Friday, November 6, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 11


Biggest Fish

The Public Security Bureau was slow to act, but when it finally rolled into motion, it was unstoppable.

At daybreak, the PSB descended upon the Wood family farm. Investigators. Special Agents. Crime scene technicians. A team of Enhanced SWAT operators for security.

Clark’s men greeted them. A motley crew of deputies from all over the island, mostly junior men with a sprinkling of veterans, a core of patrolmen backed by a couple of detectives and specialists. With their federal counterparts, they walked the ground, hunted for evidence, and protected the civilians.

Inside the living room, Clark laid down the law. The PSB Special Agent In Charge bleated something about jurisdiction and responsibilities. Clark cut him off.

“We handle the shooting. You take care of the corruption.”

“Detective, we can’t—”

“I’m giving you everything. The bodies, the weapons, the wonderweapon, the Godtech, the cherry on top of the cake, Sheriff Josh Smith and his crew of merry men. You get to go after the biggest fish on this little island. We’ll take care of the rest.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 10


Already Dead

James knew it’d come to this.

He’d felt it in his bones ever since he returned to Moreno Island. A final showdown between the New Gods and him. They rarely forgave and never forgot. After what the STS, what Team Black Watch, had done to them, it was only a matter of time before they caught up with him. Only their inter-factional rivalries had kept them from teaming up to take him down.

It’d bought him just enough time to prepare.

The civilians were safe. The cellar had been hardened against typhoons and violent storms, not that any had hit the island since the coming of the gods. The low-profile security doors, virtually indistinguishable from ordinary wooden doors, would stand up to anything short of thermal lances and breaching charges.

But the cellar wasn’t impervious. People had to breathe. There was only so much the HVAC filter could do. He wasn’t sure it would defend against tear gas. He knew it wouldn’t protect against chemical weapons. And with the supertech the Singularity Network and the Guild of the Maker had at their disposal, breaching was only a matter of time.

Someone had to stay up top to fight off the assault.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 9

Liars and Thieves

The Clarks and the Woods crammed themselves into the living room. The couch overflowed with squirming children. The elder Clarks and Woods grabbed the remaining sofas. The others brought in chairs from the dining room.

James and Kayla stood, him presiding over the meeting, her watching the front door.

Wordlessly, Janet spread out photographs over the coffee table. Two dozen of them, a selection of shots taken from the ferry terminal.

“Two hours ago, I told Sheriff Smith that I was going to take you to Babylon by ferry. Five minutes later, these men showed up,” Janet said.

“Who are they?” Grandpa Clark asked.

“Soldiers of the New Gods. The Singularity Network and the Guild of the Maker. You can see the cyborg’s third eye here.”

“They came here to kill us?” Grandma asked.

“Me. But they wouldn’t care if you got caught in the crossfire.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 8


Our Own Special Way

“Motherfucker,” Clark whispered.

“You know these people?” Kayla asked.

“Sheriff Joshua Smith. Moreno Island Sysadmin Superuser Nu Theta Eight-Nine-One. Guild Branch Director Caleb Anderson.”

“Everybody who’s somebody in Moreno,” James said.

James and Clark were gathered in the Woods’ den, clustered around his desktop. Kayla’s face dominated the video call window. Outside, the Clark children giggled and laughed and played. Nearby, the grandparents watched television. Whenever the children tried to look for Janet, their parents shooed them away.

“We’ve got proof of a conspiracy, but not proof we can send to court,” James said.

“We’ve got proof of a meeting. We don’t know what they said,” Clark corrected.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 7


Black Bag

“Fifteen minutes ago, ten men checked into the Gold Star hotel. They’re all mainlanders with heavy luggage. Backpacks and duffel bags. They insisted on carrying their baggage themselves. One of them is a Superuser of the Singularity Network. He’s got the third eye in the forehead all their Superusers have.”

Clark faced Kayla and James as she spoke, but her unfocused gaze and halting speech showed that she was reading off a text on her smartglasses, parsing it down in real time.

“The ferry hasn’t even departed yet,” Kayla said.

“They flew in on gravcars. They landed right outside the hotel and drove into the underground parking lot.”

“That’s unusual, for Moreno,” James said.

“Doesn’t mean they’re mainlanders,” Kayla said.

“They’re Babylonians, all right,” Clark insisted. “They talk faster and slicker, the way you do. Not only that, they’re dressed wrong. They wore long-sleeved shirts, heavy duty pants, shoes with reinforced soles. Too thick and too heavy for a city as hot and humid as Saint Lucille. Locals don’t dress like this.”

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sheriff of the Swamps Chapter 6


“You came to Moreno Island in the morning and killed three people. In the evening you went out and killed seven more. What the fuck is wrong with you people?!” Sheriff Joshua Smith exclaimed.

Kayla shrugged.

In the STS they called it a regular workday. A heavy day, to be sure, but after months of high-intensity operations against the worst the New Gods had to offer, this body count was… normal.

On the other hand, what was normal to an operator was outrageous to the world.

“You killed more people in one day than the MISD shot in the entire year! Unbelievable!”