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Chapter 1 - Old Town

Author's Note:

Hey everyone, JimDavis23 here! It's been a while since I've last updated anything, but I've been going through some serious writer's block over the past year. I've also been busy with school and other personal projects of mine, hence the lack of content. It's not easy trying to write stories when half of the time, you don't know how to advance forward with the plot. But nonetheless, I push forward and write when I feel like it.

So here it is, the next instalment of the 'Faith and Loyalty' fanfiction. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Here's hoping I can get back to publishing more chapters frequently.

OC Runner featured in this chapter: Noctis, by clearshot01.

FACTS:

[Old Town, 8:30 PM]

Noctis made his way back to Old Town with surprisingly less hassle. After handling Faith's delivery, he was far enough from the police patrols to make his way back home. Looking over his shoulder, he made sure he wasn't being followed before he continued making his way over to Drake's Hideout.

Old Town was what's left of the original city from years ago. After the November Riots, the city gradually became restructured to ensure better security and public safety. Over the years, it transformed into the architectural phenomena known as New City, while the remaining and slowly declining pockets of the original city became known as Old Town, turning into self-run ghettos and shabby streets without the benefits found in New City districts.

Many of the low and middle class civilians lived in Old Town. Because of its poor state, a lot of the businesses and homes were in dire need of renovation, and crime around here was off the charts. While the authorities do keep things nice and orderly, they were still corrupt, and some of them were even bribed by the local gangs residing here. In fact, people say that Old Town was where the city dumped its poor and undesirables, and the truth couldn't be more literal than its current state.

Drake's Hideout was located in one of the abandoned buildings built in this district. Some of them were condemned and were set to be demolished in order to make way for newer buildings, while some were simply just left there to crumble away, as city officials decided it wasn't worth the time or money to build a new establishment in their place. For many of these abandoned buildings, they became a place of refuge for the homeless, or a place for gangs to do shady dealings. For Drake and the Runners, it was their main base of operations, and their only one for the time being. After that stunt Faith pulled at the Shard, the police cracked down hard, and the Runners had no choice but to abandon their hideouts in the New City and reside in Old Town, where security was fairly low.

The building the Runners used as a home base was an abandoned luxury hotel with miles of barbed wire fence and vegetation. All the windows were blacked out, making it hard for anyone to tell if there was someone residing in the building. The hotel and the area around it had a lot of space for Runners to train, and the building itself was well-stocked with supplies and the best black market surveillance technology. Thanks to some help from their connections, they were able to afford and install heating, electricity, air conditioning, and plumbing in the building. As for food, they didn't really worry about running out of food as they mainly grew their own food at a greenhouse built on the roof of the hotel. In short, the Runners couldn't have found a better place to call home.

Noctis slipped through a hole in the fence and made his way back to the hideout. As he got closer to the building, he was suddenly halted by numerous lase dots targeting his chest and face. Hidden in the shadows were sentries wearing night-vision goggles and camouflage, armed with silenced automatic rifles equipped with laser sights and thermal scopes.

“Hey, you by the fence,” one of the sentries shouted. “Stay right where you are! Do not move! Identify yourself!”

Noctis raised his empty hands in the air and replied back sarcastically. “Easy, buddy, I'm a cop! I'm looking for criminal scum. Have you seen any?”

“Noctis, is that you?” All the sentries lowered the weapons and turned off their night-vision. “You're lucky Alex isn't on sentry duty today. He would’ve immediately capped you if you said that you were a cop.”

“Yeah, whatever, I can take on Alex,” Noctis said. “Is Faith back?”

“She came back an hour ago,” said another sentry. “She's waiting for you in the main lobby.”

“Alright, I'll be on my way then,” Noctis rubbed his arms as he made his way to the hideout. “It's a cold night, boys, so keep yourselves warm, yeah?”

Walking past the sentries, one of them radioed ahead to let the others know that it was just one of their own returning back to base. Stopping in front of the entrance, a surveillance camera eyed Noctis for a few seconds before he heard a faint clicking on the other side. A runner opened the door and welcomed Noctis into the dark, but warm reception area. True to the sentry's word, Faith was in the lobby, waiting by the elevator.

“You know you didn't have to ask our client to pay up more,” Faith said.

“Well, you risked your life to save him and almost got yourself killed in the process,” Noctis explained. “I think it was only fair for him to give you a little something extra for your services.”

“Look, Noctis, I appreciate that you're looking out for me, but next time, don't ask our clients to pay extra if we ever bust them out of a hairy situation. Our clients are already paying us a lot and putting themselves at greater risk than we are, so asking them to pay up for 'extra services' might get them to sever contact with us.”

The two Runners entered the elevator and took it up to level 20 – top floor, where Runner command center was located. As the elevator made its way up, Faith and Noctis chatted a little more.

