Chapter 2 – The Mean Streets of Faron

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“Mr. Terrance, I don’t care how long you’ve been a store owner here. You can’t bully other vendors just because you’re losing business,” the young officer said, “I don’t even have any evidence you’re actually losing business because of him.”

This was the least favorite stop on the patrol for any cop that walked this street. Aloysius was always a problem, and not just because he made everyone’s skin crawl with his disturbing fashion sense.

“But he can’t just set up shop in front of me like that! How will the passers-by see my marvelous jewels and gems!?” cried the portly man in his usual high-pitched whining that grated on the officer’s pointed ears and nerves.

“I guess they’ll just have to come inside to see what you’ve got.” the officer replied.

By now, Mr. Terrance was on his knees, his green skin-tight suit bulging in all sorts of unsightly ways. He certainly wasn’t above making any sort of scene. Any publicity was good publicity. If he could draw attention to himself, then he could parlay that into business.

“Please, Link my boy! Surely there’s something you can do!” Aloysius begged loudly and dramatically.

He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around one of the young man’s legs, sobbing woefully. It was all the same sort of melodramatic nonsense he was known for. Link sighed and just looked off into space, quietly tempted to draw his weapon and tase the unruly merchant.

“Mr. Terrance… his paperwork is all in order. You can’t kick him off the sidewalk just because he’s blocking one of your windows. The two of you don’t even sell the same merchandise. Now, please… let go of me. You’re makin’ a scene.” Link said.

The older fellow whined and released the officer’s leg, sitting back up in a crouched position as he wiped his bright red nose with a stomach turning snort.

“Very well… I… I see I have no choice! But this is not the end! I will not rest while the police state that exists is in power! I will see to it that the city council hears of this!” Aloysius said, starting off soft and mournful, then rising to a bellow of mock rage.

By now, he was back up on his feet, shaking a fist towards the sky. Link simply rolled his eyes and turned to the slender tanned fellow who was still setting up his table and gear.

“You should be all set Mr. Beedle. Just give me a call if he tries to cause any more problems.”

As if cut from the same cloth, the street vendor turned to the young man and expressed his gratitude. It was in just as over-the-top a manner as the shopkeeper had gushed with anger and sorrow. It made Link question if he had done the right thing getting involved.

“Thank you!” Beedle cried as he took Link’s hand and shook it heartily, “Let me do something for you as a token of my appreciation!”

He then knelt and began digging through his things before standing back up with a leather pouch which he opened and poured out onto the table. All manner of gleaming discs clattered atop the plastic surface. Each one had a different design intricately engraved into it and painted with careful detail.

For a brief moment, the young officer was tempted to take the street vendor up on his offer, but his better judgment told him it was against the rules to accept gifts. And more than that, it was generally a bad idea to take up salesmen of these two sorts on purchasing their wares.

“I’ll let you pick any one of these you like and give it to you for half price!” Beedle said, as if that was indeed a fantastic deal.

Immediately, the intensely emotional Aloysius lost all will to fuss over the injustice he was being forced to endure. His eyes widened and his mustache, thin and greasy, tilted upward. No doubt he sculpted and groomed it to look like a pair of dial needles, accentuating his overly exuberant facial expressions all the greater.

“Oh my! What have we here! They’re beautiful! Why didn’t you tell me you had such marvelous trinkets!?” Aloysius cried in praise that may or may not have been false.

Beedle–quick as a flash–snatched them all up and dragged them away from the fat store owner. Mr. Terrance whimpered and drooped visibly as he was denied a chance to even look at them.

“Those aren’t for you! Officer Link here has earned the right to purchase one from my private collection!” he shouted, then extended them out to the policeman before him with a broad, good natured grin.

The young man lifted a hand behind his head, scratching lightly at the scalp just above the nape of his neck. It felt like he wouldn’t be able to get out of this without buying something. Unless he could fabricate a good enough reason, and ‘it’s against the rules’ wasn’t sufficient for Aloysius. Likely it wouldn’t be for Beedle either.

“I… um… well… how much are they?” Link asked.

The slender fellow narrowed his eyes in a sly fashion, resting the tokens back atop the table as Mr. Terrance tried to shove his way forward and get a better look.

“Well, I don’t just sell them to anyone. And even then they fetch a high price. But since you were so kind and helpful in fending off Mr. Goosebumps over here, I’ll let you have one for… say… five hundred credits.” Beedle said.

Link coughed sharply. There was no way he was going to pay so much for a useless medal. But that did offer him a potential out.

