Chapter 1, Life, Death and the Job

Introduction:
 

   23 years hence the world is a different place, 2000 came and went and no one noticed, America had been too busy with its own problems, nation wide martial law and terrorism had resulted in the country losing its status as the no.1 world power.  With 3/4's of the country homeless and unregistered the price of life in the brave new world has become very cheap.

 The price of living however, has become astronomical.  As though inspired by Shelly's Novel, humanity has achieved means of keeping its own alive for ever increasing amounts of time.  Vat grown tissue and limbs, as well as cybernetic replacement are common, the face of humanity has changed, as has the definition.

  On the west coast a new metropolis has risen, Night City, home of corruption and crime so vile it blackens the air,  there is hope here, yet most hope only for survival.  The police in this new land of steel and glass serve the same job they always did, but due to the increase in cyber enhanced criminals new measures are needed to pacify.

  Max-Tac, formed as an advanced SWAT team specifically for dealing with cyborg crimes is the most dangerous job in the city.  Men and women assigned here are given the harsh task of suppressing those who have replaced their bodies with machines and used them to commit crimes.  Max tac units are comprised of eight man teams, a young Lt. named Marie Unterrin Daisho Mendez is the commander of one such teams.........this is her story.

 End of introduction
 

 Her shift was over, Lt. Mendez walked out on the steps of the precinct, and into the rain.  Her skin a light brown, the result of having a black father and a Puerto Rican mother.  She stood 5'9" with long dark hair, kept back in a ponytail on duty, and with her fairly muscular body, weighed in at just under 117lbs.  At 25 she felt in her prime, old enough to be taken seriously, yet young enough to have fun with it, her large brown eyes stared up into the falling rain and she spread her arms to feel the world around her.  Feeling a bit silly she straightened herself back up, and zipped up her jacket.  The feel of her streetclothes, especially the synthetic leather of her jacket against her forearms was nice but a little discomforting.  She preferred the weight and protection of her uniform and its armor, as well as the authority it carried.  Without them she felt exposed, vulnerable.  She cupped her hands and lit a cigarette, she had always thought it was a filthy habit, but after the things she had seen she needed something for the stress, and cops with worse habits don't last long on these streets.

 She had begun walking to her cab and was just about to get in, when she heard someone calling from behind.  It was Randy, the desk sergeant, and he was calling her inside.

  She spat on the ground and motioned the driver away, then turned and walked back for the door.   She waited till the last moment before flicking her cigarette into the street.  It had been a long day, she wasn't looking forward to it being any longer.

 Once inside she was informed that the chief had reserved his office for just her by a snide desk Sergeant.  She made her way to her commanders office and found him behind his desk, his face buried in files.  The chief looked up, and with coffee stained teeth he smiled.  Chief Wilson Maynard was a haggard looking man, somewhere in his early 50's, a bit overwieght with thinning grey hair and the kind of moustache that made you want to pull to see if it was real.  There might have been a hint of German somewhere in his lineage, but it was hard to tell.  His voice was gruff from yelling over the noise of the station all the time.

"Marie I need you to head down to the corp zone."

 "I just got off, your crazy if you......"

  Stopping her mid sentence he continued, "Dammit Marie I don't wanna hear this. Everyone else is busy and its on your way home.  There's a problem at the Nakajimo building and there might be a tin-can involved"

  Tin-can, that was one of the nicer words cops used for Full Body Replacements, people who had over 90% of their bodies replaced with cybernetics.  There were a few FBC's on the force, and even two in her own squad, but the general opinion of tin cans was that they were monsters and menaces.  They were often the most dangerous problem C-SWAT had to face.

  Reluctantly she agreed, but it meant she got to take a car home with her so she wasn't too upset, it was one of the perks to being on Max-Tac, as long as your using it for duty, you can requisition anything.

  The drive was monotonous, and Marie held back the urge to spit several times while caught in traffic.  For a brief moment while stuck at a light she remembered how her mother would become so frustrated with her at her lack of etiquette, the first time her mother saw her spit she nearly went into convulsions.  She was a good mother, but very feminine, and never could come to grips with the fact that her daughter was a full fledged tomboy. The light changed and Marie drove on, breaking a smile as she glimpsed  a prostitute trying to entice a trio of Buddhist monks on the sidewalk. The cities population did not decrease at night, the honest citizens of the daylight hours were simply replaced by the edgerunners, gangs, and everyone else who was at their best, or worse, when the sun went down.

