Category Archives: Detective Fiction

Doppelgänger – Unity and Division

With business over and having returned to Bossiney Tower, that had been Samuel’s residence for over five years, Samuel greeted himself (his principle essence). That evening he/they discussed the preceding couple of months and their upcoming reintegration that would be followed their re-division.

Integration was a process where two or more essences are joined so that the joined essence has the memories and skills of all the essences that were joined. Normally the merging is only done between essences that are division of a principle essence and that principle essence or other divisions of that essence. Rarely, people have been known to try integration between two principle essences or essences that were divisions of two different principle essences, when this happens it frequently fails or worse succeeds yielding an individual who has multiple personalities or other significant mental health issues. These problems can arise where they are divisions of the same principle essence when the essences have diverged significantly from each other, due to manipulation of the essences or due to time and the product of differing experiences. Such mental health issues being called McTaggart’s Unity Complex. Those who possessed and used arcane talent being less likely to suffer with McTaggart’s Unity Complex.

Having several times before used doppelgängers and re-integrated them successfully, the Samuels expected no problems. Their division after integration would be into three, as in addition to habiting the Deus Maximus Samuel would be spawning a Good Daemon. A Good Daemon being a division that would reside in a brain bud, which was an artificial bioengineered symbiotic creature, that attached to a host’s neck. It having two eyes. Good Daemons typically functioned as a magical detections entity for adepts and more generally a pair of eyes in the back and personal assistant dealing with mental and interface tasks for their Principle.

The integration proceeded much like an upload to the void, but with a psychiatric adept monitoring the principle Samuel as the Luna Samuel flowed back into him. Due to his magical ability and training, Samuel created the mental accommodations that allowed him to safely remember and understand two time-lines for the same period, that which was his motive essence as the Luna Samuel adding to his main essence.

Division was a far simpler process, not needing the psychiatric adept, but requiring a spirit mage, typically known as a Mendop Technicians or Mental Doppelgänger Technician, to encourage the Priniple’s essence to provide motive essence for the products of the division. The Good Daemon once inhabiting the Brain Bud, was arcanely and psychiatricly engineered to be better able to perform the role of Good Daemon. Doppelgängers in Brain Buds typically possessed weaker mental and magical abilities than those residing in a humanoid shell, but Samuel had acquired a Brain Bud of the type known as a Minor Magus. The abilities of the Minor Magus nowhere near matched those of a Deus Maximus or even Samuel’s natal form. Brain Buds were considered by many perverse products of bioengineering, so much so that the Mendop technician asked, “Why have a Minor Magus?”

“Need a Doppelgänger to watch my back. Twice now lost a shell when caring for the fallen.”

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Doppelgänger – The Hunt

The first to be detained was Whetherly, who had taken unauthorised leave from work. Samuel tracked him to Gagarin Dome which was the spaceport. Whetherly had yet to enter the spaceport when Samuel and three Deputies caught up with him. Whetherly was a nondescript corporate type, who just had a large holdall for luggage. When Samuel identified himself to Whetherly, Whetherly turned away and reached into his jacket. Before Whetherly managed to draw whatever he was after, Samuel had cast a stunning bolt of magical force at him. The bolt of energy struck home on Whetherly’s temple, leaving him prostrate on the floor, unmoving, a parcel ready for the Deputies to wrap. The investigation of LDC’s accounts had triggered a program that warned Whetherly that his crime was being detected.

The other three’s detention was not as simple. Divination had revealed that they had somehow entered the Rhodes Southern Mine, which ran over to the Rhodes Complex, which was thirty miles beyond the limits of TDC. Whereas TDC was initially established as a tourist resort and had become a major commercial and administrative centre for the Moon, Rhodes complex had been established to be a base for mining operations for the Rhodes Mining Consortium. Rhodes complex was nowhere near as large as TDC with much of that without the artificial gravity then encompassed the entirety of TDC. The tunnels and chambers of the Rhodes Southern Mine were all lacking artificial gravity. Parts of the dusty, dark and frigid mine required the use of breathing apparatus. Miners were rare in the mine as most of the mining was done by drones, machines and robots.