“So, did it take you long to lose the cops?” Noctis asked.

“Barely ran into them,” Faith chuckled. “They didn't even realize I made a run for the radio station until it was too late. I swear, even with all that training and technology, these guys are dumber than a pigeon without wings.

“By the way, thanks for that save with that drone hack of yours. I really thought I was done for back there.”

“Thank Zach,” Noctis replied. “He's the one who coded the app and I happen to be the one testing it. It could use some improvements, honestly, but you know how long it takes for Zach to create something new.”

The elevator came to a halt and the doors opened on level 20. The command center was located in room 2010, a conference room located closest to rooftop access. A single runner stood guard at the door when she noticed Faith and Noctis approaching the room.

“Head on in,” she said. “Drake's waiting for you inside, and he’s not looking too happy.”

The command center was in its usual buzz of activity. Technicians were monitoring their operatives, making sure they weren't running into any trouble on their assignments. Some were monitoring city surveillance and others were listening in to the police radio chatter. Drake stood at his desk with his back turned towards Faith and Noctis, watching the news on TV.

“...What was supposed to be a peaceful evening for many citizens suddenly turned frightening when an unknown individual violently attacked law enforcement officers and turned the entire downtown district into a warzone. Two officers were performing their civic duties in keeping our fair city safe when a hooded assailant ambushed them from behind and left the two officers badly injured. Additional officers were dispatched to apprehend the suspect, but their arrival soon became a fight for survival as a hunter drone lost control and turned against them. Police say the drone was hacked by the suspect during the firefight.

Somewhere in the chaos, the suspect fled from the scene and was nowhere to be found. Police warn that the suspect is still at large around the downtown area and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Police are asking for witnesses to come forward with any information regarding this dangerous criminal. There is speculation that the suspect might be a runner, but based on the evidence of a drone hack, police suspect the assailant is a possible agent with the Group November terrorist organization, responsible for various cyberterrorism attacks in the past, and the recent November Revolution that happened over a year ago. This raises some alarming questions: could this mean that Group November is still active and is planning more attacks even as we speak? Is our technology capable of turning against us now? And more importantly, is our city safe? We'll have more news by the hour.”

Drake shut off the television and faced the two runners, a displeased look was on his face.

“You're lucky that the media thinks Group November was responsible for this. Had they found out who you were, it would've been enough for Pirandello Kruger to crack down on us harder,” said Drake.

“Aren't they already doing that?” Faith replied almost sarcastically.

“Goddammit Faith, why when something happens in this city, it always seems to point back to you,” Drake sighed. “I told you not to get involved, especially when your hand-off was on street level.”

“You expect me to stand by and let our contact get beaten to death? Even if they knew what he was up to, that doesn't give them the right to beat up an unarmed man. It's not fair, and I won't stand idly by to shit like that!” Faith argued.

“Things like this happen everyday in the city, Faith,” Drake said. “Yes, it's unfair that such injustices happen throughout the city, but our job as runners is to not intervene. Our job is to keep a low profile and get packages delivered. Merc taught you that, remember?”

“Even so, Merc would've done the same thing if he were still here,” Faith countered. “You'd do the same thing too, if it was him or any of us in Ian's shoes.”

Drake looked at Faith for a moment, then heaved a sigh. In some way, Faith was right. Although Runners were supposed to keep a low profile and avoid confrontation with the police, many would've done what Faith did because it was the right thing to do. Besides, he couldn't really stay mad at Faith. She was one of the best runners and everyone here looked up to her, including Drake himself.

“No matter,” Drake sighed. “You and Noctis got the job done, and it was also a great opportunity to test out the drone hacking app that Zach made.” He turned to Noctis and asked, “I assume you have our contact's pay?”

“Right here, boss,” Noctis passed the scrip to Drake. “He even threw in a little bonus for us.”

Drake counted the scrip, noticing the additional 1000 scrip that Noctis 'requested' when delivering their contact's package. He gave Noctis an exasperated look and said, “What did I say about asking our clients for additional scrip?”

“Well, since Faith saved him, I thought it was only fair for him to give a little something extra,” Noctis shrugged. “It's good business.”

“Well, next time, don't ask our clients for extra scrip every time Faith saves them,” Drake said. “They're already paying us a lot, so there's no reason to scam them out of more scrip.”

Drake finished counting up the scrip and stored a majority of it into a safe. He then split up the remaining amount for Faith and Noctis. “Here's your share. Save it up or spend it wisely. Just don't waste it all on donuts. I'll give the remaining share to Zach when I see him later tonight. In the meantime, you two should get some rest. I'll keep you informed if any new jobs pop up.”

