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Skullhack Part 3

Skullhack part 3
By R.B. Clements

Philadelphia, 2065

Detective Orleans of the PPD cursed. Not to himself. Not under his breath, but loudly, so everyone could clearly hear what he was saying. There were times when no other words will come, and this was definitely one of them.


He spoke the word with only the slightest inflection of emotion, undercurrents of sorrow so subtle that it was barely perceptible to a listener. But that subtle mastery of a word ensured that it was transformed from profane to eloquent as it escaped his lips. He had been a cop for thirty-five years. Thirty-five years spent stroking the underbelly of this megalopolis, learning how to tickle its secrets, which gears to oil, when to hold his tongue, those thirty-five years had hardened him like a cooling sword. He had seen a lot, too much....he wasn’t sure. Regardless of his experience, when it came to scenes like what lay in front of him- no one gets used to it, no matter how hard, no matter how jaded. All an old gumshoe can do is take off his hat, curse, and catch the fuck who did it.

The girl lay on the ground. Dead.

The wind and rain beat down on Orleans, whipping his trench coat folds in every direction, but he ignored it. Slowly he placed his battered hat back on his wet head, never taking his eyes off the dead girl.

“You got something for me, kid?” spoke Orleans slowly pulling his eyes away from the dead girl.

“Yes sir, victims name is Maggie B. Tevina. Age 25. Blunt force trauma. Cranial damage. Facial lacerations. Additional DNA found on person. Belongs to a…Jordan. H. Jordan” spoke the young crime scene tech,.

“H. Jordan. What else you got. What’s their connection?” Orleans said gesturing to Maggie.

“Ooookkaay, scanning social networks, surveillance networks, past history, blog chatter, records. Result…according to socnet data, the two are known acquaintances. Probably a couple. Multiple cross connections on their social pages. Not much public data on this Jordan cat, a few pics, some notes. Weird, he’s got a flag, but I can’t access further.“ the tech spoke as he accessed vast amounts of information in an attempt to find the connection they needed.

“Anything else on Ms.Tevina?” Orleans was looking at the body again. Taking in any details of the crime scene he may have missed.

“Pulling….Let’s see…uh-oh…she’s Breaken’s daughter. Maggie Breaken. Tevina was her mothers maiden name.” the tech suddenly started to look nervous.

“Who else knows?” Orleans whirled on the kid with intimidation in his eyes.

“No one but us…”


1 minute later Orleans was in his unmarked cruiser speeding along the north grid toward the highway. On the seat next to him lay the crime scene interface and his service revolver. He pushed the pedal in another millimeter and the cruiser jumped up to 90. Something about this was bothering him. What was it? He pictured the girl, lying there in the cold alley. He pictured her face. What abut her face?

“Alece!” Orleans blurted out almost crashing in surprise. Maggie looked almost identical to Alece, his own daughter.

Alece and her mother had died twenty years ago when some synther rolled their car on the xpressway. Orleans had wanted to die. He longed, prayed, and screamed for release from the pain of his loss, and eventually, it came. Had it not been for the police force, he would have blown his brains out, or drowned in whisky. He threw himself into his work, recklessly taking risks, and getting results. For 20 years his world had been one constant night shift, dealing with the worst the city had to offer. It was all he had left, and he found salvation in the dark side of human nature.

He screeched to a halt in front of his precinct and bounded up the steps. As he walked through the squad room, all he could think of was Alece’s face.

“Captain, we gotta talk” yelled Orleans over the screamed profanities of a steam punk being processed by two plainclothes.

The Captain, a man in his forties who wore a perpetual scowl of disapproval, motioned towards his office door. Once inside Orleans began to explain the case he had just caught, but the Captain interrupted him almost immediately.

“Its about the Breaken girl, yeah?”

“But how…” Orleans answered his own question. The crime scene tech had sold out to the newsies, it had to be, that little two faced bastard.

“Its on the wires then, huh, Cap?” Orleans tried hard to cover his rage. It was rare that he ever felt personally involved in a case, in fact, Orleans had never been prone to getting personal. But this time, it was different. It was a dead girl. His daughters face. Alece.

“Yep. Breaken is all over the Commissioner. Fuckin’ Industrial bastard. You’d think they own the world or something…….probably do actually…but anyway, the Commissioner wants a special team on this one. If you got any notes, I need ‘em.” The Captain spoke nonchalantly, almost comically. This attitude was one he reserved when in privacy with some of the “Old Dogs”, like Orleans, the rest of the time he prided himself in being a downright prick.

Orleans felt a new sensation,like his world had dropped out from around him, leaving him falling in infinite nothing.

“But sir…” Orleans spoke, almost timidly.

The Captains eyes darted to Orleans.

“You allright Tony?” the Captain asked, surprised. In all his years working with Tony, the man rarely showed any emotion.

“Request to be reassigned to the Breaken case, sir” Orleans spoke, stiffening up his posture.

“Denied. Tony, this is out of my hands…” The Captain said, making a non-committal gesture.

“Request to be reassigned to the Breaken case, sir” Orleans spoke again, this time with a slight tremble in his limbs.

