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Aberrant: 2011 - Enemies in the Zone (Part One) [Complete]


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It was another sucky day to be wearing a vest. It was hot and uncomfortable … and totally necessary. Church and his new partner, Detective Sanchez, were responding to reports of a shooting down by one of the aid stations. Both policemen had the sinking feeling this was another gang related. The gangs were getting more organized and more deadly, especially in the heart of the LA Disaster Zone.

Sanchez had come from the Pasadena PD. She lived in Westmont and her commute had become impossible despite the so-called improvements they had made to the transportation network. Pasadena hadn’t wanted to give her up. Southwest needed her. Scarcity in Los Angeles bred its own kind of compromises.

They rode in silence. This was Sanchez’s first time out, but she had the same kind of deep fatigue that all LA Law Enforcement were feeling this long after TBO … the Big One. Little or no time off, impossible caseloads, and too little hope made for a bone weariness that was hard to shake. The misery around here was ever-present. Everyone struggled to get by day to day. The gangs were only making things worse.

Three bodies lay on the sidewalk next to the food station. A sheriff’s deputy was standing over the bodies. As they pulled up, Sanchez turned to Church and smiled.

“Congratulations are in order.”

“Huh? For making it here?”

“No. For making detective. You paperwork came down last night. That’s why you were partnered up with me.”

“I’m stunned,” Church said, still disbelieving. “It’s a miracle the promotion came through. I figured the quake would have buried all of this for many more months, if not the year.”

“Well, you are detective Church now. You need to get some real clothes for you, but pay increase starts immediately.”

Church snorted. The pay would mostly be in money, which was almost worthless, and not in chits for food, fuel, and shelter.

They walked over to the bodies. It was Sanchez’s first day with the LAPD, but Church’s first time out as a detective. Sanchez took lead. She approached the Deputy and got his story while Church bent down to examine the bodies. The bodies – a man around twenty with gang tattoos, a woman in her late fifties, and a boy no older than twelve – suffered from multiple gunshot wounds. Preliminary examination suggested an automatic – 9mm and one shooter. Any more information would have to wait on CSI and the ME, neither of which would be here for hours.

It took about an hour for the first major lead to come up. One of the refugees, who didn’t know any better, told Sanchez he had seen some interesting gang tattoos on the arm of the car’s driver. In normal times, this would have earned the man protective custody. In these days the best they could do was put him in the back of their car and drive him back to the station. The reality that was slowly revealing itself was that MS13 was moving in against the Los Lobos. The Lobos had burned themselves fighting with the PD on several fronts and were weak. MS was coming in to wipe out the competition in this area and take over. The problem is, LL was like the flu. MS13 was the plague.

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Church was dressed in a cheap suit now, but still had on his vest. He and Sanchez were going into an MS13 hangout with SWAT members and several patrolmen. Even with the added manpower, the cops were still outnumbered, but they didn’t have a choice. They could either go after the gang, or surrender the streets. The best they could hope for was to be better armed and armored.

The police came in fast. Patrol cars cut off the likely routes of retreat while Church and Sanchez followed the SWAT through the front door. The results were anti-climactic. The gang held up their hands, gave up their weapons, and behaved calmly. It was very different from the response they would have gotten from the Los Lobos recently and it was almost a welcome relief. It also showed a more methodical and cunning method of dealing with the police.

There were too many gang members to take in and no way the court system could possibly handle them all anyway, so most were simply frisked and let go. Church was the one who recognized the member with the described tattoos. He and Sanchez took him out and put him in their car. Even while they were reading him his rights, the ganger, who went by the name of Viper, chuckled.

“You’re wasting your time,” he laughed. “No way can you place me there.”

Sanchez completed the Miranda and shut his door. Church bit his lower lip.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sanchez told Church. “We’ve got him. We’ll sweat him and get a confession. That’s the way it works in Detective Land.”

Sanchez’s smile was uplifting.

Back at the Precinct they had Viper in one of the interrogation rooms. He was proving to be a hard case. He laughed off the officers’ accusations and found the revelation that there was a witness the funniest of all.