Monteban, Acre and Webber had a several mile lead on Samuel and the Deputies when Samuel entered the mine. Entering the mine, Samuel was equipped for a fight. Given the nature of the mine firearms were a major hazard, as they might spark off an explosion of gasses or dust in the mine. The transit tunnel, that ran from TDC to the Rhodes Complex, was gargantuan in proportions, enabling the huge ore transporters and mining robots to run three abreast down it. The chambers that led off to the mine workings were still large but not quite to the same scale. The tunnels that led off those chambers to the mine faces were just big enough for a mining robot to transit them. Those tunnels had airlocks between them and the side chambers, so the main workings of the mine could be at near vacuum pressures to reduce the risks of explosion. About three miles out from TDC there was the ore works, where the ores were refined and processed. The ore works had only been operational for five years. In addition to the ore, the waste rock had long been processed to be aggregate for use in the Luna construction boom.

Heading down into the tunnels, Samuel sat in the front passenger seat of a Tata 997 Intruder, fast gravitic explorer. It was not one of the most stylish or sophisticated vehicles on the moon, but was one of the fastest allowed within the domes. Tata 997s were restricted to the various law enforcement outfits on the moon. Against Samuel’s advice, the vehicle’s lights and siren were being used by the driver, when they entered the tunnels of Rhodes Southern Mine, which alerted the felons to their pursuit. As Samuel had expected, Monteban, Acre and Webber took refuge amongst vast machinery of the ore works.

Having speed passed the regular traffic of the mine, the 997 approached the ore works where three ore transports lumbered toward it, across the width of the tunnel. The 997 scooted up to the roof of the tunnel and zoomed over the transports. Once the 997 had passed the transports they began to reverse towards the 997. Other transports started up and began moving towards the 997. Leaving the Deputies to fend for themselves, Samuel caused himself to be ignored by those who might hear or catch sight of him, then dropped from the 997, using a quick rote to land safely.

The massive ore transports navigated towards the 997, without any consideration of Samuel, who dodged the wheels of one running beneath it. Dodging other transports, drones and robots, Samuel headed towards the ladder that led up to the maintenance platform that ran around the hopper for number 4 ore processor, where he sensed that Webber and Acre were hiding. Monteban was over in what Samuel thought was a control room. More and more systems seemed focused on the 997, as Samuel climbed the ladder to the first deck of the ore hopper. Any miner who had climbed that ladder would have had to have used a parabelt and have been harnessed to the ladder. A parabelt was a device that used gravitic technology to slow a fall, so the person falling had no risk of injury.

Achieving the deck, Samuel took one of the many pairs of ear-defenders that were located in the safety cabinet near the ladder, as there was a discordant cacophony caused by the hopper feeding ore to the crusher. Pausing to sense where those he sought were, Samuel slipped on a filter mask for protection against the clouds of dust generated by the ore crusher. One of those he sought he could clearly see, thanks to magically enhanced vision. Monteban was in the control room, interfaced with the control desk by a direct neural link. The distance between then being a good hundred metres. Knowing the risks, Samuel prepared several rotes to work together, then began working them, revealing himself in the process. The working sent a bolt of electrical charge surging towards the control room’s parabolic dish. The reach of the working took as much as Samuel could do in a single working without resulting to rituals or paraphernalia. The charge concentrated its self at parabolic dish, blasting down the circuitry and surging into the control systems destroying the control room’s controls. Weakened by the intervening systems the charge trickled up the link and fused Monteban’s neural link rendering Monteban unconscious. That which Samuel feared had happened, the arcing from the bolt triggered a dust explosion, that was steadily growing in force and expanding towards the ore crushers. Summoning a preprepared working, Samuel used all his impressive natural ability and a desperate amount of the additional stored power he carried with him to repel the growing fire ball. The repelling of the fireball worked somewhat, but did not stop the fireball as the fireball drew in oxygen to feed it, causing a wind to gust into the chamber. Fortunately ore crushers seven and eight were being serviced, so had not been generating clouds of dust, but the fireball had been sucking up dust from the floor. It roared forth weakening, only to stop well short of the ore crushers.

