THE CASE OF THE LOWEST CRIME

C.O.P.S. Episode retold by Jonathan "KnightMysterio" Spires

All characters copyrighted to their original owners and used for non-profit amusement reasons.

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It was a dark evening in the seedy parts of Empire City . The glistening lights from above didn't penetrate this far down, leaving only the dim streetlights to illuminate people on their way. Those that were brave enough or foolish enough to be out in this part of town, at any rate.

Or those powerful enough.

A lone figure stalked through the streets, calm and confident of himself. Despite all the futuristic accouterments that adorned the walkways of even this, the most sleazy part of town, he himself seemed a relic out of the past. Clad in a zoot suit as red as blood, a matching fedora on his head, he walked down the middle of the street carrying a large, heavy violin case as if it weighed no more than a pound. His hands were covered in black gloves, black penny loafers on his feet. His face looked like someone had bashed it in and set it ablaze.

He was Buttons McBoomboom. And he was one of the most feared men in Empire City, the personal hitman and occasional bodyguard of the crime lord known as Brandon 'Big Boss' Babel.

Tonight, however, he was on a more personal mission. He was low on funds, and since he knew that greedy Big Boss wouldn't give him any extra in his pay, he decided to go acquire some cash on his own. He looked casually from side to side, studying which of the still open buildings to try and rob. Eventually, he settled on a grocery store.

He calmly, casually turned, heading for the door. A wind picked up, and he put a hand to his head to keep his fedora from blowing away. A smell was brought to him on the wind, and he scowled, turning towards the source, a pair of homeless men who were as dark and dingy as this part of town.

Buttons glared at them, but did little else. He didn't have time for them.

Opening the door to the store, casually walked in. It was a cheerful, airy store, with rows of various foodstuffs lined up, elevator music playing in the background. The lone store clerk, instead of looking surprised and fearful, looked annoyed. That in turn annoyed Buttons.

He swung the heavy violin case, knocking over a nearby rack of magazines, and set it on the clerk's counter. He then pulled open his suitcoat, revealing the cybernetic modifications to his midsection. To the clerk's surprise, two deadly-looking machine guns folded down, aiming at the clerk's chest.

Buttons grinned at the look of sudden terror on the pimply, red-headed clerk's face. "All right you mug," he said, his voice like grinding gravel, "This is a stick-up. Hand over all the cash in the register, and any you may have in the safe."

"Y-You're too late," the clerk said, throwing his hands into the air, "W-W-We've already b-b-been cleaned out!"

Buttons blinked. "Excuse me?"

"W-We were r-robbed this morning!" the clerk stammered, "S-Some drug addicts looking for money to buy from the new dealer in town! The stuff he s-s-sells is really expensive apparently!"

Buttons scowled, turning his torso guns towards the cash register. "You'll forgive me if I have trouble believing you," he said, shooting the register. The drawer popped open, revealing that everything in the register had already been taken.

Buttons blinked in confusion, and aimed his torso guns at the clerk again. "What about the safe?" he demanded, "And don't lie to me, brat, otherwise I'll bring out Old Betsy and make things even MORE interesting!"

The clerk shivered and kicked aside some stacked soda boxes, revealing an empty space. "Dammit, they took the safe, too! Just lifted it off its hinges and ran off with it! We've got NOTHING LEFT!"

Buttons growled. His torso guns clicked, the sound of new shells loading into them. "If you're lying to me…" he said, deliberately trailing off.

The clerk was in tears now, and Buttons could almost swear he smelled the man peeing himself in terror. "I SWEAR! I SWEAR ON MY MOTHER'S SOUL THAT IT'S TRUE! WE'VE GOT NOTHING LEFT!"

Buttons looked into his eyes, and then looked around for any possibility that the clerk might be wrong. Seeing none, he scowled, retracting his torso guns and rebuttoning his shirt. He took the clerk's wallet out of spite, along with a couple bags full of snacks and instant noodles. Picking up his loot and his violin case, he stormed out of the store, intent on heading back to his personal hideout.

"Thank you, come again," the clerk said weakly, fainting as Buttons went out the store.

Buttons grumbled to himself, idly munching on a snack cake as he walked. "I'd heard that someone new had moved in," he muttered, thinking out loud, "Didn't realize it had gotten this bad… Better tell Big Boss…"

"'Scuze me, friend," said a soft, hissing voice.