  Upon arrival she got out of her vehicle and took a quick walk around the premises, Nakajimo was open at night, but she had always liked to know as much of her surroundings as she could before entering an unknown situation, besides the regular cops and building security could handle things for the next few minutes.  It also gave her a chance for a last cigarette.  The building loomed above her, all 48 stories.

  As she neared the rear of the building she looked up, something was moving on the outside of the building.  She switched her one cyber-optic over to low light, and zoomed in on the object sliding across the surface so far up on the wall.   It was near the 25th floor and descending rapidly.  Almost without a thought her hand reached inside her jacket at the moment the object came into focus.  "Damn!" she spat under her breath as her fingers wrapped around her weapon.  It was a full borg, and somehow it was climbing down the outside of the building, she bolted
along the building, reaching the point directly below the "tin can".

  Raising her arm she took careful aim on the borg and tapped the OID button on her collar.  The OID (officer in distress) button is a relatively simple device, it sends a message to the nearest precinct asking for backup, the number of times the device is tapped determines the level of threat.  4 indicates maximum threat..... Marie tapped four times

  She yelled up to the oncoming borg. "Police, don't move or I will shoot".

  The next moment was a blur, the tin can pointed his arm at her, and its arm started to open.  Instinctively she acted, her arm jerked and the gunshot ripped through the air.  The borg shuddered as the round hit it square in the chest...its arm spat fire and bullets sprayed wildly on the ground around Marie.   She continued firing, a shot hit the borg in what you would call its face and it lost its almost magical grip on the wall and came hurtling down, Marie froze, like a deer caught in the headlights

  At the last moment some part of her body recognized her mind screaming to move, but it was too late.  She only just managed to avoid being killed outright, as it was the Borg landed on her right leg, the force of the impact, mixed with the shredded metal of the destroyed borg and the concrete underneath them both, shattered her leg.  The last thing Marie heard before everything faded to black was the sound of wet flesh and crushed bone grinding together.

  When Marie woke up days later she found herself in a hospital room.  The first thing she noticed was that her leg itched, she pushed her hand underneath the blanket only to touch something cold and hard.  Realization hitting her like a bucket of water she threw back the blanket.  She saw it, recognized it, but didn't want to believe it, couldn't believe it.

  They hadn't been able to save her leg, it had been replaced with cybernetics.  In the place of the long shapely feminine leg she had always taken pride in was a machine.  A cold fusion of metal to flesh,  a chrome limb, mockingly in contrast to the flesh leg she still possessed. Marie hung her head and began too sob.  It had been a long time since she cried, and it hurt.
 

  Rehabilitation took longer than was routine, but Marie learned to use her limb as though it had always been there.  She had become acceptant of her prosthetic, and even grateful, but she hated it.   She kept it covered at all costs.  The worst part was the ghost sensations.  Cybernetic limbs had been designed to mimic the feelings of hot cold, hard soft, even pleasure and pain, but they weren't designed to itch or tire.   She could still feel these things, as though her leg was still there, sometimes the itch was so bad it kept her up at night, and there was no way to scratch it, because there was nothing to scratch.

She returned to duty as soon as possible, her fellow officers provided some comfort, but she now treated the FBC's in her squad with a new prejudice.  Before she had always been friendly, and treated the two borgs in her squad like family.  She had known one of them, officer Jack Smooth, since before he had gone full borg.  She had even been his partner his first year on the force.  Jack Smooth was not his real name, it was the name he chose when a head injury had given him amnesia as a teenager. Like many, Jack grew up the streets, where his parents were and what happenned to them is anyones guess but no one ever came to claim him.  He had lost his humanity last year when a gang caught him without backup and used him for shooting practice, his body had been replaced with the standard  police full conversion suite and he had since proven himself time and again an invaluable member of the team.

  The other borg, John Doe, hadn't been on the team as long, and was already full borg when he joined.  He had served in the military as LRRP and had taken some serious damage in the South Am war of the early 2000's.  He had a custom military conversion, fitted for stealth and intelligence.  He was a scary team mate, and to the perps he was terrifying.

  These men, whom Marie had always considered human before, she now saw as cold  machines, robots.  Barely enough human tissue to fill a petri dish.  It wasn't the fact that it was a borg that had cost her the leg, it was that she was becoming like them.  Her leg made her feel less than human.  Sure she had already had some implants, an eye, for the one she lost her first year, light armor woven into her skin, a neural processor and its interface jack, and various implants designed to boost reflexes.

