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New Angeles streets
Late morning

"So, Pearson," said Harris, "totally unexpected, huh? I mean, he's the last person I thought would get pregnant. One day, he's doing the job, attending calls, and boom! Baby's on the way! Who'da thought?"


"Something wrong, Pearson?"

"My shoulder, keeps bothering me since this morning. I don't know what that girl did, but she really knows how to punch, huh?"

"Pearson, man, we were in the frickin' hospital! You shoulda get checked, man!"

"I did!"

"Not the face! I mean a general checkup! How long since your last one?"

"Nah, it's fine. Damn..."

"What now?"

"My stomach. Got some anti acid?"

"Sure man, here, chew one pill."

"Thanks. So what happened to your car?"

"Oh, you won't believe it man. Remember I was going to make some adjustments to the engine?"

Pearson began to chuckle. "Oh please tell me you didn't..."

"Well, the supercaps I'd bought turned out to be bootlegs, man. A total scam! They all blew up at the same time and shorted."

"Ouch, that doesn't sound good."

"You bet! The whole thing overloaded and the frickin' coil burned out, just like that."

"All the coil?"

"All of it, man! BOOM! Luckily the fuses caught up, but the engine's fried."

"And how are you gonna pay for that?"

"Well, the precinct authorized the purchase, so I'll let them handle it."

Pearson's cellphone rang. Since he had his implants off he couldn't take calls directly, so he had set up his phone to answer them.

"Crap. Can you take over? I gotta answer this."

"Sure, man, no prob. I'll just set to cruise control."

Pearson unflipped his phone. "Pearson here."

"Don Pirson, you gotta help me! Come quick!"

"Don Neto? What's happening?"

"They want to close the business! I don't know what to do!"

"Be right there!" He closed the phone and hung up.

"Harris, don Neto's in trouble."

"Okay, man, buckle up!"

El Pollito Feliz
A few minutes later

The car stopped, and there were some nasty looking men putting don Neto's things in a moving truck.

"Hey hey hey hey!" shouted Pearson, "what's going on in here!"

"Sanitation office," said a man in suit. "This joint needs to be closed."

"Sanitation my ass. Where's the order?"

"What do you mean where's the order? I transmitted it to him a few minutes ago!"

"Don Neto, you got implants?"

"Hah! Hasta crees! You think I'd be renting this place if I had money for implants?"

"See? There ya go."

"So what?"

"New Angeles Sanitation Laws, Section 7, paragraph 12.5. If the owner of the business is unable to reply electronically, a full order has to be delivered on paper and he has one week to reply to any allegations. Don Neto, were you notified about this with a week in advance?"

"No, señor! I was not! I was just tending to my business and then these hijos de la chingada come up saying I need to close."

"Well? What do you have to say to that?"

"This business got the cronen. We need to close."

"Now, really? Show me."

"Here. It's in this vial."

"And where did you find it?"

"In the kitchen."

"You got a recording for that?"

"I don't have to prove shit to you. You're just a transit cop."

"Then it's your word against mine. Let the courts decide."

The man scoffled. "You have no idea who I am, do you?"

"You're an asshole who's trying to use their authority for their own purpose. That's all I need to know."

"You're digging your own grave, officer..."

"Pearson. Richard Pearson. If you got anything against me call the precinct. Now get the fuck out of here."

"Make me."

Pearson pursed his lips. "Fine! Show me your vehicle registration number and its latest safety check."

"You don't want to do this, asshole."

"Then put those things down and give the man his week before confiscating his stuff."

"Close the truck, folks. We're leaving."

"Don Pirson!" shouted don Neto as the truck left.

"Pearson," said Harris, "they still didn't give us the order. We can charge them with theft."

Pearson turned to don Neto. "Don Neto, do you want to file charges for theft? It'll be a paperwork hell, but it'll stall them."

"Yes! I do!"

"Then say out loud, 'Officers, I want to report a theft! those men stole my things!'"

Harris nodded at don Neto. "Do it."

"Officers, I want to report a theft. Those men! In that truck! They stole my things!"

"I got it, Pearson! Let's go get them!"

"You drive, Harris."

"Okay, there we go!"

The sanitation guys hadn't advanced three blocks when they saw Pearson's police car from the rear view mirror.

"Fuck, they're coming after us."

