…And a Wannabe Ends up Dead
Once Officer Civitas had the name of Mark Lucas — and his address — it was easy to find the place.
From the dealer’s appearance — greasy, pale, and thin — the CSI officer was guessing Lucas was a small-time drug dealer and addict, essentially selling drugs to fund his own addiction.
“Seems high. Very high,” he thought. “Probably juggling SLO and Fautus — or maybe using Red Pills instead of Fast.”
Judging from his jumpy, agitated, and fearful demeanor, Civitas was betting on the Red Pills, with one of the tainted kind in the mix. So they made sure he had no chance to go for a weapon more dangerous than his Slicer. Russel Compton was able to disarm him easily, and they got the name of his supplier (for the Red Pills, anyway): Shane Cano.
He even knew where the guy was staying: the Pelican Motel a few miles away.
For some reason, Officer Hab was complaining he never got to be in any of their big gunfights.
“Sorry, we try to avoid firefights when we can,” he told the CSI officer.
“How come you never avoid them when I’m not around?”
“I wonder how this guy got his hands on so many drugs.”
— Officer Harrison
(on seeing the several thousand Red Pills Mark Lucas had in his apartment, along with a wide assortment of just about every kind of drug the Rat had ever seen)
Officer Hab was not surprised the concierge at the Pelican Motel let the Investigators in for a reasonable bribe. “Even if it is an upscale place in the Farmyard section…it’s still Cheapside.”
The place was mostly bare except for several expensive suits, shirts and ties hanging up neatly, as well as a spare pair of dress shoes.
It was plain to Ambrose that Cano thought of the room more as a wardrobe than as a home. But then, such things were often plain to the most observant detective on the LCPD payroll.
His suspicions were by raised the map of Cheapside open on the table. He found a cross drawn on it precisely at the Moxley Road Parking Lot. Next to the cross, he saw “3am” scrawled.
And he wasn’t the only one.
“Looks like a set-up,” the Rat — who had seen his share of set-ups — told them. Everyone was pretty much in agreement on that front. And Ambrose was glad they had the jump on the 3 o’clock time frame.
He was glad they had been kicking in doors instead of taking it slow and steady because they would have a chance to look for an ambush ahead of time.
Analysis complete: 10 “Red Pills” tested to destruction:
9 doses: match previous analysis: suspected designer drug:
9 doses: chemical variants of street drug: Faustus:
Faustus: also known as Eff: also known as Fast:
10th dose: anomaly detected:
10th dose: contains same designer drug:
Designer drug: detected in other 12 doses:
10th dose: anomaly: contains adulteration:
10th dose: danger: contains adulteration:
Danger: adulteration may be hallucinogenic:
Hallucinogen: apparently different designer drug:
Adulteration: may be based on known hallucinogens:
Adulteration: may be dangerous:
Officer Compton had grown accustomed to accepting Ambrose’s word when the detective told him the Moxley Road Parking Lot was clean. So they set up a stake-out on the location well ahead of the designated hour.
But they were not the only ones to arrive early: As they watched, a car full of gangers pulled up into the center of the lot.
One of them looked younger than the rest and very nervous. One of the older gangers — he recognized some of them as known Creeps — handed the nervous one a gun. The other three spread out to various hiding spots just outside the perimeter of the parking lot.
After checking out the gun, the younger Creep got in the car and drove away.
“We better follow him,” Ambrose suggested. Agreeing, Russel Compton got in their car — Ambrose riding shotgun — and followed the ganger to a nearby safe house.
At 3am on the nose, the Stainless Steel Rat radioed that someone had arrived at the parking lot and parked on one side. Shortly thereafter, the nervous ganger exited the safe house and got into the car and drove away. Ambrose suggested they stay and watch the house.
The Rat soon radioed that the ganger was back, and was parking on the other side of the parking lot from the car that arrived at 3am. The two men got out of their respective vehicles and began walking towards each other. The ganger was carrying a briefcase, and the other man was carrying a sports bag.
As they met in the middle of the parking lot, the ganger suddenly pulled out his pistol and shot three times at the guy with the sports bag. According to the Rat, it looked like he winged the guy with one of the shots.
Compton could hear the voice of Civitas in the background as the Rat reported on what happened next: The wounded man pulled out his own gun and expertly shot the nervous ganger dead.
About this time, four Creeps came running out of the safe house and jumped in another car, careening off toward the parking lot. He jammed his Mark 7 Patrol Car into gear and gave pursuit.
By the time they got to the parking lot, the mystery car was heading for the exit. Apparently the wounded man had made it back to his vehicle. The backup vehicle cut the fancy ride off at the gate. The gangers in hiding came running out of the shadows and jumped into the car, which sped away.
“Apparently they convinced their buddies to high-tail it out of there.”
Ambrose, manning the machine gun mounted under the right headlight of the Mark 7, shot out the tires on the mystery car, switched expertly to single-shot and disarmed the well-dressed guy with a well-placed shot.
“Sure glad you showed up,” he told them as they handcuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car. He told them he was from Mars and said his name was Shane Cano.
They found about 50,000 Capitol dollars and his corporate ID in the mystery car. The ID was from Handsure Holdings. It describes him as Executive Officer, Venture Division.
When the ID checked out with his biometrics, the Rat said, “I guess Shane Cano really is his real name.”
“I’m glad you finally got into the firefight you were looking for,” Officer Civitas told Ambrose.
They also found a ticket in Shane Cano’s name back to Mars.
“At least one of us can get to Mars.”
— Officer Harrison,
who is still not entirely comfortable with that title
Officer Civitas was thinking, as they cleaned up the drugs scattered across the parking lot, “All this ‘regular police work’ is keeping us from some of the things we should be following up on.”
He could list several:
- the weird glow he had noticed at the Home Made Foods factory;
- what does this Brotherhood charity have to do with his new-found powers;
- whatever was going on with the expedition to Pluto;
- the loose ends from the von Hölle investigation;
- the interrogation of Shane Cano; and now
- the background of the Handsure Holdings division of Capitol.