube in his hand and then at Devrees. The chief turns his attention back to the Castori. “Is this going about like you predicted it would?”
John nods. “A good question.” he says, looking a bit close at the pistol the Castori is holding. “Hmmm…. that pistol looks rather familiar.” He looks rather intently at it. “In fact, it looks very familiar. Isn’t that a Commander Cosmos replica plasma pistol? I see the logo there on the side of the barrel. Very realistic rendition, I just bought one for my son.” he says with a smirk and a grin to Devrees. “I think our earlier question is becoming more appropriate.” he says looking back to the Castori. “Do you really think you are going to pull this off?”
“Which one of you built the little EMP gadget that knocked out the transmitter? Did you buy a kit for it?” Devrees takes his actual gun from the shoulder holster and aims it at the Castori. “Can you fix it and then sit quietly with our buddy Threy until the train reaches the next station?”
The Castori, utterly humiliated at this point, slumps his shoulders as he looks from Bannister to Devrees. He drops the toy gun and raises his hands toward the ceiling.
“Maybe you should break the news to Threy,” the chief tells John.
John walks into the next car where Threy is standing, and pulls out a tangler pistol from his inside jacket pocket. “Your friend in there has done the smart thing and surrendered. Might I suggest you do the same?” he says, gesturing back towards there Devrees is holding the Castori at gunpoint.
“Maza’s tits!” Threy flings the inhaler tube at the transparent hatch between the cars. It bounces off the door with a faint thwack. “Balato, you coward!” He raises his arms. “The vest is full of modeling clay,” he reports to Bannister.
John smirks. “Balato and Threy. The fact that it’s not real explosives will help your case some. Some… but not as much as you’d like I’m afraid. We’re not fond of terrorists. Now, if you please…” he says, gesturing for Threy to join Balato.
Passengers applaud as Bannister follows Threy back into the train car with Devrees and the Castori identified as Balato. A metro technician arrives as the prisoners take their seats and informs the law enforcement officials: “We’ll have systems back online in just a few minutes. Thanks for your work here.”
John guides Threy to where his partner in crime is. He then looks to Devrees. “You were saying something about paperwork?”
Devrees chuckles. “Should be able to keep this brief. Might even have time to finish that breakfast with the mayor.” The signal returns to their communication devices. Suddenly, their links get urgent pings with delayed news notifications and voice messages.
“Let me guess,” Balato says. “The mayor and his entourage were gunned down at the Argonaut Cafe?”
The chief’s not smiling now. “This was a diversion.”
“You weren’t meant to be a target,” Threy replies to Devrees. He looks at Bannister. “You were. Lucky you followed the chief here.”
Balato inquires: “Is this going like you predicted it would?”
John narrows his eyes. “We’ll see how smug you are when you are sentenced to death.” Bannister says evenly.
The train soon arrives at the Miner Street platform. Bannister’s emergency transmission must have finally gone through after the signal resumed, because there’s a phalanx of police – including special ops personnel – waiting to ensure the safety of the chief prosecutor and the police chief. Devrees makes certain that the prisoners’ wrists are secured with field binders, then he nudges them out onto the platform.
John walks up to some of the gathered officers. “What is the situation with the mayor?” he asks, although deep down, he feels he already knows the answer.
“Dead, sir,” one of the officers replies. “Several staffers and government administrators too. Some cops. A bunch got taken to Angels Hospital. Some might pull through.”
Devrees frowns. He watches as the two train hijackers are hauled off in custody – a few media orb drones capture footage of their departure and of the gathered police personnel – and then he turns toward Bannister. “We should probably head to the hospital.”
John nods. “Statements to be taken and charges to be filed. This paperwork is going to keep us busy for months.” he says, but not in a joking way this time. “We have some bastards to nail to the wall.”
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