“Like he will make it anywhere near a court room,” he chuckled again. “You cops don’t have the juice to protect them anymore. That is why we are taking over.”

“Once we have you in a line-up,” Sanchez countered, “your threats won’t mean so much. We can take that to a Grand Jury and then it’s in evidence. You’re going away.”

Viper had no response, but still maintained a veneer of confidence.

Sanchez sneered back.

“Church, I’m going to talk to the LT. Keep an eye on our guest.”

“No problem,” Church chimed in.

Sanchez had left. Viper leaned across the table until he was almost touching the new detective.

“No way are you going to get that songbird to court. We are going to grease that fucker and there is no way to stop us. We’re unbeatable.”

Church digested those words. The truth of those words bit into him. The police just didn’t have the power it took to deal with these … animals. The whole system was teetering.

Inside him, the power welled. The power held the answer. The power could save him, save the city and his friends. The power took over.

Church took hold of Viper’s hands and let the power flow out of him.

“What the fu…” Viper began. Then the criminal felt the power flow into him … and he was afraid.

Show me the shooting. Show me how you murdered those three people

Unbidden, the memories flowed forth. Viper had masterminded the hit. He had driven the car, picked the shooter, and the other two members of MS13 to go along. Names spilled out and even the location of the firearm used in the hit.

Viper gasped. The cop knew. The cop was a nova … and now he was really afraid. What the hell had he done to draw down this kind of heat?

… But Church wasn’t done.

Church’s kept hold of Viper’s left hand.

“Now you are going to confess – everything. You’re involvement, the names of the other people in the car, and who shot.”

He slid the paper and pen in front of Viper. The man hesitated. This was his own death warrant, but somehow he couldn’t help himself. The words came out on the page. All the details went down on the paper. Viper was shaking and tears welled up in his eyes. All he could muster was a final bit of bravado.

“I’ll make you pay,” Viper sobbed.

Church nodded. He accepted the possibility. There was something else he could do. The mind was a fragile thing he was learning. Once more the power pushed into Viper’s crumbling psyche.

Viper found himself in a hellish landscape facing Church.

“Speak one word of this and I’ll find you,” Church said. “I know your mind and I’ll know. I’ve been inside your soul and I can find you no matter were you hide.”

The imprisoned man looked around him. Beneath him, he could hear the souls of the damned writhing in torment. Flames licked up from the pits. The ceilings were vaulted in a menacing darkness. He sobbed helplessly.

Sanchez walked back in the room. She saw Church staring at Viper. The ganger was sobbing slowly. In front of him was a written confession. She stepped up and grabbed the paper. She scanned it and smiled.

“Church, how did you get him to ‘fess up?”

“We talked a little more about it after you left. He decided to come clean.”

“There are no marks on him, are there?” she joked back. She could see no signs that Church had physically abused the perp, and blown the case. Whatever mind tricks he had used though …

“No. No hits. We talked, that’s all.”

Church’s voice and demeanor seemed dull and flat to Sanchez.

“You okay, partner?”

Church shook himself. The power had subsided and he was starting to feel human again. He looked up and smiled weakly to Sanchez.

“I’m good. It was just a draining interview. We got what we needed, right?”

“And how,” she responded. “Let’s put Viper in the tank and go out and get these other guys, and the gun. This case will be a slam dunk.”

Church stood up. He was feeling better the longer the power stayed within him.

“Let’s do it.”

They did get the other three members of the gang responsible, and the gun. The written confession was damning; so damning that the Gang Task Force came down from Central to take over. Viper was now rolling over on Cienega’s chapter of the MS13, which was helping out a good swath of both Southwest and Pacific Precincts. Sanchez, the lead on the case, got the commendation. This made Church happy. He wanted to keep a low profile if he was going to keep using the power to help people. In a way, he felt that Sanchez was aware of this. Church had a secret and she was happy letting him keep it, as long as it helped them close cases … and made her look good.

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