*File Incomplete~
Incident File Report: Lance Rader
Incident # 7584632
Date of Origin: Unknown

Gravel crunched beneath the wheels of the unmarked vehicle as it rolled to a stop, its two occupants stepping out swiftly and in unison. They stood a moment, one slightly bulkier than the other, both taking in the broken down building’s boarded windows and crumbling doors. Paint peeled away from the walls in rotten, fleshy strips, dirty and blackened by the smoke of a flaming garbage tin crackling near the entrance. It slumped in its foundation like a fat, diseased glutton about to burst, dead inside and showing the signs outwardly. It was a wonder if light touched this place even during the daytime.
Dim splotches of firelight danced in the remains of a smashed window. They watched the decaying hovel, noting the scant flickers of movement within.

They wore close-fitting uniforms, black shirts and pants left only their arms exposed. White fur was speckled with black blotches, as if someone flicked black paint at their arms and faces. Dalmatians, both wore a gold badge on the right side of their chests. They called it their second heart.
One cast a quick look at the other, who nodded and began walking towards the wreckage of a building. They strode together, footsteps matching from years of working together. As they neared, the structure itself seemed to shrink away from them, a breeze drawing a dry groan from the hanging front door. Only the top hinge remained, the bottom had succumbed to rust years ago. There was no doorknob.

Bodies were strewn about the darkness within the building. Some slept, others simply lay still, allowing whatever they’d sniffed or injected to wash over their minds. This was where you came for that kind of thing; this was where you went when you didn’t want to be followed, not by anyone with good sense.
The door flung open, smashed against the wall and fell free of its dying hinge. Dim moonlight pierced the dark, illuminating the two intruders.
HELLO!” they shouted in unison, watching the lowlifes scatter like cave bugs accosted by light.
“Holy scat,” someone wheezed, “it’s the Spots!”
What few windows remained were broken with clumsy hands and leapt through, doors slammed open, clogged by bodies trying to get escape before everyone else, because they knew-the appearance of the Spots meant someone was in it deep, and nobody wanted to be that someone. Improvised campfires cast shuddering bulbs of light that barely revealed any defined figures in the room. That was fine. Despite the hazy lighting and scuttling swarm of bodies, they knew exactly where their target was. The larger of the Spots raised his head and inhaled, his nose wrinkled a bit and he turned his head towards a fleeing pooch lurching awkwardly towards the far side of the room. He clutched what looked like a bowling bag in his arms. A length of chain draped from the bag to his arm, probably wrapped around his wrist. He hobbled through a skewed doorway that welcomed him into the back alley.

*************

Juno dashed down the alleyway, the pungent scent of overflowing dumpsters stinging his nose. His nostrils burned, making the skin of his snout twist horribly. His lungs burned as he panted, but he maintained his grip on the bag. It was heavy, felt so damn heavy. Rounded with a single bar of metal, it hindered his progress, forced him to use twice the effort to move half as quickly. His legs tangled on something and he was thrown forward, gravity yanking him to the ground hard. What little momentum he’d managed to build up now sent him tumbling heels over head and crashing into the side of a rusted dumpster. It burst open, showering him with decayed metal and cracked garbage bags. Something squelched and fell on his neck, squeaked, and wriggled free of his hair. He stood abruptly with a yelp and swatted at his neck and chest, then heard.
“Have a nice trip, Juno?”
He froze, eyes wide as he glanced over his shoulder and saw the shape of the intruder behind him. He didn’t think, just ran. He’d only gone a few paces before realizing he was moving a lot faster than he should have been able to. He froze a second time, hands grasping his wrists and forearms frantically. The case? Where was the case?! He looked up and down, spun to look behind himself, and then turned in a circle trying to figure out what had happened.
“Oh no.” he breathed, “No,no,no,no,no!” Staggering forward, Juno’s hand shot to his ear, a rising buzz was starting to drown out everything around him. “He’ll kill me, he’ll-”
“Hi.”
Juno halted, comically trying to stop short but wound up skidding a few steps forward. His heart pounded in his chest, an erratic thumping in his head that he swore the Spot must be able to hear.
The Spot was, sitting, no-lounging on a row of garbage cans strewn across the dank alley. But something was wrong; this one looked bigger than the Spot he thought was behind him. Even though this Spot looked relaxed, there was no denying how jacked the dog was. Something was definitely wrong. It took a moment for it to register; then he remembered- there were two of them.

