According to the United Earth Space Force, Frank Devine owns two black-jumpers. And there is shit he can do about it. He would normally be expected to alternate them daily. When one is post wash and drying under the UV light over the toilet, the other he’d wear under his Surface-Mobility-Unit as he endlessly cleans the glass dome covering Pacman Station.
But he only got issued one.
Mars, can you believe it? I got stationed on Mars!
His words, exclaimed as if he were given a gift by the United Earth government on the day he graduated advance training and got his permanent duty assignment.
Then every day since, struggle. Especially for the ones in the black-jumpers like him. The workers, the ones with mops, and the brooms, and the window squeegees. But today is proving extra hard, especially because he wasn’t able to wash his jumpsuit last night. He was too tired. Visiting VIPs from Earth make the bosses push even harder in an already impossible situation. Things need to shine, got to show the suits things are going well.
Otherwise known as lying.
Frank has learned the hard way, making things shine on a planet covered in red dust is next to impossible.
Keeping a single uniform clean day in and day out is also.
Fuck, is how he addressed the problem waking and discovering the uniform from the previous day’s efforts was still rumpled-wet on the floor of his living unit.
I forgot, fucking shoot me, but he knows in space one can never forget, and survive.
Already his fuck up has given him two choices for his shift:
Wear the one he was never issued, or force his feet into the one that’s still wet and stinky with the funk his body expelled yesterday while wrapped in work.
And that’s really the only thing on Frank Devine’s mind, wishing he had never left Earth, or had a second uniform, as a small pebble burns through the Martian atmosphere and pops his SMU, ending all of his problems for good.
“We gots the gun and a broken camera. I call it open and shut. She killed herself. Junky got tired, happens all the time.”
The voice is like a bunch of rocks in a drier and thumps around with the rotgut eating at the detective’s concentration. It wasn’t any different of a late-night than usual, more a continuation of a bender he would be hard-pressed to remember when started.
He got the call on the body, and here he was, standing over a dead girl under a sheet. Same age as his daughter. Same everything, right down to seeing her ID and disbelieving it was someone else.
Someone’s little girl.
He shakes the thought away because it doesn’t help and looks for the owner of the voice. Not to stop him, more to capture his face so he can add him to the ever-growing list of names filled with cops who will one day be used in the detective’s own game if the need ever arose. The stupidest man in the Brownsville precinct is the uniform talking to a fucking reporter from channel one, the smoke show with the legs. Ratings booster. Every hard-on in the tristate will pay attention for the thirty seconds she is on camera.
Obviously, the boot was sanctioned by someone in management to talk out of turn like this, and stopping the conversation would be career suicide. The detective would consider it if career suicide didn’t include a trip upstate to Sing-Sing.
Regardless though, the vic was a prostitute. Ya sure. Did she deserve it? Make wrong-headed choices? Put herself in harm’s way? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and more. Lots of ladies don’t become streetwalkers, but this one did. And he finds himself hoping someone else types up the paperwork so he can sign it and go find the bottle he left in a drawer.
And the news media, taking a quote from the world’s dumbest cop, asks, “what about the pooch-tech, any chance we will see it used today?”
Pooch tech, what a fucking joke. Especially for an open and shut case. A girl got killed because she was a moron. He wants to scream this all out, spew it from his system before it can give him cancer, but can’t as the uniform says, “sure,” and presses the little puppy icon on his belt.
Out pops a fully functional robot Doberman.
“Bark. Initiating. Bark.”
Then the robot dog begins sniffing around the junkyard. The uniform and the reporter and the cameraman follow.
As lead investigator, through the haze of alcohol-induced brain damage, and the idea his tomorrow matters as little as his today, the detective does as well.
It doesn’t take long before the robot dog whimpers and bounds away with the clatter of metal paws on muddy cement.
The detective immediately wishes again this case had fallen onto some else’s desk, especially as the metal-dog finds the murder weapon. A cop’s weapon. A weapon issued to someone who gets first crack at new toys. And this toy? Still clutched in that someone’s hand as it dangles out of the giant car crusher as if still attached to a living being.
“Men are moved by two levers: fear and self-interest,” Bonaparte says and as if the words were a match the crowd erupts into curses and threats.
“This is not what was promised.”
“Fuck you, and your dreams.”
But the speech dwindles though when the emperor turns, and with only a quiet murmur following, leaves the hall. He puts them out of his mind because they, and their petty concerns, are no longer his.
It’s a quick walk to the cosmodrome, over the grounds and gardens he’ll leave behind. There’s no use being darling about it, however. His destination is a steaming rocket, then space, and then Mars. He would rule everything, not just simply Europe.
He boards his space-bound craft, straps himself in, and with a manic chuckle hits the red button.