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2.10 - A little detective work
Leona removed her cell phone from her boob pocket and fiddled with her GPS application to find the location mentioned by Kirby. She was soon zooming across the city, the warm air holding her aloft, toying with her feathers. As she approached, she saw the hole in the walls from the featured picture in the report he’d handed to her. She touched down immediately and two uniformed officers drew their pistols and trained them on her. Another officer, whom she recognized from the rooftop the other day stepped up to Leona.
“Whoa, whoa guys… she’s on our side, I hope.” He waved his hands excitedly. Aurora recognized him from the blimp heist. “You got here awfully quick after the guys you brought in were busted out by their boss. Stopping in for a visit?”
Aurora smiled. “I was formally introducing myself at the precinct station a short time ago. Detective Kirby is on his way. I’m here to investigate and see if any clues are left here.” She grinned. An amateur detective she sure was, but that didn’t stop her. “Hm… a power suit… I sure have landed straight into the world of superheroes.” Ooops… she chuckled.
The cops gave her a wide berth to look around but that might have keyed them into her being very much a novel hero. Unfortunately, she wasn’t even sure what to look for. She poked around the area, scanning everything with her eyes. After a few minutes, one of the cops led over a man who looked very nervous.
“Jacko here says he saw what happened. Do you want to talk to him? I’ll get his statement when he gives it to you.”
Jacko spoke, “My name’s Jack Riley. Yeah, I saw what happened, sounded like jet was going to crash here in the street. I looked up and there was a guy in a metal suit firing off missiles at the police!” he said, waving his arms frantically. “He pushed in the wreck of the wall and some guys ran out. A car pulled up and took off that way,” he imparted, pointing down the street. “I mean, they got in, not the guy in the suit. He turned on his jets and few off.”
The officer took over and asked questions, getting as much information as he could, but Aurora listened carefully. Soon after, Detective Kirby approached along the sidewalk. “Anything yet?” he asked.
The officer related what Jack told Aurora to his superior. Afterwards, Kirby nodded and spoke, “ So if he flew in, there probably isn’t much to see here. Come on, Aurora, let’s take a look at the footage, see if we can get any more information,” he gestured for her to follow him into the station.
She accompanied him in his car and when they arrived, the Detective flashed his badge, escorting Aurora into the monitor room. It sure was good to have police assistance. She probably couldn’t have gained access on her own. With the help of an on-duty officer, they watched the event unfold. Aurora noticed that one of the guys was rubbing his hand noticeably, and a moment after that, the wall exploded inward. The criminals poured out from the cells, shaken by the explosion.
Aurora whistled softly. Detective Kirby had the monitoring officer pull up external cameras, and they saw a minivan pull up and the gang members piled into it. The man in the exo-suit leveled his arm down the street and there was a thunderous explosion.
“That was one of our units. This guy destroyed their car with some kind of howitzer round or something,” Kirby supplied.
“Wow…” Aurora took a deep breath. “Can you track the minivan? I could fly around the area and hope I spot a van of that description, but the odds that I’d spot it are probably low. How about the exosuit? What else do we know?”
“Well,” Detective Kirby answered, “the exosuit is a recently-purloined item from the Serendipity Corporation, ‘Machine-Augmented-Exoskeleton’ or something along those lines. Guy’s calling himself ‘Blue Max’ after a World-War One flying ace. They stole the dirigible about a week or so ago but it wasn’t reported until we started investigating things. Anyway, Serendipity’s suit was mothballed about two years ago, so it’s been in a local storage facility for some time, as far as we know. They reported it missing shortly after the first robbery, so there’s still suspicion that way.”
Kirby tapped the monitoring officer on his shoulder. “ We’re tracking the license plate, right?”
The officer shrugged. “I guess so, sir, but that’s not my department.”
“Great.” Kirby looked to Aurora and rolled his eyes. “Anyway, I have more details in my email, but basically, the suit was designed to increase the capability of a single man to a mobile artillery platform. It uses some kind of jet technology in proportion to rocket boosters. We believe other members of the gang who weren’t present at your bust were off stealing more fuel. We’re currently tracking a few places where the fuel can be correctly processed.”