As the rampant vehicles and robots began to lose momentum, the other two fugitives had divided seeking escape and hoping the other would be the trail. Samuel elected to seek out Acre, charging down the gangway, with Acre fleeing madly ahead of him. With Samuel gaining rapidly on Acre, who was dreading capture, Acre recklessly yanked levers as he passed, eventually causing the gangway to give-way under him sending Acre crashing down fifteen metres. Samuel leapt down, to where Acre lay using magic to land safely.

Reaching Acre, Samuel quickly worked magics to prevent his passing and to keep Acre’s essence within the broken body. Having just finished these, Samuel was struck in the back by a large rock, that had been cast by Webber. Feeling the damage done, Samuel rapidly worked magics to preserve his brain, keep his essence in his body and began magically healing the damage.

Seeing the carnage, the Deputies put in the call for a cranial crew and medical technicians, then began their hunt for the remaining fugitives. Given the risks of the area they refrained from carrying their shock batons and resorted to the ancient wooden clubs and high-tech sprays they had for such situations.

It was a slow but ultimately successful hut but two deputies had been disabled before Webber was trapped and detained.

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Doppelgänger – Seeking Them Out

After having established that José was José Montéro, Samuel traced whom Whetherly was, Edgar Whetherly, who had become a senior manager at the LDC. Whetherly had had links to two of the other four victims, in that he had managed them at various times. Giles Acton, who he did not have links to, was an auditor in the finance division of the LDC. Giles had been the victim who had been killed almost as soon as Samuel had been appointed to investigate.

Samuel checked what calls had been connected, at the time he believed the call was made. He selected those calls that were voice only, then those which were with phones that were not contracted to corporations or individuals. The remaining hundred or so, he reduced by considering regular callers and when the phone was first used. That brought it down to about five which he analysed for connections to LDC, taking into account recorded locations of personal beacons and the terminus of calls. One of the regulations for LDC staff and those who worked for most of the Luna corporations one was being the carrying of personal beacons, which showed where they were and aided the emergency services in times of emergency by giving readouts of their vital signs. That brought it down to one, which terminated in the LDC offices in the Armstrong Administration Dome. There were about four individuals at the terminus who might have answered the call and they included Whetherly. The other end of call being located in Nixon Dome, which was in the final stages of construction, given the details of the call it was deemed to be the call and investigated. The construction in Nixon had been halted by a strike that had been going on for more than a month.

When a Samuel and a couple of rover’s full of Deputies investigated Nixon Dome. The dome had been destined to be a light industrial and warehouse zone. About half an hour after arriving there, Samuel found where José had been held. That José had been there was confirmed by an Archaeoswarm, that also found traces of three other people. There was also proof that a plasma torch had been used there.

Tracing the other calls that had been made by the phone to the number that had been called in Armstrong Dome, Samuel established that only Whetherly had been near the terminus of all of them. Using a voice analyser on the recordings of the calls Samuel confirmed it was Whetherly and came up with an individual who was Daker, David Acre. Acre had come up from Earth a year or so earlier and had lived like a blank for most of that time, in that he had worked for cash and not availed himself of any official services and had not paid for anything other than in cash or in drop cards. Drop cards being debit cards that you purchased then credited with money in designated businesses, usually for cash. Some drop cards were strictly illegal but others had uses that the authorities condoned. There was a file on Daker that indicated that he was believed to be involved in a smuggling racket, that had been busted earlier that year, but they had not found enough proof against him to arrest him. There was a known associate of David Acre, a Sean Webber, who had been born on the Hedonia Station. Viewing the files for Acre and Webber, Samuel confirmed that their images matched what he had seen. Down on earth, one of the samples of DNA had shown up at the scenes of several murders of drug dealers in South America. Acre had another known associate, Michael Monteban of which little was known, save that he lived the high life but had no job or obvious means of support.

Tracing the serial number of Plasma Cutter, that Samuel had noted was easy, it had come from Bergerac Tools in the Bergerac Dome. Bergerac Tools secretly taped all those who hired their tools. The tape tied Monteban to the Plasma Cutter.