  But all of that was internal, she didn't have to look at it, and barely noticed when it was working, it felt natural too her.  The leg........the leg changed that.  It was cold, it was hard, it made noise, and worst of all it was visible.   She began to fear losing her humanity, and saw borgs as the ultimate evolution towards the end of her humanity.  She started arguments with the borgs on her team over nothing, and would not partner with them during training.

Then one day it all hit the fan.

  A call came in about 8 pm from a gang informant, a military assault grade full conversion was running amok in the combat zone.  Every Max-Tac unit in the city was called in.  Marie was ready for it, she had been hoping for something major, waiting for something with a sense of revenge.  She gathered her squad in under five minutes and instucted them to get fully decked, which meant full police issue Metal Gear armor, a hard shell type armor loosely resembling that of a medieval knights full plate, and the full compliment of weapons and equipment.

  When they hit the scene 12 cops had already been killed or wounded.  In addition to the 800 lb. 7 ft behemoth rampaging through the streets, denizens of the combat zone had taken to sniping at the cops.  The combat zone was not a place cops wanted to visit, and only did so when it was absolutely necessary.  Patrols here were simply not done.

  The team piled out of the aerodyne, which looked somewhat like an armed flying van, quickly taking cover behind a row of police vehicles.  The borg had taken up cover inside a building, and was assumed to be on the third floor, at least that's where the gunfire was coming from.  The streets were swarming with  Max-Tac teams, moving in and out of alleys, behind cover, finding viable positions.  All the normal cops who could had already cleared out.

  The gunfire halted, the chief called for a team to storm the building.  Without flinching Marie volunteered her squad.  She ordered the two borgs to take point, she didn't like them but wasn't stupid, they could take the most damage, and held the biggest guns.  She followed with the rest of the team behind her. They bolted around the street, coming up through a back alley, then creeping along the side of the building to a door.  Checking carefully for any tripwires or other traps and finding none, the team moved in.  They moved in two man cover positions till they found the stairway leading up. As the team made their way slowly up the stairs there was a creaking noise beneath them.  Everyone stopped but it was too late, the stairs gave way, only Marie was able to keep herself from falling. She had grabbed on to the handrail at the last moment.  As the others dropped down she remained dangling, slowly pulling herself along the rail.   Over the headset she called for each one to check in, and felt resurgence in will when they all responded positively.  She ordered them to find another way up and continued to shimmy up the rail.

  While climbing her mind started to work.........her body was heavier now, she could feel the added weight of the metal limb.  She cursed it under her breath and climbed onto the second floor.   She pulled the Japanese assault rifle forward on its sling, and began to make her way slowly up the stairs to the third floor.  She took  the stairs cautiously by three's, a trick she learned in training to avoid tripping booby traps and to keep her center of gravity low.  She noticed a faint scent, it smiled like soap.

  Just before reaching the top step, the sound of gunfire erupted around her, she dropped into a ball, then realized it was coming from the next room and obviously aimed somewhere else.  She saddled up her back against the wall and knelt down straight.  She pulled a small mirror on an extendable stick out of one of the many pockets attached to her web gear.  She cautiously probed the mirror around the corner, and when she was sure the room was empty she crept in, hugging the inside wall.

 She strained all her senses to the limit, she could hear movement in the next room, the sound of mechanical parts sliding and clicking, the faint release of gas from the man machine inside.....beneath it all she heard something else.

 It sounded like something was burrowing, like a worm through wet ground........

 Then she begun to feel the itch again................the fake itch, the itch on the leg that wasn't there.   She began to feel something else, the itch was spreading.  It had climbed to her hip......."Oh God" she thought...."what is happening".

 She quickly but carefully reslung her rifle and moved back to the stairs, the itch was becoming unbearable.  She undid her belt buckle and as quietly as she could pushed down her pants.   She wanted to scream.......her flesh was moving....just above the cybernetic leg, something under her skin was moving.

  It looked like a mass of worms under her skin, wriggling around over one another.  She put her hand in her mouth and bit down hard to keep from screaming. she reached her other hand down and touched her skin.   Upon contact, the skin broke, wires pressed their way through the tear and burrowed their way back into her flesh, they began to move higher as well.  Her right side up to her navel was covered in the entangling squirming wires as the flesh surged over and around and under the wires.  Unable to control it any longer she began to scream, ripping the wires away only to watch them grow back, they had moved to her breast now, and she violently shed her armor and clothes hoping to stem the progress.