The case Juno had struggled with was lifted easily in the Dalmatian’s hand. He saw the muscles tense under the fur, then slack as he let it drop, the length of chain fastened to the handle bridged the gap between the case and the cop’s fist. It had been wrapped tightly around his knuckles, pulling taunt when the case hit the ground with a heavy thud, cracking the pavement. The Dalmation’s gaze never left him; a smile crept across his spotted face.
“Do you know who I am?”
Juno stared, then managed, “Uh, a cop?”
“I said who, idiot, not what. God you’re dumb.” His brows pinched, “Name’s Mace.”
Juno took a step back, his eyes flicked to the left and saw the other one approaching from behind. The one with the case spoke again.
“That’s Lance.” He stared at Juno a moment, “Juno, you’re the key to something big, you know that? This case you’ve been toting around, you don’t even know what’s in it, do you? Course you don’t. If you did, you’d have auctioned it off. You’d be sitting pretty with some French poodles on the beach of some nameless island right now. But here you are in this hole a roach wouldn’t want to be seen in, with maybe a few hundred bucks in your pocket. Let me guess, you get the big payola when you deliver this, right?”
Juno’s mouth felt dry and cracked. He sniffed, looked down and nodded.
Lance leaned against the wall. “You know how this works. Who’re you holding this for?”
Juno was quiet. Lance lunged forward and snatched him by the collar of his shirt, it began to rip when he yanked him off his feet and slammed him against the dirty brick wall. Something skittered from a crack and neared his face. Lance’s snout was inches from his, muzzled drawn back in a snarl. The moonlight lit small circled in his eyes, it was horrifying.
“What, you’re deaf now?!” he shouted, “You forget how to talk all of a sudden?! I said, WHO ARE YOU HOLDING THIS FOR?!”
“B-Biznus!”
Lance opened both hands and let Juno drop, then glanced at Mace. “Told you.”
Mace smirked, then looked back towards Juno. “Lemme ask you something Juno, why would someone like Biznus let a grub like you hold onto something this valuable?”
Juno remained hunched, struggling to stay upright. “I-”
SHUT UP!” Mace roared, the unbridled anger in the sound made Juno flinch and stumble back as if pushed.
“See Juno, that’s why. You were scared out of your wits long before we even showed up.”
Lance chimed in, “This right here, is holding a forty-pound chunk of uncut Vox Crystal. Pretty exotic, I mean outer space kind of exotic, hence the fifty-pound iron case protecting it. Valuable.”
Mace picked up, “A hell of a lot more valuable than you. Juno, nobody knows who you are, and anyone who’d care died a long time ago. Know what that means? You’re nobody. You’re nothing, and if you disappeared, if somebody tripped over your corpse tomorrow, nobody would care.”
Juno felt his stomach tighten, the back of his throat tickled with the taste of acid. “But… my big payout. He-he promised!”
“Sure,” Mace almost laughed, “if payoff means bullet in your back, or knife in your throat, or maybe Biznus’ stinger in your chest. He like to be hands-on from what we hear.”
Mace stared at Juno for an uncomfortably long time. Juno tried to read those eyes, but found such icy hostility and disdain, it made it harder to breathe than running.
Mace shrugged, “The truth is, you’re expendable. They may not have cared enough to snuff you out, but you just pointed the finger at Biznus. Now you’re a target.”
“I-” Juno whimpered, “I…” his mind raced.
Run.
Get away.
Juno shook his head and broke right, feet pounding the ground as he tried to get as far away as possible. Screw the case, and screw them! He never wanted to be part of some big master plan, he just wanted a good score for once in his life.
Juno! He heard Mace shout, “Don’t make me chase you!”
He kept running.
Mace tilted his head towards Lance. “He’s running, Lance.
“Because you scared the yellow juice out of him!” Lance watched Juno go. By now the little guy was probably starting to get a pretty good rush of adrenaline.
“He’s still runnin’ Lance.”
“Just giving him a head start.”
Mace sighed, casting a look down the alley. “He’s gettin’ away, Lance.”
“Whatever.”
C’mon man!”
Lance rolled his eyes and took off. He barely felt his shoes touch down, and for a moment he was in highschool all over again, dashing past the slowsters trying to run track. Then the Academy, outpacing even his instructor and finishing ten-mile runs without needing to pant afterwards like the rest of those slobs. He was almost sorry to see the distance between himself and Juno shrink at an embarrassing rate, it was sad. The guy was winding himself because he had no clue how breathe properly. Lance closed the gap, came shoulder to shoulder with Juno, then reached out a hand and shoved him hard against the wall. The forward momentum slammed Juno into unforgiving brick that scraped away a slash of fur and skin from his temple and left ear. He grunted as his legs twisted together and he fell in an ungraceful heap. Lance stopped a few feet away, turned, and stared at Juno as he stood and hobbled in the other direction. Lance smiled and began walking towards him.
“Guh!” Juno managed as he shuffled along, “Gotta get…” he heard Lance behind him, the guy wasn’t even trying to run and he was still catching up. Was he walking? He couldn’t even hear the Spot’s breathing, but he could hear his own harsh panting. Wind sucked into his lungs as fast as it was exhaled in short, whooping gasps. He kept going; maybe he could make it past the other one if-