Forensic deamons, released into the LDC computer system spent a day and a night auditing the computers, files and records of the LDC, finding many security threats but no obvious issues to be tied to Whetherly. Following on from this, Samuel set forensic accountancy daemons onto LDC accounts that within six hours had found numerous irregularities and evidence of a major frauds, that had been committed in the departments managed by Whetherly.

Having shared what evidence there was with the magistrate, Samuel did divinations to confirm the evidence and establish if there were any others involved. Monteban, Acre and Webber had all been responsible for the deaths with Whetherly commissioning the murders. Derek Ashbowl, one of the earlier murder victims, and Whetherly had been responsible for the frauds. For a conviction another certified diviner or investigator would have to confirm their guilt with another divination.

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Need a Doppelgänger to watch my back

Now for a change of story type, this one is sort of Science Fantasy/Transhuman/Biopunk in nature. It is the first story in a very different setting, that may become the Justice Journals

Waiting

The night was coming to an end with the surface outside the domes well able to freeze boiling water in seconds. No air there to keep creature alive. Within the domes the temperature was comfortable, to some maybe too warm for nighttime. Day and night different too. Outside a day took four weeks of earth time. Inside the dome just a standard earth day. Within the domes the gravity field gravity being that of earth, but without the field it was exactly right for the moon. Tranquillity was not tranquil as dawn was about to break. The Dome’s shutters would rise two hours after Luna dawn, at dome dawn.

That which had caused Tranquillity’s peace to be disturbed was the finding of a body. Accredited Arcane Investigator Samuel Arthur Western had been called to the scene, as it was the latest member of The Lunar Development Corporation’s staff to be killed. After the third death, Samuel had been offered the contract to investigate the deaths. On taking the contract, Samuel became a Lunar Deputy. Before he reached the moon though there was another death. On the moon or within the Luna Council’s jurisdiction corporate security officers and corporate investigators were granted the status of being Luna Deputy Sheriffs.

Samuel was not a native or long-term resident of the moon, but was far too familiar with the moon for his liking. Too familiar with place’s that were not within earth’s atmosphere. Inside Lovell Dome, of the Tranquillity Domes Complex (TDC), Samuel despaired over what passed for a police force on the moon. Those who were members of the Luna Police Service (LPS) were either youngsters who had few if any skills to get them the ride up to the moon or those who other police services wished they had never recruited who had gained promotion by transferring to LPS. In the whole of the LPS there were maybe three competent police offices, or so Samuel believed. Those at the site of the body dump were typical of the force, being barely able to find the scene let alone process it or even secure it. Sargent Shaunessy was in charge and more interested in his coffee than his job. Deputy Derek Almond though was trying to arrange a cranial crew to preserve the head. Before taking charge himself, Samuel scanned the area for the Provincial Magistrate, Taj Rei. Of those who were officially investigative officers on the moon, only the Provincial  Magistrates were considered truly professional by any but the LPS. It was the Provincial Magistrates task to have other’s gather the evidence for them and then themselves judge the evidence and determine the guilt or innocence of those associated with the crime. In many ways Samuel preferred Investigative Magistrates to other more adversarial systems for considering the evidence. Back in the British Territories, Samuel had had to deal with adversarial courts and the jury system.

He had served his mandatory minimum term, of Investigative Service, with the National Sacred Sites Protection Force (NSSPF), having been trained as an Arcane Investigator to NSSPF’s bursary. Accredited Arcane Investigators possessed many police powers even after leaving a formal police service and going private or commercial. Having been on the series winning University Challenge Team for Hecate College, Henges University, his birth shell was occasionally recognised. Henges University being the most prestigious and oldest of the Liberal Sciences Universities, With Hecate College being the oldest college. Between his powers as an Accredited Arcane Investigator (AAI) and the additional powers from being a deputy sheriff, He had full police powers and additional powers to gather evidence and rights to use arcane abilities and magic to gather evidence and apprehend suspects.

