The heat of the fire was still on my mind as I followed everyone away from the house we just destroyed. I found this to be quite ironic. The police could probably have solved some more of this crime already if they would have actually questioned more of the neighbors. Explosions are a bit hard to miss if you’re within a few hundred meters. My ears were slightly ringing, so imagine the people who didn’t have the distance I had, or even a couple fingers in their ears.
I eventually caught up with Famine and Jackson. “Go home, Ren,” Famine said the moment she saw me. “The police will arrive at some point, and we need you to make sure the reports aren’t perfect tomorrow. Two homes burnt down in quick succession will raise more suspicions.”
I shrugged. “I have work tomorrow anyway.” I limped away from them. My home was closer to here than Famine’s was, anyway. I’d get there quickly and be able to properly set my knee before I had to go to work tomorrow. If I was lucky, Commander might end up sending me home anyway. I wasn’t going to count on that.
I made my way home rather quickly for being injured. I unlocked my door and pushed it open before pulling my key out of the lock. I forced myself to move into one of my spare rooms, where I kept a medical kit. I properly set my knee, then went to bed. I was finally able to look at a clock and see that the time was 3:57.
* * *
I woke to my alarm blaring at six o’clock. It was time to go “investigate” the burnt home that I didn’t know about yet. I grabbed a prepared breakfast and went to my police station. I clocked about twenty minutes after waking up.
“Hey Smith, there’s another house that’s been burned down. It was Superior’s.” A couple other officers were talking as we all got geared up. “I did hear about that. I think it was the same crackpot who burned the other houses down.” The first officer laughed. “That’s what we all think.” I didn’t hear anything else as I left.
I stood in our briefing room, waiting for Commander to tell everyone where we were going to be posted today. The other two officers followed quickly, and everyone else slowly moved in.
Holland told everyone that was assigned to an area to go to their post. After most of the room was empty and there were only twelve of us left, Commander finally divulged the details of last night’s destruction. “Another home is gone. Everyone left in this room is going to split into two teams and investigate the last two crime scenes. The team for the newest one will consist of Officers Jade, Martin, Smith, Fifteen, Josh, and Shelby. Get going.” I got out of my chair and walked out. Everyone else followed.
I got into the passenger seat of a vehicle, and waited for someone else to drive. I decided this would be a great time to plot.
Martin got into the driver seat. He looked at me. “Great, looks like I pulled the short straw. Let’s not speak for the ride, okay?” I didn’t make any remarks. Martin sighed. “Looks like we’re off to a great start.”
We drove in silence for about ten minutes. That was plenty of time to create and stick with a plan.
Martin parked the car, and I got out before he even pulled his keys out. I marched toward the burnt ground, not even attempting to hide my knee injury. No one would ask about it either way.
At one point, someone was bound to find the basement. Seeing as how it was underground and especially concrete, like most basements, there was no way it had been completely destroyed. Someone would find it, and I’d follow them.
Coincidentally, I was the first to find it. That made it easier to plan my way in. “I found Superior’s basement. Who wants to follow me in?” All of the officers looked at each other, then placed one of their index fingers on their nose. I almost laughed at how stupid it looked. Jade swore, and started walking towards me. She had touched her nose last. “Let’s go, Fifteen. This had better be good.”
We moved as much debris as possible away from the stairs, then lurked into the buried chambers. “Jade, look for anything that may have monetary value. I’ll look for anything that may have a different kind of worth.” She nodded, then moved further into the basement. I waited for a moment. I followed her slowly. Most people had some sort of safe hidden in their basements, and she was probably going to find it.
She walked out of one room and into another. A safe would be easy to spot, as all the furniture was currently ashes. I watched as she left that room and entered another. A few moments later, she walked out carrying a small safe. “Found it-”
I pulled my pistol out and shot towards the stairs, then shot her left leg. She screamed out, and I fired another shot behind me before blasting her head. Smith came barreling down the stairs, gun pointed. “What happened?”
“Jade found the safe, and shot at me. She was probably trying to keep the contents for herself instead of returning them to Superior.”
Smith put his gun back into his holster. “Jesus, she should’ve known better. I mean, you have the best shooting score out of everyone here. She could’ve at least waited until she was alone with me in our car and we could’ve run off with the loot.” Smith blinked a few times. “Did I say all of that out loud?”
I laughed, then pointed my pistol at him, too. “Good job, Smith, you’ve just plotted a crime against your fellow officers.”
“Shit, come on Fifteen, you know that I wouldn’t steal from our Superior.”
Martin appeared at the stairway, and spoke. “You’ve already stolen from Commander twice. This is your third strike.” Smith looked behind him. Martin was standing in the stairwell, with Shelby and Josh standing behind him. Smith sighed. “I, ah. Shit. This is my third strike.” Smith quickly ducked behind a still standing washing machine, but not before I got a shot into him.
“Fuck!” he screamed as he landed. His graceful movement landed him with a bullet in his side. I holstered my gun, and made my way up the stairs. “There is still an investigation to be done.” The remaining three officers murmured behind me. I started looking for four matchbooks. One more gunshot was fired before Shelby carried the safe upstairs, and Martin and Josh carried Jade out. They went back in for Smith’s corpse.
