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The lesser repository, p.1
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       The Lesser Repository, p.1

           DaVaun Sanders
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The Lesser Repository

  The Lesser Repository

  By DaVaun Sanders

  Copyright 2013 DaVaun Sanders


  Thank you for downloading this free ebook. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy. Your support is appreciated.

  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.


  Table of Contents

  01:59 AM

  03:07 AM

  04:40 AM

  05:16 AM

  07:31 AM

  Free Chapters of The Seedbearing Prince: Part I

  Chapter 1: Laman's Well

  Chapter 2: A Day for Hunters

  Chapter 3: Evensong

  Chapter 4: The Midnight Sun

  About the Author

  01:59 AM

  Ben Reiner pressed a fresh ice pack to his temple, grimacing in pain. The suspect in the interrogation cell stared back at him through a curtain of unraveling sinew. Somewhere in that mangled ruin, calm eyes waited for him. The biggest arrest of Reiner’s so-called career, and he was lucky to survive it. He might even hustle some money from this thing, if he could think for more than thirty seconds at a time.

  Click. Click. Click.

  His neuro-feed unit kept switching on and off by itself. The phantom clicks were much worse than his headache. His regrowth was generations ahead of the latest public domain tech. Nearly getting his skull caved in by this guy shouldn’t have damaged it so easily.

  “Maybe one more good swing will fix it. Bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?” Reiner muttered aloud, as though the suspect could hear him from behind the glass. His own reflection stared back at him, clear blue eyes well beyond bloodshot, red hair slicked to his scalp in places. Crimson stained his white button-down liberally.

  The suspect's voice startled him. “We've little time,” he called out. His jaw hung crookedly, ready to slide slide from its hinges.

  Reiner looked longingly at the observation room's lone wastebasket, then squeezed his eyes shut. “Better hope Harrison gets here soon, or you and me are gonna have a really ugly conversation.”

  “We should talk face to face.” Another coincidence in the timing of the man’s words. Speech came easier for him, although his jaw still clung to an awkward angle.

  Click. Click. Click.

  Reiner hoped his neuro-feed worked its glitches out, and tried not to wonder what would happen to his brain if the phantom clicks worsened. He dismissed the idea of requisitioning City techs for a diagnostic pass. He knew he couldn’t afford another co-pay.

  “This might be your big break, partner.” Jay Harrison entered the room, scrolling through a case pad as he balanced a cold cappuccino in the crook of his elbow. He slapped the pad down on the table, hiding a yawn behind a meaty fist as he plunked himself into one of the metal chairs. “That is, if your little revenue-tech idea doesn't steal the spectacle anytime soon.”

  “I still might surprise you,” Reiner said. He nodded to the cell. “See him now? Look.”

  Harrison's good-natured grin immediately slipped off his face. A lot had changed in ten minutes. “You realize this is going to be the most high-profile in fifty years. Guy’s a terrorist for sure. Didn't think City industry would ever attract that sort in my lifetime. Good thing I pulled you off of him. The mappers needed three sweeps to ID him after those...bruises you left him with.”

  “So I lost it. Fine. You saw what he did,” Reiner retorted. His memories of the night's arrest were hard to recall, punctuated with the headache and phantom clicks. He looked guiltily at the wastebasket, then snatched his eyes away. He couldn’t forget the feel of the boy's cold wrist, so small and limp in his palm. A bored kid exploring the stadium, that was all. Old as Reiner’s son would have been.

  The suspect looked out at them, expectant. He flexed his jaw experimentally. A loud pop sounded through the cell speakers. Harrison quietly stood, placing a hand on Reiner's shoulder. He always showed up right before Reiner did anything too stupid. He had a gift. “Fair enough.”

  “We need an update from those neuro-techs at the stadium,” Reiner said after a moment. “The crowd should be cleared out by now. I want to know how this guy was tampering with the spectacle feed.”

  The detectives watched the man's face knit itself back together with morbid fascination. Give him another half hour, and no one would ever guess Reiner almost beat him to death. All that remained of the swollen face was a purple, roach-sized bruise under the man’s left eye. His greasy blond hair still showed dried blood from when the two fought in the hallways beneath the neuro-stadium.

  “Remember when you used to go in there for verbal confessions?” Harrison asked, stepping closer to the glass. He wore his usual gray button down with rolled up sleeves. No tie, but impeccably shined shoes and pressed black trousers. “I swear the stale smoke and piss was gonna leach into your skin, you kept that up.”

  “I was pretty naive,” Reiner admitted slowly. Harrison was stalling for some reason. Sentimental was not like him at all, but Reiner played along. “You’d tell me, 'Dumb rookie, you gonna lose yourself in there one day.'”

