The countdown to FRACTURE DAY has begun...

"It's all about the echoes you fools! Can't you see? The reflection IS the thing." Captain Sirius Quantum

The kid sounds flustered. What's new? The kid gives good fluster. He says:

"Boss, we've got an incident..."

I make with the Lobo sigh... swallow something gin flavoured and cough a reply. "What we got Kid?"

He does that nervous thing... talks too fast... flirts with Sister Babble. I keep it zipped. Take it all in. He's right, as far as incidents go this is a prime A Motherfucker. I get tired of listening and talk over him... don't worry, he's used to it.

"Keep it locked down Kid... I'm on my way."

I'm on the corner of Ziggy and Faust just taking in the Neon and Dust... the scene's a few blocks away... I figure if time's playing by the rules today it should take me about ten minutes to get there. I cut across Kilminster and start walking.

It's an incident alright, seems some guy just torched one of The Pyramid's PR Booths... now I can hear you, what’s so strange about a little arson, a little bit of fire in this goddam stinking hole? Think again smartass... this is a Pyramid installation and no fucker, not even me, messes with those goons. Kid's got the perp holed up in an abandoned building just across the street. I told him to keep him safe. Keep frosty. Don't call nothing in till I get there.

Geldof's a good cop. The perp's safe for now.

Lungs are doing their thing so I fish in my pocket for my smokes, old fingers brush against my badge in its cracked leather wallet. Memories. Old. Real. Like my coat and my hat. Battered and stinking and damn near perfect. Links to a life long gone. Fifty One years ago today I lost the only thing in my life that ever meant anything to me. Lost in a splatter of blood and stripped flesh. Figure my heart went with them.

Brush my coat down. Pull down my hat. Like I said... keep your memories close.

I'm sucking a lung of smoke and decorating the sidewalk with phlegm when I notice a group approaching me. Smell them first. Dog Boys. Greasers. All Retro Quiffs and Chrono Drapes and those damn fool Eye Guards every fucker seems to be wearing these days. I scent their anticipation... and then BINGO... they clock who I am. Watch them turn the other way. Vanish down a sidestreet.

Smart kids. Smart. Everybody in this shithole knows who I am. Everybody fears the Lobo myth...

There's a crowd of cops around the burnt-out booth. A cordon of idiots and tape. One of them's talking too loud. I catch:

"...gnarly old bastard's probably all dried up by now..."

Some of them laugh... those with their backs to me. The other's see me coming. Stay silent. Grow a little paler. Motormouth's still laughing at his own words. I know him. Johnson. Bull Splice. Grade A Dickhead.

I pop a claw and tap him on the shoulder.

"Wanna share the joke Johnson?"

His face is a picture, as he turns. Mumbles something. Waves a hand.

"Geldof's waiting for you over there Lobo... Boss... " A pause. A flounder. "Sir."

I say nothing. Give him the stare. The Lobo stare. Part of me figures I should keep staring till I can smell the piss... see it rolling down his leg...

The cop in me figures I should get to work. One last smile, thin and cruel and I turn away. There's enough shit in my life... and besides... I know the sequence to Johnson's locker. Guess I've got some time to think up a little surprise.

Broken glass and smoke. Bits of chrome. I step over them and cross the street. Kid's seen me coming. Pops the door and lets me in.

Old abandoned room. Greasy, stained, dusty. Smells like damp and rust and shit. Our city's deep, personal scent.

Kid greets me. "Boss... he's over here."

There, in the corner, a Fox Boy. Shaking. Sweating too much. He's got activist written all over him. Further back, another figure, in the darkness. I see the ServoLock twinkle. A Droid. His personal Droid probably.


I'm thinking of older days. Of another Droid. Our Droid...

"Lobo? Boss?........ Kat?"

Yeah. That's me. Detective Lobo. Detective Katrina Lobo. Kat to my friends... but you can call me Boss.

I shrug. "Nothing Kid... just thinking. So... what's the score? Any fatalities?"

He shakes his head. Rubs his whiskers. Fills me in. No casualties... just property damage. No attempt to flee. No resisting arrest... I zone out... walk over to Foxy.


He stares at me. Trembles.

"I asked you a question Kid... and your future may well depend on it. Any second now the Pyramid's gonna get wind of this and this shithole will be crawling with Shades. You ever seen a Shade close up? You ever smelt the ugly fuckers? No... I didn't think so... so, once again Kid... WHY?"

He says:

"My Sister was one of the Eastgate 23"

Shit... That figures. Eastgate. Still trying to forget that fuck up. The protesters said it was a peaceful rally. The Pyramid said it was a Terrorist cell. The call was late. The Pyramid got there first.

I can still smell the blood.

I make with the decision.

