Excerpt from Bento Box

Here is a slice off what I’ve been working on for this year’s nanowrimo:

“Why are you so obsessed with the identity theft cases?” Saskia asked as they walked back to his office. “Orochi’s high profile. He’ll be a feather in your cap. No one even believes the identity theft cases are credible.”

Rascati looked at his watch. “Come with me, I’ll show you.”

They walked down the hallways to some interrogation rooms. No one looked up as they walked past. The walls were now set up as old one-way mirrors used to be. Everyone still knew they were on display, but the illusion was friendlier than the big, open mirror had been. Rascati walked down the narrow hallway until they reached slightly friendlier quarters. These rooms were used for taking witness statements and had slightly more accommodation. Inside the room, a thin, wiry woman with honey blonde dreadlocks and brilliant purple eyes strummed the air as though she were practicing chords. The audio feed was on, and she could hear the woman’s voice, a smoky, rich sound that Saskia recognized immediately.

“That can’t seriously be Risa Starr.” Saskia’s eyes grew wide with amazement.

Rascati had been caught up by her tattoos. She had a multitude of them. Most of them were music related, but he noticed in the smoke of a genie bottle, two women kissed passionately. His favorite tattoo was of an old wooden guitar. It seemed so plain against the rest of them, yet it was prominently displayed on her left forearm. “That’s her lawyer.”

He dressed conservatively, but his hair was coifed into a shaggy mane, barely contained by product.

“I just never thought I’d see her in here.”

“She’s too rich to end up in one of those.” He pointed down the hall. “I hear she’s started riots before.”

“That wasn’t her fault!” Saskia said defensively.

“I have an idea. You stay out here, and I’ll go talk to her.” Before she could argue, he opened the door and slipped into the room.The wiry woman sat up, her expression grim.

“Risa Starr?” He asked, holding out his hand.

“Yes. And you are?” She stood up and shook his hand firmly, looking into his eyes with her hypnotic purple gaze.

“William Rascati. We spoke over the phone.”

She looked relieved. “Thanks for meeting with me.”

“Same here. Can I get you something? Coffee, donuts? Nothing but the best here.” He grinned.

She chuckled, her nervousness abating somewhat. “Nah, some water would be great. For myself and Charlie.”

Rascati opened the door, unsurprised to find Saskia already there. Her blue eyes held the question, and he nodded. “This is Saskia. She’s my partner.”

Risa and Saskia exchanged glances. Rascati idly wondered what madness would ensue, but Saskia just handed Risa the water and withdrew. “Nice to meet you.” She set the lawyer’s water down on the table.

“Thank you.” Risa said softly.

“And she was just leaving. So that I can conduct the interview.” Rascati shooed Saskia out, and gave her a sharp look when Risa couldn’t see.

“Of course.” Risa toyed with the water, her fingers moving in complex tapping rhythms. She didn’t seem to be aware she was doing it.

“So, first of all, I have to thank you for agreeing to this interview. I want to make sure you know that I consider what happened a crime, and that you are the victim of this crime, not a perpetrator or accomplice. I don’t want you to feel as though you are on trial, but I may ask questions that you aren’t expecting to answer. All of this conversation will be made available to the courts should any prosecution take place, so I also want you to be aware of that. Do you understand?”

“That’s why my lawyer is here. Just to make sure everything is treated correctly.” As if on command, Charlie stood up straighter.

“Risa, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to begin by telling me your name, your occupation, and your age, for the record.”

“My name is Risa Starr, I’m a recording artist, and I’m thirty six years old.”

“Thank you. For the record, I am Inspector William Rascati of the Seattle-Tacoma polyregion. Now, in your own words, would you mind telling me the circumstances of this crime you say was committed against you?”

“My body was stolen.” Risa’s words were quiet, but the anger was definitely there. “It was a month ago, now, but no one was willing to listen to me before.

“Could you elucidate? How was your body stolen?” It wasn’t difficult for Rascati to seem interested. This case had been bothering him since it came into his office. He knew bodyjumping was real, but so far he hadn’t been able to get anyone to tell him what happened.

“It happened on June 27th. I was scheduled to do some PR, which I wasn’t happy about to begin with, but who loves all the parts of their job? Anyway, I was scheduled to be in New Dehli at five at night, so I had to get up at four thirty in the morning. I remember going. I remember Shazri being late. We were talking for a bit about the setup when I felt like someone drove a spike through my brain. I knew the grid was sketchy; I thought it was a power spike that interrupted my feed. When I woke up, I was still in my c-pod, but I had bruises that I didn’t have before. My bodyguard could tell you more. He’s been my friend for years. He wouldn’t come today though. He’s afraid of what this could do to my reputation.”

“He watched over you when you were.. not yourself?” Rascati asked.

“Yeah, he saw all of it. It was a hard day for him.” Risa’s purple gaze studied the floor.

Her lawyer put a hand on her shoulder. “Remember, you’re not obligated to incriminate yourself.”

“He’s right, Risa. And I don’t think you should.” Rascati said.

She looked up at him, confused.

“Not yet. Right now I’m trying to gather evidence that this is a problem. You see, everyone who this has happened to before, has been an everyday joe. Everyday joes that make good money, mind you, but no one who has international fame. Your story is new, and new tells us something. New tells us that they’re getting overconfident. The next step is sloppy. These clever pricks who’ve found this new system, they think they can’t be touched. And today, they can’t. But I have been piecing together profiles. I’ve been putting together MO’s. I am going to catch these bastards, because I believe they exist.”

“So what was the point of talking to me?” Risa asked.

“Today, maybe not much. You aren’t willing to put yourself, or your friends, out on a limb yet, and I respect that. But tomorrow.. or the next day.. when I catch this ring of thieves and con men, I’m going to need someone to stand up and say, ‘It happened to me.’ And who better to rally around than Risa Starr, Golden Voice of Seattle? People will demand blood, and you’ll get justice. You can prevent these bastards from getting away with it.” Rascati noticed her hands had stilled.

“That’s what you wanted me for? To fly your banner?” Risa asked, anger threading through her voice.

“No. I wanted you to come forward with hard evidence so I could make an arrest. Since you won’t, I’ve got to go for second best and go begging like a pauper.” He pitched his voice in a sing-song. “Please, Miss Starr, help me catch the boogeyman that no one believes in.”

“Well I damn sure believe in them.” She shot back.

“Don’t you want them to pay? Don’t you want to know how they did it? Are you afraid to use a C-Pod now? Let me take it for a few days, see if I can find any pieces that shouldn’t be there. I don’t know how they’re doing it, but I know that they’re ruining people’s lives with it, and they’re getting away with it too. We have to cut them off at the circuits. Will you let me investigate?”

Her lawyer shook his head.

“You don’t have anybody to prosecute, Rascati.”

“I’ll learn something about them if I can look at your C-pod. It doesn’t have to be at your house. It could be taken off-site to be looked at. I don’t want to disrupt your life, I just want you to care about this when I crack the case.”

“Charlie.” She said. Her lawyer moved to her side, so fluidly Rascati wondered what implants he sported. “Take a walk.”

“I can’t do that, Risa. Anything you say without me is still submittable.”

She looked at Rascati.

“This interview is over. Nothing further said is submittable.” He said.

“Now.” She said.

Charlie, who was a bright boy despite his hair, turned to go. “I’ll send Ethan up.”

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