“Yes sir,” Noctis snapped a mock salute. “Come on, Faith, let's head to my room. I'm gonna to throw us all a pizza party!”

“Always throwing parties when there's a job well done,” Drake chuckled softly. “Save me a slice, alright?”

“Don't worry, jefe, I'll leave plenty for everyone,” Noctis said as he left the command center.

Faith turned to leave when she was stopped by Drake one last time.

“Hey, Faith,” Drake began softly. “Look, I understand that you're doing what Merc taught you to do, but please be more careful next time. I promised Merc that I would look out for you the most, and I intend to keep that promise. Just watch yourself, alright?”

Faith gave a reassuring grin. “Don't worry, Drake. I don't die that easily.”

******

[Regatta Dockyard, Harbor District, 12:01 AM]

Rainbow Dash had no idea where she was. One minute, she was flying back home through the storm, then all of a sudden, there was a loud bang, followed by an electrical surge throughout her body. Everything went white, and then it was all black. Regaining consciousness, Rainbow found herself in some warehouse, lying on top of broken crates and various items scattered all around. Above her was a hole in the ceiling with the stars and moon shining down on her.

As Rainbow Dash got back up on her hooves, she nearly cried out when she felt a slight pain in her right wing. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that it was broken, as though it had been struck with a sledgehammer. Her left wing was fine, but as she tried to flex both of them, she felt another stab of pain in her right wing. She heaved a sigh as she folded her wings back as best as she could.

“Great, I guess I'm grounded,” Rainbow Dash said to herself.

Rainbow Dash then looked down at where she had fallen. Scattered around her were broken pieces of wood and concrete, as well as various black objects that laid scattered around at her hooves. They appeared to be some kind of weapons, with the grip and handling of a crossbow, but with various barrel sizes at the output of the weapon. Based on how the weapon was handled, it looked like it could only be used in the hands of a minotaur or in a griffon's talons. A unicorn might be able to operate it if they could manipulate it with its magic.

But whatever these weapons were, this was not the time to marvel at them like some curious foal at a science fair. Rainbow had to find a way out of this warehouse and figure out where she was and how the heck she got here in the first place. She began walking through the darkened warehouse, searching for an exit.

The warehouse was a dull, colourless grey building, filled from top to building with crates of various shapes and sizes. She had no idea what was inside these crates, but she was able to make out some of the words written on them, like "SCAR-L 5.56 ASSAULT RIFLES" and "H&K MP5K 9MM SMGs". There were also plenty of green metal boxes scattered around the warehouse, containing what appeared to be ammunition for the weapons.

Rainbow kicked open another wooden crate and found more strange weapons inside. Based on her investigations, she came to the conclusion that she was in some kind of building that housed weapons – an armoury of some sorts. How she ended up here in the first place, she had no idea. This building didn't seem to be a part of Ponyville, and she couldn't remember the last time Ponyville had warehouses, let alone a fully-stocked armoury.

Rainbow shook her head. “Don't think about it right now. Just find a way out first.”

Her search eventually brought her to a large door in front of her. Rainbow Dash smirked in triumph. Looks like she found her way out of here. She approached the door, trying to figure out how to get it open when all of a sudden, the door slowly opened and light began flooding into the warehouse.

Not knowing what she expected to find on the other side of the door, Rainbow Dash took cover behind one of the crates and stayed hidden. She heard heavy footsteps enter the building, followed by voices.

“Spread out!” One of the voices called out. “Search for the intruder!”

“Intruder? Are they talking about ME?"

She poked her head out of cover for a second, before taking cover again. What she just saw...they weren't ponies, but they were something else, something she had never seen before. They walked on two legs and had hands similar to that of an ape. Except they didn't look like apes. They were cladded in black armor and wielding weapons similar to those found in the warehouse. Whatever they were, they sure weren't the welcoming type.

“You three, go to the right. The two of you, come with me and we'll flank left. The rest of you, guard the main door. Let's find this son of a bitch.”

Rainbow Dash needed to get out of this warehouse right now, for who knows what these creatures will do to her if she got caught. She went down on all of her four hooves to keep herself low and hidden, and cautiously made her way to the back of the warehouse. She kept to the shadows and avoided any kind of light source she came across. Every time she was about to run into some beam of light, or hear footsteps closing in, she would quietly dash towards the nearest crate and hide for a few seconds, before making her way back into the shadows. When she was close enough to the site where she had fallen, she glanced up towards the hole in the roof and cursed silently. Had her wing hadn't been broken from the fall, she could've easily flown away through that hole and made her escape.

She continued making her way to the back of the warehouse until she came upon a door with a glowing sign hanging above it marked 'EXIT'. This would be her way out of here. She was about to make a run for it, when the door itself opened and bright light flooded into the warehouse. Rainbow shielded her eyes, momentarily blinded before coming face to face with one of the armored creatures.

