I'm at close to 9,000 words on my National Novel Writing Month novel, Blood Drift.
Since I've been neglecting this blog in order to work on it, I thought I'd post the first chapter, for anyone interested.
It's a totally unedited and unformatted draft, so bear that in mind.
In any case. here's chapter one:
Some Things Never Change
As Kelly sat ignoring the meaningless words directed towards her, she reflected on the fact that some things never change.
Especially when those things involved the Feds.
This was true despite the fact that the term “Feds” was one that really no longer applied to the people whom it was used to describe. There was, after all, no longer a Federal government, at least, not one of the type that had existed when the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the ancestor of the Global Bureau of Investigation, had still existed and the term “Feds” was first used to describe its agents.
The GBI was an office of the Department of Global Security, one of the offices of the Global Union, the confederation of nations that was a hodgepodge of legacy governmental systems that had arisen over the course of the past century. While the GBI had subsumed existing law enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, Interpol, and the CIA, as well as the assorted militaries of the Global Union’s member nations, the average GBI Agent was indistinguishable from the Feds of America’s past.
As far as Kelly was concerned, at any rate.
This woman, she thought, as she turned her attention to Special Agent Nikki Chailyn Jenn, could easily have been a character in one of those ancient crime dramas Fontaine and I used to watch as kids, from her high and tight haircut to her humorless expression, her nondescript black suit, all the way down to her cheap shoes. It was more than her look, however; it was the attitude. The privileged demand for, in Kelly’s estimation, unearned respect, and the sneering air of smug superiority.
“Detective,” the Special Agent said, peering over her sunglasses as she slid them down her freckled nose, “are you even listening to me?”
Who even wears sunglasses these days? She can’t afford a glazing, or even photosensitive contacts? She concluded that it was an affectation, and realized, suddenly, that this was why the Feds of today were so indistinguishable from the Feds of the past; they couldn’t come up with any new ideas on how to look or act, so they stuck with what they thought worked. She suppressed a smirk at the thought, and responded, too sincerely, “Why, of course I’m listening, Special Agent Nikki.”
The Special Agent stiffened. “That’s Special Agent Jenn.”
“Of course it is,” she replied, smiling sweetly.
“Detective,” Kelly’s Captain said, with no trace of humor.
Kelly turned her glance in the Captain’s direction and found that her usual sympathetic expression was missing in action.
Apparently I’m meant to take this seriously.
“Sorry, Special Agent Jenn. You were saying?”
The Special Agent sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I was saying, Detective 34498,” emphasizing Kelly’s FIN - Family Identification Number - “that we at the GBI have serious concerns about what could be considered questionable ethical behavior on your part, and how those…behaviors reflect on you, your fellow officers, your superiors, and the entire NYPD.”
“I wasn’t aware that the GBI was concerned about the NYPD’s image,” Kelly said, flatly. “And as for my ‘questionable ethical behavior,’ I wish you would just come right out and say what you mean, because you know as well as I do that my record is above reproach. Furthermore, any ethical violations, real or perceived, of a member of the NYPD do not fall under the GBI’s rather expansive umbrella, and as such are no concern of yours. So let’s just dispense with this charade and put it on the table. This little visit doesn’t have a thing to do with anything I’ve done, it’s all about who I am, or more to the point, who I’m related to.”
Special Agent Jenn pushed her sunglasses up and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Fine, if that’s how you want to play it. What is the nature of your relationship with Subject 76 AKA Jessica 50154 AKA Samson?”
With that question she tapped the table with her gloved hand, and with a small beep a holographic image of a young woman with a square face, pointed ears, eyes that were completely black, and a thick mane of luminous blue hair appeared above the center of the table.
Kelly regarded the image, then turned to regard the Special Agent. “You know perfectly well what the nature of our relationship is.”
“Pretend that I don’t.”
With a sigh, Kelly responded, “She’s my niece.”
The Special Agent affected a look of surprise. “You, a decorated detective in the NYPD, are the aunt of a known terrorist and wanted fugitive?”