I found two matchbooks in the meantime, and Shelby found the third. The fourth one took a bit more time, and after twenty more minutes, everyone concluded that there were only four altogether.
“What do four matchbooks mean?” Shelby asked an empty question. No one knew what four matchbooks meant. “And to top it off, there are four matches in each,” Martin added. I yawned. This wasn’t anything I already knew.
“You have anything to add, Fifteen?” Josh demanded.
“Yeah, I do. These guys are taking influence from the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. If you read up on the bible at all, you would probably have figured that out on your own.”
Martin whispered to Shelby.
Josh sighed. “Let’s get going. I’ll take the empty car.”
Shelby sighed. “You should just make Fifteen do it. Fifteen was the one who shot both Jade and Smith.” Josh turned back toward her. “Sure, but do you really trust the freak who didn’t even flinch after shooting another Officer?” Shelby held her head down. “Fine, let’s go.”
Martin got into our car. “This was a shit show. Let’s hope that Commander doesn’t dock our pay for this mission.” We drove back to the station in silence.
We stepped out of our car. “Martin.” He froze. “Commander won’t dock your pay. I’ll be sure of that.” He gave me puzzled, almost scared look, then walked off. I locked the car, then trailed behind.
That was a fun few hours. Commander will be pleased with our finding the matchbooks and Superior’s safe. He might be a bit bothered about losing Jade and Smith, but mostly Smith. I was glad I wouldn’t have to hear their tedious flirting or see Smith get away with crimes that the rest of us would get killed for. I think everyone else will be joyed for that too.
Commander debriefed us, then told us to go to our regularly scheduled stations. We all complied. Jade was my usual partner for these excursions. I was a bit disappointed it had to be her I shot down, but I figured that Shelby would be an acceptable replacement.
Shelby and I got into her vehicle. “Great. Now I have to work with nameless number. Seriously, why did you give your name up and stick with the given serial number? We aren’t privates anymore.” She started the car, and we began to drive away.
I think Shelby was trying to find some way to convince herself I wasn’t insane, now that we had to work together. I gave her the delusion she seeked. “I didn’t actually have a name before I joined the force. I never interacted with people for very long, so they didn’t need to call me anything other than “kid” or something similar.” Shelby didn’t say anything for a few moments.
“That’s… so sad. Is that why you’re so…” She trailed off.
“Broken? Maybe. It never mattered to me either way.”
Shelby took in a staggered breath. I never understood why that happened either. “That’s crazy.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m here now, and I have a title. My past doesn’t matter anymore.”
Shelby parked the car. “Our country is so unfair. So many terrible things have happened to people. Is that why you joined our resistance, Renegade?”
My eyes widened. “Don’t worry, Ren. I’ve been part of both the police and the protest ever since I was a private. The damage you did today at our investigation was incredible. I never would’ve done something like that. Hell, maybe one day you’ll even meet Death.”
I chuckled. “What’s so special about Death? They’re just another horseman.”
Shelby laughed that time. “What makes Death special is that he is the one who funds us and keeps our group from getting caught. No one has met him besides the other three horsemen. He could be anyone in the upper class, and that’s all that everyone else knows about him. If you do ever meet him, could you put in a good word for me?”
I shrugged. “You make him sound like such an enigma; I doubt I’ll actually meet him.”
“Say what you will, but I have a good feeling about you joining. Stupid and crazy as you are, you’ll bring something good forward. Let me tell you, my gut has never been wrong.”
“I don’t believe in superstitions like gut feelings.”
“You don’t need to. You don’t need to believe in anything. Just lighting fires is good enough to prove that you mean business. Being alive and here is enough to ignite hope in everyone around us. You’re doing fine.”
I said nothing in return. We remained silent for several minutes before Shelby spoke again. “Oh, yeah, Famine wants you to mess with Commander’s mission report tonight. She wants you to write it as such.” She handed me a slip of paper. I unfolded it. It said “The Four Horsemen Will Rise.”
“She wants you to write that one the end of Commander’s mission report. She thinks that Superior will get a message, and Commander may get fired. I’m in line to replace him, especially now that Smith is dead.” Shelby leaned back. She had a smug look on her face. I smirked a bit myself. She was more ruthless than I had ever thought before.
“Commander’s name is Holland.”
Shelby bolted upright. “Come again?”
“You heard me.”
Shelby sat back and laughed a little. “You’re a resourceful fucker, aren’t you?”
“I was bored. I had to do something to keep myself entertained. Learning his name seemed like a fun thing to do before I plotted to kill him.”
Shelby didn’t even blink after hearing that. “Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me. Well, if I get any say in it, you’ll be the one executing him once I’m in charge.” I actually found myself pleased with Shelby. I was more glad that I joined the horsemen’s protest now than ever before.
We finished our shift, and I headed home. Nothing interesting happened on our shift. I wasn’t surprised by that. Nothing exciting ever happens while on shift.
I unlocked my front door, went into my kitchen, then prepared and ate dinner. After that, I went and edited Commander’s mission report online. His report made mention of the matchbooks and my mention of the Four Horsemen. That would create a bigger impact when I wrote Famine’s message at the bottom.
“The Four Horsemen Will Rise.” I didn’t know why Famine capitalised every word, but it wasn’t my problem. Satisfied with today, I went to to bed.