“What the f-”

Before he could even react, Rainbow Dash spun around, raised her hind legs, and kicked the creature in the stomach as hard as she could. She sent him flying out through the door, prompting shouts of surprise and anger from more voices outside the warehouse.

“Shit!”

“Motherf-!”

“What the hell?!”

“You're dead now bitch!”

Realizing she had kicked the hornet's nest, Rainbow turned tail and retreated further into the warehouse, only to be surrounded by more lights from the rear guard.

“Freeze!” one of the creatures called out.

She made a quick turn right and dodged her pursuers, continuing her escape down the aisle as shouts and heavy footsteps closed in. The chase was cut short when Rainbow heard a loud bang from behind, followed by something binding her hooves together. She gave a surprised yelp as she tripped and stumbled across the floor. She came to a crashing halt as her body slammed into one of the wooden crates.

When the dust cleared, Rainbow was struggling to free herself out of the bindings, but it was no use. The black armored creatures approached her cautiously, weapons raised, preparing to subdue her. Not wanting to be captured so easily, Rainbow thrashed around violently in her bondage, screaming to be released and taunting the creatures to fight her like a mare. All of a sudden, there was an electrical hum, followed by an intense jolt of electricity. Rainbow Dash screamed in agony, her whole body seizing up from the strain. Never in her life had she felt such a violent surge of electricity coursing through her body, nor the pain that followed. It was nothing like being struck by lightning, and she had been struck by lightning before. The pain was needle-sharp, like thousands of knives being shoved into her chest, and breathing only made it worse.

Eventually, she wasn't able to scream anymore, as she felt a heavy sensation sitting on her chest. It was as though some invisible force was strangling her. Her mind and body grew heavy as she faded out of consciousness. Soon, everything went black.

******

“What do you think it is?”

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes slightly. Although slightly unconscious, she could feel herself hanging upside down with all four of her hooves tied together. Her muzzle was taped shut so she couldn't scream. Something was also wrapped tightly around her, and it felt like netting. Was she tangled up in a net?

Surrounding her were a couple of the armored creatures that had pursued her throughout the warehouse. Now that she was up close to them, she was able to get a good look at who these guys were. Although half of their faces were covered up with masks, Rainbow could somehow tell that these creatures were related to primates. Their weapons were slung over their shoulders, and their armor had a variety of pockets and pouches and a portable radio hanging on the left side of their chests. At the side of their helmets bore a bolded white logo that read “PK”. In terms of height, they were somewhere between an adult minotaur or a teenage dragon. The tallest one of the group was about 6'1”.

“I don't know. Whatever it is, it ain't normal.”

“It looks like some kind of miniature horse, but with blue hair, a rainbow-colored mane, wings, and a lightning tattoo on both sides of its butt. Looks like something out of a cartoon.”

“And it could talk! You all heard her talk before we tased her, right?”

“We heard you the fifth time, Kenny. We know it can talk, now shut up!”

“So, what are we going to do with it?”

“Don't know, don't care. Horowitz is on the phone with Mayor Callaghan right now. She'll decide what to do with it.”

Before she was able to get their attention, another one of the creatures entered the warehouse from the large door.

“I just finished talking with the Mayor,” he said. “She's called in the Sentinels to come in and secure the creature. They'll be here in an hour or so. Until then, she wants the dockyard and the entire district to be locked down for their arrival.”

“Understood,” said the tall-looking creature. He picked up his radio and said, “Attention all units, this harbor and the surrounding district is now under lockdown. I want checkpoints set up at all roads and entrances. No one is to enter without my approval. Is everyone clear? Good! Now, get to it!”

Rainbow Dash, still weakened from the torture, felt herself drifting unconscious. She did her best to stay awake for a little while longer, but once again she passed out, leaving herself to an uncertain fate.

******

[A Few Hours Earlier]

[Drake's Hideout, Old Town – 9:57 PM]

Kate Connors was on her laptop, typing up another monthly report for Drake. Her report ranged from the amount of ammunition spent at the shooting gallery, to the number of guns that were broken and repaired; all the way to the state of their medical supplies, and how much was used to treat any of the sick and injured cases at the infirmary. She finished off her report by putting down what supplies the Runners would need for next month and the total amount of scrip to pay off their needs, before emailing it towards Drake. With her report sent, she closed her laptop and leaned back against her seat, taking a breather.

Just a year ago, Kate was once a police officer with the City Protection Force, serving her community proudly and devoting her body and soul to protecting the “good” of this city. Or so she thought. Her career came to ruin when she was framed for the murder of Robert Pope, a mayoral candidate who was serious on making the city a better place. Thanks to Faith and the Runners, she managed to escape imprisonment and has been sticking around with them ever since.

