In Charge of My Own Demise Part IV

“There’s a woman on line two Dak. She says it’s urgent and will only speak with you. Her voice sounds familiar.”

Dak hurried to answer the phone thinking it was probably Erin. Instead it was the reporter Law talking in a quick self satisfied tone. “Hello Captain Dak. I’m calling to let you know that I’m doing you a favor, something that will help start your new position off with a punch.”

“And what would that be?” He fumbled for his smokes. He had a feeling whatever it was; he wasn’t going to like it.

Shadowed Dak

“We caught our first one or should I say I caught him. It was easier than I thought. I have him all safe and snug here and I saved you the trouble of a blood check. My personal doctor has already checked a sample of his blood and he came up positive for Jumping. I intend to give you full credit in return for an exclusive interview. When can you get over here?”

 

                                               *        *        *

 

As he went up the flight of stairs leading to the hotel room Law had indicated, he questioned his choice of heading over alone. He wouldn’t put it past her to make up the whole story as a ruse just to get him alone in a hotel room, but doubted it would be that easy.

Law met him at the door smoking a short cigarette and wearing only a thin silk shift. Pointing the way with her smoke, she lead him into the main room. Her long perfect legs proved impossible to ignore. Looking over her shoulder, she caught him staring and smiled. Her teeth were flawless and bone white. Besides Erin he had never met a woman whose body was so perfect, so close to the feminine ideal.

Lucy Law

Lucy Law

Placing her back against the doorway, she wordlessly gestured him into the suite’s bedroom. Passing within inches of where her erect nipples pressed against her loose slip, he entered the room and didn’t like what he saw.

In the center of the luxurious bed, was a bound, and most likely drugged, man. Since he was completely naked, Dak noticed his tattoos before he even took in the shadowed face. The battered man’s eyes slowly rose to meet his own.

Rooftop

It was Mace, the Skinjumper agent who had worked along side of him as Fosters before Bly had his turn steering the dead man’s clone. Mace was more importantly one of Maxwell’s chief agents and also a friend of Erin’s. Hell, the man had just personally helped save Erin’s life when the assassin had almost blown her leg off. Since all three of them worked for Maxwell the leader of New Cluster’s Jumpers, this situation could quickly become a major problem, a problem with no apparent solution.

Mace was no fool. He played it up like they had never met. A string of obscenities flew from his mouth mostly aimed at Lacy’s and his mother’s virtues. Part of Dak wondered if Mace might be enjoying a chance to be able to insult him so furiously. Dak had certainly decked him for less.

Mace finished with, “And what has this whore talked you into now Enni?”

“Nothing yet punk and if you don’t keep that mouth of yours closed, I’ll stun you ass just so I can find the space to think.” Mace shut up, but eyed him with the intensity the situation warranted.

“What’s there to think about?” Law said, as her bare feet moved silently across the lush emerald carpeting. “I told you. My physician already checked out his blood. He’s a Jumper. Let’s take him in as soon as my camera crew gets here.”

She turned towards Dak tilting her head to the side. “Too bad you didn’t take me up on my offer for dinner. It left me feeling bored. I’m sure you appreciate that as much as I would like to lay claim for catching this freak myself…ah certain questions would be asked that I don’t care to answer.”

“Like how you slutted yourself out just to bag one of us,” Mace blurted out.

Dak silenced him with a wave of his hand. “Can I ask why you did this then?”

“Just doing my civic duty,” she smiled.

ll

He just stared. “Okay, I just wanted to see how hard it would be. Besides I’ve learned more than a bit about Jumping from my new friend.” She ran her finger over Mace’s bound arm as she spoke, and he looked like he wanted to bite it off. “I’m thinking about doing a new special. The Jumper threat.”

Moving closer to Dak, it was his turned to be touched. Her hands felt cold, like the rest of her was as frigid as her heart. “I figure that you owe me an interview now.”

“Because of this loser?”