“She’s no terrorist. And as for being a fugitive, why not call a spade a spade and refer to her as missing property?”
“The Global Union does not consider her property. She is a sentient being with all of the rights and privileges afforded to any such being, whether human, Llani, or…a combination of the two.”
Before Kelly could respond, the Special Agent continued. “However, despite outward appearances Subject 76 - “
“Her name is Samson,” Kelly interjected. It was, Kelly thought, a ridiculous name, but it was the name she was given by her mother, and the name she had accepted, and, indeed, insisted on using.
“Subject 76, “ Special Agent Jenn continued, “despite her apparent maturity, is legally a minor, and is a ward of the state. We have a vested interest in locating her and ensuring her safety, as well as the safety of the public at large.”
“Excuse me, detective?”
“You aren’t the least bit concerned about Sam’s safety. If you were you wouldn’t be constantly feeding lies and distortions to your mouthpieces in the media that make her out to be some kind of dangerous monster.”
“Your niece may not be a monster,” Special Agent Jenn replied, making it clear that she, personally, did perceive Sam as a monster, “but there is no question that she is dangerous to herself and others. The…unique nature of her biology grants her abilities - potentially lethal abilities - well beyond those of more conventional humans or Llani. With proper guidance she could put those abilities to use to help every citizen.”
“You mean you would like to use her as a weapon. Like Tommy.”
“Subject 37, or ‘Tommy,’ is not a weapon. He is a responsible citizen who uses his abilities for the good of all people in the service of his government.”
Kelly snorted. “Well, he’s good PR, I’ll give you that much. Every time he rescues a kitten from a tree people forget about the illegal, unethical, and immoral experimentation that brought him into this world.”
“Are you suggesting that the world would be better without Tommy?”
After a pause, Kelly replied, “No. He actually is a good kid, despite your best efforts. But so is Sam, in her own way.”
“Your niece has many dangerous ideas.”
“Yes, like the idea that she has a right to be free, to not be poked and prodded and dissected in some secret lab. To not have to perform tasks that she finds morally abhorren.t”
Special Agent Jenn sighed heavily. “Do you know the current whereabouts of your niece?”
Without hesitation Kelly responded, “No, I don’t.”
“Are you able to contact her?”
“When was the last time you were in contact with her?”
“About three months ago. She sent me a holomail.”
Captain Josie interjected, “Which Kelly reported to us, as she does every time Sam - Subject 76 - contacts her.”
Special Agent Jenn ignored the Captain.
“How do you arrange contact with her?”
“I don’t; she contacts me.”
“Would you be able to initiate contact with her.”
Kelly paused to think. “Maybe. She’s...her sensitivity…she would probably just know that I wanted to contact her.”
“Would she respond to this ‘knowledge’ by contacting you?”
Kelly shrugged, the armored epaulets on her shoulders nearly touching her ears as she did so. “She might.”
“Has she in the past?”
“Then why do you say that she ‘might?’”
Sighing, Kelly responded, “Because unless I’m mistaken you’re hoping that I will project a desire to meet with her so that you can spring a trap. She would know that, too.”
Special Agent Jenn turned away from Kelly to look out the window of the conference room and into the precinct room, which was a buzz of activity, before speaking again.
“If you could convince her to meet with you for the purposes of ‘springing a trap,’ would you?”
Kelly bowed her head, then, weakly, responded, “If I was ordered to…yes.”
“Only if you were ordered to? In your previous contacts with her have you encouraged her to surrender to GBI custody?”
“Despite the fact that she is a minor and a known terrorist?”
“She isn’t really either of those things. Sam was practically born an adult, and as for her supposed terrorism -“
“As a police officer you are sworn to uphold the law. Why haven’t you done so with Subject 76?”
“In this case, the law is - “ she stopped. “I do not believe that her interests would be served by turning herself in. Further, I know that I could never convince her of that even if I did believe it. Finally, I am neither physically nor emotionally capable of taking her into custody. And if she belongs in anyone’s ‘custody,’ she belongs with her family, which you people have made impossible.”
“With her family? With you, perhaps?”