“That sounds promising.” Aurora nodded. “How soon do you think we’ll have the information? If you can point me to where they are, I can round them up again. The exoskeleton is going to be the most concerning part. If you can get me schematics, we could find a weak point I might be able to exploit when I come up against it, but ideally maybe we can try to recover it without damaging it, but if we don’t have plans for it, the odds are low that we’ll be able to simply disable it.”
“Certainly, if you can disable it,” Kirby replied, “I’m sure Serendipity would appreciate it, but I won’t cry if we can just get these criminals off the streets, you know? Well, if you think you’ve gotten all you can from the tapes, let’s see about that license plate, hey?”
“Sounds good.” Aurora nodded, grinning. She wondered if her barrier would protect her from the kind of firepower the exo armor had already used in the footage.
They left the room and headed through the department. Many of them gave her the cold shoulder. Kirby noticed it and quietly spoke to Leona. “Hey, don’t worry about it. You’re not the first super from San Isidro. They’re all a little bitter over things with the last one.”
That’d be El Aguila de Oro (aka The Golden Eagle). He was hispanic and was one of the trainees inducted into the Society of Sentinels. He refused to identify where he was from, but the rumor was that he was from the area before he “went pro.”
They arrived at another officer’s desk, and he looked up lazilly at Kirby and Aurora. “Got a date, Kirby? Or did you bust her on Cherry Street.” His tone was smug and insulting.
“Show some respect. She’s helping us out on the jailbreak case. Now, do you have information on the getaway vehicle or not?” Kirby barked.
“Actually, I do,” the man responded, unfazed and unrepentant, “Looks like this license plate was registered to a Mr. Robert Franklin Jr.”
“Was? What do you mean ‘was’” Kirby shot back.
“Well, turns out the car was apparently totalled and was sent to Chan’s yard,” the officer responded.
“Seemed awfully mobile for a totalled car,” Kirby remarked.
“Yeah.” The man nodded. “We’ll be informing Mr. Franklin’s insurance company about this. Anything else?”
“Nah, I think that’s it. Come on, Aurora,” Kirby said, leading her onwards to one of the empty interview rooms. He pulled up his email on his phone.
“Okay, so this is actually… good news. Chan’s junkyard’s owned by Mr. Ronnie Chan, who has ties to the Triads. I don’t think that’s important, but what is important is that Chan’s yard is near a small refinery that would have the devices they’d need to load the fuel in the MAX’s tanks. If I had to guess it, I’d put them somewhere in that area.”
He flicked through a few screens. “Do you have an email or something I can send these specs to?” Kirby inquired. “If not, you may want to set something up, otherwise I can just show you the information here.”
Aurora nodded, decided it was important to settle the issue now. She fished her phone out from its pocket and signed up for a fresh email account, using the name Aurora and slightly falsified information. When she finished she passed the email address to Kirby. That would do for the moment.
“Anonymous email’s fine for now,” Kirby said, “I’m not going to try and subpoena anything, but just keep in mind that if someone hits them with a suit, they may fold and give transmission records.” He warned Aurora of a potential issue she was aware could be a concern.
After a moment, the files appeared in her inbox and she looked over them. Included was a maps link to the area the Detective was referring to. She looked over the battlesuit schematics and didn't find anything overt about them where weaknesses were concerned, though the flight area was prone to overheating in an enclosed or hot environment, making it hard to use indoors or in the desert for extended periods.
The weapons specs were impressive, but little Leona had no idea of what any of it meant. She glossed over that. The conclusion she came to was, punch hard and find a way to turn up the heat under these criminals.
“You should get going,” Kirby prodded Aurora, “I’m going to get officers over to that area and see if we can make a containment barrier, so that the gang won’t be able to flee should they be there, but I’m holding off any assault until I’ve given you the chance, okay?”
Aurora nodded and smiled. “I’ll check it out then, Thank you. I have some idea of what to do about the exo suit. "If they remember me fondly, they’ll throw their arms up the moment they spot me.” She laughed. It was possible her blasts might have an effect. So far they didn’t generate heat, but there may be other ways.
Kirby chuckled and nodded. “Good luck.”
“Thanks for the information, Detective.” She waved and left the building, taking to the skies. She headed right in the direction of the junkyard. She had to case the place.