She turned away looking cross, but he was just happy her fingers were away from him. “Not because of him as much as for keeping my mouth shut about this bust and giving you all the credit.”

“What’s to keep me from just letting him loose and pretending the whole thing never happened.”

Either she really was aghast or she was a better actress than he would have given her credit for. “But he’s a Jumper. It’s your job to take them in.”

He shared a look with Mace who was making a foolish face behind her back. “Alright lady, why don’t you start getting yourself ready for your camera man. I’ll wait to call in the boys until you say your crew is in place.”

Approaching him once more, she ran his fingers down his neck. They were just as cold as before. “There is a bed in the front room. There’s no real hurry if you would like to…” Her scarlet lips were only inches from his.

“Ms. Law I know you think that rounding up this dreg is a major accomplishment, but I have a real agenda… so if you wouldn’t mind.”

Her eyes shot icy daggers at him, but with a flourish she retreated into the suite’s main bathroom.

Dak wasted no time, making his way to Mace’s side. They spoke in subdued tones. “Hurry up and untie me. Get me the hell out of here.”

“Not so fast. I can’t just let you go.” He paused. “Is there anyone you can call? Who would you call for help, if I wasn’t here?”

“There are some people I know, but I’m not sure we have enough time.”

Looking towards the bathroom door for a moment, Dak turned back to his bound associate. “If there is one thing I learned about pretty women, they take forever to get ready.”

Mace exhaled deeply. “Just call Erin. Tell her to dial in a code 10 and give her this address.”

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Detective Dak

Detective Dak

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In Charge of My Demise Part III

He was surprised how easily the BS flowed from his mouth. Dak knew what the people wanted to hear and he figured if he promised them things along those lines, they would be kept as happy as he could expect.

Maybe being a politician wasn’t so hard, he laughed to himself. 

Dak

He finished with a quick retelling of his recent encounter with the series of cloned assassins. The press ate it up. Action and blood sent their fingers rapidly typing over their glowing Personals.

Things hadn’t stay that easy for long. As he expected, he couldn’t escape without a question session. The first dozen or so he fought off with comments about learning more about the perpetrator and other such vague garbage, then a reporter whose face was vaguely known to him broke in.

She was tall enough to be seen over most of her fellows and about a hundred miles from unattractive. Long auburn hair rolled past her narrow, perfectly painted face. Her eyes would have ruined it for him. Where Erin’s were trusting and full of hope, this woman’s were made of gray ice, holding only contempt.

Lucy Law

“Hello captain, Lacy Law here,” her terse voice chirped. “What you have said is all very well and good, but what about real changes. Others have spoken out on such ideas as stricter ID enforcement and even setting up checkpoints. We know those Bodyjumpers prefer to possess younger better looking bodies. It has been suggested that such body types receive extra scrutiny.”

“You yourself fit that profile. Would you be pleased to have this additional limits on your freedoms?”

She couldn’t quite keep the red out of her cheeks at the backhanded complement, but quickly recovered. “In order to help keep this dangerous underground behind bars, certainly.”

“It still makes me wonder who you’d be after. The little old lady that had enough money to Jump into a younger body and is just out buying her bread or the trained assassins like the man who attacked me or the crew that gunned down the former Mayor hopeful, Homes. Let me tell you from personal knowledge that man that came after me wasn’t pretty. All I think such policies would do is make it a crime to be attractive. Is this the type of world you would want to live in?”

“Personally, I would expect them both to be locked up. Isn’t that the law Captain Dak or does the man in charge of this new task force think we should be lenient on these lesser Jumpers just because they haven’t used their changes to hurt anyone yet?”

Choosing his words carefully, he said, “As a Public Enforcer officer I have pledged myself to uphold the law. I think you can count on my continued vigilance on this issue. If the amount of crime committed by Jumpers doesn’t decrease over the next year I will hand in my resignation voluntarily.”