While she wasn't a runner like her sister, Kate provided whatever help she was able to give, and has proved to be an invaluable asset for them. Being an ex-cop did have its perks, which all that training she had accumulated during her time with the force had not been for nothing. For over a year, Kate spent her days teaching everything she had learned as cop to the Runners. She knew everything from firearms handling and maintenance, to basic first aid. With her skills and teachings, she's helped save many lives and made life a whole lot easier for the Runners.

When she wasn't playing teacher, she spent her days at the armoury and shooting gallery, providing weapons and ammunition, or maintaining guns in working order. If she wasn't in the armoury, she'd be working in the infirmary, tending to the sick or injured. On some rare occasion, she might even help out in the kitchen and cook meals for about 100 people. Kate didn't mind doing whatever they wanted her to do. As long as she kept herself busy, she would be alright.

A rattling of the doorknob brought Kate out of her relaxation as someone fidgeted with her door outside. Before the door opened, she already knew who it was trying to come into her room. After all, she and Faith were the only ones who shared this room.

Faith Connors strolled into the room, clearly exhausted from today. She gave a loud yawn before falling into her own bed, still dressed in her street clothes and sneakers. Giving a sympathetic smile, Kate walked over to her sister's bed and sat at the foot of her bed.

“Rough day today?” Kate began, breaking the silence.

Faith groaned as she tried to get comfortable. “Same shit, different day. Not much you can do about it really. It is what it is.”

An air of silence hung in the air for a few more seconds before Kate spoke up again. “Where were you tonight? You didn't show up for dinner.”

“Pizza party at Noctis' room,” Faith answered. “Celebrating another 'big score' as he calls it. There's plenty of slices left over, if you wanna go grab a bite.”

Kate shook her head and chuckled. “That Noctis, always throwing parties for every job. Well, you should've showed up for dinner tonight. I made you your favourite: tuna avocado salad.”

“The one mixed with the spicy mayo they use in sushi?” she asked.

Kate nodded. “Yep, that one. Don't worry, though. Saved enough of it in the fridge. You can eat it now, or have it for breakfast tomorrow.”

“Eh, maybe tomorrow,” Faith sighed. “I'm not that hungry, and right now, I kinda wanna get some rest.” She groaned again, feeling an ache in her shoulders “But before I hit the sack, you mind giving your sister a massage?”

Kate gave a whiff before sticking her tongue out. “Well, why don't you take a shower first, and then maybe I'll consider it. Sound fair?”

“Jeez, that bad?” Faith gave herself a whiff before agreeing with her sister wholeheartedly. “Alright, fair enough. I'll be back in five.”

She forced herself out of her bed and made her way to the bathroom, kicking off her sneakers and leaving them by the door. Five minutes later, Faith emerged from the bathroom, dressed in clean clothes and feeling fresh and clean. She then walked back over to her bed and fell face-first into the mattress again, awaiting for her promised massage.

“Am I clean enough for a massage now?” she asked.

Kate smiled and rolled her eyes, moving over to the side of her bed and proceeded to give Faith a massage from head to toe. For the next half an hour, Faith was in absolute bliss, melting away in her sister's hands as they did their job in easing the tension in her muscles.

“You know, if you weren't a cop from the start, I'd say you'd make an excellent masseuse,” Faith muttered tiredly.

Kate blushed. “Oh come on, I'm not that good at it. It's just something Dad taught me, that's all.”

As if struck, Faith glanced up at her sister at the mention of their father. She and her father never really had the best relationship, considering the fact he nearly put their family in financial ruin and inadvertently got her mother killed during the November Riots. Her father never forgave himself for what he did, and even now, Faith still hadn't fully forgiven him.

Breaking the silence, Faith asked, “You've spoken with Dad since becoming a fugitive?”

Kate shook her head. “Drake won't allow it. Phone calls, texts, and emails are closely being monitored, and even if he could establish a secure connection for me to talk with him, he's not willing to take that risk.”

“When was the last time you talked with him?”

“While I was in jail,” Kate said. “We didn't talk much, but I'll never forget how he looked when he saw me locked up in a cell. He said that he was going to try and talk with Callaghan, convince her to reduce my sentence to something less harsh. If that was the case, then I guess it's why they allowed him to see me for five minutes, despite that I wasn't allowed visitors while in lockup.” She glanced down at the floor, worried. “I just hope he knows that both of us are alright.”

Faith shrugged. “Maybe I can ask Drake if he can get Dad on a secure connection tomorrow. That way, you two can talk for a bit. According to Drake, Dad's doing alright, and he knows you're in a safe place.”

Kate shuffled her feet nervously, unsure of whether or not to ask Faith this question. She finally pushed aside her nerves, and asked, “Are you still mad at Dad for what he did in the past? To Mom and our family?”