  Harrison snorted. “Then you went and married Lisa.” Reiner looked at him sharply. “Easy, Ben. I'm not your dad. You know I like her.”

  “You got a funny way of saying so.”

  “Don't twist my words around,” Harrison said. “All I meant was trying so hard to relate to the dregs is a waste of life. Nothing left to 'em but emptiness and pain. Even Lisa knows that—and she made her way out from the under-City.”

  Reiner shook his head. “She never talks about down there,” he said. Even with all of his money troubles, he could hardly imagine living in the shadow of the City. No industry, no purpose. Better to work in waste reclamation than choose that. “I used to think they could help me understand her better.”

  Silence stretched a moment, filled only by the phantom clicks in Reiner's head, spaced nearly five seconds apart now. He managed to bark a laugh. “Dumb rook. Thanks to you, the chief didn't know my name, for my first three months.”

  “Three months? How about the last six years?” Harrison chuckled roughly and downed his cappuccino. “He'll remember your name after tonight. Believe that.” The empty bottle landed in the wastebasket with a clink.

  Accusation made Harrison’s burn. Reiner stared straight ahead at the observation glass, cursing his own carelessness. Scabs covered the table’s interrogation cell as they flaked away from the suspect's face. Harrison fished the empty bottle from the wastebasket.

  Click. Click. Click.

  His partner sniffed the contents. Reiner had torn the label off, as if that would give any veteran detective pause. “Oh hell, partner. Are you really pulling this now?”

  Click. Cli— Just at that moment, the neuro-feed unit's phantom clicks finally stopped.

  “My head's been...the meds weren't working and I—”

  Harrison waved away his stammering. “I don't buy that for a second. What the hell are you thinking? The two of you are expecting!”

  “I know, finally,” Reiner said bitterly. Harrison was his partner for six years, and his sponsor for eight. “More bills. A City collector paid me a visit today. Do you know how much a regrowth placenta costs?”

  “You could be doing a lot worse, partner. And here I was just can't hit Lisa with
this now. You gotta tighten up, man.”

  “I will. It was just the headache,” Reiner said defensively. “Pushed me over the edge.” A poor excuse, even in his own ears. He glared at the suspect, who stared at them with a strange, slight smile on his face.

  “Four years sobriety in the trash.” Harrison tossed the bottle disgustedly back into the wastebasket. The sound of shattering glass echoed through the room. “Over this scum? We're going back to group. Tomorrow night when this all wraps up.”

  “Tonight, you mean?” Reiner said.

  Harrison glowered at him, then motioned irritably toward the scroll-pad.“You gonna read that yourself, or you want the quick-sync?” He tapped his temple twice, silently asking permission to link their neuro-feeds.

  “Nah, my feed is glitched over,” Reiner said. The clicks were stopped, but he didn’t want to use the regrowth right then, either. “Just tell me about him.”

  Concern flickered in Harrison's eyes as he took in Reiner's bruise, but he hid it quickly behind the stern mask. Reiner couldn’t even meet his eyes. Four years...he's right. Harrison had stuck with him through his first relapse, and two miscarriages.

  “He really put one on you,” Harrison said. “I'd get a med team down here but...” He trailed off, looking pointedly at the wastebasket.

  “I'm fine,” Reiner lied. He most likely had a concussion. He couldn’t even remember what the guy hit him with in the stadium halls. A length of pipe maybe. He vaguely remembered a clang sound against his skull. “They don't pay us by the hour, partner. Enlighten me.”

  “Maddix Wynn. No record at all. Professor of our very own City Thirty-Eight’s Greater Academy for ten years. Wow, degrees all over the place. Neuro-engineering, divinity, philosophy and dimensional theory. Certified genius on our hands.”

  “My father was a neuro-engineer,” Reiner mused. The suspect—Maddix Wynn—looked at the glass with that same half-formed smile. No desire to reach out for understanding. Not with this one. “We need to hear from those neuro-techs.”

  “You said that already.” Harrison tapped the reflective glass to wake up the cell sensors. “My neuro-feed is patched into their cloud sync. Soon as they finish the diagnostic, I'll know about it.”

  “Oh. Didn't think of that.”

  Harrison favored him with a bland look. “You need to see something. I scanned him while you were off looking for painkillers.”

  “Why? His healing tech is obvious.”

  “You think? You beat him within an inch of his life.” Harrison licked his lips, staring into the cell. Reiner shifted uncomfortably. Unregistered regrowths in the City populace made even the toughest peace officers queasy. “Now he barely has worse than a shiner.”

