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August 25, 2005
A Story, Bit-by-Bit
Superego: Part 17 - Drink Up
The Detective threw a small metal object in the air, and it stayed in the air. It was flat with a big round eye at the front and what looked like a barrel underneath the eye.
The Detective put on what looked to be a normal pair of glasses. "That is Zippy. He's my partner. Not very smart, but never complains about my choice of methods. He watches my back, and is able to fire without a direct command from me. Thus, he's only loaded with stun shots." She pressed a number of buttons on a keypad at her wrist, and Zippy turned to face me. "I'll program him not to shoot you."
"I'd appreciate that."
She hit buttons for a couple seconds.
"Seemed like a lot of programming for 'don't shoot,' Detective."
She just smiled at me. So, she still didn't trust me. Well, I was starting not to trust her. Dip certainly did not get me all the pertinent information on this woman.
After passing through another alley, a large mosque was visible. At the top of it was a giant orb with an arrow in it. The arrow was currently pointed at me. "I think I'm Mecca."
The praying towards Mecca was usually only observed by human Muslims, and most just prayed up. It cost a lot to keep track of exactly what direction to pray towards the human home world - the place where Mecca used to be. There are a lot of rotations and revolutions to keep in mind. And, when many aliens don't care to honor Mecca, most mosques don't bother with all that.
Islam is a very interesting religion (I once missed a nature show on the Ultorian tiger to watch a show about its history). Humans call it Islam and trace it back to its origins on our home world, but its current form is an amalgamation of many different alien religions (each alien usually calls it by the name of the religion started on their own home world), their prominent prophets all said to be prophets of the one god, Allah (blessings be upon him). Who brought it to its current form was Mohammed (a human... and different from the other prophet Mohammed from way way back) who supposedly performed a lot of miracles and definitely united many sentient species to try and make Islam the only religion in the universe... many willing to use violence.
Best of luck to them.
Anyway, most Muslims do not worship Mecha-Allah, but all I've met seem at least sympathetic to the giant robot and love how trying to find it frustrates the more civilized worlds so much.
"A lot of violent idiots have come from this place," the Detective said as she looked at the mosque, "If I could, I’d drag the imam into prison. If the leadership isn't directly involved with these attacks, they probably know who is. In the least, someone attending here is involved. That I am 99% sure of. We push this lead."
I was going to ask how, but remembered she didn't like questions. I had my own plan, anyway. We started heading for the building.
"Now, they will be insulted by me questioning them because I'm a woman... I plan to use that." She paused for a moment. "I would normally never do this, but lives are at stake." She opened her blouse to reveal her cleavage. She then looked to me. "Please don't tell anyone."
"I'll keep it to myself."
She continued onward. "You kept eye-contact; you're a nice guy."
I laughed, as that was funny in a number of different ways even though she didn't mean it. "So antagonizing the religious types is the plan?"
"They'll be antagonized just by the site of me; I'm aiming for enraging them. I can't really pretend to have respect for this religion; I hope that doesn't bother you."
I chuckled slightly.
The Detective barged through the doors, Zippy and I following close behind. "I'm here to ask some questions about the recent bombings!" she yelled as the group of people bowing in about her direction.
"We're in the middle of prayers!" yelled a frustrated old, bearded man who looked to be the imam, "We..." He paused when he caught sight of her. "Detective Thompson!" he shouted as he walked towards her, "The city gave us a restraining order against you!"
"I can't be expected to keep track of all the restraining orders against me. Now, I assume you'll be willing to help me track down those nasty Cyber-Islamists."
The imam scowled. "I won't speak to you until you cover up, woman!"
The Detective gouged him in the eyes. "There. Now you don't see me. Same effect."
Many started shouting, and, as one man approached, Zippy shot him. The guy tensed and fell to the floor. "Be careful of my little robot friend; he's malfunctioning."
The group there were a number of males - some aliens but mainly human - all glaring at the Detective with murder in their eyes. She glared back. I couldn't see her expression, but it seemed to make most of them hesitant. By now, I was really curious what her reputation on the street was. I just stood back, watching the group with a casual smile. The imam knew something about this - I could already tell. I wanted to find someone in the crowd directly involved.
