The TV cast a sterile white light across the dark living room, casting hard shadows on the planes of Hera’s face. She crossed her arms over her chest, one foot braced against the table as she watched a tall, blonde haired man take the podium in front of The Spire. The massive, 170 floor, glass building served as one place to house all the city officials, including the mayor.
While she watched, Galahad moved through the city like a ghost, scouring the streets for Citlali. Alexander VanHerald, the mayor’s son, stood like a titan behind the podium as he addressed the crowd of people packed tightly into the courtyard. He looked unmoveable, like there wasn’t a force in this world that could possibly push him aside. While his father had been an amazing speaker, Alexander had quickly proved to be just as good when he started his campaign to follow in his father’s footsteps.
The cheering died down, and Alexander spoke, “Citizens of Talston. I come to you in this frightful and dire time to offer strength and unity. The violent murders that have been sweeping this city have not gone unnoticed. The police force works diligently day and night to hunt down this killer and put an end to their violent tendencies.”
Galahad’s voice cut through the thin piece of table glass balanced on the armrest, “I’m at the alley.” Hera’s jaw tightened a fraction, the fingers of her prosthetic hand curling into a fist.
“This is a time that will not be easy to bare for many of us, but I implore you all to remember what this great city has always stood for.” The man raised his hands towards the sky, voice carrying out like thunder, “Unity. Strength. Bravery. The unbreakable will to stand as one is something that cannot be taken from us, no matter what tragedy is thrown our way.”
“Hera, I found more of Citlali’s blood and his phone, but it’s smashed to hell and back again. Everything else that we had found here has been completely wiped away.”
“Keep looking.” Hera said.
Alexander brought his fist down on the podium in a move of sheer emotion, “I promise you, citizens of Talston, that we will find this killer. We will find him and put an end to his reign of tyranny and you will not have to fear like this again. Until such a time comes, I urge you all to keep safe. Make sure to lock your doors, be cautions, and do not stay on the streets too late into the night. But in this time of suspicion do not forget that your neighbors are just like you. Do not give in to your fear and turn it into hate for your fellow citizens. Now more than ever, we must stand together against this threat.” The crowd burst into an uproar of applause and cheering, bright flashes of cameras lighting the space.
Once they died down, Alexander continued and a familiar figure joined him on the stage, “I have asked one of our best police chiefs to offer her advice on ways to keep safe in this time, please welcome Chief Siobhan Tabris.”
“Hera.” Galahad’s voice was urgent, pulling Hera’s attention away from the screen as Siobhan started her own speech.
‘“I think I found him.”
October 10th, 2020
Residential District, Talston City
“This doesn’t make any sense.” Galahad crouched on the roof of the building across from the one Citlali lived in, their invisibility cloak vanishing in a shudder, “Like, I live in a void of time and space and this makes less sense than that.” They tapped on the screen in their left arm, pulling their lower lip under their teeth as they went over their readings again.
“What’s going on, Galahad?” Hera’s voice verged on impatient.
“If I’m reading my scan right…” They gave a confused and helpless shrug, “Citlali is in his apartment right now.”
“There’s someone in his apartment and whoever it is matches his DNA, so unless Citlali has a twin he’s never talked about than-”
“Ok, I get it.” Hera snapped, cutting them off mid sentence, “It just doesn’t make sense.”
“You don’t say.” Galahad ran a hand through their hair and sighed, “Missing for two days, leaves behind a pile of blood and then ends up in his apartment? Yeah, that’s just a little odd.” They stood carefully and shook out their legs, balancing precariously on the edge of the roof, “I’m gonna go talk to him.”
“Yeah, I will. I’ll keep you in the loop.” They tapped a spot behind their ear and the white noise of static faded out as they hung up. Everything looked so small from where they were standing. Tiny little people bustling past on their way to work, too invested in their own shoes to look up and see the person standing on the roof above them. City noise drifted up to them, the rumble of cars and above ground trains mixing the chatter of people talking.
Galahad let out a long breath through their nose, walked around the edge of the roof to the side and jumped. They landed in a kneel, their legs soaking up the impact and leaving a slight buzzing feeling in their feet as they stood. Zipping their jacket up, they set off towards Citlali’s building.
It was a fairly average apartment building with a password coded keypad by the inside door. Almost a million dollars of research had gone into making those keypads unhackable and unless one was a highly advanced android form the future, there was a very good chance they weren’t getting into the building.
Thankfully, Galahad happened to be a highly advanced android from the future.
They pressed their hand against it and bypassed the security measures with ease, glancing oh-so casually over their shoulder to make sure no one was watching. Once the door had clicked open they slipped through and beelined for the elevator.
They had no idea what they were going to say to Citlali once they actually saw him. Starting off with: ‘Hey by the way, you’ve been missing for around two days now and you left a lot of blood behind, want to explain that?’ probably wasn’t a great idea. Galahad chewed on the inside of their cheek as the elevator slowly rose towards the fourth floor. They didn’t exactly have a weapon in case something went wrong, just a lot of electricity and their naturally sturdy form to prevent them from harm. Guns weren’t their thing and the energy cannon they had been planning to build into their arm was still nothing more than a blueprint in the back of their mind.
