[A sci-fi/detective AU inspired by the TLC shipweek’s prompt “Netdrama”. Main characters: Cinder Linh and Cress Darnel. Canon ships.]
In the fashion of popular buddy cop movies in which two unlikely partners form a great team, “Lunar Investigations” is the story of two private investigators, Cinder Linh and Cress Darnel. As long as their private lives and search for hints to their own past don’t interfere, that is.
Cinder Linh is a cyborg with no past. She doesn’t know how she became a cyborg nor who her real family is. Adopted by the Linh family, she escaped her stepmother’s abuse in order to finally find out more about her family.
She lands in Artemisia, a place where crime rate is high but the need for help even more so. And even in a world which despises and discriminates cyborgs, Cinder’s sense of justice still hasn’t left her. Instead, she helps those who come to her, mostly after the police lost interest in a case. Everything from surveillance, hacking, investigating murders or finding lost people - you name it and Cinder and Cress are your women.
And with her built-in lie detector, a titanium hand with a neat set of weapons and gadgets, Cinder has an advantage over many criminals. No client, witness or suspect is able to lie to her - except the ominous Levana Blackburn, boss of Blackburn & Associates, a law firm that, as everyone knows, is corrupt and has ties to Artemisia’s underworld. Or runs it, as the rumours go.
Opposed to them is “Rikan & Partners”, another law firm recently taken over by Kai Rikan. Kai is a young lawyer who tries his best to uncover the truth about Blackburn & Associates with their top-notch lawyers bailing out criminal after criminal. Kai is a great lawyer with a strong moral compass which doesn’t allow him to stoop down to the low levels of Levana Blackburn … or Cinder Linh. Kai lives by the law and a private investigator who bends the law the way it suits her can’t be trusted. No matter how smart and kind and brave she is. No matter how many people she helps and how often she challenges Levana Blackburn - the law is there for a reason and the only way to change the city in the long run.
Cinder and Kai go back and forth in a relationship they both clearly want but can’t compromise their beliefs for to do so. Cinder believes that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean abiding the law. For Kai, Cinder practices some sort of vigilante justice and while this works case after case, it won’t change Artemisia’s crime rate or take down Levana. Their conflicting morals keep them apart but everything changes when Kai one day appears at “Lunar Investigations” - as a client. Kai is convinced that his late father was poisoned and important documents were stolen, probably by Levana and her henchman, but can’t prove it. He needs Cinder. And Cinder will do everything to find out the truth. The more she learns about “Blackburn & Associates”, the more she learns about her own past until she has no choice but take on Levana in order to get back what has always been rightfully hers.
Cress Darnel was taken from her parents when she was a young girl and thus doesn’t remember much more than their names. When she escaped years later, finding anything about her family was her top priority. But Sage Darnel has disappeared and Cress has no clue where to find him. Instead, she teams up with Cinder and together they start “Lunar Investigations”.
Cress might lack Cinder’s fighting skills or cyborg abilities but make no mistake, she is just as invaluable as her cyborg friend. She knows how to hack into almost every important communication link and file and designed many spy systems herself. But Cress isn’t just about hacking codes. She has a knack for dressing up and playing roles in order to infiltrate events. Sometimes, Cinder joins her if the costume allows her to hide her cyborg limbs. And sooner or later, Cress is sure, she will find clues that reveal more about her past.
But Cress didn’t expect a blast from the past in form of Carswell Thorne - until he shows up in her favourite bar time and time again. As charming and flirty as ever. But Cress has promised herself never to fall for that ever again.
Younger and more gullible than now, Cress has trusted Thorne and his sob stories about imprisoned tigers and android assistance for the elderly. But that was before he stole her most valuable possession. And Cress swore to herself that she would get it back, no matter what. Because with it, his connections to the right people and his gambling skills, Thorne has managed to
gain quite a sum of money - without the police being able to trace any illegal activity back to him.
And now he’s back. In her bar. Flirting with her. But Cress isn’t the same naive girl she was years ago. Instead, she plays along, trying to find out what he wants from her this time, determined to get him behind bars where he belongs.
And thus, a cat and mouse game between the two ensues. With neither Cress nor Thorne quite knowing where they stand or what they want from each other. Is it just a game of power, or more?
Other important characters are:
Levana Blackburn, the boss of “Blackburn & Associates” (formerly “Blackburn and Blackburn” before the death of Levana’s sister Channary) - a law firm that must have bailed out every major criminal in the city. She rarely shows herself, her frozen face a mask that doesn’t show any emotion. She leaves most of the law firm’s work in the hands of people like Sybil Mira and Aimery Park.
Iko, and android in disguise that lives her life as a human. She managed to get a job as a reporter at a well-known tabloid via Cinder - which doesn’t divert her noisy nature and love for gossip from Cinder’s love life at all. Whenever she hears something worthwhile, she lets Cinder know and later hands them coveted invitations to places or parties Cinder and Cress need to investigate.
Scarlet Benoit, a police officer who has always been proud to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother. But the strict and often indifferent practice of her police department quickly leaves her disillusioned. Instead of fighting for justice, Scarlet has to witness almost every criminal she caught quickly released by some clever move of a Blackburn lawyer. But Scarlet Benoit has never been fond of being told what to do or sitting idly by when she could take matters into her own hands. In secret, she provides Cinder (and later Cress) with cases and necessary clues and becomes their main source of information from the inside. But Scarlet is also the one to set Cinder straight when she gets herself needlessly into danger. Especially when that danger goes by the name of Levana Blackburn. Though a danger by the name of “Wolf” is one Scarlet seeks out herself even when she probably shouldn’t.
Ze’ev “Wolf” Kesley, a street-fighter who has been subjected to many experiments. Now heavily modified, he is half-man/half-wolf with heightened senses, inhuman agility and strength. With his physical deformities, he lives isolated and shows himself only at night but gains popularity in the underworld’s fighting pits, gaining the rank of the unbeatable “Alpha”. Despite his violent lifestyle, he protected and saved Cress from the “Nomads”, a gang who deals in human trafficking. With Wolf’s connection to the underworld, he can easily provide Cress and Cinder with necessary information - in exchange for money, of course. This doesn’t prevent Cress from caring for his wounds and promising him to help him find the people who did all those experiments on him. In order to do so, Cress needs Scarlet Benoit who is only to willing to learn more about this “big bad Wolf”.
But at the center of “Lunar Investigations” is the friendship between
Cinder and Cress - two women who come from similar places and whose
skill sets complement each other almost perfectly. They work together
and they trust each other, even if they lack the easygoing nature that makes bonding so easy. But most friends struggle at some point,
especially when more and more secrets come between them.