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Final Investigating Deceit Snippet


WOW, this is getting exciting! Only one more day until the release of Investigating Deceit! Check out the last snippet!

Snippet #5 for Investigating Deceipt:

Erik settled into a chair across from Alicia in the back room of The Big One. “It’s been a while, but I’m going to be visiting you weekly, going forward.”

The informant stared at him with an amused look. “Weekly visits? You are either getting desperate, or you’re bored.”

Erik shrugged, an easy smile on his face. “It’d be easier if you’d just let me call you.”

Alicia shook her head. “I found out a long time ago that the best way to do this kind of work is face to face. It cuts down on a lot of trouble, and it lets me lie more easily when I need to.”

He always had to remind himself that despite her smooth features, the gray streaks in her black hair weren’t a fashion choice. Like him, she’d received a de-aging treatment, and was around his age.

She’d seen her fair share of trouble.

“All the more reason for me to show up more often,” Erik explained. “I need to keep an ear to the ground, and you’re one way I do that. I wouldn’t be doing my job as a cop, and we both know the department still has enough trash in it that not everything I need to hear ends up reaching me.”

A flicker of satisfaction spread across Alicia’s face. She quashed it with a bored expression and a moment’s pause, then tapped her finger on her desk. Erik eyed her, staying quiet until she spoke. “You know the crackdown is actually working, right?”

“So you’ve said.” Erik let the doubt linger in his voice. “And so the official stats say.”

She pursed her lips. “I think it’s more focused Uptown, but we’re feeling the effects down here as well. I’m not some politician or bureaucrat who needs nice numbers for a report. I’m seeing it. Crime isn’t just down in appearance. It really is down. Yeah, some guys are getting flashier and more brazen because they see opportunities, but if you people keep this up, Neo SoCal will end up being halfway like the politicians claim it is.”

Something in her tone pricked Erik.

“There is a ‘but’ coming,” he said. “Isn’t there?”

Alicia chuckled. “That’s life, right? Always tradeoffs?”

“True enough.” He settled down in his chair. “What are the tradeoffs here?”

Alicia gestured toward the door. “Like I said, the flashy guys.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”

“The real problem is that the crackdown is working because the average piece of trash before was lazy. Corrupt bureaucrats, corrupt corporations, and corrupt cops are easy to exploit. Everyone knew just where to push, but not too far. The guys who are surviving all the new law enforcement attention are smarter and more ruthless. A lot of them are more vicious.”

“That means they’ll flame out earlier.” Erik considered how much he should share. Finally, he just went ahead. “I dealt with this during counterinsurgency ops. The guys who liked to make a big show always got located and eliminated earlier than the subtle bastards. It’s not like anything as bad as Halloween has happened in the last few months.”

Erik didn’t feel the need to add that the Halloween incident was likely an attempt at assassinating him in the guise of a terrorist incident.

That didn’t change the fact that pulling it off had required the cooperation of a number of people, including corrupt elements in law enforcement. The department wasn’t heavily advertising it, but more than a few cops up and down the chain-of-command were getting fired or investigated.

Alicia smiled. “You’ve been in Neo SoCal for less than a year, but they’ve already got you thinking like an Uptowner.”

“What do you mean?” Erik asked.

“You said no major incidents, but there is plenty of crap still happening down here. It might not be as flashy as terrorists, but there are a lot of powerplays going on. People getting hurt.”

“When we learn about them, we stop them.” Erik shrugged. “That’s all we can do. I know the EZs with direct jurisdiction are still slower than anyone would like, but we’ve had some decent arrests.”

“Not blaming you, Blackwell.” Alicia shook her head. “You and your partner seem to care, and from what you’ve said, your new captain does too. And you have been nailing a lot of the rougher guys. Besides, if you clean up stuff too much, I’m going to be out of business.” She grinned, but it only lasted a few seconds. “But you’re here to check what’s going on, not what’s happened.”

“That’s the general idea, yeah.”

“Even if it’s probably garbage?”

Erik’s brow lifted in surprise. “It’s not like you to not trust what you’ve heard.”

“I’m always careful,” Alicia replied. “If I’m not giving people good and accurate information, my reputation suffers. That’s why I want it to be clear that the most recent thing I’ve got for you might not be useful.”

He nodded. “Understood. You’ll get the same pay, and if it turns into something more, you’ll get a bonus.”

Alicia sighed and looked down with an uncomfortable expression on her face. “There have been a lot of strange rumors lately about something going on near the Scar.”

His eyes narrowed. “Like what?”

“Don’t know. I’ve heard about a few people ending up dead.” Alicia raised her head. “It might be that the cop attention has forced people to go closer to the border to take care of stuff.”

“It’s not impossible,” Erik concluded.

“Sure. The only thing that bothers me is that there might be fewer cops near the border of the Scar, but the Militia is there, and they do a good job of keeping that place bottled up.”

“True enough.” Erik pondered the information. “They’re soldiers, not cops. Not even MPs.”

“Meaning?” Alicia looked confused.

“Soldiers are all about their orders,” he explained. “And their orders are to keep people out of the Scar, not to help the cops with crime or stop gangsters from killing each other. It’s not worth risking a soldier’s life to break orders and save bottom-feeders from hurting one another.”

Alicia nodded. “You’re saying the Militia knows there are criminals gathering near the Scar, but they don’t give a crap as long as they don’t enter it?”

“Maybe.” He thought for a moment more. “When I was in the service, the last thing I wanted to do was make more trouble for my unit. Law enforcement is better suited to a lot of problems. It’s not like the average Army unit is wandering around with a lot of non-lethals and binding ties. If the Militia were to solve the crime problem in the Shadow Zone, it’d involve even more dead guys than I’m producing and would include martial law.”

“That makes sense. And it might not be anything.” Alicia inclined her head toward the door. “That’s the main thing I’ve got for you. I don’t think we should spend too much time back here. The last thing we want is more rumors, at least not ones I can’t make money from.”

Erik chuckled and stood. “Just keep listening for those rumors. It might be nothing, or it could be something we need to handle before it gets out of control.”



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