 She no longer thought about the tinge of soap in the air.   She barely noticed the 7 foot tall walking arsenal that was now standing over her, with death glinting off its chrome finish.  All she noticed was that now half of her body was covered in torn flesh and wriggling wires.

 "Oh Jesus", her face, it had reached her face.

  There was a loud crash around her as Jack tackled the borging and they both crashed through the wall and onto the street, but she didn't notice that either.  She was clawing at her skin, trying in vane to stop the wires that were now moving underneath her scalp, she could feel them squirming into her brain.   She didn't feel or see the members of her team as they surrounded her, her eyes had been destroyed by the hungry invading wires.   Nor did she feel the slight prick of the needle, she only noticed everything went black.

 end of chapter one.

Chapter 2

    Marie woke up to bitterfoul scent of smelling salts under her nose, god she hated that, it always made her want to vomit.  Then fear and rememberence set in, where was she, what had happenned?   She tried to sit up but she found herself restrained.

"What the fuck....."  She looked around, paramedics were hovering over her.  Jack was there behind them, his external armor scratched and beaten, with what looked like scorch marks covering his metallic face.  Again the horrible memories hit her and she tried to look down, examine her body, it all felt normal, but she was feeling hysterical, and fighting a losing battle against it.

"Oh Jesus what happened..... what happened to me....... whats going on....... where am I?"

    "Its ok!" Jack said over the babbling of paramedics, and the background noise of cops rushing about.  "Its over Lieutenent, and your ok!  You just caught a strong whiff of some kind of hallucinogenic gas that the perp was spraying around."

"What....... I don't understand..... the wires......?"

"Yeah its wierd, we haven't been able to identify it yet, and there were no markings on the cannisters he had, but apparently its some nasty stuff.  Its a good thing we found you when we did, the fucker was getting ready to waste you, and you were clawing at your skin pretty hard."

"My face Jack, oh God is my face ok.......?"

"Its just as mean as it always was Lt., well with the exception of some scratches you put there yourself, good thing you keep your nails short!"

    Again she tried to sit up, she hated being restrained. "Dammit Jack, tell these bastards to let me up."  Tears of rage and fear began to well up in her eyes as she struggled against the straps on the gurney.  The medics moved in quickly, giving her a sedative from an airhypo.  She protested angrily before passing out.

    When she came to again she found herself in a hospital bed, an IV sticking out of her arm and heartrate monitors on her chest and wrists.  A quick look around and she recognized the familiar face of Madeline Cross, another officer under her command and a good friend.  She was older than Marie by 12 years, but had undergone biosculpting after a nasty burn and looked almost as young as Marie did.  She was attractive, about, 5'8", with long dark brown hair and green eyes.  As pretty as she was, she always had that look about her, the look of a tough bitch, one not to be trifled with.  Marie liked that about her.

"Its good to see you calm again Marie, you had us pretty worried there for a minute, but the doc says you'll be fine."

    Calmly, but with just a bit of fear and hesitation Marie slid her hands under the blankets, and under the flimsy gown, to give herself a quick examination.  She didn't feel the wires, or any scars left by them and she breathed a sigh of relief before sitting up slowly.  She carefully pulled the IV from her arm, as well as the monitor pads, and stood up carefully.

"Its good to see you Maddie!"  She gave a small smile, and began to make her way to the open door of the bathroom.

"Take it easy girl, you had a rough night!" Madeline said, standing up to offer a steady arm, but was waved down politely.

    Marie stepped inside the bathroom and flicked on the lights.  The cold tile felt good on her bare foot, the cyberleg registered it too, and it was close to a real feeling, but she still knew it was just the simulated signals from the heat and pressure sensors in her foot.  She pulled the hospital gown over her head and looked at herself carefully in the mirror.  She started slow, staring into her own eyes, then her face.  It was scratched like Jack said, but nothing serious.  She let her eyes drift cautiously downward.  Her breasts and stomach, no signs of the wires, she ran her hands over her skin to be sure.  It was smooth and soft, firm in the places it should be, but nothing out of the ordinary.  The scars on her body earned in the line of duty were still there, as well as the ugly one just below her navel.  She had gotten that one oh so long ago as a child, when she had tripped and fallen onto that rusty nail while playing in the back yard of her parents house.  All the old scars and marks were there, but otherwise she was fine, it really had all been in her mind.

