The youngest of the Dr. Chronos so far was browsing his inbox again, looking over the day’s requests. Of course, “requests” tended to be more like “demands,” or sometimes even “fetch quests.” He figured it wouldn’t be long before he got sent on a quest to find twenty the rarest item in the city and deliver them to receive a golden slime statue or some such nonsense. It was some comfort that all the requests so far seemed to be routine maintenance and simple inquiries, but he always wondered when an absolute doozy was going to pop up.
He was jarred from his half-asleep gazing at the computer screen by a knock on his office door. Unsure who it might be, he got out of his chair and looked through the peephole. He almost didn’t recognize the visitor, but then he remembered that he was looking at the body that Detective Riviera had been uploaded into a few days ago. Sure enough, the detective called in, “Dr. Chrono? It’s Detective Riviera. Might I come in?”
Dr. Chrono opened the door for the detective. “Come on in. I can’t say I expected you to come to my office of all places. Isn’t there a different place you go to for debriefing before being re-uploaded?”
Detective Riviera entered and closed the door behind him. “I’m not here for debriefing,” he said. “I’m just here for a chat, and to give some information that might be interesting to you.”
“Oh, okay then,” Dr. Chrono said, the confusion heavy in his voice. “What’s on your mind?”
“So, about that Montgomery Rasser fellow that I was sent to investigate…” The detective paused, choosing his words. “This adventure had an interesting punchline, at least. Meths have a tendency to set themselves up for comedy, don’t you think?”
Dr. Chrono arched an eyebrow at Riviera making jokes about the Meths around him, but let it slide. “So what was his punchline?”
Detective Riviera chuckled, perhaps despite himself. “He killed himself. Threw a fit one day about a rival company snatching up an important client, jumped out the window for dramatic effect and because he could, and didn’t survive the fall. He was never murdered.”
“Huh.” Dr. Chrono paused this time, a bit stunned by Mr. Rasser’s sheer willingness to throw away his biological life so casually. Still, when you were rich enough to just claim a new body whenever you desired, mortality lost its significance. “That’s… really something.” He wasn’t entirely sure how interested to be in the detective’s findings, but he had a feeling that the detective was going somewhere with his prattling, so he paid attention anyway.
“Stupid Meth tricks, right?” This time, Detective Riviera guffawed loudly, and that put Dr. Chrono just a little over the edge.
“Detective, you do realize I am one of the Meths you’re making fun of, right?” Dr. Chrono asked, folding his arms.
Detective Riviera’s expression straightened out as he seemed to pull himself back to a serious mode. “Look, I know you get it. Wealthy and powerful as you might be, you’re not cut from the same cloth as the people around you. Both you and I know this.”
“What makes you so sure?” Dr. Chrono tilted his head, his expression skeptical.
“I did some digging over the past few times I was downloaded. To assume the alias of Dr. Chrono and not get laughed out of town or asked for your real name, you need to be a person of substance. You’re no frivolous Meth. You may have a bank account big enough to get you put on this island in the sky, but you’re not the kind to just throw yourself out of a window because you can.” Detective Riviera adjusted his hat and put one hand in his pocket.
Dr. Chrono sighed and rubbed his face. “I would have thought that you’d have better sense than to just dig around in people’s personal affairs because you can.” The mirroring of phrasing was deliberate.
“Yes, well, you thought wrong,” Detective Riviera said. “I’m going somewhere with this, so I’m hoping I can keep your attention for a little longer.”
“Get to the point, then,” Dr. Chrono grumbled. “My inbox isn’t getting any emptier.”
“To my surprise, and probably to yours too, Mr. Rasser isn’t entirely ridiculous. He’s in on something that could be very beneficial to you. It turned out the reason he didn’t just ask his coworkers what happened was that he wanted me specifically to give you a message.” The detective pulled his hand out of his pocket and passed Dr. Chrono a crumpled-up sheet of paper. “Read that.”
Trying hard to keep the annoyance from showing on his face, Dr. Chrono smoothed out the paper and began to read it. As he did, his eyes went wide. A startled “What?” escaped him.
“No, your eyes are not deceiving you,” the detective said flatly. “We’re getting you out of here before someone else who doesn’t have the best intentions tries to do the same.”
“I’d ask why you would think that I’d trust either of you about this, but I suppose I haven’t got much to lose,” Dr. Chrono mumbled, staring at the paper.
“I can understand dismissing Mr. Rasser as another flighty Meth, but what incentive do I have to mislead you? If I did anything untoward to a Meth, I’d either be trapped on a machine worker body for years or never taken out of the brain banks again. Or perhaps I’d just be deleted from existence entirely. As strange as my current living conditions are, I’d prefer to keep living how I can.” A small flash of distress spread across the detective’s face as he contemplated being deleted from the brain banks.
Nodding, Dr. Chrono set the paper down on his lap. “Fine. I’ll trust you. What do we do from here?”
“I’ll explain later. Someone might get suspicious if they notice I haven’t reported in for this long,” Detective Riviera said. “Keep an eye out for any unusual e-mails. They might be from me or Mr. Rasser.”
“Go report in,” Dr. Chrono said. “I need a moment to let everything sink in.”
“Fair enough. I’ll be seeing you, Dr. Chrono.”
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