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       Halfkinds: Survival and Superiority (Volume 1 - Contact), p.1

           Andrew Vu
Halfkinds: Survival and Superiority (Volume 1 - Contact)

  Andrew Vu

  Copyright 2012 ? Andrew Vu

  This book or any portion may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher or author, except for the use of quotations in a book review.

  Copy Edit by Cyndy McClay

  Final Edit by Nick McClay

  Recoil Books

  ISBN-13: 978-0988520608

  ISBN-10: 0988520605

  All Rights Reserved by Andrew Vu

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.




  Chapter 1 - The Detective - Contact

  Chapter 2 - Leonard Lawton - Homecoming

  Chapter 3 - Simon Trevor - Debrief

  Chapter 4 - Iris Lawton - Outcasts

  Chapter 5 - Fenrir Snow - Allies

  Chapter 6 - Tiago Lawton - Weakling

  Chapter 7 - Simon Trevor - Sundown

  Chapter 8 - Fenrir Snow - Hunters

  Chapter 9 - Lombardi Lawton - Prey

  Chapter 10 - Oscar Lawton - Leaders

  Chapter 11 - Iris Lawton - Origin

  Chapter 12 - Apollo Bradley - Partners

  Chapter 13 - Tiago Lawton - Sacrifice

  Chapter 14 - Curtis Lawton - Monsters

  Chapter 15 - Simon Trevor - Risks

  Chapter 16 - Oscar Lawton - Runners

  Chapter 17 - Simon Trevor - Assault

  Chapter 18 - Oscar Lawton - Ambush

  Chapter 19 - Curtis Lawton - Deserter

  Chapter 20 - Apollo Bradley - Spared

  Chapter 21 - Iris Lawton - Refuge

  Chapter 22 - Fenrir Snow - Conflicted

  Chapter 23 - Curtis Lawton - Lair

  Chapter 24 - Fenrir Snow - Killzone

  Chapter 25 - Tiago Lawton - Abandoned

  Chapter 26 - Apollo Bradley - Hindsight

  Chapter 27 - Fenrir Snow - Recovery

  Chapter 28 - Iris Lawton - Memories

  Chapter 29 - Simon Trevor - Storm

  Chapter 30 - Tiago Lawton - Meltdown

  Chapter 31 - Apollo Bradley - Fable

  Chapter 32 - Fenrir Snow - Sunrise

  Chapter 33 - Iris Lawton - Countdown

  Chapter 34 - The Superior - Postscript

  Chapter 1 - The Detective - Contact

  November 15, 3040 5:31 AM

  I got the tip to investigate a homicide in a small town called Primm, about forty miles outside of Las Vegas. I normally don't take calls so far away, but seeing that it was 5:00 in the morning and there weren't any responders, I figured why not.

  I had just started my day and woke up at around half past three to take my shower. The water was cold that morning; damn heater must have been broken again. I guess I get what I pay for in this apartment.

  I popped some toast and eggs in an insta-cooker, and a second later it was all done. I couldn't cook that well and, with no lady around, that box was my only personal chef. All I had to do was pop in a little pea size pod, and a few seconds later, I had a full meal. Sure it didn't have the human touch I enjoyed, but it still tasted pretty good. Amazing what technology can do these days.

  I got my badge and gear, and hopped into my hovercar towards the police station in Sloan. The morning air was crisp and fresh. It looked like it was going to be a relatively hot day in November. I turned on my car's AI and asked what the weather was going to be.

  "Eighty five degrees. There will be light showers at 4:42 PM, but skies will clear up by 8:15 PM. Is that all you require, detective?"

  "One more thing, when will the sun rise?"

  "From your position, it will rise at 5:45 AM. It will be to your left. Is that all?"

  "Yes, computer, thank you."

  "You're welcome, have a nice day."

  A fifteen minute, quiet hovercar ride had passed and I was at the station. As I exited my vehicle, the dispatcher buzzed in about the tip, just before five. The tipper said he heard gunshots around 4:00 in the morning and a woman's scream, so I quickly chimed in to the dispatcher and said I was available to investigate.

  "It looks like today is going to have some action after all, what a time to be alive in the thirty first century," I said to myself, and I was on my way. It is where I am now, in my car, en route to the crime scene.

