The morning sunlight was already covering the streets of the Hub when David Nash marched up the steps of the local police station. The building, which had been designed and built recently, looked like it could fit right in his old home in the Lower Level. That square shape, and orderly construction, looked a bit foreign here in the Hub. It was comforting, on some level, to have that little reminder of his old life.
The delicious smells of the bakery next door wafted over the front steps of the station, and David couldn’t help but smile. A citizen had opened a donut shop directly beside the station, hopefully in comedic nature, and their baked goods were some of the best that he had ever tasted. For a single flicker of a moment he considered stopping by to pick up a bite, but then his mind reminded him of the task at hand, so he continued up the steps and into the station.
Just inside, Trevor and Annie’s voices echoed across the hall. They were arguing with one another about something, but they weren’t being loud enough for him to hear it. He approached slowly, trying to get close enough to listen in, but they caught sight of him and stopped their squabbling immediately.
They both looked like they hadn’t slept in hours.
David had been far away from the Hub when he got news of the attack. He’d turned his vehicle around and flown back right away, but it was a long trip, and by the time he got back things had largely settled.
Trevor and Annie had managed to capture two of the assailants.
Olivia Sun was missing, last seen by Annie, and hours had passed. Assuming she hadn’t been kidnapped, she was most certainly lost inside the massive city, completely out of her element, and in the worst case… she had been kidnapped.
They didn’t know if she’d been taken, and they didn’t know who it was that had attacked them in the alleyway. That was the information that he needed right now.
He decided to ignore their argument entirely.
“Well?” he asked the pair, approaching them both. “Are they telling us anything?”
Annie shook her head.
“It’s useless,” Trevor grumbled. “They say they won’t talk.”
“And nothing from other citizens?” David asked. Trevor was handing him the file on the current situation, including the information they had on the two suspects that they had arrested at the scene. None of it looked very promising.
“We canvassed the whole area,” Annie replied, shaking her head while her voice carried the weight of failure. “Nothing. No one has seen anyone like we described. Honestly, how would they know? It was pitch black on some of those streets.”
“Assuming they want to share anything with us anyway,” Trevor grumbled. “I can’t believe this all went down in the Sentret district.”
David didn’t respond, but he understood Trevor’s frustration. The Sentret district was one of the largest and wealthiest parts of the Hub. It was one of the first areas built, and it continued to be revitalized and reinvigorated as the city grew. It was home to some of the most beautiful gardens that the city had to offer, and there were many other interesting antiquities.
It was also “controlled” by the Dragons of Sentret.
The Dragons were a gang, like any other, but they seemingly did more good than harm. They kept almost all crime out of their area, and while David would someday proudly patrol all of the Hub with his police officers, right now he had to pick his battles. An established organization like the Dragons was out of his league, so he’d opted to leave them alone. Their leader, Karushi Sona, had taken notice, and his people never interfered with the police, either. It was symbiotic at this point, even if both sides knew it couldn’t last forever.
He paused, wondering if last night had been the first stone thrown.
That’s what he had to find out.
“I’ll go talk to the suspects,” David said, finally looking up from the file. “Maybe they’ll soften up since I’m not the one that brought them in.”
“All yours,” Trevor said, not sounding optimistic.
The single jail cell in David’s police station was not meant to hold more than a few prisoners. In this case, the pair they had arrested were as far apart as the space allowed, with one of them standing at the door, looking out at anyone that walked by, while the second suspect sat on the provided cot.
When David got close, the prisoner at the door lit up, as though he expected David to fix his current situation. The closer he got, the more excited the man became.
“Hello,” David started as he reached the door. “My name is David Nash, and I’m here to talk about the events that took place last night.”
“Yeah, that’s great,” the man said, practically bouncing. “Are you going to take me to an interrogation room or something?”
“No,” David replied. “I might as well talk to both of you, and I’d rather do it with these bars between us.”
“Listen,” the prisoner said. “I’m not who you think I am. I’m not running with the Dragons. I’m just a guy that got paid to intercept your friend last night. Your boys got all aggressive on us and we had to defend ourselves!”
“We found a medallion on you that’s normally carried by Dragon members.”
“No no,” the man said, looking frustrated. “You found that medallion on him. The dangerous criminal that you put me in jail with! This is insane!”
David paused, trying to understand. “You’re not part of the Dragons of Sentret?”
David looked to the second suspect. “Is this true?”
The prisoner on the cot chuckled. “You want me to corroborate this guy’s story?”
“I’m okay with you disputing it too. I just want the story.”
The man pursed his lips for a moment. “Alright. Yeah, I’m one of the Dragons. Last night I’m walking home from a tasty snack, laughing with my boys, when I suddenly heard a scuffle breaking out. We checked it out and found your officers going toe to toe with this dude and his goons. A fight like that in the Sentret district? Not on my watch. We rushed in to break it up. When the fighting stopped, folks split, so I sent my guys after them. Next thing I know I’m getting tackled and arrested. It ain’t respectful.”