"Pull over. We'll neutralize them and if they cause more trouble, shoot them in the head. That way they'll have no evidence against us."

"Wait, what if they're not using avatars?" asked one of the goons.

"Not our fucking problem."

Pearson approached the truck. "Alright, hands up, you have two choices. Either you -"

The driver opened the door and knocked Pearson down.

"Son of a-"

Pearson heard the buzz of a zapper. The guy wanted to knock him out. "Harris!"

Harris took out his gun, but one of the thugs knocked it down with a steel pipe. The driver launched himself at Pearson, but Pearson used his feet to make him trip, dropping the zapper a few feet away. Pearson quickly rolled and tried to stand up, but the guy grabbed his leg and Pearson almost fell. He turned around and kicked the guy in the face. Pearson's blood was boiling, and his chest began to hurt. He ran to the zapper, and before the driver got up Pearson kicked his face again, then pressed his knees against his back.

A quick zap to one ear, then to the other, and the driver stopped moving.

An avatar. I knew it.


That was Harris. Pearson turned around and saw Harris struggling to disarm the other thug. The gun fired. Pearson quickly grabbed his gun and shot at the thug's head three times. Sparks flew from his head; the body dropped dead to the ground.

Pearson heard the truck's door slamming.

"Oh no you don't!"

He quickly ran to the truck, opened the driver's door and aimed at his forehead. "One move and you're dead, you son of a bitch. Harris!!!"

Harris grabbed him and pulled him down. "You're under arrest for theft and for conspiracy to assault a police officer." He finished reading his rights. "Pearson, you drive this asshole to the precinct, I'll drive this thing to don Neto."

"My pleasure." Before carrying the asshole to the car, Pearson reached into his pocket and took two happy pills. "I need a vacation."

LAPD offices
Santa Cruz precinct
Half an hour later

"Pearson!" shouted the captain. "To my office! You too, Harris!"

Pearson opened the door and sat down on the nearby chair.

"Pearson, stand up."

"I'm too tired, chief. Those bastards actually tried to kill us."

"Those bastards belonged to the sanitation department, Pearson. Now they're suing us for police brutality."

"Fuck them. They attacked first. Harris, send him the evidence."

The chief got the video. "Fuck. Pearson, you realize you just put us in really hot water here? Do you have any idea who you arrested, Pearson?"

"Don't tell me," said Pearson, still resting his head on his arms, "bad news."

"The hell they are. That's the governor's son in law! You know how close we are to getting this precinct closed?"

"But sir... isn't that trafficking of influences?"

"And you think the governor's gonna arrest himself? The hell he won't! At least the China guy's arrest could give us some points, but his lawyer is bringing up claims of police brutality!"

"Oh give me a fucking break! There was no police brutality! Oh wait... the lieutenant asked me to wipe my cache." He sighed. "Why does this have to happen to me. Chief, you have video evidence, those guys -"

"I don't care, Pearson! This is the governor we're talking about! If you don't give this up, the governor will send thousands of audits here and heads will roll!"

"Heads will roll?" Pearson stood up. "Heads will roll? How about MY fucking head? I almost died in there! I'm not using an avatar! I could have been killed! And now you want me to just sit down and let him abuse his power simply because he's sleeping with the governor's daughter?"


"Whatever. Listen, chief. I had the most exhausting day of my life. I almost die twice in half a day, and the very least I ask is a little appreciation!"

The captain slammed his desk.

"Listen, Pearson. I know you've been under some stress lately, but you've made too many mistakes this year, and you've been delaying your fitness exam for weeks! You're in a really bad place. If you know what's best for you, I want a written apology and you're going to stay away from the governor and his family, no matter what shit they're doing, understand?"

"Just like that? I'm just supposed to see that poor man getting kicked out of his only business?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm asking! Look, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We're not the justice league, Pearson, we're the police forces and we have only one duty: To enforce the law. Period! That's what we're supposed to do! If those people were from the sanitation department, you do your fucking job and simply let them do theirs!"

"Since when is our job bullying poor food joint owners to please some realtors? No, I won't accept it!"

"Pearson, I didn't want to do this, but you give me no choice. You're suspended for two weeks, and pray the governor doesn't take things further."