  A quiet fear overtakes me. It's the same fear I always feel before an investigation like this. Robberies, vandals, I can deal with, but homicides are different. The sight of a dead body always irks me, the possibility that the killer hasn't left is even more troublesome.

  It'll take about twenty minutes to get to Primm, and my thoughts are the only things that keep me company. Sometimes I wish I had a partner, but with the budget so small and the robots taking care of parking and speeding tickets, I guess I should be happy that I have a job in the first place. Not many can say they've had a long career in law enforcement, but being a detective sure helps. There's only so much that artificial intelligence can cover without a human mind.

  It also doesn't hurt that I'm a cop in one of the most crime ridden areas in the United States. They say you can get anything in Las Vegas. Want to blow your life savings on a game of craps? Go ahead. Need a fix? Just go to any shady corner and you got it. And you can be sure there's something that will satisfy you no matter what you're into.

  It's not the gambling, drugs, and sex that cause the chaos, it's the crowds. Things get rowdy fast. That's what happens when you have all these species mixing in with each other. We already live in a world where the wolves hate the dogs, the gorillas are at war with the lions and everyone pretty much hates humans. God, I wonder what it was like to live back in the old days, when people were the only ones who could think for themselves.

  These animals got too smart too fast, and all of a sudden they're all fighting for their share on this planet. Worst part is that we humans allowed it to happen.

  I think about this kind of stuff when I'm on my way to these cases. I think about how crazy a world I live in. I guess we humans got carried away with our dreams and ambitions.

  But I am getting distracted. I can't be thinking about this right now, not before walking into a crime scene. I have to remain focused.

  Primm is usually known for being a hooker town. Since Las Vegas is strictly a no prostitution zone, all the neighboring towns have cashed in. Boulder City, Goodsprings, Mead, Moapa, all those places are a haven for selling sex. Thank God Sloan hasn't turned out that way, because I have seen some weird shit over the years.

  Species stick to their own species. Human hookers have human clients, dog hookers have dog clients, that's the way it is because it's against the law to have interspecies relations. The worldwide government banned it a long time ago, right when the other animals started to become equals with humans. We don't want it, and neither do they. But here in the Vegas area, laws are always broken and once in a while I'm forced to put some sick dog or human or whatever to justice.

  It's hard because a lot of the pimps are in control in these areas, but even interspecies clients are something that most pimps want nothing to do with. It's the taboo of all taboos, and when they are found they get cracked down on hard.

  Sometimes I think it's strange how all of this came about when other species started to get smarter. You would think that intelligence would bring a level of sensibility and morality within creatures, help them see wh
at is right and what is wrong. But quite the opposite happens. Smart or not, every being has its own desires. Intelligence allows those desires to be realized.

  Primm is particularly notorious for this kind of stuff, maybe because it's so far south, away from the grasp of civilization. A lot of murders and busts happen down in Primm and, with their lack of law enforcement, guys like me usually get called there to check things out. They don't have enough resources to handle this dangerous place. That's why I have that feeling of fear every time I have to check out a homicide, especially in Primm.

  "Computer, what's the ETA of my destination?"

  "Ten minutes. You will travel on Troup Road for approximately three minutes and then make a right on Chakming Drive. Continue on for seven more minutes and you will arrive at 1523 Chakming Drive. Do you need anything else?"

  "No, that is all. Thank you."

  I look out my window and see the poverty filled streets of Primm. There's litter everywhere, and several homeless species. Dogs, humans, even a bear, all with "help me" signs and tattered clothing. The bear looked particularly out of place; they normally don't like the heat of Vegas. But I guess when you're homeless, you're homeless.

  I make a right on Chakming Drive, and I notice the street is completely empty. There are no businesses, no stores, just a few vacant homes spaced out by unkempt lawns and broken down hovercars. This homicide victim must be the last resident here. It seems like the rest of this area has been abandoned for years.

  I arrive at the address, 1523 Chakming Drive. I must have driven down the road for about a mile before reaching this empty house at the end of the street. It was the only house left at that point, and when I arrive I can see why. It's old, run down, and shabby looking to say the least. It stands at one story high with no fence. Weeds are growing onto the street. There are rusted hovercars in the driveway. Whoever lived here didn't travel much judging by the condition of the vehicles.

