One Bullet, Three Teams
The daylight drew low in the Sunday sky, as the smoke of a dying cigarette diffused into the smog of a dying city. Nick Allen wasn’t a detective anymore. He had left it all behind, a long time ago. Too risky. Too thrilling. A man could get lost in that world, where he banned first and asked questions later, and the shadows of CLG team members lurked around every corner.
No, he much preferred his new job — a comfy desk role at Twitch. Sure, hours of scanning Legendary Lea’s stream for hints of vagina had left a sharp stabbing pain behind his eyes. And there were bruises on his arms and chest from escorting Gross Gore out of company headquarters. His new job was safer, paid better. It was the right choice for an old veteran like him. But whenever he looked at his pipe and hat, hung so neatly as relics of the past, he couldn’t help but feel a…
…a chill. The temperature in the room dropped sharply as the door swung open, exposing the stuffy Twitch office to the cool breeze of the world outside. Incandescent light pulsed on the street, dancing with information, contacts… mysteries. And the biggest mystery of all was the client at the door.
The dame stumbled in, short of breath, as perspiration ran down her collarbone. Around her slender body danced a diaphanous hanbok — a traditional Korean dress. But she wasn’t Korean; she was trouble. Nick recognized her immediately from the fleur-de-lis tattoo on her left breast. She was well known for her sharp looks, but today she looked like she had barely escaped the maw of madness — her face was marked, her eyes wild, and her usually meticulous hair was a mess.
“We’re closed,” Nick said preemptively.
“Even for an old friend?” asked the Countess of Monte Cristo. Exhausted, she sat on Nick’s desk, and for a moment, he wished he could be that desk.
“Old friend” was a strange term. Nick pulled out a file two inches thick. Monte’s file. Fined. Fined. Fined. The red ink marked every photograph.
“Is this a charity case, doll?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Riot has gone mad since you left. They’re snatching up people from the streets. Sunday night they massacred three teams. TDK, TIP, and my own team, RNG. There was no warning, either. The banhammer fell and they’ve all been snatched up. I escaped, and for whatever differences we’ve had in the past, I know you won’t see this injustice done to us.”
Like celebrities and Axis powers, League of Legends teams die in threes. Allen might have felt pity, but this was a tough industry. The sun rose, folks lost their jobs, and kids got caught looking at Tristana on stream.
“Let me guess, you’re innocent.”
“You think this is about me?” She let out a low, bitter laugh. “This goes beyond just me. But for the record? I was never presented evidence by Riot for these claims, nor did I know most of them existed. I was also told of my ban 30 minutes before the post. I was given no time to respond or present any information.”
“You got anything else for me, darling?”
“It’s not about guilt at all,” she hissed. “Riot’s become judge, jury, and executioner. They’re snatching people who speak out against them. I was targeted for refusing to cast MSI!”
She moved forward and gripped the detective’s coat. “The only reason why I wasn’t able to protect my team was because Riot wouldn’t pay me enough for MSI. Those extra few hundred dollars would have gone towards player treatment.
“I will make a more complete statement in the future, but for the moment have been advised by counsel to wait to say more.” She let go of Allen and walked towards the window, posing in sulking arrogance.
Allen frowned. There had always been some animosity between Monte and Riot, but for the most part, they had a working relationship. But maybe the gaming syndicate had gotten tired of their most controversial caster.
He glanced back at Monte. Her eyes glistened in a neon moonlight. Nick had served Monte with many punishments, but she had never looked like this — she looked scared.
“Stay in the office. Don’t answer for anyone,” he said. He drew a trenchcoat over his pudgy figure and checked the banhammer in his holster. It was loaded for up to $5000 in fines. Perfect.
“Where are you going?” she asked. He didn’t quite know himself, because the second issue hadn’t been written. For years, Nick had used his investigative skills to hunt down whoever Riot had deemed undesirable; and in all those years, Nick had never thought to turn his investigation towards Riot itself.
“I’m going to solve your case,” he responded, and stepped into the muggy L.A. night.
–End Part #1–