Friday, March 15, 2013

Interlude File #1 - Team Building - Author Bell

Team Building - Bell

Official Interlude - File #-1

   "What am I going to get out of this? I hope I'm not making a mistake." These thoughts trailed in my head when I pulled up to an old building with chipping paint. Almost immediately, a gruff bearded man exited the front door and started walking to my passenger's side door. His hair seemed to spun everywhere, but his general appearance and personal hold of his body said that he was controlled. With a turn of the wrist, the van puttered to a close. "Ivan, grab the guns from the back."

   "Will do." We stepped out of our van. I locked the door just as the gruff man approached me. "You this Jonathan character that keeps calling me?" He smiled to signify that he was joking.
   "Yeah! I'm Jonathan," we shook hands. "And this is Ivan." Ivan turned the corner with two small cases in his left hand. He extended his right hand and gave the man a firm handshake.

   "I'm Ronald Loebker. Good to have you two here, the range doesn't get visitors very often. Are they here for this too?" A red city car pulled into the parking lot. Sionne and Kathrine both hopped out of the vehicle. Sionne wasn't wearing her usual red raincoat. In fact, she was wearing a casual navy blue jacket and had her hair up. Kathrine was also different. She wore aviators and, by the looks of it, hadn't bothered to touch her hair at all this morning. Kathrine opened the trunk and removed two cases as Sionne walked over to greet us.

   Everyone was introduced, so we entered the building. It was a peculiarly small range, but it was perfect for pistol marksmanship. Ronald was busy setting up targets for us to shoot while I briefed everyone. "So today, I have a goal for us. We need to score above a certain threshold as a team on at least one target." Hopefully, this would inspire some teamwork between Ivan and Sionne, who haven't been too fond of each other.

   I took a look at our weapons. I had my .44, Ivan had his 1911, and the two women had Police M9 pistols with 10 round magazines. With Ivan's 7 rounds and my 6, I created a challenge for us to land each bullet carefully. I figured that if each person could land at least 2 bull's eyes and land the rest with 9's, then we should come up with a collective score of 305 or higher. It would be tough and require excellent shooting, but we were up for the task.

   With help from Ronald, we started our exercise. We had a first relay of target shooting, and then a second. Our shots were placed with delicate care, as we fired bullets of ripping velocity through the air. After the second relay, we went over each other's scores. Kathrine was having a mediocre shooting day with her best score of 83 out of a needed 92. She made some comment like "I shoot better with a rifle", but the score still set us back. I had shot mediocre as well. My right arm was bothering me from the last engagement we had, and firing a .44 was harder on my arm than I thought it would be. I managed to pull of a score of 53 out of a needed 56. Sionne had done very well with a 95 out of the 93 she needed, and Ivan was tailing her excellent shooting with a 66 out of 65. I added up the scores and announced "Okay, we have 297, and we need 8 more points to get there. This is the last relay, so make your shots count!"

   Ronald pulled out his binoculars to count our scores as we fired. Kathrine was done first, and she had managed to add 5 points to her score. I managed to add 2, even though my arm was killing me. Sionne and Ivan wanted quiet while they were shooting, but Ivan was looking like he was going to shoot first. He stood with strong posture, sighting down his pistol. A light flickered above him, and he fired. "6!" Ronald called out. My mouth must have dropped, because I've never seen Ivan shoot a bad shot before. The light stopped flickering, and he fired off two more rounds, booth were 9. He signaled to to Ronald that he needed a few minutes to rest, so Sionne took the opportunity to ready herself.

   She steadied herself and focused on her target. She fired her weapon. "10!" Again. "10!" She continued firing, and she scored a 99 out of 100. I looked through the binoculars in disbelief, but sure enough, nine of her rounds were touching the "10" line. I laughed and congratulated her as Kathrine gave her a loud high five. Ivan stood in his booth staring at the target down range; maybe in disbelief. The lights flickered on, the furnace shook the ground as it was turned back on, and we celebrated for a moment.
   It was time to go, so I rallied everyone with a "Alright, good work guys, time to pack up for-"

   "No." Ivan said in an growl. "I've got 4 shots left." With that, he grabbed his pistol with one hand, placing his other over his chest. His gloved finger glided next to the trigger, and he quickly applied pressure. He fired four rounds in rapid succession ending with a  "click" from his pistol. Ronald, ignoring Ivan's range violation, looked down range with the binoculars. His jaw gawked. Ivan opened his case, placed his pistol inside, and walked out without a word, door slamming shut behind him.