“Oh… well… see, it’s been kind of a tight month and I’m trying to save everywhere I can. Rent ain’t cheap ya know. I don’t think I’ve got five hundred to spare. Sorry man.” Link explained with his best disheartened act.

Beedle crumpled lightly at the decline. The noise he made forced one of the officer’s eyebrows to rise. It was as though someone had just punched him in the gut.

“Ooooh!” the vendor said, indeed proving to be a skinnier version of Mr. Terrance, “I’m so sorry to hear that! Well, when payday comes around, please don’t hesitate to come see me again! I’m sure I won’t be able to find anyone to buy them all before then!”

That was all the fat green man could take. He shoved the young policeman aside in his exuberance to make a profit.

“I’ll buy the lot!” Aloysius shouted.

He was practically drooling, his eyes wild. Beedle shook his head and dragged the glimmering goods out of his reach. It was the beginning of an ugly re-escalation of tempers and Link wanted no part of it.

“No! I said you can’t buy them!” Beedle cried.

“I’ll give you two hundred rupees for them!” Aloysius shouted.

That caught the skinny man’s attention. It was enough to make his desperate efforts to keep his goods away soften a little. Maybe the larger fellow had something of interest after all.

“Rupees? You still have actual rupees!?” Beedle asked.

Sensing the tables starting to turn, Aloysius stood back up properly, carefully pinching his mustache between two fingers to straighten it.

“Oh my yes. I only use rupees when making personal transactions. And as I’m sure you’re aware, the exchange rate from rupee to credit is decidedly in your favor,” said Aloysius, turning on his salesman prowess, “It’s what… one rupee for seventy-five credits currently?”

Beedle was suddenly rethinking his position. Still, his eyes narrowed.

“I want to see them.” the skinnier fellow said.

“Oh certainly!” the portly fellow said, then reached into a pocket–where it was hidden in that horrid suit of his was anyone’s guess–and removed a single emerald stone, cut perfectly and shimmering in the daylight, “This is but one of many I possess! You’re more than welcome to it… if you are willing to accept my offer.”

“Now hold on just a second,” Link interrupted, having waited for this moment and hoping he could use it to dig into the older man, “You’re not trying to pawn off one of your cheap fakes are you?”

The tan, thin man froze, his eyes darting to the policeman.

“Fakes!?” Beedle shouted in horror.

“Yeah. It’s a fake. He’s tryin’ ta take you for a ride.” Link said.

The only way Mr. Terrance could look any more cartoonishly infuriated was if steam were to pour from his ears.

“How dare you!? You claim to be an officer of the law and yet you slander my good name by accusing me of fraud!?” the green-clad shopkeeper roared angrily.

“Counterfeiting actually. And yeah,” The young man said as he turned to Beedle with a grin, “Look at his shop. See what he likes to sell? You really think he’s going to be stupid enough to carry something as valuable as a rupee in his pocket? Those things are so rare these days it would be like just asking to be mugged! No, he keeps the real ones in a bunch of pots all throughout his house.”

“Officer Link!” Mr. Terrance exclaimed, utterly aghast.

“Alright, alright… I’m willing to admit when I could be wrong. Why don’t you let us have a closer look at that one you’ve got there? I’m sure that’d be the easiest way to make me look bad.” Link said, holding out his hand.

He smirked watching the fat man squirm. He had to make sure Aloysius knew who he was messing with. The green stone was pocketed quickly and the shopkeeper backed away.

“I… I don’t see why I should! It’s my own personal property! If you doubt its authenticity then you’re calling my honor as a respectable purveyor of quality goods into question!” Aloysius said in a haughty scoff.

“Sure I am,” Link said, not breaking eye contact with the green-suited man, “Best keep your eye on this one, Beedle. He’ll rob you blind if you’ve got something shiny.”

The young officer turned to resume his patrol, having already spent far too long in such agonizing company. He was sure the whole thing hadn’t been worth his time, but it was difficult to ignore Aloysius when he was in one of his moods.

“I’ll be calling your superior, boy! I won’t let you get away with this!” the round man shouted

Link simply waved to the two behind him as he strolled away.

“Right, right… have a good day ‘Tingle’.” he called out back over his shoulder.

“Don’t call me that!” the fat man shrieked.

His voice carried all the way down the block. He hated the nickname, and Link only ever used it when he absolutely needed to get under his skin. It worked every single time.