  I park my car and take my gun out of the holster. I charged it overnight, so it is at one hundred percent energy. I open the side door and get out, slowly looking around to make sure there is no one else in the area. The killer could very well have returned to the scene of the crime, so my gun is switched to fire mode.

  I make my way through the yard, and right away I notice the front door is open. The dispatcher was right about the freshness of the crime because the killer made no attempt to cover it up. He must have been in a hurry.

  I make my way up the porch, and squeaking noises radiate out of it with every step I take. I'm now in the house, gun held with both arms as I use my head to peer through the hallways, and it's pretty empty. I see only a few signs of life scattered about: a dining table in one of the rooms I had walked past, faint shoeprints on the hardwood floor that I was walking on. There are some lamps dispersed here and there, and several closed doors.

  I also smell a foul stench. It smells like rotten fish mixed with eggs. It's horrible, and it only gets stronger as I approach the kitchen. The floor continues to creak with every step I take. And then I arrive at the kitchen and see the source of the odor.

  On the ground, there is a body, a woman whose skin is pale and limbs are stiff. She has an almond face, though it is a bit bloated, and long brown hair that reaches down to her back. She is curvy, big bosoms and thighs, but also short. She seems to be just over five feet. She was probably quite the looker when she was alive.

  I cover my nose as the stench is at its strongest. This woman must have been dead for at least a week, judging by the stink she is emitting. There was no way the crime could've happened this morning.

  I step closer to examine her body and I see no gunshot wounds, no seared flesh from energy pistols, not even any blunt trauma. It appears that the woman had died from natural causes. She looks too young for that, though. Judging from her appearance, she was probably only seventy or eighty years old. Natural death usually occurs when someone is over one hundred fifty.

  All this speculation is useless though, the only way I can get the real story is if I do a scan, so I take out my bio scanner from my pocket and stand above her. I turn the handheld device on and two laser emitters shine onto her body and travel up and down several hundred times in a matter of seconds. The first examination is complete, so I do the next one. I cover my mouth and take a latex glove from my pocket. I then open her right eye a bit and place the scanner on top of it. I flash the lasers over her retina. The second phase is complete, so it is now on to the third.

  I place the scanner above her left wrist. Two small needles protrude from it and prick her forearm. The blood sample is taken. The scan is complete.

  "Analyzing," the computer says, "estimated completion time five minutes."

  I really need to upgrade my software, because five minutes is a goddamn eternity compared to some of the newer models out there. With five minutes to kill, I continue my investigation of the house.

  It is odd, I see signs of life around the house, but what I don't see are signs of a full life. There are no books, no TV, not even a music player. The house just has things that were necessary for living. Clothes, some unclean dishes in the sink, a few credits lying about. That was it, nothing else. This woman seemed to live far away from the modern world, like a hermit.

  I walk out into the living room and notice a door on the wall. It must be a closet, so I approach it and nothing happens. Its motion sensor must be broken, I'm going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. I reach into its indented groove, get a firm grip, and pull hard. Really hard. After a few seconds of struggle, I'm able to pry it open. It is a closet, filled with dusty boxes. Whatever is in them hasn't been touched for a long time.

  I open one of them to see its contents - a bunch of photo frames, lots of them. I grab the nearest one and take a look at the picture. It's her, the woman, kneeling on a porch next to what appears to be a group of children. At least, they look like her children, though there sure are a lot of them. The photo is dusty so I use my shirt to wipe it clean. I take a closer look at her. She is smiling and looks healthy.

  I then look at the children. They look 'different' to put it nicely. I don't notice at first, but as I stare closer at each one, they don't appear to be human. Some have long hairs coming out of their faces, others have no hair and their skin looks scaly. One in particular looks like he has some stripes on his face. I have never seen a picture of children like that before. They almost look like animals.

  Was this taken during Halloween? These costumes look pretty real. What kind of freak show was this?

  "Analysis complete."

  I nearly drop the scanner as the sound of the AI breaks my thoughts.

  "Name, Maya Lawton, age of death, eighty two. There is a thirty percent chance victim died of natural causes. The rest is inconclusive."

  "Natural causes at this age? I find that hard to believe. Computer, any unusual traits found on the body?"


  I have never heard the computer say that.

  "Computer," I say, "please be more specific with your response."