“You think that would be appropriate? Why?”
“She’s my niece. She’s family. She’s my blood.”
“But there is rather more to her blood than what your family has contributed, isn’t there? And why with you? Why not with her mother?”
Kelly found herself at a loss for words.
Turning back towards Kelly, Special Agent Jenn removed her sunglasses and said, “Regardless of the issue of blood, your family has no legal claim to Subject 76.”
Again, Kelly said nothing.
After a pause, Special Agent Jenn regarded both Kelly and Captain Josie.
“I find the fact that as a law enforcement officer you have flouted the law simply because you find it more convenient to do so than to perform your duties troubling at the very least. It is clear to me based on your behavior in this particular regard - in addition to other lapses in judgment - that you do not fully consider the consequences of your actions, or what they say about your character as an officer of the law. I freely admit that you have an otherwise exemplary record as a police officer, but, blood ties or not, you have responsibilities that outweigh any and all family obligations you may feel.”
“You are hereby ordered to ‘project’ a desire to meet with Subject 76. You will report any contact directly to me, and at a minimum you will encourage her to surrender to GBI custody. Any indication that you have disobeyed this directive will result in disciplinary action, and your meteoric rise within the ranks of the NYPD will come to a screeching halt, irrespective of your record and your commendations. Is that clear, detective?”
“Perfectly. Is that all?”
“No, detective, it is not. While we’re on the subject of family, I would like to discuss Subject 76’s biological mother: your sister, Fontaine.”
* * *
Standing in the washroom and looking at her still-red face in the mirror, Kelly took a deep breath and tried to regain her composure.
She had expected the questions about Sam - this wasn’t the first time some supercilious Fed had come around in an effort to track down her wayward niece. The questions about Fontaine, however, were a new development, and were much more troubling.
It was hardly a surprise that Fontaine was on the GBI’s radar - she had been since she was fourteen years old, after all - but as far as Kelly knew the official level of interest in her sister and her activities had been minimal at best.
Why are they so interested in her now?
Worse, Kelly had no pull whatsoever with the Feds, and, indeed, she herself had been on their radar since she was a teenager as well. While Kelly had never exerted her influence within the NYPD to intervene on Fontaine’s behalf - there had never been a need, honestly, as Fontaine was perfectly capable of handling herself - nor, she liked to believe, would she, as she was perfectly capable of separating her personal and professional lives, despite Special Agent Jenn’s accusations, the fact remained that even the top brass turned a blind eye when it came to Fontaine out of deference to Kelly.
Of course, Fontaine was a professional. She kept things quiet, and even if she attracted law enforcement attention the odds were against them ever finding anything they could use to make a case against her.
But that was at the local level. Global law enforcement agencies had considerably more resources and broader authority. At the very least, they could, Kelly reluctantly admitted to herself, trump up charges if they felt so inclined.
And it seemed, based on the exchange she’d just had with a representative of Global law enforcement, that they did feel so inclined.
“That stupid suit,” Kelly said aloud. “Dammit, Fontaine.”
Sighing, Kelly looked in the mirror more closely. Her short, blonde bob flowed around the edges of the navy blue headgear that framed her face. It was standard issue for beat cops, but was optional for detectives. She chose to wear it, and her modified dress uniform, simply because it was functional. The built-in communications disks that covered her ears, without interfering with her ability to hear, were much more functional than the standalone units that were available to plainclothes cops, and the light armor of the dress uniform worked just as well, if not better than, the separate body armor most detectives opted to wear, without being nearly as bulky.
Beyond that, for most of her life Kelly had never wanted to be anything other than a cop, and after putting on the blue for the first time she resolved that no matter where her career path took her, she would always display her profession with pride.
Stepping back from the sink, she regarded herself in the mirror. The navy blue of the headgear connected to the lighter blue of her skintight bodysuit at the collarbone. Her detective shield was displayed prominently on the hardened carbon fiber epaulets on her shoulders. Her one modification to the uniform was the blue skirt she wore over the bodysuit, which was a common and officially-sanctioned modification to the dress blues.