  The interrogation room glass flickered to life as Harrison inputted commands into his pad. Data feeds streamed what information the bio sweepers licked from Wynn. Reiner frowned as he read the glass.

  Vitals were all leveled out, heart rate and respiration more like a man fast asleep. The interrogation cell pulsed with green and white hues, as the room's hidden sweepers scanned deeper into Wynn's body. The process lent a sickly pallor to his calm expression. He knew what they were doing.

  “Oh my God.” Reiner dropped his ice pack. Red warning displays flared across the glass.

  “I know.” Harrison swallowed as the cell spilled the secrets hidden within Wynn's flesh.

  A “Vein Bender” plasma accelerator with cognitive adrenaline triggers explained Wynn's abnormal heart rate. That sort of regrowth could not be ingested or implanted, it required weeks of careful surgery and programming. And money.

  Dexterity enhancers in his motor cortex, synced to multi-spectrum corneal implants. Regrowths designed for military snipers. “You realize he can see in the dark,” Reiner muttered. “He might be able to see through this damned glass.”

  Harrison grimaced. “Hadn't thought of that.”

  Reiner returned the ice pack to his temple, acutely aware of Wynn's gaze as he continued reading. Carbon molecular bonding on seventy-two different bones, plus the entire spinal column. Reiner remembered now when the man struck him in the stadium. No pipe at all, it was Wynn's fist.

  “This guy has more regrowths than you and Lisa put together,” Harrison said. “Nine of them our system can't even read. Experimental, or homegrown. He's done something to his lymph system, you see that?”

  “I see it.” Exhilaration pulsed through Reiner as he considered the implications of what he saw. Only another City would pour such resources into one man. Terrorist for sure. Set to sabotage some aspect of City Thirty-Eight’s industry, likely neuro-spectacle developers. “Time to find out what he knows.”

  “Wait. We've got to follow protocol for this one.” Harrison barred Reiner from the door. “Five different agencies have called since we processed him. Intra-City Defense, Department of Continental Freedom, even some suits from City One patched through to us on an encrypted sync. The chief said—”

  “Screw ICD and City One! I got my head cracked open bringing this guy down!” Reiner's face reddened in anger. “Damn it, Harrison—you saw what he did to that kid. We should—”

  “Chief said leave him be, let them sort out priority,” Harrison said firmly. “Don't look at me like that! He should be gutted for tonight, I know that. I saw it too.” He shuddered. Harrison was ex-military, part of the decorated forces that “founded” City Seventy-Six a decade ago. He never talked about his past, and Reiner never asked. But some nights after shift he simply handed Reiner his gun to keep until the next morning.

  “Guess you were wrong. It's not my big break after all.” Just when his career looked due for an upgrade, reality swung back even harder than before.

  “You still think you deserve one?”

  Reiner sighed, he couldn’t argue with that. The details nagged his mind. Industry espionage was fierce from City to City, but commonplace. Why all this attention for one lone act of sabotage? “We should be seeing ransom warrants, not ICD extradition. Wynn is a Culler isn't he?”

  A surge of vindication quickened Reiner's pulse when Harrison swore under his breath. “You’re too smart for your own good, you know that? You didn't hear it from me.” They both stared at Wynn with a mixture of awe and dread. The restraints and reflective glass might as well not be there, considering the host of regrowths housed within the man’s diminutive frame. “I never thought Cullers were so invested in regrowth tech.”

  “And I never thought we'd see them in the City,” Harrison muttered. “I prayed we wouldn't. Especially not one like this. It's a wonder all that tech hasn't killed him. Know why they never get caught? The Cullers?”

  “No. Why?”

  “No pattern. They aren't racist, and no religion so far as anyone can tell. Most highly organized terrorist group in the world since the nations went post nuke. They just wipe out as many people as possible.”

  “So if he wasn't out to sabotage the spectacle...the stadium? Harrison, there were three hundred thousand people there tonight!”

  “Sick, I know. Nobody knows what makes them tick.”

  “Until tonight.” Reiner held up his hands at Harrison’s scowl. “Okay, okay...tomorrow. Calm down.”

  “Give me a good reason. You've been scheming since I left to get his pad. Since you drained that bottle.”

  “Do you know how much I could make from a recorded interrogation?” Reiner demanded. Setting his neuro-feed to transmit was such a simple command. One data transfer to the right bidder afterward and his family would never worry about money again. “I’d sit on it, wait to stream it until after he's executed.”