Nodding, this finally seemed to satisfy her and he was able to get through the rest of the questions without suffering anything worse.

His office was still in transition and this became a great excuse to go get some air. He ran into Matthews on the way out the building. “You okay Dak? You look a little pale.”

“It all comes with the new position I guess. Can’t say I like talking to the press.” He ran a hand over his brow. “I wonder if I’ll be able to get used to it.”

Matthews brightened. “Oh yeah, congrats on the new position. I guess it will be Captain Dak now.”

“What would you feel about being the first man I hire on?” 

Matthews took a step back. Since he was the only other non-clone working for the Jumpers, Dak figured he would be a natural choice. “I’ll have to ask,” Matthews answered strangely. He soon departed a stiffly and Dak couldn’t help but wonder which Jumper might be holding Matthew’s strings. Shaking his head, he thought he might have the answer. He only hoped he was wrong.

 

*        *       *

 

The scent of stale smog burned his noise. Trash blew like city leaves. Even near the PE building bums and dregs fought for a hand out. His vehicle was secured below, but Dak felt like walking. He passed the taverns that most of the PE grunts frequented.

He felt less a part of them than ever. What was he a part of?

Mace

Dak really wasn’t a big one for drinking before sundown, but he felt he needed one. He headed into a nicer establishment hoping that he would find it empty. He was right. The sparse patrons lurked in dark corners huddled over tables. Fine suits mixed with low cut dresses. Conversations ran from afternoon affairs to cooperate backstabbing. Ignoring these, he headed over to the reflective plastic bar.

Massaging his temples, he looked down, while he waited for a hopper. “Hard day captain,” it was a voice that had already been haunting him. Opening his eyes, he saw that Lacy Law had helped herself into the adjacent barstool. “Having a drink before two pm. I see that he are off to a great start hunting down the Jumpers.”

Turning towards his hopper, he took a long pull before saying. “I was supposed to meet a contact here that had a list of known Jumpers, but with a Posher Cleb like yourself around here, he probably won’t show.”

She looked around uncertain. “You aren’t serious?”

“If you had only shown up ten minute’s later you might have had a big scoop.”

She waited until he was looking her way to cross her trim legs. Her gray business skirt did little to hide her looks. Years of police work left him wondering if she was hooked on some type of speed or if it was some fascist exercise routine that kept her body so tight.

“Perhaps you’ll let me take you out to dinner tonight and you can tell me all about it.” Her manicured nails lightly traced his hand. “You fought back well today. Most men crumble when I go up against them.”

“That must make you very proud,” he said while moving his hand away.

“So what about dinner? No one needs to know.” Leaned forward, exposed more of her toned body.

Staring for a long moment, he then slammed the rest of his beer. “No thanks, I think I’m going to be putting in long hours for quite a while. Her intake of breath was so loud that many of the patrons turned to watch, as he turned his back to her and existed back into the faded sunlight.

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skinjumpers_copy

In Charge of My Demise

Mopping the lingering sweat off his brow, Dak entered the Deputy Chief’s office. Fesse’s wide face scowled. It might have bothered Dak if that was not the only look that he had ever seen there. It surprised him to see Fosters in the room with his supervisor, even though Dak knew that the real Fosters had died years ago.

 

Detectives

The man who examined him with Fosters’ gray eyes was named Bly and he was a Skinjumper; a man whose consciousness had been put into the cloned form of Fosters. The Jumpers were more powerful that most realized and Dak should know, he was dating one of them.

Dak, like Fosters, had become a man on the inside—an agent for the Skinjumpers, only he himself had never Jumped. It was his sweet Erin who had drawn him in.

“Have a seat Dak.” He did, and then lit up a smoke. The silence stretched.

Dak

“That was some job you did taking out those Grafters Dak. The idea that someone could clone an assassin and send him after the public again and again,” Fesse rubbed his forehead. “Let’s just say it made waves.”