   "I can't tell what it is, but it looks like a 10. Um, all shooters, you're free to retrieve your scores." Ronald gave us the order, but he also walked to the end of the 10 meter range to see Ivan's score sheet. We ignored our own scores and went to see Ivan's. Somehow, he had placed each of his last four shots in a perfect square which touched the of the "10" line. It was terrifyingly beautiful. I did some math in my head, and our scores marked up to 306.

   Ronald closed up shop and headed to his rustic car. We also exited the building, but I noticed something. "Hey, Ivan took the van!" Sure enough, Ivan took off and left me here at the range. I was stuck with the two ladies. I turned and gave them a sheepish smile. Sionne squinted her eyes and held in a laugh. "Come on, we'll take you back."

   On the way home, I took note of the luxurious car. It wasn't a super expensive car, but it was still nicer than anything I have owned. The powerful engine was seemed like nothing but a low hum from inside, and the speakers had great quality playing Sionne's acoustic music. Kathrine had fallen asleep in the passenger seat, and I sat quietly in the back seat, observing the small neighborhoods that lined the streets back to the city. Sionne hit the power button on the radio and looked up at her rear view mirror at me. "So, Jonathan. How long have you and Ivan been friends?"

   I laughed. "Surprisingly, I wouldn't say that we're friends. Our friendship is entirely tied to our work. I need him, and he needs me. Sure, we go grab a beer or something every once in a while, but it's normally to discuss something in our work."

   "You two are kind of similar though. I know it's aberrant when you think of it first, but you work well together and have a similar lines of thought that usually leads you to the next step."

   "You think? He's generally a lot darker than I am."

   "Haha! I haven't even seen his face! He's always wearing black and that hat."

   I chuckled at the comment. It was true, Ivan's wardrobe must be filled with black clothes. "To be honest, I don't believe that I've seen his face either."

   Sionne looked in the rear view mirror with concern. "Really? After all of this time?"

   "Yeah." I nodded. "Really."

   "Isn't that dangerous?"

   "What do you mean?" I was confused as to what Sionne was getting at.

   "Well, at the station, we run background checks to make sure we're not recruiting mass murderers or child molesters into our force. You know nothing about Ivan, and he definitely has a violent passion to him. Is he normally violent?"

   "For the most part, no. He's genuinely a good guy even though he has some fits sometimes. His dead eye aim is also a reason why I keep him close."

   "Wait, fits?"

   "Well, he just gets frustrated with cases sometimes. At worst, he comes into my office and paces around jabbering about how something here and there doesn't make sense. It's unusual for him to act that way, but you just have to leave him be at that point."

   She was quiet for a while, probably thinking about him, trying to sleuth out his secrets in her own head. 
"How do you become acquainted with such a personality? I'm sure you can't entice a man like Ivan with anything normally bargained with."

   I sat back in my seat and let out a confused hum. "To be honest, I'm not sure."

   "What do you mean?"

   "Ivan has always been around. I can't even remember our first case together." I looked out the window at the dark clouds forming. I chuckled. "To be honest, when it comes down to our work, he's almost like a part of me, working at my side and figuring everything out with me." I looked at the rear view mirror, but I lost my smile and stared back out the window. Sionne's eyes were staring at me with concern. 

   I never want to see that look again.

Controversy - Author Bell - Part 5


Controversy - Bell

Official Journal: File #---16. Part 5

   Red curtains, long dresses and stocky men in suits, and classical music soothing the ears explain the nature of the party. It seemed totally different from the party downstairs. A butler offered me a glass of wine, which I accepted. When he walked away, I noticed Ivan dancing with the woman next to the musicians.

   "Well, aren't you smooth." I said under my breath.

   "It's quite entertaining, isn't it?" Scout's voice filled my ear.

   "Hey, aren't you supposed to monitoring for Stanton's location?" I said playfully with the slightest bit of edge.

   "Sorry, but I I couldn't refrain from watching those two. Also, she is giving him some very interesting information."

   "What do you mean?" This puzzled me. A mystery woman unexpectantly helps us out and starts giving away information?

   "Well, she knows you two are from the DDS. The news report a couple of days ago probably tipped her off. Ivan is currently asking her about her personal affiliation to Stanton, and getting back some interesting details." Scout stopped for a moment to gather the information coming in. I stood quietly waiting for a response and absorbed the party around me. Stanton apparently put on these elaborate parties to appeal to his investors. This party appealed to a higher business crowd while the club party below attracted a younger, risky crowd. It was brilliant, but I had some nerves unsettled. Every once in a while, I would see unusual  shadows lurk across the ground. It could be my imagination, but these shadows usually gave evidence that something bad was about to happen.