"Hey, I'm kinda curious about this religion," I called out. "Think I could get a pamphlet or something?"
"We welcome no one who associates with this infidel!" the imam shouted, getting angrier.
"And where are the chicks," I asked, looking around all the males, "This isn't some sort of gay thing?"
"They worship in another room!" the imam shouted. "Both of you, GET OUT!"
A lot of the guys there looked capable of murder, but a few were now particularly sticking out.
The Detective grabbed the imam by his beard. "First, can you tell me if anyone here worships that rusty, poor excuse for a god?"
Did I see a hint of concern on a face?
"We do not associate with the Cyber-Islamists," the imam said. He then laughed. "Perhaps they are a hand of Allah in how they punish the infidels! Now go back to your own dying religion, woman, before we call some actual police!"
She knocked him to the floor. "Yeah, go ahead. Doubt you cowards will. You, like that stupid robot, like to hide. You make threats, but you're all too impotent to fight out in the open."
That made everyone angry, but one human was angered in a slightly different way. I could tell he was restraining himself as the words hit him more personally. He had something to hide. He was involved. He was mine.
The males finally were angry enough to begin to approach the Detective, but I approached them quicker and grabbed my mark. "Come on Mohammed; I want to find out about your religion."
"How do you know my name?" He was in complete panic.
I dragged him to the door. "I'm going to have a little chat with him outside," I told the Detective who looked a bit peeved I was stealing her thunder. "You stay and chat with your friends."
Mohammed wouldn't talk with me, so the chat didn't last long. Soon, he was running back inside the mosque, yelling and spitting.
"He forced me to swallow pigs' blood!"
I had followed Mohammed back inside. He ran into the group of men and began to disappear behind them. The Detective, looking a bit confused, was ready to follow, but I tapped her on the arm to tell her to stay.
"That guy is crazy. I did not force him to drink pigs' blood."
The aforementioned "chicks" were now peaking in to see what was going on. "The vial in your hand!" the imam shouted, pointing to the vial in my hand, "It says 'Pigs' Blood' right on it!"
I looked at the vial. It did indeed say "Pigs' Blood" in large letters. I looked back to the imam. "It's mislabeled."
He looked to the Detective. "Your partner is as bad as you! This is the worst police abuse..."
"I'm not a police officer," I interrupted, "I'm just a tourist. See, back on my planet, we force red liquids down each other's throats all the time. Do you guys have something against that, because I was trying to find out about your religion?"
Everyone looked about ready to tear me apart. Diane had recovered from her shock and confusion and stated plainly, "I do remember hearing him ask for a pamphlet."
"GET OUT!" the imam shrieked.
Mohammed had disappeared - probably out a backdoor. Good.
The Detective looked to me, and I smiled. She seemed to take the cue.
She tossed a card to the imam. "Call me in the future if you have any information to help the police." She, Zippy, and I, then exited.
When we were a decent distance away, the Detective buttoned back up her blouse and looked at me with a deadly serious gaze. "I assume you have some sort of plan... or do you always carry around pigs' blood?"
"The guy I grabbed - I'm certain he was involved. Had it written all over him."
"Really?" she answered incredulously, "So you forced him to drink pigs' blood?"
She wasn't even cracking a smile. I thought that was pretty funny. "I keep tracking tags on my luggage when I travel. Right now, one of my bags is missing a tag." I took out a little handheld computer. "Want to see where it's going?"
The screen showed a dot moving away from us at a running pace. "Your magic cop instincts better be right, Rico. We don't have time to waste."
"I'm right," I assured her, as I was pretty sure. "Are you going to get in trouble for all that stuff back there?" I have met plenty of cops in my days, and all I've seen on civilized planets seemed like they'd rather die than be nearly that abrasive.
The Detective sighed. "I'll get yelled at - but that's it. When they put me on this, they expected this. They never would have put me on this case if they didn't want it solved quick and most of our resources are tied up on the direct threat to Senator Gredler."
The direct threat to Senator Gredler started moving towards the dot on the screen. "If we're lucky, he'll head right to his buddies to warn that we're on to them... and to get help vomiting."
The Detective finally smiled again. "So was that really pigs' blood?"
"Where would I get pigs' blood?"
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