The rest of the morning passed as it usually did; minor disputes, helping the locals carry loads too heavy for them to safely move, keeping the local teens in line, and other simple matters. It was a quiet town, and Link had mixed feelings on the matter. At least there wasn’t just a great deal of paperwork to contend with, but he couldn’t help but wish he could put some of his skills to better use. At least there was the simulator to keep him sharp.

With his initial rounds finished, Link made his way back to the station to get the more boring side of his job taken care of, as tedious as it was. The front doors were tall and a little intimidating, likely designed that way to have a psychological effect on any criminal dragged through them. The glass was emblazoned with the town’s official holographic seal, flickering now and again as a hand pass through it to push the door open. The precinct’s motto rotated around it slowly, reading ‘Strength of Community, Justice of the People’. He always thought it just a little odd the way it was worded. They never asked him so he simply shoved it aside, literally and figuratively, as he walked in.

As Link passed, the emblem vanished and was replaced by the summary report of wanted listings, changes to fines and regulations, and other such information useful to the public. He had caught it in its usual cycle going between the seal and the ‘bulletin board’. No doubt it would end up displaying general warnings for the public next, like the fine for filing a false report.

“Link! My office! Now!” roared a voice through the whole building.

The entire precinct fell silent as the Chief shouted. He couldn’t have been more than a meter inside when the big man’s voice boomed through the halls on the intercom. Dispatch must have been keeping him updated on Link’s whereabouts again. A few people turned to gaze at the young man being called out. They didn’t envy him. With just enough hesitation to be visible but not so much to leave the Chief waiting too long, Link crossed the office space towards the other rather intimidating door. Just adjacent to it, the holographic display reading ‘Russell Barnes: Chief of Police’ flickered as it updated. It changed from gold to a soft crimson and the words ‘Meeting In Progress’ appeared beneath it. The door swung closed behind the young officer and the usually transparent glass frosted, becoming immediately opaque to conceal the discussion.

“You wanted to see me?” Link asked, already going over the possible reasons he might be in trouble in his head.

“How perceptive of you! It’s good to know that I don’t have to light the sky up with your name and put your face on every holo-display in town to get your attention! I’m so pleased all I have to do is scream at you from across the room! Sit down!”

Link swallowed nervously and did as he was told. The tall, barrel-chested man could easily pick him up, snap him in two, and throw him through the supposed shatter-proof glass behind him. With the sort of mood it seemed the Chief was in, Link didn’t discount the possibility.

The young officer shrank a little as soon as he was in a chair, frantically trying to think of what it was that had gotten the boss so steamed. He didn’t think there was anything terribly serious, but with the Chief, it was hard to say what would get him in such a mood.

“I got a call today from Mr. Terrance! This is the fifth time he’s called me personally this month! What is this sick fascination you have with tormenting that creep!?” the large man shouted.

That was it. Of course it was. Aloysius was always a problem, and he knew how to make himself as big a problem as he possibly could. It was part of his plan to make himself too much trouble to be worth ignoring.

“Chief, he was trying to-” Link started to say.

“Shut up!” Barnes roared, “I don’t care if he was about to light the whole damn street on fire with a Din Cell! If I get one more call from him, you’re not gonna be happy about it!”

He turned away, clearly rather steamed. As he faced the wall, he reached out to open a small box resting on the credenza behind his desk, pulling out a smaller metal box, only maybe half a dozen centimeters across and maybe a centimeter and a half thick. He slid the face to one side and pulled out one of the small white tablets it contained, popping it into his mouth.

Whatever was going on was bad enough to make him need a blood pressure pill, which meant it was pretty bad. Then again, when he yelled like he was, regardless of how serious the reason, he tended to need one of his pills. On more than one occasion, certain members of the force had wondered if he sometimes took one just for the theater of looking more furious than he was. It made him harder to read.

“You want to know what I’m gonna hafta do if you piss him off just one more time?” Barnes asked, sounding calmer now.

“No sir, not especially. I think I can imagine it just fine.” Link answered.

“I didn’t say you could talk!” Barnes roared again.

His back was still to the young officer. He put his pill box back away and opened a drawer just in front of him, pulling out a thin, clear slab of polymerized ceramic, one of the countless data pads that got shuffled around the precinct.

Link swallowed quietly seeing it. It represented paperwork, and when paperwork was being brought up in a discussion like, that usually meant only one thing.

“I’m gonna hafta do this!” the Chief shouted.

He tossed it so that it slid across his desk, passing under the hovering holographic display running reports for his review. Link tentatively collected it and tapped the large ‘1 Message Waiting’ button to bring up what was surely the paperwork he was worried about. The Chief was keeping it on hand for putting him on report.