The material of the bodysuit could stop small caliber fire completely, while the distribution circuits woven into the material spread the force of impact throughout the entire bodysuit, making the shot feel like little more than a sharp sting. Heavier caliber fire would penetrate, but without sufficient force to cause mortal injury, and the material was insulated against electricity, though light-based weaponry such as lasers and other energy weapons remained deadly.
The material was based on the alien technology incorporated in the bodysuit Fontaine wore. The one that Special Agent Jenn kept pressing Kelly about.
Leaning forward, Kelly looked into her iron gray eyes in the mirror, their sharpness seeming incongruous with her otherwise soft features.
The color of her eyes was the only physical feature she had in common with her sister. As children, their father referred to them as “Night and Day,” commenting not only on their physical differences but also the stark contrast between their personalities.
Fontaine, the elder of the sisters by two years, stood several centimeters taller than Kelly, had a more athletic build, her features were considerably sharper, and her hair was jet black where Kelly’s was a golden blonde.
Both women were exceptionally beautiful, each in her own distinctive way. In a world in which beauty, thanks to technical advances that made cosmetic surgery possible at the cellular level, was the standard, and indeed, almost mundane, the two sisters stood apart from the masses.
Their mother, Genevieve, had been a successful model , and slightly less successful actress, in her youth before settling down with their father Georges and marrying into the family.
That was one other commonality between Kelly and Fontaine; they shared the same biological mother.
How important such blood ties were in the polygamous society that had developed after the Generation Plague and the war with the Llani tended to vary from family to family, though it wasn’t uncommon, as had been the case with Kelly and Fontaine, for siblings who shared both biological parents to form a closer bond than they did with their half-siblings.
The blood bond was the primary reason for their closeness, but not the only one, as most of their siblings were considerably older than either of them, and it held a special significance for them. While Kelly was reasonably close with her other nine siblings, Fontaine was the one she held closest to her heart.
Which was why she found virtually everything Fontaine did so maddening.
As for Fontaine, she rarely spoke to any of the other members of her family besides Kelly, but even with Kelly, the one person in the world to whom she was willing to display any vulnerability, or even visible, albeit nearly imperceptible, affection, Fontaine still maintained a safe, detached distance.
Kelly believed that her sister did this for the sake of her career, not wanting to entangle her younger sister in the seedier, illegal aspects of her life.
That’s what she told herself, at least.
Taking another breath, Kelly turned to leave the washroom and found Captain Josie standing in the doorway.
“What the hell was that, Captain? What does the GBI want with my sister? And why the hell didn’t you tell me what I was walking into?”
Captain Josie sighed and looked down at her feet, away from Kelly’s piercing stare. “Kelly…”
“I don’t think I want to hear it, sir.”
“I think you need to.” The Captain looked up and locked eyes with Kelly. “First of all, I have no idea what, exactly, they want with your sister, apart from the obvious.”
“Your sister is a thief who associates with known criminals. She’s believed to be connected with some of the largest heists in history, many of which involve travel across national borders, which makes them the GBI’s business. Furthermore, she’s stolen valuable and sensitive data and equipment from the government. Did it never occur to you that they would eventually decide to crack down on her?”
Kelly shook her head. “She’s believed to be involved in such thefts. There’s no proof. She doesn’t have a record. She’s never even so much as been brought in for questioning.”
“Kelly, come on.”
Kelly wasn’t budging. “There is no legitimate basis for any of the claims that have been made about Fontaine’s activities. She is a licensed private investigator and personal bodyguard.”
“She’s a mercenary and a thief.”
The Captain sighed. “Kelly, as the Special Agent pointed out, day in and day out she can be seen casually strolling along the walkways of the city wearing the same outfit she’s worn for the past three years as if she’s some ancient cartoon character, an outfit that is the property of the Global Union, which she stole from a research facility.”
“What research facility would that be? The completely secret one supported by illegally-redirected public funds that doesn’t officially exist? Much like the outfit she wears, which also doesn’t officially exist. There’s a reason she’s been wearing that outfit ‘day in and day out’ for three years without the Feds saying shit or making a move to arrest her: to do that they’d have to admit that it exists in the first place. Once they do that, people start asking questions about where it came from, and those questions ultimately lead to - “ Kelly caught herself.