Stepping out of the elevator, Galahad made their way to the right door and knocked a few times before they could chicken out. Their other hand curled into a fist, containing a knot of electricity just in case. They went to knock again with more force just as the door swung open, which nearly lead to them punching Citlali square in the jaw.
“Oh god, sorry! That could’ve been bad,” Galahad’s emotions cycled rapidly through panic, concern and relief at seeing him there, “Wait, why are you here? I’m glad you’re alive but I’m really confused and also wow you look horrible.”
Citlali scrubbed a hand across his face and stepped aside so Galahad could enter his apartment, “Nice to see you too, I think.” While their assessment of his condition was a little on the nose, they weren’t exactly wrong. Citlali looked a little like someone had just pulled him back from the dead; his skin had a sickly sort of grey hue and his eyes weren’t quite focused. He also had a killer headache that no amount of pain killers seemed to be able to cut through. It was like the world’s worst hangover minus the party before hand.
But Galahad had been expecting to track down a dead body, so they were much happier with these results.
“Wait,” Citlali pinched the bridge of his nose and moved past them towards the kitchenette crammed in the far corner of the living room, “Why did you think I was dead?”
Galahad threw their arms out to the side and trailed after him,“You’ve been missing for like, two days, we found your blood in this old warehouse, and I just found your phone smashed to bits in that alleyway.”
Citlali grabbed a bottle of water from his fridge and opened it, giving the android an unimpressed glare, “Very funny, Galahad.” As he tried to move past them Galahad blocked his path, their expression dark.
Their voice was eerily flat, “What’s the date today?”
“It’s the… ninth.” He snapped, his usual patience stuck behind the pain in his head, “Day after we found the alley where Jakob was killed.”
“It’s the tenth actually.” Galahad pulled their phone from their pocket and held it up to show him the date, “You never called in the forensics squad that day, and we didn’t hear from you at all until well… just now.” They bit down on the sore part of their cheek, “What happened to you?”
Citlali’s expression morphed into something pained and conflicted, “I… I only remember being in that alley and then waking up here.” His voice rose in panic, “The rest is just… empty, I don’t remember anything.”
The android grabbed his shoulders, “Woah hey, Citlali, breathe.” He managed a ragged deep breath, “Just… Breathe, we’ll figure this out. I promise.” They loosened their grip on his shoulders and then carefully reached out to the side and snagged a dishcloth off the sink, “You’re side is bleeding.” There was a red stain on Citlali’s side that was rapidly growing, seeping through the fabric of his button down.
He let out a short, pained laugh, “Well, that explains why everything is spinning…” Galahad pressed the dishcloth to the spot on his side and he gritted his teeth against the burst of pain.
“You, sit down and hold this tightly to your side. If you die on me, the Chief will turn me into scrap.” Citali snorted at that as Galahad half lead, half pushed him into the nearest chair and shoved the cloth into his hand, “I’m calling an ambulance.”
Citlali waved a hand at them, closing his eyes so the room would stop spinning, “I’m fine, don’t worry about it. Totally… fine.”
Even with his eyes closed, he knew Galahad was glaring at him, “You’ve been missing for two days and now you’re bleeding, its not fine.” They pressed their tablet glass to their ear and waited anxiously for someone to pick on, their eyes flicking back to Citlali every few seconds to make sure he was still breathing.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“Hi, uh.” Galahad pinched the bridge of their nose, “I found a police officer who’s bleeding really bad, I think he’s been stabbed or shot or something.”
“What’s your location?” Galahad read the street and apartment number off for the responder, “We’ll send an ambulance to your location.”
“Uh, thanks.” Galahad hung up and then winced, “Oh god I probably wasn’t supposed to do that.”
Citlali gave them a wry smile, “Yeah, you’re not really supposed to hang up on 911.” he curled slightly around his wounded side and watched Galahad start to pace. Harmless sparks of electricity generated around their fingers.
“I swear, when we find this guy I’m gonna kill him.” They growled, hands curling tightly into fists, “And then I’m going to revive him and kill him again!”
“Why?” Citali asked, “Why now of all times?”
Galahad threw their hands in the air, “Because you’re my friend you idiot! And no one messes with my friends and gets away with it.” Citlali took one look at them, arms wide out to the side and their face looking like they were going to punch the universe in the face and dissolved into senseless laughter. It nearly made him double over in pain but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been moved to laugh that hard. Reaching out he grabbed Galahad’s arm and pulled them down so he could wrap his free arm around their shoulders in a tight hug.
He let out a long laughing sigh, “Thanks, kid.”
“I think this blood loss has made you crazy.” They mumbled into his shoulder, “That ambulance better hurry up.”