"It's your lucky day Foxy... any of those other cops out there would have sold your ass to NewDawn quicker than your morning shit... but us... me and Geldof? We've got no love for the Pyramid and its goons... so stay there, don't move and shut the fuck up while the City's finest deal with this."

Seems he's good at understanding orders.

I reach for my BoltGun... The BoltGun HE had made for me... comforting, familiar grip. Take aim. Spray some bolts into crumbling masonry. Wait for the dust to clear. Holster my gun.

"Geldof... give me your piece."

He hands it over. Pristine regulation weapon. Recently oiled. I click the setting to incendiary. There's a pile of waste bags in the corner. Paper. Cardboard. Organic matter... figure the Shades ain’t too smart. Figure this will fool them. Fire three shots. Watch the bags get consumed by flame. Hand Geldof his gun.

"Way I see it the perp got gnarly... resisted arrest. Concealed weapon. Brief gunfight... torching him was the only option... you dig?"

Geldof gives me the nod. That nod.

I point towards the back door.

"Figure you and your Droid should fuck off about now... I see you again pulling any kinda shit and you're Cell Meat... Understand?"

He's all shades of fucking gratitude... got the adrenaline shakes going on. Too many words.

I shake my head.

"Just go, ok? Fucking go..."

And then.

And then, as he makes to leave, his Droid steps from the shadows and I see it. Jesus, isn't anything in this cesspit ever black and white? Long, harsh, ugly scars down the torso... across the neck...

I hold up a hand. Make with the sigh... I give good sigh... It's kinda my default noise.

"Hold up there Sparky..."

Push my hat back a little. Let some hair fall across my shoulders (still black after all this time.) Let him see the white Fur Star on my forehead... the Star that every fucker in this City knows. The Mark of Lobo they call it... You see this close up and you're seconds from becoming Slab Furniture...

"You got a Sonic Whip on you Kid?"

He looks lost. Confused. Poor puppy.

"Yeah? Yeah I do... but they're not illegal are they?"

"No... No... I figure they're not... but hand it over anyway..."

He fumbles around. Hands it over. Shaking.

"Now... tell me kid... do you beat your Droid?"

More shakes. More sweat.

"Er... yeah... sometimes y'know... everyone does. Keeps them in line doesn’t it?....."

He trails off.

I let him.

Shake my head.

Look at Geldof.

"I'm afraid you're gonna have to call this one in partner..."

Now the kid's all panic... fuck is he panic. Babbling. Stammer city.

"B b b but you just said... y y you can't hand me over to them... .they'll kill me...."

Shake my head again.

"You got me wrong kid... he ain’t calling the Pyramid... he's calling Mercy... he's calling the hospital..."

I enjoy the question in his eyes. Savour it.

Then I shoot him twice in each kneecap.

Bend down and whisper...

"Don't beat your Droid kid... just don't ok?"

(What? What? You fucking sissies... the ReGen's already healing his fucking knees but the Bolts? Oh the Bolts will need removing and the lesson? Oh the lesson will fucking stick)

Geldof's giving me that disapproving thing. I make with the shrug.

"Go figure Kid... It must be my time of the month... "

And then I'm out of there. Leave the Kid to clear it up. It's what he does. He's good at that shit. He's a good cop. A clean cop.

A good friend.

Do some wandering. Some thinking.

Next thing I know I'm standing before the ruins of a building I know too well.

A voice. Soft. Irish hints.

"You look like you need a drink detective..."

Turn my head. There, sitting on what remains of the perimeter wall, that kid from my apartment block. All Red hair and VizShades. Tight fitted leather jacket. Enigmatic smile.

Fuck if I don't just hate enigma...

"If I'm not mistaken this is the place of your husband’s most heroic moment. The place where he saved the future..."

I snort.

"Check your facts kid. He saved shit. Just another fucking lunatic."

That smile again.

"But Detective! Knight was the bringer of this glorious New Age of Wonders!"

"Bullshit! Amelia Knight was just another fucking idiot messing with shit nobody wanted..."

Silence. And then...

"Like I said Detective... you look like you need a drink... I know a place that's always open..."

I laugh. Cold. Sharp.

"I figure I do Kid... I figure I do... But this Cat never drinks with strangers."

More smiles. A sudden scent of Jasmine and Cinnamon. The VizShades are removed.

He has purple eyes.

"In that case Detective you can call me Joshua.... and seeing as we are no longer strangers would you join me for a drink?"

Don't ask me why but I relent. Maybe it's the day... maybe it's the memories.

"Lead on Kid... Lead on."

Then it's just me and the kid and the jasmine and the dust.

Always the Dust.

"When Joshua was a little girl he fell between the gaps in the World"

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