Awaiting Samuel was a corpse with much of its head destroyed, as had the previous victims. That there was massive damage to the brain meant the victims memories and skills were not salvageable. The smell of burnt flesh, bone and brain hung sweetly on the air despite the victim being hours dead and having been murdered elsewhere and if the past bodies were anything to go by striped of any physical evidence. The hot plasma of what were, commonly, known as broiler rounds had seared and cooked the hair, flesh, bone and brain of the victim. Several of the Luna deputies were bent over emptying their stomachs, some distance away, having approached the body too closely. Samuel knew there were more wound than just those to the head. That there were other wounds was a characteristic of the earlier crimes and also evidenced by other scents that made up the smell that sent the deputies retching.

Eventually Taj’s rover arrived and Samuel strolled over, “Morning hope you haven’t had your breakfast.”

“So you’re what a Hunter7? Are you Samuel Western?” Taj held out his pocket ID Scanner that did a simplified scan of a shell’s brainwaves, to establish the shell’s spirit’s identity. Samuel smiled at the naivety of the required process. Personally he could convince the machine he was any of about a dozen spirits easily and if he worked at it many more. Just a simple mental rote had identified Taj to him and he had done that as the rover arrived.

The formal scan complied with Samuel Looked down on Taj, “We will supervise the use of nanites to gather any evidence that survives. I expect none given the previous crimes. Once that is over we will kneel by the body and you place your hands on my anointed temples whilst I rest my fingers over the victim’s eyes. That way we should both see the last hours of his life. If I can I will sense what he heard and you will be able to hear it too.”

“They said you would be all business.” Taj smiled, “Till it’s over. Why the Hunter7?”

“The Genebridge’s Hunter7 is the best bloodhound shell for the Luna environment. Compromises my power’s somewhat but the superior speed and coordination as-well-as enhanced mundane senses more than make up for that up here. Henge Biologicals’ Homodeus is my choice on Earth.” Just to show off he with superior speed and masterful sleight of hand he palmed Taj’s scanner and made it appear afront of Taj.

Before using magical investigation, Samuel released an Archaeoswarm of the scene of the dump. The  Archaeoswarm being a swarm of naniets that would gather whatever evidence there was in the area and excavate down to buried items of changes in subsoil.

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Recommended Fiction

I wrote most of this in response to a reply to a comment I posted in reply to this Review of The Harlequin an Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Book. Tilly Slaton wrote a good review of that and oth AB’s. I have added a a bit but not much.

One series I would recommend you read is the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Novels by L K Hamilton – first one Guilty Pleasures. There is truly little that is really similar to AB. Classy erotic content and Death and Violence.

Far more carnal are LKH’s Meridith Gentry Novels – A Kiss of Shadows. For a similar level of violence I’m not sure there is anything as well done.

High end violence, (No carnality) and different uber-vampires can possibly be obtained with Christopher Golden’s The Shadow Saga – 1st book Of Saints and Shadows .

Less violent less carnality you have Susan Sizemore’s Laws Of The Blood series – first book Heroes.

There are all so the books with the spirited heroine Sookie Stakehouse – now the bonk busting TV series Tue Blood – The first of which I think is Dead until Dark.

Another spirited heroine is Georgina Kincaid of Richelle Mead’s Succubus series that starts with Succubus Blues.

The is of course the classic Dracula Series of Fred Saberhagen with Holmes turning up in it as a Dhampire the first of which is The Dracula Tape.

Another classic Vampire series is The Vampire Files, by P N Elrod, of which the first is Blood List. The series set in during prohibition, with the main character a vampire who is a hard-boiled detective. Elrod also wrote the I, Strad (a Ravenloft novel) with a vampire in the classic Varney The Vampire / Stokeresque mold. She also at one time ran a Blake 7 fanzine, if you believe the blurb.

There are also the Tanya Huff series Blood Lines and Smoke and Shadows.

Of course if you want truly bad vampire fiction try Varney the Vampire which you can find freely available at Project Gutenberg Varney The Vampire HTML it was a penny dreadful. There was also Wagner The Werewolf but never found that one.

Hunting for new author to read, I recommend reading collections of short stories such as those edited by Martin H Greenberg. Those who can write a good short story will often be able to keep you interested to the end of a book. If they cannot keep your interest to the end of a short story then there is little hope with a book. For short stories with a high degree of carnality there are the books edited by Cecilia Tan published by circlet Press.