Buttons blinked, and looked around for a moment in confusion, settling his eyes on the source of the voice in a particularly slimy-looking alley.

The source of the voice was a weasel-faced man with ash-gray skin and white hair, clad in a lavender suit. Buttons sneered at him. "What do YOU want?"

The weasel-faced man smiled. "Just to offer some friendly help. You look like a man who's had a bad day. Mind if I offer you something to help you relax? First one is free."

Buttons scowled, his eyes narrowing. "Depends on what you're offering…"

The weasel-faced man grinned, putting a hand in his pocket. Buttons flinched, reaching to open his coat reflexively, but all the man drew out was a small crystalline disc with a design similar to the Jewish Star of David on it. "Just this, m'friend. Emerald Ecstacy, Diamond Pleasure, a trip to Heaven itself in a little bitty disc. My dear boy, this is Crystal Twist."

Drugs, Buttons thought angrily. He scowled even deeper, his hand reaching out to grab the man by the throat. "I don't need your poison to have fun, I get my kicks from crime! And your addicts have been cutting into business!"

The weasel-faced man gagged. "Business? What are you talking about?!"

"The CRIME business, meathead!" Buttons snarled, "I'm Buttons McBoomboom, triggerman for the Big Boss. And you're infringing on his territorial rights!"

To Buttons's surprise, the man actually seemed pleased to hear Big Boss being mentioned. "I've actually been wanting to talk to him! I know I'm in his town, but I want to do legit business with him! Well, so to speak…"

Buttons hesitated. It's true, Big Boss's policy was recruit first and eliminate only if they say no, but still… a drug dealer? Big Boss had a strict policy for both himself and his minions to not give the police any reason to go for the death penalty unless there was a way to absolutely certain you'd get away with it. And Buttons had a feeling that drugs would violate the boss's policy.

Still, it never hurts to ask…

"Follow me," Buttons said, dropping the weasel-faced man, "But be ready for the worst."

The weasel-faced man just smiled. "I'm sure Big Boss and I will have a very profitable friendship. Heheh."

== Meanwhile… ==

A blue-uniformed police officer struggled with his suspect as he tried to bring him over to the crowded holding tank. The scraggly-haired man in black denim and leather fought viciously, trying to get away. " CRYSTAL TWIST!" he wailed, "Gotta have it! LEMME GOOOO!"

The man scored a lucky shot, one of his flailing legs catching the blond-haired police officer in the crotch. He yelped, and staggered just enough for the suspect to get an arm free and deck him.

"Dammit," the officer said, the addict heading for the door. He thrust out his right arm, and tapped a button on the gauntlet mounted there. A handcuff shot out, attached to a thin but durable cord, latching on to the fleeing addict's wrist. The police officer tapped the button again, the cuff retracting back forcefully, yanking the addict off of his feet and pulling him back towards the policeman.

A tall, athletic-looking black man in a yellow dress shirt, black tie, sunglasses, and brown pants stepped out of an office. "Need any help, Longarm?"

The policeman shook his head. "Nah, I got it Bullet-Proof. But this is really getting ridiculous. This is the seventh CT addict I've busted TODAY."

Bullet-Proof sighed. "Believe me, I and everyone else know how you feel. On top of that, we've got the mayor bearing down on us to try and fix this drug crisis.

Longarm rolled his eyes as he forced the struggling addict into the overcrowded holding tank, ignoring the wails from those inside. "Lovely," he muttered, "How does he expect us to do it without any leads? Certainly none of the ADDICTS are talking…"

Bullet-Proof nodded. "The mayor's been talking about bringing in some new members for the squad."

Longarm sighed. "A week ago I would have been offended. But the way this is going we may need the help… As it stands right now, we're on the verge of being overextended…"

== Big Boss's Penthouse ==

In a penthouse at the top of the highest tower in the city lay a room that was quite possibly the most elegant and the tackiest place in history at the same time. It was filled with the ritziest furniture, including a streamlined, modernized desk and a seat with plush cushions, everything kept spotless.

The plants in various places around the room were the only things that didn't look like something out of the past.

Old time gangster memorabilia adorned the walls of the room, pictures of famous mobsters, classic firearms, and gaudy treasures decorated the room. But even they were no comparison to the room's current occupants.

