Are you a fan of crime fiction, detective dramas, maybe private investigators in particular? I am. I never got into the old-fashioned gumshoes of hardboiled fiction very much, either in books or cinema. But, I do enjoy characters/shows like Sherlock Holmes, Foyle, “Rockford Files”, “Magnum, P.I.”, and various police dramas (e.g., “Miami Vice”, “CSI”, “Blue Bloods”). So, I suppose it’s natural that some of my ideas for fiction spill over into that (sub)genre. This one has elements of crime fiction, mystery, and sci-fi w/ super-powered individuals.
Ramsey Investigations, Inc., (RII) is a small (4-person) private detective agency based out of Chicago. It takes on many types of cases but is best known — thanks to a couple well-publicized cases with TV coverage — for success on missing persons cases. The owner & lead investigator is Miller Ramsey, ex-S.W.A.T. and former hostage negotiator. Maxwell “Bull” DeMarco is an ex-con with underworld contacts and knowledge of “the streets”. He has known Ramsey since high-school and they used to be as close as brothers. Denny Filmore is a 17-year-old computer genius who joined Ramsey in order to avoid criminal charges and get tried as an adult. He is basically a nice kid with a mischievous streak, and he constantly changes his appearance — from goth to slacker to bespectacled uber-nerd to…. Colleen McLaren is the office administrator and “mother figure” who keeps everything running smoothly, occasionally scolding the “boys” for bad behavior. She is smart, compassionate, and Ramsey’s ex-girlfriend. (Naturally, Denny has a bit of a crush on Colleen.)
One day, Ramsey meets with a somewhat mysterious new client — multi-millionaire Bernard Rasmussen III. For a substantial retainer, Ramsey agrees to head up a new “project” for Rasmussen, thereby prioritizing it before any other cases RII may have. In addition to the retainer, RII has access to some leading-edge, high-tech computers and other equipment and resources (e.g., private satellite imaging). The project is, in essence, to identify and track down possible (or definite) superhuman activity, usually by people who are manifesting their powers for the first time and are likely scared and in limited control. (This part may have been inspired by the series “The Tomorrow People”, but I don’t remember for sure.)
If necessary, such as during a public display of powers that “goes bad”, Ramsey will utilize his negotiator skills to try to resolve the situation peacefully. At other times, the individual may be on the run (from cops? criminals? family?) or hiding out, and Ramsey must contact the individual and try to talk to the him/her without spooking ’em. In either case, Ramsey tries to assess whether the individual is “bad news” and should be handed over to the authorities. If not, then Ramsey offers him/her a chance to live, study, and train at the Alcott Foundation — founded and funded by Rasmussen, of course. In exchange for letting the foundation’s doctors and scientists perform examinations and run other, medical and performance tests to study their abilities, these individuals get a free education (in association with a local university on whose board Rasmussen, a noted donor, sits), medical care, and training in the control/use of their newfound abilities.
The “project” seems to run smoothly for several months. The RII team is able to help out a lot of people while making good money and “playing” with some cool tech. But, Ramsey’s team begins to wonder why exactly Rasmussen is doing this. Is it purely altruistic? Does he stand to gain financially or in some other way? If so, how? Is it ethical? Are the Alcott “residents” completely informed about what they are there for? These and other questions begin to nag at them. Actually, Bull is the first to have real suspicions, but Ramsey dismisses them and refuses to talk to Rasmussen about it. Bull then convinces Denny to work his “computer magic” to dig into the finances and other records of the foundation, Rasmussen’s other companies, and the Rasmussen estate. They identify some odd purchases and (potentially illegal) business dealings and then decide to surreptitiously check into the people and places involved.
And that is when things start to get even more dangerous… and weird….
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.