    She lifted the metal leg up onto the toilet seat, running her fingers along the seam where it met her thigh, just below her hip.  She carefully examined it.  It felt cool to the touch, and the skin around it was unmarked.  She gave a small sneer at the limb, then let herself go in a silent thank you to God.  Before leaving the bathroom she looked at herself in the mirror once more.  She was still pretty she thought, her face had that mysterious look to it, and her eyes were still soft and deep.  Her body was still in near perfect shape, she had constant training to thank for that.  Her breasts were still firm, not as large as she sometimes would have liked, but nicely shaped and natural.  She turned a bit, giving her rear end a quick check, and was satisfied with the results.  "Yes...." she thought, "you're still lookin pretty good."  She suddenly realized this was the first time she had really looked at herself since just after the accident, and she hadn't really been fair to herself then.  The shock and horror of the prosthetic had made her feel ugly.  But now, looking at herself like this, seeing herself again, after an experience like that, from which she woke up to find it had just been a dream, she found herself  a bit happier with life.  A bit of that pride in herself had returned, and she was grateful.  She also realized she could even be a little grateful for the leg, after all it was better than a stump.

She put the gown back on and went back to the bed.  Soon the doctors came, examined her as thouroughly as she would allow and released her with the warning to take it easy for the next few days.  It was still possible the drug might be in her system, or that there might be residual effects.  The gas still had not been identified, so there was no way of knowing for sure.

    The next several days Marie spent in her apartment, taking it easy, getting some rest and thinking carefully about how she really felt about herself.  Her Aunt Rose called several times, and while the contact with family was nice, her aunts concern and paranoia was getting too her.  Marie loved her Aunt Rose, who had taken care of her since her parents died.   But the monotony was getting to her, and she had to return to the job.  This showed in snappy retorts and quick answers to her aunts concerns.  The unmeant nastiness in her voice always left her feeling guilty after she hung up.  She made herself a promise to call and apologize when she had a bit more patience.  She also had to set things straight with herself, and her team mates, and she knew it.  Finally she recieved a clean bill of health, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

    Upon arriving at the station she immediately felt better.  Even the loudness of the place, the dirty smells of blood, vomit, urine and sweat was more comforting than sitting home all day, waiting for some LSD like flashback which never came.  This was her real home, this is where her real family was.  She walked slowly through the building, greeting her friends, recieving their jokes, comments and sympathies with a smile until she made her way to her locker.  She loved putting her uniform on, it made her feel transformed, it made her feel like part of something.  Even as uncomfortable as the standard armored vest was, she took pride in it, joy even.  It set her apart from the streets, it meant she belonged, and that she had earned it.  The authority that goes with the job, well that was just another pleasure entirely.  She finished dressing and made her way to the chiefs office to report in.

    She knocked on the door, then without waiting for a reply entered the room and sat down.  The Chief  was sitting behind his desk, as usual, and as usual had a jumble of paperwork, mostly computer printouts strewn across his desk

"Glad to have you back Lt. Mendez, how you feelin'?"  The Chief spoke, not looking up from the papers he was thumbing through.

"I feel like working." Marie said, trying to judge the Chiefs mood, he seemd indifferent, but Marie felt something more was there.

"Good to hear it, the docs tell me you're okay.  Thats good too, last thing I need is another cop taking an early retirement."  He looked up briefly, bits of food clung to his mustache.  Marie didn't know whether to find it amusing or disgusting but turned her gaze away lest she throw up or start laughing.

"You wanna get back to work, fine, I got somethin for ya."

    He tossed a folder of papers towards her.  A few pieces of paper, and some photographs fell on the floor and onto her lap, she gathered them and took the folder, opening it up and examining the contents.  "Whats this Chief?"

    He leaned back in his chair.  "The tech boys took apart that borg you went after.  As we thought, it was definately military, a new model made by Militech.  They reported a few stolen from their R&D department about a week ago, but they were just shells, they hadn't outfitted anyone with em yet.  And we have no idea who the dumb schmuck that ended up inside this one was.  Someone had to do the surgery involved, and with that kind of operation its got to be someone good, no streetlevel ripperdoc is gonna be able to pull off a job like that.  It takes special facilities to do something like that.  Which means either the boys from Militech are lying to us, or someone out there has a whole lotta money to spend and very little compunction about letting a freakin human tank with the mental capacities of a rabid weasel out on the streets.  Either way it doesn't sound good, its your job to find out which fuckers are goin down for this one."