“They don’t care that it targeted mostly just me?” he lied.

“This isn’t the only story Dak. These nutjob clones are big news. Nothing has been the same since those damned Grafters learned how to place a person’s consciousness into any type of clone they wanted. The world is full of the beautiful people and freaks. How can you even be sure you’re talking to?” For once he refused to meet his eye. “And you know how the damn Mayor feels about these Bodyjumpers. He has been putting a lot of pressure on our department.”

Dak’s mouth went dry. Jumping was a serious offence that gained one enough jail time to forget who you were. If Fesse were to ever find out he was dating a Jumper…

“What does this have to do with me?” He exhaled sending jags of smoke coiling through the triangles of sunlight.

Fosters/Bly spoke up. The young punk did the grouchy jaded cop thing almost too well. “Don’t be an idiot, Dak. You’re part of this. The press loves you.”

“For about another twenty minutes.”

Fesse took over. “That’s why we have to strike now and keep these guys off our backs. I want to start up a Jumper Task Force. And I want you to be its Captain.”

Dak almost swallowed the smoke.

Fosters/Bly was quick to add, “Listen it was a natural choice. When I heard about this, I knew you were the only man for the job. You’re young enough and have enough charisma to keep the press at-”

Shadowed Dak

”But if you’re trying to head off the Mayor, I think we should try to remember that I’m not his favorite guy.”

Fosters shell spoke Bly’s words. “Don’t argue. I’m sure as hell not going to do it. Who else do you think is qualified? Matthews is just a kid and what, would you rather see Peterman doing it.”

Dak wasn’t a fool. He had to take the post if only to keep someone else from taking it.

Still how could he be in charge of hunting down his own woman?

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Base Jumpers Part III

The questions and paperwork hadn’t ended that night, but had continued into the next day. He and Erin had been put up by an unknown, but not unguessed at benefactor in the High Valley Hotel. Now he was down at the station wading through another series of questions.

Fosters sat in on the interviews. As always his presence made him shudder inwardly. Dak knew that Fosters had died long ago and even as Mace had done for a year, his former coworker was the host for a new Jumper. Dak thought he could tell a few differences between Mace’s and this new Jumper’s mannerisms, but the rest of the precinct was certainly oblivious, with the exception of Matthews.

Matthews was to only other non-jumper that worked for the Skinjobs. He wasn’t as willing as Dak, but since the only other option would be him getting Jumped, he was able to abide.

Dak brought the younger man along for the ride. He was heading to a Market arms dealer who owed him a favor. They were going to try to chance a lead on this the unknown blaster model when Erin called.

Terror ruled her voice. “Dak, you have to help me. I went back to the apartment to get a few things. I thought it would be safe. I was so wrong. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Matthews was already radioing in a call for officers to head that way. “Erin where are you now?”                                                                    

“I’m hiding. It’s the same one Dak. He looks the same. I have to go. I can’t talk. He’ll hear me.”

The line went dead. Dak had already changed his route and raced through the crowded streets of New Cluster back to his apartment.

They arrived in record time and they had only clipped one other auto and maybe a biker. Guns were drawn long before they reached his floor. The doors opened onto death. At least one Enforcer had already met his doom. His headless form had painted the hall in blood and bone. The second officer had only made it a few feet further. He laid on his side against the wall his whole middle gone.

Matthews eyes went wide and that’s when the shooting began. It was the same big blaster as before. Matthews was hit in the first volley and went down. He was still screaming, so Dak hoped he would live. He spread open the width setting on his gun, until it would spread the beam into a cone. This weakened the effects, but made it hard to miss anything within the walls of his quickly deteriorating apartment. He dived forward onto his stomach just as the killer came into view.

It was the same man as before.

He pointed the giant blaster, but Dak got the shot off first. The cone hit him. The bald man growled trying to fight off the effects. He stumbled back a step and the gun went off, the explosive blast only missing Dak’s head by inches.  Dak fired again, this time his opponent went down.