“It's...hard for me to say,” Faith admitted. “I'm not mad at him anymore, but I haven't completely forgiven him for what he's done. I know he was just doing what he thought was right, but that doesn't excuse him for turning it into an obsession and pushing us aside.

“Still, he did help us Runners out for a short time, and patched me up that one time I got wounded,” she sighed heavily. “I guess you can say it's live and let live with him.”

Kate nodded. “Well, promise me you'll talk with him, if we ever get the chance, okay?”

Faith didn't respond to her sister's request. Instead, she changed the subject to something else. “So...anything new on TV tonight?”

“Not much,” Kate shook her head. “Same crap over and over. The only interesting thing that's ever on is the news, but then again, you say it's propaganda.”

“Yeah, you got that right,” Faith said. “Any interesting 'news' while I was going?”

“You mean the mess you caused tonight in downtown?” Kate smirked. “Yeah, I saw how it all went down. You're the big talk on tonight's news. And I think they're still talking about you right now.”

Kate switched on the TV to City Eye Channel News, and sure enough, they were still talking about the recent incident that occurred at the downtown district tonight. CCTV footage showed Faith attacking the officers before taking cover at the cafe while being suppressed by gunfire, followed by the hunter drone being turned against the cops, courtesy of Noctis. None of the footage showed the cops beating up Faith's client, which not-surprisingly, made sense. The news around here was propaganda, often showcasing Pirandello Kruger as peacekeepers and heroes. Any footage that showed PK officers abusing their powers was most likely censored from the public eye.

“Drake told me the reason you caused a stir down there tonight was that the officers were beating up your client. Is that true?” Kate asked.

“You better believe it,” Faith nodded. “Their scanners picked up something wrong about him and they decided to take turns using him as a punching bag to teach him a lesson. Shit like that happens in the city every day.”

“Sick bastards,” Kate growled. “The City Protection Force would never behave like that, and if one of our officers were caught committing such heinous acts, you can bet that we'd have them stripped of their badge and their offence kept on file. If it's a serious offence, you can also bet that they'd wind up in jail for it.”

“Well unfortunately for you Kate, the CPF no longer exists,” Faith explained. “Ever since Pope's murder, the CPF has been effectively replaced by Pirandello Kruger in policing, and any cop that wasn't laid off from the former department would've most likely been transferred to PK and retrained in their policies.”

“Even so, the CPF wouldn't stand for anything like this,” Kate continued. “We have an oath to serve and protect the people of this city, and if PK isn't committed to upholding that oath, you can bet that I and the rest of the CPF will be there to serve and protect the people from PK.”

“In case you've forgotten Kate, you're a fugitive like I am,” Faith said. “Even if what you say is true about the CPF, how exactly are you going to 'police' Pirandello Kruger when they're in charge of everything around here? Not to mention the fact that they're also out looking for you, the cop that 'killed' Robert Pope?”

Kate opened her mouth to say something, then frowned, crossing her arms. “I hate that you have to remind me that I'm still a criminal even after all this time.”

Faith sighed and sat up on her bed. “Just being realistic here Kate.”

Kate snorted. “Yeah, sure you are.”

As the two sisters sat in the darkness of their room, the television still broadcasting, a thought occurred to Faith, one she didn't bother mentioning until now. Knowing how her sister would respond, she decided to ask about it anyways. “You know, it's not too late to change your mind.”

Kate looked at her incredulously. “What are you saying?”

“I'm saying that it's not too late to leave the city,” Faith clarified. At the mention of this topic, Kate sighed exasperatedly and turned away from her sister. “Listen, it's been over a year and we've made little to no progress in clearing your name. All the evidence still points to you being Pope's murderer, and while we all know you didn't do it, we still don't have any evidence to prove your innocence. And even though we know who the real killer is, she was killed in a warehouse fire, so that credibility is gone.”

“So what?” Kate asked.

“So there's no way we can clear your name without proof,” Faith sighed. “Look, the safest option we have is to get you out of here. We give you a new identity and send you somewhere where they won't bother looking for you. Drake's got contacts-”

“Faith,” Kate interrupted. “I've spent my whole life up until now trying to make this city a better place. I'm not going to run away and go into hiding.”

“You still think this city is worth protecting?” Faith asked. “After everything you've done as a cop, look how it all turned out for you. You get stabbed in the back and end up taking the fall for some politician's death. Doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, good, or bad. You'll get chewed up and spat out. That's the truth about this city.”

“That's not what Mom thought,” Kate said, prompting silence from her sister. “She always believed in that place where everyone can live happy and carefree without anyone telling them how they should live their lives, and she believed this city was where that place exists. Even when the odds were stacked against her, she continued fighting to see that dream become a reality.