    The chief shifted in his seat. "And that gas he hit you with, all we have so far is some residue from the tanks, but its pretty nasty stuff too.  Possibly military as well, but we haven't been able to identify a manufacturer yet, the techs think its brand new.  The guys we talked to at Militech don't know anything about it either.  We think their on the level about it, because the tank and dispenser for the gas looks more like something someone jury rigged on there.   It doesn't feel right, I can't see whoever it might be thats fronting this just wasting it in the 'Zone like that."

"You think it was just a test maybe Chief?  Like whoever is behind it has more where that came from?"

"Well its a strong probability, I just have this feelin' its gonna turn nasty...... let's stop it before it gets that far.  The feds are threatening to take over, but since its primarily a cyber crime it is under our jurisdiction, and since you were hit I figure you might wanna do some hitting back."

"Damn straight!"

"Alright then, everything we got so far is in that folder.  Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, now we got a real nutjob running around out there.  That guy who's been hacking up women in the corporate sector, well now we think he might be enhanced.  Autopsy reports from his latest victim show her wrists have been crushed by hand.  When you get the chance get down to the morgue and take a look, I'll have the the boys down in Homicide send you up everything they have so far.  We can arrange for introductions later.  Sorry to be doubling you up one the big ones today Marie, but what can I say, its your lucky day."

"Lucky, right Chief, remind me to thank you sometime."

"Yeah yeah yeah, now get your ass out of my office and get back to work."

    Marie walked out of his office, looking briefly through the folder as she rode the elevator down to the 31st floor that housed the Cybernetic Crimes Division.  She found her desk and immediately pulled the interface plug from her computer workstation, found the interface socket just below the base of her scalp and "jacked in".  She then pulled a disk from the folder and loaded it into the computer.  She closed her eyes to allow the interface to be fully effective and felt that brief flying sensation you always felt when "Jacking in".  What you see is very similar, it starts out dark, then a bright pinpoint of light and the feeling of acceleration as the light gets larger and closer until it filled up everything, all in the space of a second.  Then the contents of the computer were floating before her, mostly in Icon form, the actual information of the computer was represented as a  white nothing that she simply floated in, with the various program icons hovering around her as simple boxes, which started small, then would enlarge as you focused on them.  To open them you simply reached out with your mind and touched them.  All through the use of your own Icon, which was an extremely crude representation of a body.

    The VR programs of the police computers were horribly antiquated, except for the Net Enforcement guys, who always got the latest, most state of the art equipment.  Regular cops didn't need all that though.  At least according to the budget.  For them all it had to do was work, looking pretty wasn't a concern.

    Marie opened the disk and was immediately assaulted by a barrage of information.  She quickly organized it to suit her needs and examined a file marked "Perpetrator: Full Cybernetic Conversion A654h23".  Inside information represented by a long string of text floating beside a full, manipulatable 3-D schematic of the borg filled her perception.  Through the interface she skimmed through the text, pulling it in front of her, with the borg fadeing into a small rotating wireframe in the background.  Then she pushed the text aside where it folded out into a screen surrounding her and she pulled the borg icon forward.  She examined it from head to toe, at every possible angle.  She pulled the virtual outer layer of armor from the icon and continued examing it this way, taking it apart piece by piece.  She soon became extremely frustrated, this thing was a monster, and there were still at least two out there.  It was armed with a 9mm minigun and a 20mm rifle on each arm, a gas dispenser on its torso (and the chief was right, it did look jury rigged), and a Mini-Roc holding 6 mini-missiles on its shoulder, and if all that wasn't enough it also had a flame thrower mounted in its right hand..  It was armored high enough to withstand an anti-tank rifle, was protected from EMP weapons, could run at about 50mph and could toss around a buick if it felt like it.   Multiple eyes and an array of sensor equipment that was at least equal to one of the cops own surveillance vans.  She immediately began looking for weak points in the borgs defenses.  She read the report on how it was brought down and her heart sunk in her chest.  After Jack had brought it out into the open and they landed on the street the borg had shot him point blank in the face with its flamethrower.  It then got up and started to charge the command vehicle when every officer including her team opened up on him.  Apparrently the concentrated fire went on for at least a minute and a half before the walking tank finally dropped.  They said what did it was a 20mm rifle shot to the neck.  "Damn!" she thought, and felt a shiver run up her spine at the knowledge that it was her and her teams job to find the other two if they were still in the city.