Much as before, he began to weep and melt, creating a second foul stain in Dak’s living room. Erin dashed into the room, for a moment she looked unsure, but raced toward him. “I was so scared, Dak.”

He hugged her quickly, but then said, “Matthews is down.

It could have been worse. He had been hit through a wall and the shot to his arm wouldn’t cost him his limb if only barely.

He sighed. More paperwork and interviews would take up the rest of the day and he wasn’t an inch closer to finding out who was behind this.

 

                                                         *        *        *

 

Eventually, he was allowed to go. Refusing an armed escort he and Erin left the station. Even the short walk to his ride left him seeing eyes everywhere. New Cluster raised around them gray and bleak. Everything was concrete and trash. The only thing feeling real was the woman’s hand in his, even though he knew part of Erin was fake too.

A meeting with the Doctor proved difficult to arrange. Erin burned through favors, but he agreed to meet them at midnight. Base Jumper stayed on alert, and the Doctor refused to met them there, instead picking a location with an industrial address. It turned out to be some sort of chemical plant. The smells drifting out of the rusty ash gray building let him know that he didn’t want to be there, long before he reached the side entrance.

A few workers moved around and perhaps some others who were guards. One these men, who looked big enough to eat Erin for lunch, took them to some offices lining the back of the plant. Stained iron cauldrons held bubbling mixtures of questionable nature. They smoked and stank horribly leaving a rusted residue on the tongue.

The room looked simple. Old terminals mixed with new. Forms were held in plastic cubbies along one wall. Reports and folders were spread out over a worn desk before him. Maxwell looked much as before. White suit. Red scarf around his pale neck. For this meeting they had traded Mace for two even huger guys, which left Dak wondering where this Doctor found such Neanderthals? Also with him was a girl way to young to be wearing such a short scarlet dress. She sat on another chair, regarding them coldly. He shuddered, not caring to speculate whether Maxwell was using his boyish looks to date some impressionable teen or if some equally perverted Jumper liked to play little girlie.

“Since you called for this emergency meeting, why don’t you begin Mr. Dak?”

“As you know, Erin and I have found ourselves within this assassin’s sights twice now. I have also killed him twice, although strangely. I seem to be the next on his list, so the way I figure it, you can either tell me all you can to help or you’ll be down two …agents.”


He went over what had happened and let Erin fill in a few of the gaps. “I’ve heard of some speculation down these lines, but have never seen such a thing myself. This Grafter is not only gifted but also innovative. It must have a trigger that somehow causes the cells to collapse and break apart. When you stunned it, this enacted this response. No one will ever question this man. Then he is cloned to begin again.”

“But not with the same consciousness?”

“Well, yes and no. If someone had the proper training or desire before the Jump the new body could contain that same desire.”

“It would be either fool or fanatic.” Erin said joining the conversation. “Although it would seem the same to us, the original person is dead and nothing changes that fact.”

“You mean you can make new people. Clones that don’t even need to be Jumped into?”

The young girl laughed. “That was what we learned to first. It was learning how to Jump which was difficult.” So she was a Jumper. This left Dak somewhat relived. He hated pedophiles.

“So is this guy is a fanatic-“

”Or somehow tricked into thinking his incarnations will really be him,” Erin quickly added.

Dak looked at her for a moment. “Then these people, whoever they are, could just make new clones of this killer until the lights go out.”

“It’s not as simple as that, but with enough resources you are essentially correct. Although the reason they can only send one at once is without the proper training most men go completely mad with any exposure to themselves.”

“The way I see it, this is really your problem. I or maybe Erin just happened to be next on the menu. So it’s in your best interested to make sure this thing doesn’t get any farther than us.”

“Of course. I value all of my employees.”

“Good. I’m glad we are on the same screen. Now I think it’s the time where you tell everything that you know that could possibly help me take this bastard out…. permanently.”

Continued Next Week

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