The obvious leader of the group was a round, heavyset man with black hair and a round, potato-shaped head. He was clad in light blue trousers and a white suitcoat line with badges in place of the buttons. One hand was replaced with a polished cybernetic prosthesis. On his shoulder was a brown-furred weasel in an armored torso protector. Standing near him was a bald, wiry-looking man in lavender with a bald head and an earpiece. Sitting around the room were various hoodlums, including a muscular female in a red dress, a slender, dark-skinned woman with red hair, a tough-looking, sunglasses wearing man with an unusual mustache cut and a pink shirt, a hulking man in a torn prison uniform, a scrawny man with an enlarged brain protruding from his skull, encased by a glass dome, a barrel-shaped advanced-looking robot sitting near him. Sitting closest to the desk was a blonde, dim-looking man in a baby-blue jacket and yellow tee-shirt, casually munching on a chicken drumstick.

The large man was Big Boss. And as usual, he had a big plan.

"Myah. Okay boys and girls, I've got a big heist in mind for you," he said, typing on his computer and calling up an image of several glistening statues. "A shipment of Mayan gold is coming in tonight, worth billions. I want it for my private collection. And the payoff will be BIG for ALL the mooks I send on this, so no complaints."

"Which of us are you sending, Big Boss?" the muscle-bound woman asked.

"I'm sending Berserko, Turbo, and Nightshade," gesturing to the blue-jacketed man, the pink-shirted tough, and the elegant redheaded woman respectively, "And sending Buttons along as backup. , you, Dr. Badvibes, Rock Krusher, and that clunker robot Buzzbomb I have other plans for. Squeeky here will tell about it after this meeting is over."

There was some light grumbling amongst the various criminals in the room. Big Boss calmly picked up a walnut from the dish on his desk and proceeded to lightly crush it with his human hand. That silenced the grumbling. Big Boss smirked and began eating the walnut, picking the meat out of the shell. He opened his mouth to speak again, when Buttons walked in.

Big Boss scowled at him. "Where in blazes have you been?"

Buttons removed his fedora and held it against his chest, bowing. "Sorry I was late, sir. I was picking up some pocket money when I ran into this fellow. He says he's lookin' to do some business with you."

Big Boss hmmed curiously. "Send him in, Buttons."

Buttons nodded and turned back into the doorway, motioning to a figure behind him. A weasel-faced man came in, grinning amiably. He gulped nervously when he saw the glares of the infamous criminals gathered around him, but managed to keep his composure, walking casually up to Big Boss's desk.

Big Boss glared at him. "So what's your story? Why'd you hold up one of my best men?"

The weasel-faced man smiled. "Because I have a business proposition that will triple your profits. Bring in the cash like rainclouds bring water. I'm Addictem."

Big Boss smirked at little at the mention of tripled profits, the other crooks looking interested as well. But he was still skeptical. Something about this man bothered him. "…Just how, pray tell, are you gonna bring in that much loot?"

Addictem grinned, and pulled out a small, crystalline disk. "Crystal Twist, Big Boss. My own design. A purified cocaine laced with my own special blend of stimulants, it creates a high that could never be matched from regular drugs. A simple tap to the forehead and you're in Heaven. I've already got half the city addicted to it," he said, "But distribution's still pretty hard. With your resources, we could have all of Empire City bowing at our… er, your feet, doing our work for us. So what do you say?"

Big Boss's eyes went cold as he picked up the disk, looking at the crystalline jewel in the center of the disk. Berserko's eyes widened, recognizing that look immediately, and discreetly pushed his chair backwards. Big Boss looked from the disk, to Addictem, and back again. He idly spun the disk in his metal hand… and then crushed it.

Addictem blinked. "Is that a no?"

Big Boss stood up. The man's wide, intimidating frame made him seem twice as large, the rage on his face making him look like a monster out of Greek mythology. "Get out…" he said, his voice low and rumbling, like a distant hurricane.

Addictem frowned. "Big Boss, c'mon. Think it over. With the money we could make off of this…"

Big Boss slammed his metal hand down on the desk hard enough to shatter it. "GET OUT! GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!" he roared.

The crooks were all startled, save for Berserko, who looked like he was expecting this, and Buttons, who retained his ever-calm demeanor as he grabbed Addictem by the collar of his lavender suit-coat and dragging him roughly to the elevator.

"BUTTONS! IF YOU OR ANYONE ELSE UNDER MY COMMAND SEES HIM AGAIN, YOU OFFICIALLY HAVE MY PERMISSION, NO, MY DIRECT ORDERS, TO KILL HIM ON SIGHT!" Big Boss bellowed, sitting down again and turning away from everyone. He picked up his pet weasel, Scratch, and began petting it, trying to tune out the world.