“Chief… you don’t have to-” Link started.

“Shut up and read it!” Barnes interrupted angrily.

He glared harshly at the younger man, fighting his hardest to keep from cracking under the strain. Link nodded and lowered his gaze again, the message now completely loaded, puzzling him.

Change in personnel file #LZ924A Officer Link For exemplary conduct and outstanding performance in the course of duty: Promotion from Officer to Detective. Effective immediately.

Link’s eyes fluttered softly as he read over the requisition form. The Chief picked up on his shock and stepped out from behind his desk. The young officer was too distracted to notice as the large man made his way to his side. That awareness came sharply back into focus when a large hand clapped him hard on the back. It was like being hit with a small car. The congratulatory gesture jostled his entire form.

“I might have to give you more paperwork to do since I know you just love it. Congratulations son, it’s about time you got this. Keep it up and you’ll be the youngest sergeant this precinct has ever seen.” Barnes said.

“Chief… I…” Link stammered briefly.

“It’s already a done deal. You just have to give it your thumb print and it’s official.” the larger man said.

It was always a surprise seeing how quickly Barnes could make a reversal like this. Maybe keeping it under wraps for so long was stressing him out. Maybe he actually did need one of his pills because of how hard he had been holding it all in. Or maybe it was just more theater. Without any ado, he pressed his thumb into the data pad and it scanned him in. His image appeared on the device, the digital bust rotating slowly about as it identified him and approved the change in status.

“Thanks Chief… I’ll make you proud.” Link said, fighting to keep from grinning too hard.

“I know you will,” Barnes said as he collected the pad once it was offered back to him and placed it back on his desk, “Now… about that phone call I got this morning…”

He paused, eyeing the new Detective. Again, Link began to squirm inside his own skin, trying his very best to not show any sign of his discomfort.

“About that phone call…” the new Detective echoed.

“What the hell did you say to get him so steamed!? I couldn’t get him off the phone for half an hour!” the Chief shouted, then loosed a loud, hearty laugh.

He missed his chance to watch as the tension in the young man’s body quickly eased out of him for a second time in only about ten minutes. There was a small, sadistic part of him that enjoyed scaring his officers, only to let them back down again.

“Well, there was this street vendor trying to set up shop right in front of his store. You know how these antique merchants are. They get real defensive,” Link started to explain, “Al was trying to defend his shop. I thought he was gonna pee on the sidewalk like a Gerudo coyote. Mark his territory!”

Barnes snorted as he sank back into his seat, reclining quite a bit as he drank in the hilarity. He could just see the man in the skin-tight green suit making his usual fuss, then actually go through with Link’s feared reaction. It was all too ridiculous to not laugh at it.

“You should have just let him! Then you could arrest him for indecent exposure and potential contamination of the water table!” the Chief howled and clapped a palm on his forehead.

“No! C’mon! No one wants to suffer seeing that old man’s family jewels! And I’m not talkin’ about the ones he hides in the pottery at home,” Link shot back, now in significantly better spirits, “I looked over the new guy’s papers, Beedle’s his name, and it was all sorted. He’d been downtown, gotten his license set up, got a B-23 permit from the planning office to use the sidewalk space, the whole smack. Oh man, Al was smoking he was so mad. So to thank me, this guy Beedle decides he’s gonna sell me something from his personal stash at a discount. This gets Al fired up and greedy. Tried to pawn off some fake rupees on the guy.”

“Oh god… not the fake rupee scam again,” the older fellow said as he slipped the hand on his forehead down to cover his eyes, rubbing his temples, “He must have really wanted whatever it was he was selling real bad. He usually only pulls those out for tourists. What happened?”

“Well, it certainly got the new guy’s attention. Until I told him they were fake.” Link answered.

“Ahh, there’s yer problem. You embarrassed him.” Barnes said as if he were diagnosing a leaky pipe under the sink.

“I did more than that.” Link smirked gleefully.

Barnes paused then leaned forward over his desk.

“You… you didn’t…” he said in a low, horrified tone.

“I sure did,” the new Detective replied, leaning back proudly in his seat, “It’s an apt nickname if you ask me. I’d love to meet the kid that thought it up and shake his hand.”

The Chief rolled back in his chair with his hands on his stomach as he howled with laughter.

“And you called him that to his face!?” Barnes asked.

“Well, not directly to his face,” Link explained, “I was walking away. I’m sure he was looking right at me though. If looks could kill, I’d bet he was glaring argon lasers at my head.”