David turned his attention to the closer suspect at the door. “So who are you?”
“Benni Williams. I’m an investigator. This is my job. I find things and investigate mysterious activities, like a known figure from the Lower Level being escorted secretly through the city. I’m with Truth Seekers Incorporated!”
“Investigative work? Why in the world did you attack my officers?”
“We didn’t attack them!” Benni snapped. “We were told to intercept and talk to Olivia. You guys were moving her through town quickly and time was limited. We just wanted to chat with her, that’s all. When we showed up, your man went into attack mode before we could even explain our situation.”
David felt his stomach churning. Trevor had always been one to escalate a situation when it wasn’t necessary. He’d taken a risk trusting him with such a big responsibility, and now he worried his trust had been misplaced.
“I don’t deserve to be in this jail cell,” Benni said, his voice sounding desperate and shaky. “I am not a criminal. I’m just a man trying to make some money. I didn’t start the confrontation. I didn’t want a confrontation. You have to believe me.”
David looked at the two men in custody and then tapped the file in his hand. There was a possibility this was honesty. The suspect at the bars seemed genuinely concerned about his version of the story, while the second suspect was utterly calm. Perhaps it was the equivalent of a misunderstanding that had quickly escalated into a nasty confrontation. Regardless, one fact remained. Olivia Sun was missing somewhere in the Hub, and David had to find her.
“Thank you both for your time,” he said, still mulling it over. “If I have any more questions, I know where to find you.”
“Wait!” Benni called. “You can’t leave me in here with a Dragon!”
“Relax,” the suspect on the cot said aloud. “If I wanted you dead… I’d have already taken care of it.”
“You know the price for that crime,” David said, stepping away. “It still applies, even to a Dragon of Sentret.”
“Yeah yeah,” the man on the cot replied. “Why do you think he’s still alive?”
David rolled his eyes and left the pair. Benni was visibly shaken, but hopefully he at least felt better about his own mortality, or maybe he felt worse. It didn’t matter for David; he had nothing left to get from them. He’d keep them through the afternoon, then he would cut them loose. Before he could do anything else, he needed answers from his officers.
In the main office, Trevor and Annie were busy working, and David joined them with mixed emotions swirling within. He had read both of their reports, and while they both said they felt pressured to protect Olivia, they hadn’t clarified who made the first move. It was an uncomfortable position, but if the siblings had attacked first, then there would be an uphill battle in explaining all of this.
“Anything?” Annie asked first.
“I’m not sure,” David answered. “First, I have to ask…”
“We were threatened,” Annie answered without a prompt. “It’s true that we executed our defensive plan before things escalated. They’re not lying, but neither are we. I can truthfully tell you that they were being as intimidating as they could. They cut off the alley, they spoke with no regard to our positions as police, and it was clear they had come for Olivia. They had weapons, David.”
“Be that as it may, their narrative holds water,” David replied. “They say they weren’t there to kidnap her, and with our actions, we can’t prove they’re lying. At this point, we’re probably going to have to cut them loose. Regardless, Olivia is still missing and I need to find out what has happened to her. Do we still have a line of communication open with the Dragons of Sentret?”
“I can look into it,” Trevor spoke up. “You think they were involved?”
“Those two suspects upstairs came from two different groups.”
“Speaking of which,” Trevor added, holding up a fresh piece of paper. “We might know more about the Truth Seekers soon enough.”
“Our suspect upstairs was identified. He’s a dock worker. He doesn’t live in the Sentret district, and he’s been getting steady pay from a personal transfer. Bank information is in. You’re not going to like it.”
“The person sending him large payments is a citizen named Michael Jonas.”
Trevor was right. He didn’t like it.
“Find him,” he said sternly. “Bring him in. If he’s involved with this…”
“Yes, sir,” Annie said, heading toward the door of the station.
David frowned. The Dragons had intercepted a fight on their turf and interrupted it. His own officers had started the fight after they were confronted by some individuals known as the Truth Seekers. The Truth Seekers were seemingly being paid by Michael Jonas. Michael had crossed paths with David before, long ago, when he had first come to the Upper Level. Michael had also eventually sided with Thresher and helped orchestrate an attack on the Hub.
His poor decisions had largely been forgiven thanks to Thresher’s true goals, but the stain of his betrayal had never really washed out. David couldn’t help but assume that Michael’s involvement here had a sinister angle. He was up to something, but David wasn’t sure what it was… at least not yet.
Assuming the opposite was true, the Dragons were his second lead. They had come across Olivia, and by their own admission they’d been involved in the confrontation. If they had pursued her… what would they have done? Had she outsmarted them, or was there more at play here?
He made his way to his office and took a seat at his desk.
He had to figure this out. He had to find Olivia.