“Lead to what?”
Shaking her head, Kelly said, “I can’t say.”
“I’m your Captain and your friend.”
“I know. That doesn’t change anything. I can’t say anything more.”
“Can’t or won’t.”
“Is this about your niece?”
Kelly said nothing.
“You mention things that don’t officially exist. Until your niece made it public, the lab where she was…” Captain Josie appeared to be searching for the right word.
“Born,” Kelly said, firmly.
“The lab where she was born wasn’t supposed to have existed either, and the Feds kept denying its existence even long after it went up in a ball of smoke, thanks to your niece who fire-bombed the place. Without the benefit of a bomb, I might add. That was another valid point that Fed geek made. Whether you like hearing it or not, or even if you choose not to believe it, Samson is dangerous.” She let that sink in, noting while her the fair skin of her cheeks flushed red with anger once again, Kelly said nothing.
“ It was only after they were able to introduce Tommy to the world, demonstrating what success they’d had with their experiments that they admitted that ‘mistakes were made in the pursuit of global security and the advancement of the human and Llani species’ that the breeding experiments had been going on at all. Even then, they still didn’t provide a lot of details and did their best to keep people from asking too many questions.”
“Yes. They were very good at keeping people quiet.”
Kelly said nothing, but the Captain nodded in understanding.
“Fine, I’ll drop it.” She looked away. “But the fact remains that your sister is a thief. That’s hardly a secret. We followed the Feds’ lead and turned a blind eye to it, but I’m not so sure we can keep doing that.”
“There’s no proof. She doesn’t have a record.”
“Kelly, for god’s sake; she stole a fucking spaceship and took it on a joyride to the other side of the galaxy!”
“She was fourteen. That was a sealed juvenile record that has since been expunged per the terms of her deal with the Feds.”
“That’s not the point and you know it.”
“With all due respect, Captain, what is the point?”
“The point is that the odds are your sister is going down - for whatever reason - there’s nothing you can do to stop it or to protect her, and I don’t want to see the best damn cop I’ve ever known go down with her out of some misguided sense of loyalty to someone who wouldn’t know loyalty if it bit her on her perfect little ass.”
Under other circumstances Kelly might have chuckled at the comment about Fontaine’s ass. Everyone always raves about her ass, she thought bitterly.
“You don’t understand, Captain.”
“You’re right; I don’t. Your sister flagrantly breaks the law and pursues her own selfish interests without a thought to you or anyone else, but you would be perfectly willing to throw your career away for her.”
Kelly looked away.
“Honestly, Kelly; at your age you should be, at best, a rookie fresh out of the academy, but you’ve already got your gold shield, and if you would just step away from this you’d be in line for a promotion. You’re only twenty-four years old, for fuck’s sake! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Don’t piss it away for someone who would sell you out in a heartbeat.”
“You’re wrong, Captain. Fontaine…there’s more to her than you think.”
“There would have to be. “ Captain Josie reached over and put her hand on Kelly’s left arm. “You know, there are a lot of fucked-up families in this world. Hell, I thought mine was bad. Did you know that my older sister tried to set me on fire when we were kids? First and second-degree burns all along my left side. I had to go through umpteen cellular regenerations, and I still have some scars. Now she’s like my best friend.”
Kelly nodded. She’d heard this story many times before.
“But, I’m sorry kid, your family…hell, you’ve got a niece who’s half-alien and wanted by every law enforcement agency in the world, and even that’s not half as strange as your relationship with your sister.”
The Captain softened a little. “Just…just look out for yourself, okay? Don’t let your relationship with your sister cloud your judgment.”
With a nod, Kelly said, “I’ll do my best, but when it comes to my sister, my judgment is always clouded.”
“What kind of relationship do the two of you even have, anyway?”
Kelly opened her mouth to speak, then closed it and thought for a moment.
“It’s complicated,” she said, simply.