“I might not have been that close to her like you were, but one of the main reasons I joined the force in the first place was because of her. I know that things aren't good for me right, but if I leave this city under a new identity, then I might as well be abandoning Mom's dream.”

Faith sighed. “Kate, I-”

“Look, Effie, I appreciate that you're only looking out for me, but my mind's made up. I'm staying here to help you guys out. I know we'll find a way for me to clear my name, but until then, let me stick with you guys a little longer.” Kate smiled warmly. “As long as I'm with you guys, I feel like I'm actually doing some good for the time being.”

Faith looked at her sister, a small smile forming on her lips. “Alright Kate, if you want to continue to put yourself at risk by hanging around with us runners, then I guess there's no harm in that. I'll go talk to Drake tomorrow morning on what else we can do to try and clear your name.”

“That's the spirit, Effie,” Kate grinned. “And let's face it, you guys need me around here. After all, I'm the ex-cop who trains the newbies, fixes your guns, and is a damn fine doctor around here.”

“Yeah, yeah, gloat all you want, sis,” Faith yawned. “Well, I think I'm gonna go get some sleep. Gotta be well-rested in order to prepare for the next run. Thanks for the massage.”

“No problem,” Kate said, moving over to her bed. “I think I'm gonna watch a little bit of TV before I hit the hay.”

“Sure, just make sure you keep it down a bit,” she crawled underneath her covers and snuggled into a comfortable position. “Goodnight Kate.”

“Goodnight Effie,” Kate said. Within seconds after settling in, Faith was fast asleep, while Kate was in her own bed, watching TV. All was quiet in the room. Just the soft breathing coming from the two sisters and the low volume broadcast of the television.

******

“Faith! Effie! Wake up!” Kate whispered, shaking her sister's shoulders gently. She groggily awoke from her sleep, glancing at the radio alarm clock on the nightstand. The time was 1:02 AM.

“Huh, Kate?” Faith murmured. “What's up?”

At that moment, Faith could hear the sound of helicopters flying over the building. She immediately got out of bed.

“Sounds like a lot of birds out there,” she whispered, walking over to the window.

“A small fleet of them,” Kate replied as Faith pulled the curtains open and looked outside. “I don't think they're here for us though.”

Out in the night sky, a squadron of Blackhawks flew over Old Town, their spotlights shining down on the darkened streets and buildings as they headed northwest. Normally, there would only be one of these things patrolling a district. To see that many fly together was very out of place. When there's a fleet of choppers flying in formation, it usually meant that there was trouble: big trouble.

But Kate was right on one thing: the choppers weren't here for them. If that were the case, then the whole building would've been surrounded by cops.

“Looks like they're heading for the harbor district,” Kate said as the choppers disappeared from their view.

Faith looked at her, confused. “How do you know that?”

“Take a look at this,” Kate turned up the volume of the television, where it was broadcasting a live feed of the current situation. A news reporter was standing out on the road, where many cars were stuck in a jam thanks to a recently established barricade the authorities put up around the district. Some drivers were out of their cars, demanding to know what was going on and to be let through, only to be met with silence by the guards.

“...As you can see right now, we are standing outside one of the many checkpoints and barricades the police have set up around the harbor district. Citizens are currently being denied entrance to the district due to a suspected terrorist threat in the area. Earlier this evening, one of our news choppers caught a glimpse of what was going on at the docks, before local authorities ushered them out of the area.”

The live feed then transitioned to aerial footage from a news chopper, showing a bit of what was going on at the docks. Police cars and SWAT vans sped down the road towards the docks, where upon arrival, there were already vehicles parked inside and outside the main harbor. About a hundred cops were on the ground, all of them armed and vigilant to the highest standards. A lot of attention seemed to be focused at a warehouse, where a large gaping hole was formed on the roof. Before the news chopper could capture more footage, a police helicopter flew on scene and demanded the news chopper to disperse from the area immediately, or be shot down. The news chopper leaves the area, ending the recorded scene.

“That's the first I've heard the Blues tell the media to back off or face lethal force,” Faith muttered.

“I guess it's also not the first time they ever did something like that,” Kate replied. “These new cops are more photosensitive than we are.”

“What could've caused that hole in the roof?” Faith asked, changing the subject.

“Doesn't look like an explosion caused it,” Kate said. “Looks like something big and heavy fell through the roof.”

The recorded footage then transitioned back to the live feed of the reporter from earlier. “It is not yet clear whether or not this is a terrorist attack, or if it's simply a petty thief trying to steal goods, but we've been told that a full investigation is underway. Police ask the public for patience and calm, until the situation has been resolved...”

Kate switched off the television. “What do you think, Effie?”