  “Listen. I know you’re thinking this will get your neuro-feed sharing startup to explode. You’re already years ahead of any competition, since no one else can capture content like we can. Great idea, except our job isn't this damned exciting most nights.”

  Harrison clicked off the interrogation cell's bio sweeper, and Wynn flickered back into drab fluorescent lighting. “A
nd not with this guy, he's too dangerous. I mean look at him. Cullers are the worst kind of crazy. Leave him to Intra-City.”

  “Fine.” Reiner relented. Harrison was the most stubborn man he knew, besides himself. There was no persuading the man when his mind was set, especially with work. Reiner used to be the same way, until he realized he couldn’t afford to paint a nursery for the child his wife carried.

  “What about the kid? In the stadium?” he persisted. “If the crowd was his target, why take so much time butcher—”

  A shadow crossed Harrison's face. “Leave it, partner. It's been a long night.”

  “Too long,” Reiner agreed, tossing his ice pack in the sink.

  Almost on cue, a pitched chime sounded in his ears, indicating Lisa requesting a direct sync. “Hold on a sec, the wife is sending.”

  “That's what you get for enrolling in the spousal share. Never would’ve caught me giving Kendra a unit.” Harrison smirked, but unconsciously rubbed his naked ring finger like always whenever his ex-wife came up. “Granting you access to my head is bad enough.”

  “Funny. Lisa's the one who got me thinking about the start up at all. She was using regrowths way before I met her,” Reiner said.

  “The cosmetic stuff? I'll pass. You probably don't even know what color her eyes really are.” Harrison shook his head ruefully and made for the door. “Gotta make sure the night boys keep this reject cozy. See you tomorrow.”

  Reiner went the opposite direction, down a rarely swept hall. He wondered at his exasperating luck the entire way. A missed interrogation with a Culler. Spectacle corporations would spin neuro-feed tales about Wynn long after he perished. They would liquidate entire divisions for the footage Reiner could supply. The unfairness of it all made him want to vomit.

  His neuro-feed chimed again. “Oh, Lisa. Sorry babe,” he murmured. Reiner struggled to activate the sync. The sensation still felt awkward, like trying to wiggle a spare set of ears inside his head. It took two more clumsy attempts to “trip the synapse,” as the techs said. Finally the false auditory click sounded in his mind. Lisa's disembodied voice, bloomed to life within his consciousness.

  Hey you. It's past midnight. Nothing good ever comes of you being out so late. Worry consumed his wife more each day now that they were five months into the pregnancy.

  Not this time, Reiner sent back. We got a tip that dregs were scavenging parts to take back to under-City. Turned out it wasn't dregs at all. We caught one of those scum Cullers.

  That’s great news, Lisa sent. Reiner hoped he’d not offended her. Lisa could be touchy about the under-City’s poor. He hurt people at the stadium, didn't he?

  Reiner hesitated. He could never tell his wife about what Wynn did to that kid. Not ever. We think he was sabotaging the neuro-wave inputs somehow. The stadium techs haven't sent us a report yet, but three hundred thousand people we saved tonight.

  Silence for a moment. Sweetie that is great! Lisa sent back. He could almost see her beaming. My hero. It's done then?

  “I deserve this.” He spoke aloud, so Lisa couldn’t hear. Reiner took a breath and made his choice. He took a deep breath, and sent. Few more hours. Wrapping up padwork with Harrison. Guy’s a big deal.

  Come home soon. Junior just kicked for you.

  You only send this late for two reasons. Reiner’s chuckle echoed faintly in the carport. Need your feet rubbed?

  Good guess, but maybe after. His neuro-feed clicked off before he could send back.

  Harrison emerged from the precinct just then. “Are you really still here?” he groaned. “What good is being married if you just talk all the time?”

  Reiner smiled. “Depends on what you talk about.”

  Harrison rolled his eyes. “Listen...I got a hold of the chief. He'll get you into the press openshare, so be ready.” Harrison frowned at Reiner's silence. “Don't thank me all at once, now.”

  “Guess I better get some rest, then. Night, partner.” Reiner climbed into his squad car, felt the engine hiss to life at his bioprompt. He regretted lying to Harrison, even more than with Lisa in some ways. He was flirting with a full blown relapse, practically falling apart at the rivets. Yet Harrison took it in stride, even picked out the bright points. Reiner hoped to be half as solid someday, making the right decision no matter how hard.

  But Harrison was wrong about one thing. Opportunity must be seized by the throat when it wandered close. Otherwise it would hide forever in the unrelenting grind of living out each day. Reiner couldn’t afford to let this pass. He waited a few minutes to be certain Harrison was gone, then powered down his car and went back inside the precinct.

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