GEN X - Part 5 - The Puppet Show

"Belli!"

"Tara?!?" The confusion rang heavily in his voice.

"Why don't you come on out and we'll talk."

"I thought you were dead."

"I was. It got dull so I came back."

"Always the joker Tara..."

Belli stepped out from behind the badly bullet damaged support he'd be cowering behind. Tara pulled the ski mask off her face and flicked her long blond hair back over her shoulders. The tension was unbearable, each man training their weapons on their targets. Their trigger fingers twitching in anticipation. As Tara and Belli approached each other the tension became too much for one of the black assault team, who fired a nervous shot towards Belli. The round missed and before any repercussion could have taken place Tara spun silently on the spot, pulled out her piece and shot the unfortunate subordinate in the head. He slumped like a rag doll into the row behind who merely dumped him straight onto the floor. Belli raised his hand instructing his boys to hold their fire. It was like a classic Mexican stand off. Neither side were willing to relax their posture and neither side willing to make the first move. I just slowly stood up where I was, no one seemed to be paying any attention to me at all, which suited me just fine. I just wanted to find the quickest and easiest route out of there that didn't involve a coroner.

"Belli, you know why I'm here don't you."

"No my dear, do enlighten me."

"Logan sent me to kill you, he knows what you're up to."

"Typical Logan, always more concerned with my business than his own... Gen!" Great, now I was going to get dragged into a conversation I wanted nothing to do with. "...Have you met our beautiful guest? Oh but of course you have."

"Yeah, the face is familiar but I can't quite place the name... So, which one are you?" She just looked at me for a second, then gave me a sly, knowing wink.

"Does it matter? Am I any more real than the others?"

"When you put it like that... I guess not but just for my own personal gratification can't you just give me a clue?"

"I was in your office that day, I hired you. I was the one who shot Belli's poor excuse for a pawn in the eye's and took her place."

Belli faked a cough to bring the conversation back round to him.

"Sorry to interrupt your non-reunion and the ruining of a perfectly good plan, but there was talk of me getting killed today... anyone like to elaborate?"

Now I was getting excited. Could it be that I was finally going to find out exactly what was going on?

"Come on Belli, you know me better than that. When was the last time I did any thing that Logan asked me... besides when have I ever turned down a business proposition?"

Obviously I wasn't going to get that lucky. Tara signalled to her people to lower their weapons. They all safety-ed their pieces in a chorus of clicks. It did my blood pressure the world of good but a swift hit of old granddad soon sorted that out. Not to be out done in the bravado department Belli motioned to his boys to lower their stance too. Both packs amassed behind their respective handlers as the two approached each other.

"So what proposition would this be Tara?"

"I'm disappointed, I though you knew how this worked... Make me an offer I can't refuse."

"Ahh, a girl after my own heart. How about an eighty twenty split of your soon-to-be-ex-husbands business."

"Eighty twenty, evidently you do want me to gut you like a fish."

"Ok, lets not get hasty. I'm a reasonable man after all. Seventy thirty?"

Tara moved her left hand up to flick her hair out of her face, by the time she lowered her hand the laser sight strapped to the biggest hand cannon I'd ever seen was nicely illuminating Belli's groin.

"Seventy thirty sounds reasonable. I would have gone to forty but I guess its too late now."

Belli was about to explode, luckily for him one of his goons coughed and motioned down to his joy department. The beads of sweat formed quickly on Belli's brow. He took a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and patted his forehead before nervously looking up at Tara.

"You drive a hard bargain young lady. I suppose I have no choice but to accept"

It was about then that you guys showed up. I remember the looks on their faces when the assault claws attached themselves to the building and the floods kicked in. They all hit the floor like it was the end of the world. I must admit that when your badgeweilding thugs wanna make an entrance they do it with style. So there you have it, that's all I know. Now either you flatfoots charge me with something or let me the hell out of here.

CLICK - "Interview terminated 23:50"

Baines recited the usual spiel.