“Doesn't look like a terrorist attack to me,” Faith shrugged. “Nor does this feel like a break-in. There's something more to this. If only we could get a closer look at this...”

She looked back out in the direction where the choppers had flown off, before looking back at Kate and gave a sly grin. Kate got the message as she saw her sister putting on her shoes

“Oh no,” Kate shook her head, grabbing Faith by the arm and pulling her away from the door. “You're not serious about going over there and seeing what's going on, are you?”

“Knowledge is power, right?” Faith said, gently pulling her arm from her sister's grasp. “Don't worry, I won't do anything stupid.”

“Do you have any idea how many cops are on the street over there?” Kate asked. “If you get caught, it's bad news for all of us.”

“Like I'll ever get caught,” Faith smirked. “Trust me, Kate. I'll be fine.”

Kate sighed. No matter how hard she was going to try and convince Faith, her mind's already made up, and once she made up her mind, she was too stubborn to let anyone talk her out of it. “Well...at least talk to Drake about this,” she said. “Get a partner like Noctis or one of the other runners to tag along with you.”

“Sure, sure,” Faith grinned. “I'll have to talk to Drake about it anyways. Meanwhile, you hang back here and try to get some rest.”

******

“Absolutely not.” This was Drake's response the moment Faith walked into the command center and asked him for permission to perform a recon near the harbor. He had obviously seen the news earlier, and knowing Faith, he was not about to let her waltz about a crime scene.

“Come on, Drake,” Faith pleaded. “Aren't you at least interested in what might be going on over there?”

“Perhaps,” said Drake. “But let me remind you that as runners, we should avoid getting in contact with the Blues. You've already stirred up shit tonight, and the last thing we need is for them to slap you in handcuffs and throw you in a paddy wagon, or at the very least, zip your bullet-ridden corpse up in a body bag.”

“Shouldn't we at least know what's going over there?” Faith reasoned. “Think about it. The only reason many Blues would show up to secure the docks is maybe they got something important locked up in the warehouses. Something they wouldn't want the public to know about.”

“Or it could be that they're dealing with a terrorist attack, or perhaps a simple break-in,” Drake added. “Doesn't mean that you're right about them keeping something secret in those warehouses. I'm telling you, leave it be. It's not worth it.”

“Drake, the recon will just be done at a safe distance outside the docks. I promise I won't go inside to see what's going on,” said Faith. “Besides, don't you want to make sure that whatever's going on over there doesn't concern us all?”

Drake just grunted and tightened his fist. Deep down, he was curious about what was going on down there, and that he wanted to be sure that this investigation wouldn't affect the Runners or their operations. Pirandello Kruger had ways to twist public opinion against the Runners, and whatever was going on down at the docks, they probably have ways to blame it on the Runners.

At last, he finally gave in. “Alright Faith,” he sighed. “If you want to go find out what really is going on down there, I guess it couldn't hurt to go take a peek. But only if you promise that you won't step foot into the harbor itself, or start any fights with the Blues. That means you'll have to remain undetected, no matter what goes on around you. I don't care if you see something interesting that requires a closer look, or a cop smacking an old lady with a nightstick. You just stay out of sight and report anything you see going on over there. You are not to intervene for whatever reason. Do you understand?”

“I understand,” Faith nodded.

“I also want you to get a buddy to look out for you while you recon,” Drake continued. “You know that I can't allow solo runs with the way things are in this city. Noctis is resting for the night, so you'll have to ask around for someone willing to tag along with you.

“And one more thing,” Drake added. “If something bad happens, I'm pulling the plug on this run, and you're to return to base immediately. No ifs, ands, or buts. Understand?”

“I heard you the first time already,” Faith rolled her eyes. “So, can I go now?”

“Well first, do you have a partner willing to tag along with you on this run?” Drake asked.

“Already thought about it,” Faith answered. “I'm getting Alex to run with me.”

“Stone cold Alex?” Drake chuckled and shook his head. “Haven't sent him on a run in a while, but I think he might be up for it. Just make sure he doesn't do anything stupid. The Blues are still pissed at him from that one time when he shot and killed one of their buddies.”

“Of course,” Faith nodded. “But you still want us to carry a piece, right?”

“Yes, and only use it if and when I say so,” Drake replied.

“Then it's settled,” she slipped on her earpiece. “I'm going to get Alex, then we're heading out as soon as possible. Just get on comms and track us.”

“Faith?”

“Yeah?”

“Just...be careful,” Drake replied in an almost pleading tone. “Try not to die, alright?”

Faith smiled. “Like I've said, Drake. I don't die that easily.”

Comments ( 3 )

Huh, this story is
Still Alive

10728300
Hah, I see what you did there! But yeah, sorry it took so long. Hope you're enjoying the story so far!

10731844
Oh don’t worry, I am enjoying it!

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