Shit. Dan tried to remember which data laws or shared reality conventions he might have might technically infringed in the past month or so, but through the throbbing headache he could only access not so much a memory palace, more a memory hovel. Then, he looked them over more closely and relaxed. These two – a rangy Sikh bloke and a smaller bearded ferret of a man - had standard police issue tablets and visors, which meant they were hip to the flow of crime data. Conceptual art-crime, not so much.
As a rule, the rank and file police didn't know what to make of Festival. As with any display of public enjoyment and unorthodoxy, they were torn between wanting to do some good old fashioned repression and taking a low profile approach to policing the event out of sheer incomprehension as much as anything else.
Typically, the end result was somewhere in between the two – on the one hand a couple of outrageous arrests of augmented LARPers or cosplayers for illegal weaponry (“but it's rubber officer! And half of it doesn't even exist in this reality”), on the other hand enjoying having their photo taken with steampunk Sherlocks or slave Leias.
AR-masked taser-happy drones assaulting superficially innocent citizens were decidely out of their pay grade.
“We're making enquries with anyone who was involved in the Malloy circle, Mr May. Thankfully, for an apparently subversive movement you were awfully keen on publicising who your artpunks were.”
“I hate that term. Cyberpunk; Steampunk; Seapunk; Artpunk; ah Great Dismal, so much to answer for. Anyway, we were inspired in so many ways by the Surrealists, who were the most tribal, most self-publicising moth- ah group you could possibly imagine. Issue 12 of La Revolution Surrealiste had photographs of all their members on the front cover like a rogues gallery. We did exactly the same when we wrote our first manifesto. Artpunk was a name the media gave us”
“Do you … have any ideas who is doing this?”
“Well, in the modern police force, Mr May, we have two main approaches. One, we send in the forensics and data-gathering teams to the crime scenes to search and scan everything with a fine tooth comb. We cross-reference the information we have – drone vendors, drone users, witness statements – and we hope the algorithms turn up three bananas.”
“And the second?”
“Why, Mr May, while we wait for the backroom boys and girls to live out their Grissom fantasies, we turn up in the wrong places and the wrong times and ask difficult questions in an effort to find out what's going on. And that” he added almost as an afterthought, “is where you come in.”
Morris pointed to the two of them. “You Virgil, me Dante. Right now my best guess is that only another artist would threaten at least nine other artists. It's not our only line of enquiry, but it's the one I'm going to look into, with your help.”