A hand swatted him in the middle of his back, sending him hitching forward into yet another fall. He saw a white flash behind his eyes when his head cracked against the pavement. He hurt all over, he could barely breathe, it took everything he had to get a hand under himself. He had to get away, but without that case it didn’t matter where he went, he’d be good as dead.
He looked up and saw Mace. Dammit, he was right back where he started! He felt his chest heave, his eyes stung. Why was this happening to him? Spittle began to drip from his mouth.
“ P-please,” he whimpered, his voice distorted through the harsh breathing.
“Ah God Lance,” Mace’s face twisted with disgust, “he’s friggin begging!”
Juno managed to pull himself to his feet, “I just… I need that case, please!”
“What, this case?” Mace lifted it slightly and it twisted in suspension.
Juno’s right eye twitched, veins wormed their way into the white. The voice of a memory buzzed in the back of his mind. Something about cops, about the right cops doing the wrong thing, if you made it worth their while.
“Look,” he gasped, trying to level his tone, “I- I’ll cut you in, 60-40 if you want, 70-30! But I-I” blood dripped from his sheared, raw brow, he wiped it away like sweat, “I gotta have… that case-”
“Cut me in huh?” Mace looked sidelong at Lance, “You hear that Lance, Juno here’s gonna cut me in.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, and all I gotta do is give him this case.”
Juno looked from one dog to another, uncertainty etched into his features as Lance smiled.
“Then I guess you better give it to him.”
“Guess I should.”
Juno’s face said it all, relief mixed with disbelief. They were really going to do it. The buzz in his head, the voice of Biznus was right, almost all cops were crooked…
“Hey,” Juno couldn’t fight the gracious smile even though it hurt, “I won’t forget this, you won’t-”
He saw Mace snap the case into the air, then jerk his arm in a forward arc that pulled the case from its initial path and sent it hurtling towards its target. Juno’s right eye widened a second before the case smashed into his snout. The crackling sound accompanying it was bone splintering against metal. He couldn’t even scream. His eyes rolled in their sockets as he collapsed.
“Holy!” Lance yelped, “Mace what the hell?!”
Mace stood and walked over to Juno, then moved just out of range of his thrashing limbs until he lay still. The Dalmatian wrinkled his nose and snorted loudly, sucking air hard through his nostrils, then grunted deep in his throat, his jaws parting as he spat a thick green wad on Juno’s bloodied face.
“You’re right Juno, you won’t forget this.” He hunkered down, crouching close to Juno’s quivering mess of a face. “And I won’t forget how you tried to bribe a cop. Bad deal. Real bad deal.” He leaned in close, his snout inches from Juno’s ear.
“You think you can offer me something I couldn’t take if I really wanted it? You think anything you got, means more to me that this?” He pinched his badge between his fingers and lowered it towards Juno’s good eye. He knew he heard him. Conscious or not, his words were in Juno’s head, and that was what mattered. He stood.
“Nice shove back there, skinned the hell out of his brow.”
Lance still watched Juno, “Oh yeah, you liked that?”
“Yeah, that’ll teach him to run from me.”
“Ran from you?” Lance forced a laugh, “Ran from your face!”
“Shut up.” Mace lifted the case, “Hey let’s log this and hit The Pound. It’s a good night for clubbin’.”
“What about him?”
Mace snorted, “What about him?
Lance reached down, took hold of Juno’s ankle and began to drag him along.
“What the hell are you doing, leave him!”
“We can’t just leave him.”
“ Pfft, sure we can. What’d I say? He’s nobody, nothing, and that’s exactly what we owe him.”
They stopped walking, and Lance stared at his brother. Mace clicked his teeth.
“How many times have I told you to leave that crap they teach you in the academy in the classroom. I bring you on these runs so you can see this first-hand. So you know and don’t get caught up in some crap that goes sideways. This,” he tapped the case, “this matters. Not him, not his cronies, and not his druggie friends.”
Lance said nothing. Mace threw up a hand.
“Fine, you want to play good Samaritan, we’ll dump him at the E.R. I’m not doing a bunch of paperwork at headquarters because of his sorry tail.”
“Yeah well, maybe he’ll thank me in the morning.” Lance laughed, then halted when he heard something click. It sounded metallic, like-
Juno yanked his leg free, making a horrible gurgle as he sprang to his feet and lunged, the switchblade glinted and he swung at Lance.
“You sonuva b%$#!” Mace hurled the case and watched it smash into the good side of Juno’s face. Juno let out a weak ‘Gerk!’ and fell atop Lance, knife still clutched in his hand. Lance shoved him off and stood abruptly, eyes wide.
“Did you see that?!” Lance’s voice shook with disbelief, his hand touched the slash across his shirt. White fur peeked through. He glared down at Juno, “You motherf-“ he kicked the body. “I was gonna get you help you sorry sack of-!” he halted, then looked to Mace. They were silent a moment, watching Juno’s body lay still. He wasn’t going to move again. Lance gritted his teeth, unable to lessen the sneer on his snout. “They’re all the same, aren’t they?”
“Yeah.” Mace stared down at Juno. His head didn’t even look like a head anymore.
Lance stared as well, then snorted, parted his lips and spat on Juno’s body.
“You were right.” Lance touched the slash across his shirt, backing away from the body. “He’s nobody, and nobody’s gonna miss him.” Mace was quiet as they turned and headed towards the car, then put an arm around Lance’s shoulder.
“Now you’re learning.”