The story left the Chief shaking his head, his sides hurting, and his spirits higher than usual. With the wave of a hand, he began to dismiss the young Detective.

“The folks down at the front desk are going to be furious at you. But I’ll let them know not to take any of ‘Tingle’s calls. You go get back to work. I’ve got reports to run.” Barnes said before he turned in his seat as he enlarged the disembodied holographic screen.

Link stood and turned to take his leave. He got as far as a hand on the door’s handle before he was stopped by the Chief’s voice one last time.

This time, it wasn’t something that made him cringe, but swell a little bit more with pride.

“And Link,” Barnes said, “Congratulations again.”

“Thanks, Chief.” the Detective replied.

As he stepped outside, he blinked. Almost everyone in the precinct was staring back at him, gathered no doubt for what had just gone down in the Chief’s office. A roar of applause broke out. Link blushed and began working his way over to his desk, lifting a hand to half-heartedly try and subdue the praise. He wasn’t big on ceremonies where he was the center of attention. Didn’t care for crowds watching him either. He simply took his seat at his desk and reclined a bit. Both hands rose to his face, covering it as he continued to struggle to accept the reality of his promotion.

“Better be careful there kid, that new badge is pretty heavy. Wouldn’t want ya ta trip and scratch up that pretty face’a yours.” said a familiar voice.

A middle aged man with long sideburns, a rather flat-shaped haircut, and a large mug of steaming, dark coffee sat down across from the younger cop. He always had a joke lined up for almost any situation. Today was no different.

“Yeah, it’s my meal ticket, I know. Better put something heavy in the back pocket to balance it out. Mind if I borrow your gun, Jag? That old thing’s just rusting away with how often you’re sittin’ here.” Link fired right back.

He had learned to counter his comedic attacks.

“You think I’m gonna let just anyone touch Cassie? No way, no how. She’s a classic, and she’s in perfect condition. She’s a hell of a lot more reliable than that little pop gun you carry around with you,” said the older Detective as he kicked back, putting his feet up on the smooth desktop, “You gonna do anything special ta celebrate? Maybe ask that lady friend of yours out on a date, take her to a fancy restaurant?”

He ignored the distortion he caused in his own holographic display as he sipped his fourth cup of wake-up juice. All the material he had to go through could wait. He was busy shooting the breeze with his friend, and that was more important to him at the moment.

Link tried to shut out as much of the world around him as he could, tapping away on the virtual buttons that had appeared on the black surface in front of him. The sooner he wrote up his reports, the sooner he could get back to his beat. That was, if he still had a beat. He was still thinking like his previous rank.

“Naah, her boyfriend wouldn’t like it too much if I tried something like that. I’ve got a message I wanna fire off when I’m off duty and I’ll probably just order some pumpkin soup to go from that new place around the corner. It’s pretty decent.” the younger man said.

Jag smirked, eager to push him in a particular direction.

“Oooh, big spender! Gettin’ some’a that high-class gourmet food!” Jag said, “You know that stuff used to be considered ‘peasant food’ right?”

“Peasant food huh? Doesn’t stop you from eating it.” Link said.

“I didn’t say it wasn’t good,” the flat-topped man said, then took a long sip of his coffee, “I’m just sayin’ you should do something more. It’s not often this kinda thing happens and life’s just too damn short. Live a little! I say you call that girl up, what’s her name again?”

Link lowered his voice, hoping Jag wouldn’t hear him.

“Lilly.” he said.

“Right! Lilly! Cute girl. If I was ten or fifteen years younger, I’d probably be chasin’ after her!” the older fellow said.

That seemed to hit a bit of a sensitive spot with the younger Detective. He shifted his gaze to look through the display at the man behind it rather than focus on the text in front of him.

“And if you weren’t already married.” Link said sternly.

The tone of his voice and his firm stare suggested the older man should just leave it alone. Blessedly, he did.

“Yeah, if I was single. Just sayin’ she’s quite the looker. Anyway, you should call her up, get her on a mag-lev to the central city, and take her to a fancy place.” Jag said.

By this point, Link had returned to his work, wanting to drop the subject. It made him uncomfortable.

“I appreciate the advice Jag. I really do. But it’s just not my style to steal someone else’s girlfriend, no matter how long he’s been away.” the newly promoted Detective said.

“Away and rather unlikely to come back. You know how it goes up there in the TSDF. Once-” Jag started.