After Buttons came back from roughly throwing Addictem into the elevator and sending him to the lobby, Big Boss said, "You all have your orders. Buttons, Berserko can fill you in on what you missed. Get out of here and leave me alone for a while."

The crooks just stared at each other for a moment, and then slowly filed out of Big Boss's office. As they headed for the elevator, waiting for it to come back, Dr. Badvibes said, "What was THAT all about? I've NEVER seen him that angry!" Nearby, the skinny scientist's pet robot, Buzzbomb, beeped in agreement.

Berserko shook his head. "Well… I'll probably get in trouble for sayin' this, but…"

Everyone looked at Berserko, who leaned up against the wall and sighed. "Okay. When Uncle Big Boss was starting out, he was just an enforcer for the local mob, partnered with my Dad, whom he was best pals with. A few years after I was born, some drug dealers began moving in on the mob boss's territory. Dad got addicted to what they were selling, and eventually sold out the mob boss to get more drugs. The local Don barely survived the attacks, and had my Dad forcibly overdose on the same drugs he had been taking as punishment. Uncle Big Boss has hated drugs and drug dealers ever since."

The other crooks looked surprised at this, and shifted about uncomfortably, unused to feeling sympathy for their normally cruel and brutal boss. Dr. Badvibes rubbed his chin thoughtfully, as Buttons coughed nervously. "At any rate… what was this you were supposed to fill me in on?"

Berserko blinked, staring at Buttons blankly for a few moments.

Nightshade sighed. "The mission?" she said, trying to prompt the blonde crook to remember.

Berserko stared at her blankly for a few moments before grinning a wide, dopey grin. "Oh YEAH! We got a shipment of Mayan Gold coming into the docks tonight. You, me, Nightshade and Turbo are gonna go swipe it!"

Buttons chuckled. "Sounds like a plan t'me," he said.

Meanwhile, down in the lobby, Addictem was grumbling irritatedly, straightening out his suit-coat. "Stupid Big Boss… Now I have to keep doing this the hard way…" he said, pulling out a cell phone. "Mikey, Mitch, this is Addictem. Meet me down at the harbor tonight when the new shipment comes in. Turns out Big Boss has a conscience and isn't interested in doing business… Yeah, surprised me as well. Be careful, though. Big Boss took offense to my very existence and if I heard right, all his goons are on kill-on-sight orders for me."

===That evening…===

Four shadowy figures slowly skulked their way through the shadows of the docks, staying out of the light, breaking apart as they moved. The smallest of the figures, a slender, buxom female, deftly maneuvered her way over to the guards by the warehouse, her catlike movements making no sound as she approached them. The shadowy figure removed a dart gun from a pouch on her belt, and fired it at the guards. Darts laced with a powerful sedative hit veins head on, sending the guards in front of the main door to sleep. She snuck in through a window, and began moving about the rooftop beams, tagging guards with her sleep darts. She attached a line to a ceiling beam and lowered herself down. She tapped an earpiece and said, "All clear."

"Good work, Nightshade. I'll bring the car around," said Turbo, "You, Buttons, and Berserko take care of the loot."

Berserko and Buttons came through the front door, Berserko cackling as he opened the warehouse's loading door.

"This'll be like takin' candy from a baby!" he said, rubbing his hands eagerly. Nightshade rolled her eyes and tossed him a crowbar, removing another one from the holster mounted on her back.

"C'mon," she said, "Let's get this over with. I've got a bad feeling about tonight."

As the crooks began searching for the Mayan Gold shipment, Addictem and his two minions skulked up behind the gang, hiding behind some crates in the corner.

"Of all the rotten luck…" Addictem muttered, motioning for his minions to stay put as he stared at the black crate at the bottom of the pile, standing a little apart from the rest, "Goddamn crooks… With any luck, they won't notice that box and we can just get our shipment and get out before anyone notices…"

Berserko chuckled, climbing up the large, uneven of crates, slamming the crowbar into one marked with the museum's logo on it. "Aw, you worry too much. Help me open this crate so's we can be ready when Turbo comes around."