    She closed the file, only to open another marked "Unkown Aerosol Agent".  Once again the text opened up, floating next to a 3-D representation of the gas's chemical makeup.  Marie closed the 3-D icon, she knew nothing at all about chemistry and the diagram did nothing for her.  She scanned through the text instead.  The gas was apparently completely synthetic, it resembled LSD but was much more powerful and fast acting.  The techs from Narcotics examing the residue left notes explaining that whoever created this new agent must have been pretty well funded and equipped, as the cost and time required to produce a gas of this nature must have been staggering.  This clearly pointed to either the military or a corporation.  No one in the 'Zone has enough of either to come up with this.  Absorbing as much of the information as she could she closed the file.

    Next she opened a file marked "Crime Scene".  And a virtual representation of the entire building, as well as the street, alley ways, and exterior of the surrounding buildings opened up before her.  This file represented a true boon to investigation.  Called the "Chelsea Program", it took the basic blueprint of the building and area surrounding and created a 3-D environment from it.  Into this environment was added all the visual information fed into it from the recorded information of all the police cameras used throughout the entire process.  This included the cameras mounted in all the police vehicles, the complete forensic video and photographs, and even the guncams of all the individual officers.  (Guncams are small cameras installed on all police issue handguns, they take a picture everytime the gun is fired to provide forensic evidense later.  In addition all police issue handguns are equipped with a 911 chip, a small radio device which signals the precint everytime a shot is fired.  At the precint it is registered and assistance is sent if needed.  The 911 chip is an officers best friend, as everytime a shot is fired backup is immediately on the way, even if the officers weapon is taken from them.  Of course the officers weapon can't be used against them even if it taken, as another chip connected to the laser sight of the weapon makes it impossible to fire on anyone carrying a police badge thanks to another device built into an officers badge.)  All the this visual information is compiled into the program which renders an almost perfect recreation of the environment, including timeframe measurements of the events as they occured the moment police arrived on the scene.  Complete with the exact placement of people, vehicles, and what have you during the entire incident.  It has been petitioned several times that every individual officer be issued an A/V recorder to attach to their helmet, but so far nothing has happened yet, the budget won't allow for it.

    Marie watched the whole incident unfold from start to finish from several angles outside the building, and again as she "walked" around.  The scene for the most part was complete in almost every detail from the outside, and the further into the incident you got the more detailed it became.  From the ouside the only inconsistencies that were really visible were the slight fading in and out of  existence at the edges and in the shadows where only one camera captured a moment and then moved on.  These were known as "glitch moments", because other than that image recorded from a single point of view, no other details could be added.  She then moved the program forward, to after the last bit of information had been recovered by Forensics and the picture had become as detailed as possible.  She moved to the door of the building and began to explore it inch by inch.  She worked her way up and through the building, pausing to look at the collapsed stairs, and again at the hallway where she suffered her hallucination.  It made her shiver remembering what she went through.  As much as she knew it to be a fact that it was just a hallucination brought on by the gas, it felt so real and she remembered it so vividly that she had woken up screaming several times after reliving it in her dreams.  She moved on, not wanting to relive the moment any more than she had too and entered the room where the borg had been staging his rampage.  She noted the shell casings on the floor, and reached out and touched them.  Scrolling text appeared above them, noting caliber, estimated time fired, and other forensic information.  In total 267 shells were fired in this room alone by the borg.