"Ok Mr X, you're free to go pending further investigation."

Before he could finish Davies slapped his hands down on the desk.

"Gen, you know the deal... don't you go leaving town anytime soon. Now get the hell out of my sight. You can pick your stuff up at the front desk."

I kicked the chair back, stood up and made my way to the door.

"And don't let me catch you back in here again. Damn it Gen, I just don't get you, you threw it all away. What happened to you?"

Sliding the door open I turned back to Davies.

"I woke up, why wont you."

I slowly strolled through the precinct to the front desk where I convinced the neanderthal behind the counter to hand over my personal effects... not least of which was my lucky hipflask. It was going to take them a while to unravel this snakes-wedding of a case so it really wasn't in my interest to go far. I thought I'd just head back to the office and try and do something about the pain behind my eyes. I walked past the custody office and out of the corner of my eye saw Tara signing what seemed to be a release. It looked like we'd all get away clean, somehow. By the time I got outside I just managed to see Belli getting loaded into the back of a prison escort vehicle. Something stunk and for once it wasn't me, what the hell had they charged him with? As far as I knew he came out of this whiter than white compared to Tara. I was half way down the stairs when shockwave of an explosion put me on my back. Dazed but conscious I lifted my head to see the flaming wreckage of the escort vehicle crash down to earth. It looked like Belli was finally out of his depth and now, out of the way.

I picked myself up and dusted myself off. As I reached the pavement a familiar black limo pulled along side the kerb and the door swung open. Logan motioned me into the seat.

"Thank you Gen, here's your payment in full. Your diligent work got me all the proof I needed. And I have to say it certainly is useful having friends in high legal places"

Something started ticking over in the beck of my head. A variation on the gnawing feeling that I'd had since I started this case. Something just wasn't sitting right. I was just starting to work it through from the beginning when something finally clicked.

"I didn't attach anything to their network did I? You bugged me... And... I guess you got all the dirt you needed on Belli and Tara? Obviously somebody downtown is on the payroll and shook the whole place down.... Which meant you then had everyone you wanted in the same place. Now certain other criminal elements are spread over a quarter of a mile of the district and you've got their business... which means you've been running this show from the beginning?"

"You're a smart chap Gen, you really are. I must stop underestimating you. Now, can I give you a lift anywhere?"

"Actually I think I'll enjoy the walk. Its nice to still be able to."

"That's what I like to see, a man who still enjoys the simple things. In that case, if you'll excuse me I have a call to make."

I opened the door of the limo and stepped out onto the pavement, the street was now a swarm of feds, medtechs and reporters each after their respective pounds of slightly charred flesh. Tara was at the bottom of the stairs just as I turned to close the door. Being a gentleman... most of the time... I held the door for her. As she stepped into the car she gave me a kiss on the cheek and whispered into my ear.

"Can I convince you to join me for a drink?"

"A drink with a beautiful woman. Now there's an offer I cant refuse, gimme a call"

"I've got a better idea, you give me a call"

She slipped her card into my pocket and got into the limo. I closed the door and they slipped off into the hustle and bustle. I started walking to the station, I hadn't been walking for more than a couple of minutes when I felt the familiar cold wet drips that I've come to know and love. I turned up my collar and reached for my bottle.

I got back to the office an hour or so later to find two messages waiting for me. The first was Davies informing me that I'd been cleared, the case was closed and all investigations had been dropped. I guess Logan's call had put pay to any nasty legal repercussions. I still wasn't sure if Davies was dirty or not, I guess time will tell. The second was my landlord demanding his rent. People are like vultures, they smell a fresh kill and they're all over you. Still at least it gives me a reason to turn up again tomorrow.

I decided to give Tara a call on her offer. I stuck her card in the comms unit and hit dial. Logan's face appeared on the screen.

"Oh, Gen. Sorry Tara cant come to the phone right now. She's otherwise disposed. Women eh? Can't live with them...." Bzzzzzzz.

I guess the drink wasn't gonna come off anytime soon.

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