This really surprised the Captain. This was totally out of character for Orleans. The two stood there for a few moments, just staring at each other.

“How bout some vacation, Tony. Its been a while. Take a week man.”

Tony did not hear the Captain. All Tony could do was see and feel Alece. When she had learned to ride a bike. Her first days of school. Halloween. All those beautiful memories he had pushed so far away came flooding into him, destroying years of isolation and torment like the tide destroys a sandcastle.


What the Captain did not know, would never even have guessed, was that the man he knew as Tony Orleans- going on twenty some years now- was not Tony Orleans. He was not even human.

Tony Orleans also did not know this, which was why he was such a good cop. Back in the 2040s there had been an ultra secret program run by the Philadelphia Police Department and the DOD. The gang wars in the City were threatening to consume the megalopolis in territorial genocide. The PPD had combated this problem by increased surveillance, government assistance, and mercenaries. Publicly. Privately the C series was born. Only five were made-Orleans and four others, two male and two female. Each biodroid was endowed with memories, a life story, and specific skill sets deemed necessary to police forces at the time. For the system to work, the C series could not know it was a biodroid, so the team was kept in secrecy with only a select few in the know. Although each biodroid had a different history, the five did share a common thread beyond their manufacture. They were all programmed to believe their families had died in tragic accidents.

And that is why Orleans was such an excellent cop. He had been programmed to believe he had nothing but the police, nothing but the job. And if he ever dreamed of other things, which computers sometimes do, the memories of pain curbed him in. The fear of pain, most powerful in the animal world, is even more so when in design. Whenever he questioned his existence, which was rarely, he would always end up at his station house, the job, salvation. But Orleans didn’t know he was a biodroid. And nobody else did. Most of the people who knew about the project, and there were only a handful, had died when One Police Plaza was bombed by the Ragtag gang in 2046. Even the data was gone, being placed on hardcopy to avoid hackers.

And so Tony had continued to function for twenty years without maintenance and without suspicion as detective with the PPD. But something had snapped in Tony’s head. Something had gone wrong, the decay of time on his molecular circuits perhaps. All Orleans new was that someone had killed his daughter. His world…..gone. What would he tell his wife? He wouldn’t, not until he caught the bastard who did this.

Jordan. H. Jordan.


“Tony?” the Captain approached Orleans looking concerned.

“What am I gonna tell Nancy? Her daughters dead. Captain, I am going to find this fuckin bastard and you can‘t stop stop stop stop stop stop me.” Orleans skin had become pale and waxy over the last few minutes.

Now the Captain recoiled in surprise.

“Orleans, snap the fuck out of it. You are ordered to go see the shrink. You are also ordered to stay away from this case. Do you understand me? I don’t know whats going on in that skull o’ yours but,….” The Captain didn’t have time to finish his sentence as Orleans fist smashed into his face so hard it knocked the Captain (and his teeth) out cold.

No one was going to stop him from finding Jordan. No one. No one. No one. No one. No one. Find.



/* In the next installment: Jordan returns from his convalescence carrying with him the direct mind control of his nanobots, Orleans the obsessive-compulsive police droid starts tearing the city up in his mad hunt for Jordan, and we are introduced to Mr.Breaken, leader of the Industrials. Thanks to everyone who reads my stuff, whether you like it or not. It provides immense enjoyment for me!*/

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kelson.philo's picture

the more i dive into this,

the more i dive into this, the more i'm liking it. blade runner meets sin city perhaps.

on the exposition, have it become something that orleans and the reader find out over time. the clues wind up leading him to a terrifying conclusion that he's going to have to face. Will he then, upon learning the truth, simply explode or work through it like strong humans do? you've got the potential for a lot of powerful scenes there, when one realizes they've been living a cliche, what does one do after that?


I do have a scene planned where Orleans deals with his own mortality...or would that be mechanicality..lets just say existence. If he explodes or comes to some level of enlightenment, thats up in the air...thanks for reading.

This line is gold...

"... destroying years of isolation and torment like the tide destroys a sandcastle." Fantastic.

However, I think the following section (the deep exposition) needs a smoother transition than "What the Captain did not know..." That might just be me, but give it some thought.

--Dan Bayn


Thats probably a good idea- the smooth transition. Im kind of just spitting this series out, the more time I spend thinking about something, the more complex it gets, and im trying to avoid the black hole of overthought.When I finish the series and do revision, there will likely be changes, and this transition will be one that i address. Thanks for the input!


That sounds like an excellent process. I envy the speed with which you turn out quality prose :)


Tony Orleans is a great

Tony Orleans is a great character. I think the first scene is well-handled, and the exposition at the end is necessary and offers a great twist.

On to part four!

Skullhack part 3

First story i have read on this site. At the beginning I found some of the descriptive parts a little cliched but as you read on and find out the guy is a biodroid he would have to be cliched - it's part of the programming. Quite liked it and it does lead you on into the next sentence, and the next...


Im really glad you were able to infer the cliche as part of his programming, I wasnt sure I had made that clear enough! Thanks for reading!