The victim had set a password on his ‘puter, but apparently he was a forgetful bloke, because he had a small box of index cards sitting in one of his desk drawers, and they had so many website user names and passwords written on them that both men thought they’d hit the jackpot. Since Racine had jurisdiction, he accessed the ‘puter with the right password and found dozens of sex videos with the victim in them.
“Your people didn’t find that?” Varriano asked.
“If they did, they didn’t include it in the report.” Racine answered, just before he started playing the first video. After about ten seconds, he grimaced and shut it off. He went for the next video and saw the same thing. “We’ve got a real winner here.”
“Who does shit like this?” Varriano wondered. “I’m seeing the victim having sex with other adults. The thing is, the other people are dressed like children. They’re wearing clothing for little boys and girls. The men have shirts with kid’s cartoons on them and the women have pigtails, for crying out loud!”
“It’s a fetish.” Racine shrugged. “Personally, I like it when women dress up like high school cheerleaders.”
“A high school cheerleader is one thing, but these sickos are wearing clothing made for ten year-old kids! You can’t get more twisted than that!”
“Relax, Varriano. I’m going to call you Rick from now on. Do you mind?”
“You can call me H.” Racine said. “That’s what my friends call me. How much time left on your clock?”
Varriano checked his phone. “About twenty-three minutes.”
“We’ll make this quick.” Racine decided. “I’m going to mind-scan some of these faces and upload them to our database. With any luck, we’ll get a match before you’re off work hours.”
The reason Varriano’s day was almost gone was because he’d spent so much time watching surveillance videos for the two FVL victims; three weeks’ worth: two weeks before and one after the murder. He’d created a list of deliveries made to both homes and crosschecked them with the in and out log kept by the private security guards at both locations. Varriano ended up with the names of half a dozen companies that still hadn’t called him back. It was probably a dead end, but since he didn’t have much else to go on he could at least do the legwork and write it off.
Racine started up another video. This one showed a brunette in her twenties sitting in a kid’s playground, wearing pink suspenders and licking a large, rainbow lollipop. When the victim showed up, the brunette went to her knees to give the man a blowjob.
“Face scanned and uploaded.” Racine said. “I did not get any hits with the first two.”
“How many videos are there?”
“Great.” Varriano grumbled. “Let’s do as many as we can right now and the rest in the morning.”
“It’s a date!” Racine laughed.
“It is not a date.” Varriano denied, causing the lieutenant to laugh even louder.
With ten minutes left to go on Varriano’s shift, Racine reported, “No hits on this one either. These people have distinct faces. We should have hit on at least one of them. You can’t really go anywhere in Stem City without being identified and logged in… Wait a minute.”
“What?” Varriano asked.
“That Percy guy, your second victim?”
“You said he used age-progression to look younger.”
“The age progression was in the video belonging to Kennet.”
“But Kerenski would have created the younger model to send it to her.”
“Not necessarily. Kennet could have done it herself, for kicks. If you think you might have something, let’s hear it.”
“The people in these videos, they’re all grown adults dressed in children’s clothes. What if they really are children, but they were age-progressed to look much older?”
“You think your guy was a pedo?” Varriano asked.
“Not necessarily a pedo.” Racine corrected. “Maybe a closet pedo. My guy could have walked around and taken public pictures of kids he liked. He comes home, uploads the pictures into his ‘puter, and he disguises their true age by making them look like adults.”
“That is possible with the software. I’ve just never heard of anyone using it for that.”
“You don’t think like a pedo.” Racine replied. “I wish I could say the same, but I’ve had to track a few of them down. They will do something like this, because in their sick heads they can substitute a mental image of the kids for the age-progressed adult models. That would explain why the adult faces are not in our database. The faces don’t exist!”
“Can you even prosecute that?”
“No.” Racine frowned. “The judge will look at the video of two adults and declare that no crime was committed. We would have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an actual child the model was based on, and even then things are iffy.”
“The guy must still have the original pictures around here somewhere.” Varriano said.
“You don’t have enough time to look for them, but I do.” Racine said. “Go on, get out of here. Call me in the morning for an update.”
“Speaking of updates, I should call my super and tell him where we’re at.” Varriano decided. “The videos could be a breakthrough because facial manipulation figures into three of the victims now. Past that all I’ve got is a few deliveries unaccounted for.”
“I have full access to this ‘puter.” Racine said. “If this man made an purchase order online, I’m sure there is a record of it in here somewhere. Oh, Rick?”
“Don’t call me Rick. I changed my mind about that. What do you want?”
“How about a nice, warm hug before you go? Give me a good squeeze because that’s what I’m going to do to you.”
“Shit.” Varriano said.
He held still and turned his head aside while Racine gave him a good grope.
Varriano got the message from Racine while he was on the bus ride home. At first, he figured the lieutenant had sent him some salacious remark, but instead he got the name of the outfit his victim had recently ordered from.
The detective looked up the company. It sold sex dolls with bizarre names: boi boi, boi menoke, menoke menoke and menoke boi. During the time he’d spent in Japan, Varriano had picked up some common words. He knew that boi meant boy and menoke meant girl. What threw him off were the combinations, until he took a closer look at the dolls. The dolls were modeled after human children. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a boi menoke was a doll that was designed to look like a boy, but it had girl sex parts. Same thing with a menoke boi. That was a little girl doll with frank and beans. Japanese people did weird shit like that sometimes, from the anime girls with their balloon titties, to the Japanese Idols craze where the girls were as young as fifteen, to this deal with the sex dolls. Varriano didn’t know about Japanese women, but he figured Japanese men had really fucked up heads.
The Y.N. website went out of its way to promote their sex dolls as an alternative for people suffering from, as they called it, age disparities for their ideal lovers. Basically, the company said, buy a sex doll and you could avoid going to jail for acting out your impulses in real life. According to a blurb, even NAMBLA, the North American Boy Lovers Association, endorsed the sex toys with five stars.
After browsing through more of their online catalog, Varriano discovered that, while their boi / menoke dolls were their best-selling items, they did offer ‘normal’ dolls based on celebrity men and women, and custom order deals where clients provided descriptions that were worked into specially designed models. That was kind of like the algorithms he’d found out about through the Q-drives.
The company address was in Japan, and its salespeople had Japanese names. Any normal Tom, Dick and Harry would assume that Yuni Novelties was based in Japan. Varriano, however, had learned that first impressions weren’t always correct. He did some investigating through the Better Business Bureau, Linkster and public information maintained by the government. Yuni was actually a small company under the broader umbrella of Erickson Entertainment, and that company operated out of the West Coast, mostly in Sangeles, but also in Mento.
He wanted to call his super in Stem Corp to pass on his findings, but if he did he’d only get reamed because he was not supposed to be doing anything work-related. Hell, he’d have to wait until the morning. There were other things he could work on in the meantime, such as how he would arrange a meet with Frankie Four Fingers to pay him off. He still had that asshole’s money, the money that Stem Corp had given him in exchange for returning the Q-drive.
Something else started bugging Varriano. Thinking about the FVL employees made him realize that he too was a workaholic. He had to break out of that routine of all work, and to do this he looked up the movie theaters in his neck of the city. A lucky thing he did, as one of the smaller venues was showing the Blade Runner movies back to back. Varriano purchased a ticket with his phone and changed his bus route to head that way. Yeah, a bucket of popcorn and a cold stim-soda, and for the next four-plus hours he was golden.
To be continued.