Carson stood, looking out at the ocean. The waves rolled blissfully and other than the slight buzzing motion, they looked completely convincing. He wasn't sure why he couldn’t ever get that detail right, but it was close enough. He turned off the holographic projector and stepped out of the memory booth, content to start his day.
Carson was a Time Killer Catcher.
Yeah, lame name, Carson reasoned. He liked to think of his job more like morality police than catching outlaws. Carson believed in the importance of Catchers, that it was necessary for keeping society functioning. Keeping the nature of time-theft a closely guarded secret was essential to preventing a repeat of the Great Time War.
Carson walked out of his apartment and down the stairs, humming a soft tune to himself. He went to the same café every morning, as was his wont. He ordered a cup of coffee and a "bagel." At least it resembled an old-time bagel. He wasn't sure what they made the spongy thing out of, but it sure didn't match the descriptions of old-time bagels on the internet. If it's edible, I'll eat it, he reasoned.
Checking his email officially put Carson on duty. Some days were painfully uneventful, without even a case to research, while other days were so busy Carson that didn't report back to the office until midnight.
There were all manner of Time Killers, from mass murderers to grandmothers in hiding, still running from that one accidental encounter with a deadly hit-and-run. Though the latter was also technically illegal, Carson mostly worried about the murderers.
His email today contained mostly the stupid pictures and funny puns from his coworkers. They were a silly bunch, especially late at night.
Carson scrolled through the junk and landed on a single piece of mail marked "important" by his boss. The subject wasn't very revealing, though. It read," On the Subject of Great Importance." Her secretary probably wrote it for her, Carson thought.
He opened it and found a picture of a small woman with sun-streaked blond hair and silver eyes. She was smiling vaguely and holding a large red scythe over a dead seven-year-old with orange hair. She was obviously another of those Time Killers.
More hunting, Carson thought. He scrolled down and read about how she mysteriously disappeared from the police, taking down three armed men in under a minute. Those policemen are useless, Carson thought. I mean, she's a murderer, for crying out loud. They should have called a special unit, at least!
He replied to his boss's email, downloaded the Killer's data file to his handheld, finished the last of his coffee, and started his morning jog. The street outside the café was mostly empty, just the way he liked it.
The scenery was undoubtedly strange in the underground city of Ithaca, but Carson was used to it. Lights hung off the cavern walls, and the air always smelled of salt. Before the Great Time War, it the city was called Salt Lake City, but down in the caverns, old names didn't matter. New lives mattered, and thus catching those who held onto too much time was of utmost importance.
They said there was no way to tell if someone possessed stolen time, but Carson disagreed. He'd seen it.
There was a look of people who had more than their fair share of time. A smug air to the person. A regretless shine in their eyes. All of Carson's previous targets had it. The girl with the silver eyes had it. His mother had it. In fact, Carson's mother was one of the reasons he'd become a Catcher.
His mother had murdered his father. As a child, he'd watched them take her away. Carson never could get over that sense of betrayal, that sense of robbed injustice he had felt then. Her own husband, his own father. So he held his job with the duty of keeping society safe from itself.
Carson jogged down Aerulean Tunnel alone with just his thoughts and his handheld. He scrolled through all the information they had about Goldie Rose, the girl with the silver eyes. It was laughably little, but most Time Killers did stay off the radar.
Ms. Rose lived in a dingy shack in the bad part of Ithaca, as they usually did. It was to prevent the government from knocking on their doors or noticing they were a bit too old to be naturally alive, but most of their houses were just for show. They'd have an elaborate basement that they actually lived in. In some ways, it was eerie how similar the sole, stand-alone Time Killers were. The Time Gangs, on the other hand, well, they were a different story.
Apparently, Ms. Rose lived with a friend who hadn't shown up on government radar since they signed the title deed together. Most partnerships eventually broke apart or cannibalized themselves, leaving a single, super strong Time Killer in its place. How one could go as far as murdering their own friends or loved ones, Carson couldn’t even fathom.
Carson searched for the quickest route to the girl's house and started jogging, keeping his hand on his S-24 Silver Edition a little tighter. He always had the latest model silent handgun.
He made it to the house before noon. There was no response to the doorbell or any knocking. There usually wasn't. These people were amateur assassins, some of them really skilled. They knew when they were being hunted.
Carson waited a long five seconds before he busted down the front door.
"Ms. Rose, this is the Catchers. Put your hands on your head and everything will be alright," Carson said forcefully. He walked down the linoleum hallway, conscious of every sound.
At the end of the hallway, a sole door stood eerily alone. Consciously, Carson opened it to expose the flight of stairs leading to a neon glow at the bottom.
Heavy, dramatic classical music flowed from the basement. Apparently, this Time Killer was a learned woman. It always confused Carson whenever he met really good people who wasted their lives stealing other's lives. That didn't make them any better than the other Time Killers, though.
"Who's there?" a bright, cheery voice called. "We weren't expecting anyone today."
We, Carson thought. If she's still using "we," maybe her partner is still alive. That changed things. Two Time Killers were much harder to deal with than one.
"Come out, hands on your head, Ms. Rose," Carson demanded, taking out his silent handgun. "Everyone else, freeze and put your hands on their heads."
Carson waited, gun outstretched, safety on. He wanted to intimidate, not kill. In fact, policemen were held to the same rules of Time Theft as any citizen, and in reality, a Time Killer Catcher was just a specialized policeman.
"Come down," the cheery woman called. "There's plenty of food, and we welcome party crashers."
Annoyed by the overconfident girl, Carson stormed down the stairs. And was greeted by the cocking of a Glock. ns 126.96.36.199da2