Pearson let out a long sigh. "You know what, captain? Fuck it. Ever since I came here I tried to make this city a better place, and all I've seen here is us bending over to fucking real estate companies. Every single week on my way here I see places getting closed and houses getting demolished. Now I'm seeing the place I eat at getting raided by these bastards, and I can't even do shit about it because they're the governor's family. I didn't want to believe it, but now I see that the only thing the police is good at is licking rich people's asses. If we can't help the people who need it most, then what the hell are we even doing?"

Pearson took his badge, his gun, and dropped them on the desk. "Take the fucking governor's bribe, skip. I'm outta here. I quit."

Harris looked at him. "Pearson, no..."

Pearson left. He left the precinct by kicking the door open.

"Pearson! Pearson!"

"Not now, Harris, I'm in a terrible mood."

"At least let me give you a ride home, Pearson."

"Thanks, but I already asked for a cab."

Pearson sat down on the bench; Harris sat on his left.

A minute passed. "Ya know, Pearson, takes balls to do whatcha did. No matter what everyone in the force says... I'm proud of you, man."

"Thanks, but tell that to don Neto. I've known him for eight years, Harris. Eight fucking years. The next week those bastards are going to tear down his place."

"Look, I'll find a way to get back at those rich assholes. I don't know how, but we'll find a way."

Harris rested his hand on Pearson's shoulder, but Pearson immediately grabbed his shoulder in pain.

"Whoa, sorry! You got your arm broken?"

"It's not that..." Pearson felt his chest burning up. "Fuck... my entire chest hurts... arrgh."

"Shit, you don't look good, man."

Before he could do anything, Pearson saw an alert filling up his field of view.


"Shit. I'm having a cardiac arrest."

"The fuck? Seriously?"

The cab arrived just in time.

"Buenos días, how can I help you?"

"Hospital!" shouted Harris. "He's having a heart attack!

Harris carried Pearson to the back seat. "Relax, bro, you're not gonna die on me, okay? Stay with me, Pearson, stay with me!"

"Aspirin... pocket..."

"Right, right... here. Put them under your tongue, Pearson! Don't swallow them!"

Before they arrived to the hospital Pearson began feeling dizzy and everything went blank.

Room 341
St. Jude Memorial Hospital
New Angeles

"He's waking up."

Pearson opened his eyes. "Paredes? Harris?"

"About frickin' time, man. Jesus, Pearson, you got all of us scared."

A doctor came in. "Mr. Pearson, you're lucky you had taken those aspirins. They saved your life!"

"Thank god."

"We couldn't save your heart, unfortunately. The damage was already done. Fortunately you had already had the pre-implantation procedures done, so it was just a matter of unplugging and replacing."

"But I don't..."

"We did have to use a catheter to cleanse your arteries, tho. You'll be on ultra-statins for two hours more to get rid of the rest of your cholesterol."

"Ultra statins? What is that?"

"It's a very expensive but highly efficient cholesterol solvent. Only to be used in the worst emergencies due to the liver damage they can cause, but in your case it was safe, Mr. Pearson."

"Safe? Are you sure?"

"At least according to your medical history. Didn't you have your liver replaced eight years ago after a severe case of hepatic fibrosis?"

"Oh - right... that's when I started to replace the alcohol with cookies."

Harris couldn't suppress his laugh.

"Hey, that's not funny, Harris!"

"Sorry, man, it's just the circumstances..."

"So he'll be okay, doctor?" asked Paredes.

"Yes, yes. Right now he's a healthy man. At least he's much healthier now than he was yesterday. Just let the statins do their work, Mr. Pearson, and in two hours you'll be free to go as a new man."

"But doctor, I don't have money to pay for that heart! Wait... Harris, did the insurance cover it?"

"Nope! The chief signed you out right away. I told you, you could have just quit after your vacations, but noooo! You had to quit on the moment just to satisfy your ego, man!"

"Fuck. What am I going to do now."

"Don't worry, Mr. Pearson," replied the doctor, "the heart was already paid in full."

"What? Who paid? Paredes?"

"No, not me."



"Then who?"

A British voice answered. "I did."

The three turned to the door. A finely dressed man with a luxury suit and an ornamental cane walked in.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Ethan Wakefield, attorney at law. I'm here on behalf of Lady Lillian Emerson, first and only wife of Lord David Emerson-Wolfworth."

"A Victorian??? Holy shit..."

The Victorian man closed his eyes and sighed. "Mr. Pearson, if you allow me, I have a business proposition for you."

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