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Reminiscences (Part 3)

[Part 1] [Part 2]

Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).

(Chapter 40)

Meeting The Terrors Of The Night, In One’s Own Home

A Visit From A Lady

It is now more than three years since Alice Howard disappeared and just less than that since I last put pen to paper to record, the major events of, my life. Now I unfortunately find that I must add a short note, after the end of the previous chapter. The reason I find that I must add this note is that, three months ago, I received a letter – signed J. Fitzjames Bart — it arrived the week after my grandson was married, to Roberta Fletcher, who is Helena Fletcher nee Fitzjames’s daughter. The letter’s writer claimed, that he had been the Horror and that he had finally taken Alice, once the twins no longer needed her. At first, I took it for a bad joke and was about to bin it, until something made me read more than the opening paragraph. Whomso had written it knew the case at least as well as I did — maybe better than I did. Several days later I read it for a second time. There were some passages, in the letter, that referred to things I had never even put in any of my reports, these included exactly what I had said, in my first meeting with John Fitzjames, about how I had cut my arm. I eventually had, Gus, my grandson, check out the other details, in the letter; they all proved to be true, even the date Roberta arrived in London, from the colonies, which was the Sixth of August 1882. So it seems that there were two Horrors or more correctly two Gifham Rippers, Roberta and John. By some mischance, I had been out smarted by a murderous little boy, who had feigned illness and frailty, to escape suspicion. It is still hard to believe that John Fitzjames was the Horror, even if, as I believe, the letter was most likely from him, despite that everyone thinks that he is dead.

I feel that it would be wrong, to rewrite what I have written about the Horror, as the letter’s insights, into the case, would only colour the way I portray John Fitzjames. Because of the letter, I have removed all details of the injuries that the victims had suffered and what lead me to concluded that the Horror was responsible for the burglaries. I feel that if the reasons for him killing, Ben Hunt, were as he claims, in the letter, then that was the only death that the Horror, or Horrors, can be forgiven. For all her faults, Alice did not deserve what Ben had planned, to do to her. The wild claims the writer made might account for some, if not all, of the more unusual aspects of the case, but those claims are most likely just the creative imaginings, of a writer, — out to exploit the case, yet again, for profit. For that reason and to protect Gus’s mother-in-law from even more sorrow, Gus and I have sworn to never to reveal the full contents, of the letter. We have instead requested that the archivist, at Bellham University, keep my manuscript there and only release it, once they are sure that certain possible authors — of the letter — are dead, most likely from drink.

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Reminiscences (Part 2)

[Part 1]

Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).

(Chapter 30)

Gifham Horrors

Gifham Jack

Jack Rips Through Bellhamshire

For much of 1898 and 99 the villagers of Gifham feared for their lives, for night-time was a terror, that regularly brought death to one or more villagers. At first it was thought that a feral dog — or dogs — was responsible for the deaths, as all the bodies showed signs of being bitten and the victim’s had had some of their flesh eaten. On the Thursday after Christmas 1898 was when I was called in, a body was found in the fields near Gifham — it was that of the pregnant wife, of a wealth, local land owner. On this occasion things were different, the woman’s body showed none of the usual signs of an animal attack — the previous ones had all shown such signs — despite which there were far too many similarities with the earlier bodies, for them not have been killed by the same killer. All the bodies had suffered massive blood-loss and there was no signs of a struggle, also there was far too little blood found, at all of the scenes of the crimes. The lack of the animal bites on the body — that had concealed the evidence, of the true nature, of the attacks, on the earlier bodies — revealed that some kind of blade had slit one of her wrists.

By the place, where we entered the field, where the body was found, there was a wrecked trap — it had lost a wheel, the previous evening. Both people who had occupied the trap, when it had been wrecked, were severely injured in the accident — John, the youngest son of George Fitzjames baronet, was nearly killed in the accident. That morning, he was abed, in what was expected to be his deathbed. The trap’s other occupant, a Miss Roberta Fitzjames, a distant cousin of Sir George’s, had died in the early hours of that morning, after heroically, despite her terrible injuries, carrying the mortally wounded, unconscious John Fitzjames the several miles, across fields, to the Fitzjamess’ home.

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