    She examined the stress marks and scratches on the floor which allowed the Forensic officers to guesstimate the borgs movements through the building.  She ordered the program to highlight them, and when possible to number them sequentially.  Then she had the program creat an icon of the full conversion and had it retrace its steps back to when it originally entered the building.  From there she had the icon move forward slowly and followed it, pausing it whenever anything caught her eye.  She knew every inch of the place had been gone over and all the information gathered already, but there was always a chance Forensics missed or overlooked something.  She stopped at the point just after Jack had tackled the full conversion and sent them both through the wall. She stood at the gaping hole in the wall and stared out onto the street.  She commanded the computer to match the details of this moment and was instantly looking down on the police below on the street scurrying for cover, the overturned cars, some on fire.  About 12 feet out, still in midflight were Jack and the borg in a fierce embrace  two and a half stories up, flying debris frozen in the air around them.  It was an impressive sight, she was sorry she missed the real thing.  Her flesh body gave a bit of a giggle and a smile before she reverted the program to its previous mode.  Then as the outside details were dissappearing she gasped.  She again returned the program to full detail and rewound it several seconds and had it play out in slow motion.  She focused her attention across the street and down two buildings.  There in one of those "glitchy moments", was movement in the alley.  She rewound the scene and paused it.  Then moved straight from the hole in the wall over to in front of the alley.   She had the program play again.  She watched carefully, there it was again.  It was someone watching from the alley.  The face was for the most part obscured by the fellows arm and what looked like small video camera, but the clothes were too clean to belong to someone living in the 'Zone, and too expensive for a cop or a media cameraman.  She moved around and asked the computer to try and increase detail on him, but apparently he had only been recorded by one camera and only for a moment, so his image was rather 2-dimensional, and there wasn't enough to identify him.  She looked closer at the image.  It was kind of blurry, another problem of these "glitchy moments" only being recorded from one camera.  She instructed the computer to focus the image as best it could but it didn't really make it any more detailed.  Still she could tell he was wearing a grey suit, probably silk from the glare it gave, and what was most likely a gold watch.  There was also what looked like some type of pin or badge on his lapel but it was unrecognizable.

    "Damn!" she said under her breath and she wanted to spit.  She saved the program where it was, and printed out a full page image of her mystery man before closing the program and jacking out of the computer.

    She opened her eyes again, waiting for them to adjust and leaned back in her chair, stretching hard, her arms above her head, her hands together as she cracked her knuckles.  She reached behind her head and pulled the plug from the interface jack before leaning forward and laying her head on the desk.  She watched the room with a sigh and wished for a moment she had never become a cop.  Then she smiled as she reminded herself that if she hadn't she probably couldn't take the boredom of  life as a civilian.

Across the room she saw Jack, standing in front of the elevator talking to another member of her squad, Sean O'Malley, the teams marksman.  Everyone called Sean "Blue", a nickname given him after an incident in a paint factory caused him to be covered in blue paint.  Sean was a stocky black man, very muscular, and the same age as Marie.  He stood 6'1" and had a mustache that made him look a bit rogueish.  Marie liked Sean, but he was a bit cold, didn't laugh or smile much, and when he did it was usually over something either dark or dirty.

    "Now or never!", she whispered to herself, and moved to the elevator.  She was geeted by both men and Jack reached out and hugged her.

    "It's good to see you up and around again "Bunny!"  Bunny was the teams nickname for her, short for Gun Bunny, after her enthusiasm over blowing away rampaging cyberpsychos became apparent.  She didn't really like the name, she didn't feel it appropriate to her, but she didn't complain about it anymore.  She was momentarily amazed that for the first time since she had her leg replaced this didn't bother her, it in fact made her feel better, although she did wonder momentarily about what would happen to her if Jack lost control of his cyborg strength while hugging her.  If that ever happenned she would be crushed to a pulp.  Still she smiled and hugged him back.

"Ok, let me go ya mechanical ape."

"Oh right, like your not itchin for some heavy metal love baby."  Jackson replied.  Sean almost broke a smile at that remark.

She turned to Sean.  "Blue you don't mind if I shanghai Jack for a bit do you?"

"No, I'll see you later Jack, glad to see your feeling better Marie.

"Thanks Blue."

    Marie led Jack to the stairs where it was a bit more quiet and there wasn't as much traffic.  "Jack, I wanted to apologize.  Ever since I lost my leg I have been a real bitch to you and John and I wanted you to know I was sorry.  We've been friends, partners and team mates almost as long as I've been on the force and you didn't deserve to be treated like that.  I'll talk to John later, but I just wanted you to know I'm sorry."  Jack looked down at her.  Full Body Conversions can't really smile, but she knew he was anyway.  "I don't know what your talkin' bout baby, we cool.  I figured you was just on your period for the last coupl'a weeks."  She laughed and smacked his head playfully.  He laughed back.  "Careful now, don' wanna leave a dent."

    It felt good to see Jack as her friend again.  Truth be told Jack was probably the best friend she had, and she had missed him.  She cursed her stupidity for taking her anger out on him.  As they made their way down the stairs they continued talking casually for a few minutes before Marie began filling Jack in on what she had found out from reviewing the files.



Written by Deric "Wisdom000" Bernier