Berserko began tugging at the crowbar, trying to pry open the front of it. He braced his foot on another crate, giving himself some leverage to try and open it. But just as Nightshade climbed up to join him, the crate gave way, sending Berserko stumbling off of the edge of the pile of crates and plummeting downwards. He landed right on top of the black crate, the flimsy lid shattering under Berserko's weight. A briefly blinding glow came from the crate as Berserko landed in a pile of Crystal Twist.

"H-H-Help me!" he screamed, his voice a garbled moan as he thrashed about in the pile, skin contact with the Crystal Twist releasing it into his system, "I c-can't… G-gaagh!"

"Oh my GOD!" Nightshade said, her voice almost a shriek, "BERSERKO!"

"Holy SHIT! THAT'S CRYSTAL TWIST!" Buttons said, his normally stoic demeanor shattered as his voice wavered.

"HELP ME GET HIM OUT OF THERE!" Nightshade said, leaping down to the crate and grabbing Berserko's thrashing arm. Buttons climbed up the crate and grabbed Berserko's shoulders, helping Nightshade pull Berserko out of the crate of drugs. By now Berserko's thrashing had degenerated to a convulsive spasming, his body twitching uncontrollably. His eyes were rolled up into the back of his head, and foam was starting to form around his mouth.

As Buttons and Nightshade pulled him out of the crate, Turbo pulled up to the warehouse in the crooks' specially modified roadster, which had a trailer attached to it to hold the gold they planned to steal.

"What the…" Turbo said, leaning out of the roadster, "What in blazes happened to Berserko!?"

"He fell into a massive crate of Crystal Twist!" Nightshade said, she and Buttons lifting the spasming Berserko onto their shoulders.

"HOLY…! Forget the gold, just get him in the trailer so's we can get him to the hospital!" Turbo shouted, Buttons and Nightshade loading Berserko into the trailer. Once they were inside, Turbo drove out of the warehouse at top speed, heading for the nearest hospital.

Once he was certain they were gone, Addictem poked his head out of his hiding place, a pair of twin boys coming out from behind him.

"That was close," said one.

Addictem just snorted. "Some of the shipment got wasted, but we should still have more than enough to rake in the profits. C'mon meatheads, let's get moving."

===Later that evening… ===

Berserko lay almost lifelessly in the bed, breathing only through the tubes inserted into his nose, IVs and wires sticking out of him, connecting him to the machines that monitored his health and administered medicine to keep him alive. Big Boss sat beside the bed, a look of utter despair on his face as he held his nephew's hand. Big Boss's entire gang stood behind him, keeping a respectful distance and staying silent, each one not trusting themselves to speak.

The doctor, an aged, but still pretty blonde woman, sighed. "Your men got him to the hospital just in time. Any longer in that box or even just in transit and he would have died," she said, turning to another man who was even worse shape than Berserko, his body visibly weathered down to almost a skeleton, "Some people aren't so lucky."

"Yeah…" Big Boss said, turning towards the doctor, "…I'm surprised you didn't call the COPS on us…"

The doctor shook her head. "Your men may have been out on mission of theft, but they did the right thing in taking care of their friend first. I don't sell out my patients."

Big Boss nodded, and gave Turbo, Buttons, and Nightshade grateful looks. "I appreciate that," he said, turning back to Berserko and sighing again, his voice verging on a pained sob, "Drugs… You were always a lamebrain, Berserko… But at least you were never that stupid…"

Dr. Badvibes coughed hesitantly and stepped forward. "If I may suggest something… While my skills lie more in robotics and computer programming, I do have some expertise in chemistry and biology as well. I acquired a sample of Crystal Twist from an addict that interrupted our own operation. Perhaps in working with the hospital I could create something that might hasten Berserko's recovery?"

Big Boss looked up at the doctor, who looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded. "Any help you could give us would be appreciated, Doctor."

Big Boss nodded. "You docs do what you can… Meantime, we gotta do what we must…"

Buttons blinked. "Boss? You got a plan?"

Big Boss nodded, scowling as he stood up. "Both our people and the COPS are getting nowhere with this Addictem character. It violates every principle I have to even SUGGEST it, but we gotta team up with the COPS, combine all our resources, to get this trash off of the street. Badvibes and Buzzbomb will stay here with the doc, but the rest of you mooks come with me!" Big Boss snarled, storming out of the hospital room, the other gangsters following behind him. "No matter what we gotta do, no matter how many of my own principles I gotta put aside, Addictem is NOT gonna get away with this! No matter what..."

TO BE CONTINUED...