“-a royal soldier, always a royal soldier,” Link completed, “Defense of the kingdom above all else. Never off duty. I know. Still. It’s not right. I’ll stick with my soup idea. Besides, there’s holoconcert on tonight I planned on catching. There’s something about watching it live on the projector rather than a recording that just… I dunno, it makes it feel more like you’re actually there.”

The young man decided that was a good tactic. Redirect into a somewhat related topic. It usually worked.

“You and your holoconcerts. You’re one of a kind, you know that, kid?” Jag said with a degree of praise in his voice, “What’s playin’ this time?”

Excellent! Gear-shift complete! Link patted himself on the back for a job well done.

“Nothing you’d really enjoy. It’s a mix of digital and live instruments. They’re saying they’ve got a new rendition of the royal anthem the lead violinist wants to debut.” Link said.

The younger cop could just hear Jag’s interest dropping dead out of the air as he plunged headlong into non-mainstream music talk.

“New anthem huh? You’ll hafta let me know how it is,” he said and took another long sip of his coffee then looked off to one side, pondering for a moment, “I’m gonna go see if they’ve got any donuts left. They went to Malo’s today. Their stuff always goes crazy fast.”

With that, Jag kicked his feet off the desk and stood up.

“Bring me back a cruller if they’re not all gone.” Link called out after the older fellow.

He knew they would be. They were the first to go.

“That’ll be twenty creds Mr. Detective.” Jag smirked.

“Pay raise doesn’t kick in until next check.” Link replied.

“I’ll take an IOU then.” the older fellow quipped right back, simply laughed, and turned once again to leave.

Link sighed and continued tapping away on the virtual keyboard in front of him, lifting a hand now and again to manipulate the screen and its contents manually. With Jag gone, he could focus more intently on his work. It wasn’t that he disliked having the older cop around, but he wanted to get the boring part of his job out of the way and he could do that faster by himself.

Half an hour later, Link was back on his feet, walking towards the front doors again. The data pad in his hand showed the new region he would be patrolling. It wasn’t too different from his original route, but it did incorporate a bit more of the town’s central core. What excited him most was being issued one of the newest air-bike models rather than the old junkers. It wasn’t hard to see why so many rookies and beat cops preferred travel by foot or in a standard cruiser against them. The new ones on the other hand; Link could just picture himself climbing aboard, seated on the bike, straddling the large power core as it pumped out enough thrust to get him from one end of the town to the other in less than two minutes. And it was nimble enough to avoid the more terrible pilots.

“Link!” bellowed the familiar, angry voice from earlier.

The Detective froze, squeezing his eyes shut. He was so close to airborne freedom. What was the trouble now?

“Yeah, Chief?” he asked.

“‘Fraid you’re gonna hafta wait on the bike. There’s been a recall.” Barnes said.

The Detective sighed and hung his head slightly.

“It’s always something. Well without a set of wings, I won’t be able to finish my patrol.” Link said dejectedly.

“Sure you will.” the older fellow said.

The Chief tossed a key fob at the younger cop, which Link snatched out of the air. The Detective gazed down at the small control device in his hand in amazement. Usually, Barnes was pretty stingy with resources and every requisition was a battle, letting him know when things were terribly important, and when they weren’t.

Today, he was feeling more generous than usual. Link was astonished yet again.

“It’s a loaner, so if you get a single scratch on it-” Barnes started.

“It comes outta my pay, I gotcha,” Link completed, unable to keep from smiling like a fool, “Thanks again boss.”

“Don’t get too used to the perks, I’m just makin’ sure you can do your job.” the Chief said.

The two parted ways and Link stepped outside. He tapped the large ‘call’ button on the fob and after a moment or two, the police cruiser it was connected to sailed into sight over the top of the precinct. It settled gracefully in front of him and the door slid open. With a degree of smugness, Link climbed in and let himself sink into the cushion of the seat. It wasn’t the most luxurious vehicle ever invented. In fact, by most standards, it was pretty lackluster. But to him, today, it was as good as the royal shuttle. He pulled the door closed and took hold of the helm, powering it forward. It would be awkward not having to walk everywhere anymore, but he was sure he could figure out a balance to keep from falling out of shape.

First stop on his patrol was downtown. He gave his badge a tap as it flickered and morphed, taking on a slightly larger, slightly more ornate shape, decorating him with his new rank. He began to wonder how ‘Tingle’ would take seeing his usual punching bag getting moved to a position of greater authority. Now, he could call in backup and they would follow his orders. That would make Aloysius clam up quick.

It was a damn good day so far. There wasn’t anything he could think of that could happen that would bring him down.

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