  "Subject appears to have some damage in the uterus area, but I cannot find a match to a historical case similar to what was scanned."

  "That's strange. Computer, cross reference your search on uterus damage with multiple births. Victim appears to have a group of several children. Could the toll of multiple births combined with your findings of uterus damage have been a cause of death?"

  "Computing?? It is possible, but inconclusive."

  It looks like I am going nowhere with the cause of death.

  "Computer," I say, "please state medical history."

  "No recent records found. Last known medical appointment occurred on February 13th, 2990."

  "Damn, that was over fifty years ago. Computer, state criminal record."

  "Maya Lawton alias Maya Howl. Five counts of illegal prostitution. Last known incarceration was
in 3014, sentenced to ten years for unlawful interspecies intercourse. Was released with good behavior in 3016."

  I look at the pictures. "3016, that was twenty four years ago. That means this picture was taken after that. Interspecies intercourse? It can't be?. Computer, summarize most recent research on interspecies breeding."

  "With other species gaining intelligence spanning hundreds of years, research on interspecies breeding suggests it is still only in theory. Scientists are unsure of the probability that one day interspecies breeding is possible. Case in point, there is no conclusive evidence proving or disproving the possibility of mixed species existing. However, public opinion has remained that this subject is taboo."

  The computer tells me what I already know, but my eyes do not. I see a picture of half- man, half-animal children and I learn of their mother's shady history as a prostitute. I put the clues together and hypothesize that this woman gave birth to abominations, monsters or something.

  But where are they? I see no signs of life at all. Not even a sound. It's as if the only person who lived in this house was her.


  I hear the footsteps of someone else. I am not alone in this house and quickly run to a wall, gun pressed against my chest. The steps come slowly, thump, by thump, by thump. The sound emits from the front of the house. I am in the living room, right beside it. The only thing that separates us is a thin, decrepit wall.

  I don't think the intruder heard me shuffle to my cover, because its footsteps sound calm. There's no rushing or sudden movements. I slowly edge myself closer, and continue to hear the lingering thuds of each step. He's now walking away from my position, towards the kitchen, towards the woman's body.

  Does he know her?

  This is it, no fear. I slowly peer my head over to see who it is, but his back faces me. He wears a large sweatshirt, head covered with a hood. He has thick, brown boots on, which explains all the heavy thuds I heard when he entered the premises.

  From my position, I can see him kneeling down over the woman's body. His back is still turned. He's vulnerable, it is time to make my move. With a rush of adrenaline, I run to him and point my gun.

  "Freeze! Hands up!" I yell. He's caught off guard and stands up immediately. His hands remain at his side.

  "I said hands up!" He does nothing. "Hands up!"

  I sense his fear, his head is shivering.

  "It's okay, I just need to ask you some questions, now hands up!"

  Still nothing.

  "Now!" I yell.

  In a blink of an eye, he runs towards the kitchen counter. I'm shocked that he doesn't obey my orders. I still have my gun pointed at him, and his sudden movements make my trigger finger itch. But I remain calm, even as he makes his mad dash to the counter.

  I must remain calm. I must. Until?

  ? I see him reaching for a butcher knife in the sink.

  When you only have a few seconds to react, time stays still. I see him reaching for the knife and my instinct is to move, but my body can't compute this. I want to move my arms, my legs, to charge after him, but I can't. That moment is frozen in time, and I feel paralyzed.

  The only thing I can move is my finger. I fire a shot directly into his chest. I fire another one to make sure.

  His arms fly violently above his head, and he stumbles backwards. His legs flail up into the air and his head jerks back. The knife that was in his hand falls down as he does. I see all of this millisecond by millisecond. That's how it's always like when I have to kill someone.

  Time speeds up back to its normal pace. The attacker isn't moving. There are now two dead bodies on the ground and I have a good look at his face. I walk over to examine it and I am floored.

  His skin is shiny, and the greenest of greens I had ever seen. His eyes are on the side of his head. He has no nose, it's more like a pointy snout, and his mouth is as wide as his head. His legs are strong and muscular. He looks like a frog, but there is something strangely human about him.

  It is like he was made of puzzle pieces that aren't supposed to fit. The overall picture is completely unnatural and extremely frightening.

  What have I stumbled into?

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