Laith Alazraq was not a particularly busy man. As a detective on the homicide department of the Heliopolis Police, his days mostly consisted of long hours at his desk, reading up on the latest research and developments or trying to solve cold cases from the pre-Heliopolic era. He supposed it was a good thing that he wasn't a busy man. Homicide was not something they wanted in the city, and the fact that it didn't occur was a very, very good thing. His wife reminded him of that every time he complained that he was bored at work, and that he had nothing to do, and that he was wasting his life away at a desk.
The PATET system took care of most of the crime-solving and
prevention in Heliopolis, anyway. Nobody could steal a pin without the
PATET recognizing their actions, identities, and sending word to law
enforcement before the store-owners themselves knew anything had
happened. It was the perfect system, and because it was so effective,
crime rates had decreased drastically since its launch.
In fact, there hadn't been a murder in almost five years – until Detective Laith Alazraq was given his first ever case, ironically coinciding with his submission of a request for transfer. He had just pressed the Submit button on the screen of his desktop when a small tune rang out through his office. The sound of an alert was so foreign to him that he wasn't entirely certain what it was until he saw the flashing red flame symbol on his desktop screen. He tapped on it curiously, heart beating with a strange kind of excitement and nervousness.
Homicide reported at No. 23, The Hills, South Heliopolis. Report to crime scene immediately.
Laith was frozen for a moment, not quite understanding what it meant. When it finally crashed down on him, he didn't need to be told twice. Despite the fact that his day was literally minutes away from ending, he knew this meant he would be working overtime today. He pushed a flat white panel on his desk, and the panel receded to reveal his weapon and a synthetic leather holster. He grabbed both, and when he had pushed his weapon securely into place, he grabbed his Slate from its dock.
His Slate showed him the case progress thus far – which he looked at right after he sent a quick audio message to his wife to let her know he would be late. It presented the information as it was logged, creating a live feed he could refer to.
3:47 PM – HPD informed of possible crime at No 23, The Hills.
3:48 PM – HPD Officers Mal Greenwood and Officer Lily Bahhar assigned.
3:53 PM – HPD officers arrive at scene; determine homicide.
3:55 PM – HPD Forensic Team contacted; Chief Forensic Investigator Florenz Jardin and Forensic Investigator Vie Izuba assigned.
3:55 PM – HPD Homicide contacted; Detective Laith Alazraq assigned.
Currently, a team of forensic investigators were on their
way to the crime scene, where they would undoubtedly collect all of the
necessary data for PATET to run through its databases. Chances were, the
system would know what had happened to the victim and who had killed
them before Laith even finished making his preliminary investigation of
the crime scene. He had to remind himself again that that was a good
thing, and not at all a reason to be disappointed.
Laith tapped a quick command into his Slate, requesting for the autopilot system in his vehicle to bring the car around for him as it usually did at the end of the day. He rushed out of his office and down the corridor, passing by the many narrow floor-length windows that bathed the space in sunlight and through the automatic doors that slid open upon sensing him. His office – indeed, his whole department, which was little more than three homicide detectives that never got to do much of anything other than hang out in their offices or the lounge – was located on the ground floor, and he soon found himself in the grand lobby, the old tree standing proudly in the middle dwarfing almost everything and everyone in its presence. He passed by it, just as he had every day for the past two years, and nodded in greeting to his colleagues, who were in their way home. As he passed the security checkpoint, he waved a quick goodbye to Luce, the security guard he always saw entering and leaving the building. She nodded back at him, her face as expressionless as always.
His car – an unimpressive but well-loved Camino Forest that
had been provided by the Heliopolis PD – ambled to a stop just as he
reached the road, and he placed his hand on the handle, allowing it a
second to recognize his print before unlocking. "Welcome, Detective
Alazraq," the AI voice said as he slipped into the vehicle. "Where to?"
"Responding to possible homicide at Number 23, the Hills," he said, strapping in. "Quickly," he added.
"Understood," came the reply. The autopilot pushed the car
to life, and he was soon on his way, through the open-lawned spaces of
the Official Quarter, and then the cluttered but homely blocks of the
Forest, and finally he spotted the rolling green waves of The Hills.
4:10 PM – Forensic Team arrives at crime scene, No. 23, The Hills, Southern Heliopolis.
The entire trip had taken about twenty minutes, and it was
certainly helpful that he had access to the Authority Lane during work
hours. That homicide rates were practically nonexistent in Heliopolis
had resulted in one Homicide Department, the office of which was located
directly in the Official Quarter, and though the Official Quarter was
in the middle of Heliopolis, it took time to reach certain parts of the
supercity. The Authority Lanes, which everyone simply referred to as the
A-Lanes, were a set of roads reserved only for authorized use – law
enforcement, government officials, health services, and so on. Designed
like tubes, they ran alongside the regular roads and sometimes dipped
below ground to allow faster access to certain parts of the city. Before
long, but much too long for comfort, he, too, had arrived in The Hills,
passing through the automatic gates that kept The Hills as exclusive as
they were known to be.
The high-end residences of the sprawling suburbia were shaped like hills, giving the area its name. Rich vegetation grew over and around them, completing the image. From an aerial view, one would not think this was a place full of homes. Instead, all they would see was greenery, a large hilly field with perfectly emerald lawns and eco-parks where residents could walk, play, and enjoy nature. Solar trees, turbine trees, and real trees were dispersed over the land, and here and there well-maintained flower beds gave the place a splash of radiant colour.
It was here that the homicide had taken place, at residence
No. 23, and Detective Alazraq, who had never had an occasion to visit
this part of Heliopolis before, shuddered at the thought that within
this idyllic landscape of mounds and knolls, someone lay murdered.
The car passed smoothly around the homes, and finally came to an easy stop in front of one of the houses.
4:23 – Det. arrives at crime scene, No. 23, The Hills, South Heliopolis.
An old-fashioned, decorative post box stood beside the front door, the number 23 painted on its side. Laith stepped out of his car, immediately noticing the other guest vehicle parked nearby. It was a small rounded blue van, with the words 'HPD Forensic Team' prominently displayed on the side. His hand pressed against the warm solar roof of his car, he steeled himself for the job ahead. His first homicide. The thought made him very nervous.
Detective Alazraq took a deep breath and made his way into the hill-shaped building.
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