   "Okay," Scout broke my line of deep thought. "It seems that this woman is actually dating Stanton."

   "Really?" My sudden voice made some people glance over to me, so I tried to draw myself farther from others. "When did she start seeing him?" I pulled out a notepad and pencil to write some details down.

   "About a week before Mrs. Stanton was found dead, but it sounds like they have only recently begun dating."

   "So she probably knows about Barbara, and that is still a short time for anyone to get over a death of a loved one. What else?"

   "Well, they have dwindled down to pleasantry. You might want to go introduce yourself right now."

   "Right, will do." I tapped my earpiece and slowly made my way towards the dance floor. When I reached the two, Ivan stopped dancing and reached out to me.

   "M'lady, this is my colleague, Jonathan Bell. We have spent many a long year working together solving crimes of a abstract degree." The woman put out her hand, and I gave a firm, yet gentle shake.

   "I'm Missus Kane. Stephanie Kane. Pleased to meet you two fine men working to improve our city." Her voice carried a slow, smooth tone that almost seemed pleasurable to listen to.

   I thought best to start asking questions. "Yes, thank you ma'm. Unfortunately, we are here because Mr. Stanton is a suspect in a murder of Barbara Stanton. Could you direct us to where he is located?"

   Kane moved her eyes to the floor and sighed. She returned her sight to me. "I see. I knew this case would eventually come back to Roger." She turned and pointed at some doors on the other side of the room. "Through there, take a left, and at the end of the hall is where you will find Roger's office. He might be taking a call right now. Also, mind the guards at the door. You might have to do a bit of..." her voice lowered for a moment. "convincing."

   "Great, thanks." I tipped my hat, and Ivan and I headed towards the hallway.

   "Scout, this is Ivan," he said softly. "Where are the guards, and why didn't you find Stanton in the room that Stephanie pointed out?"

   "Well, the camera in that room has nothing inside, but it may be running a loop. I can do a system scan to check for any-" Scout was cut off by Ivan.

   "No. Right now, tell us how many guards are station outside of his office."

   "I've got two burly men standing at the door."

   "Thanks." Ivan tapped his ear, and we turned the corner. We could see the men standing at a door to the right side down the hall. When we approached, they crossed their arms and growled. "We're the DDS," said I, flashing my badge. "We need to speak with Roger Stanton immediately."

   "Mr. Stanton doesn't like many strangers just poppin' in and suprisin' him. I think you boys betta' go 'ome before you wet ya' pants." The guard had a bit of a rattle in his voice. While intimidating,  we stood adamantly.

   "Sir, we need to get into that room now. Move aside!" I started to raise my voice, yet the man just chuckled at me. 

   Ivan took initiative and grabbed the second man by the neck and head butted him. Before I could even begin throwing a punch, the first guard slapped my right arm with a nightstick. Flinching, my body convulsed towards the right side, and my left fist met his face. My leg also followed with a sweep to his legs, which made him fall on his backside against the wall. Ivan took his stunned guard and forced him into his thrusting knee, which knocked the air out of him. My right arm stinging with pain, I forced my left foot into the gruff man's abdomen twice, then once between his legs. I finally sent my right knee against the side of his chin, and knocked him unconscious with blood dripping down from his nose. When my man fell, Ivan gathered massive force within himself and forced the guard against the door, bashing it open. I entered the room and spotted Stanton at his desk, who looked shocked due to our entry. "Hands up, DD- augh!" My right arm killed me. A shot of electric pain burned my arm when I tried to pull my revolver from my suit. Ivan tossed the guard onto the floor and pulled his weapon, finishing my command.

   "Hands up, no sudden movements. You talk and give us answers, or you get to ride the wagon tonight, got it?" Ivan's voice hissed at the man, who stood amazed by our entry, but not fearful of our presence.

   "Right, you boys aught to be ashamed of yourselves bursting into a man's workplace like this."

   "Tell that to your dead wife, who's only hope of justice is the organization that the two men before you represent." I was quick to respond, with a little too much emphasis on the fact that we were men. This tipped the man off.

   "And what? You's think you'll just waltz right in here, break down my doors, and ask permission to start asking questions? You're out of your mind." Roger motioned to red button on the keypad of his phone. "I hope you don't mind, but I'll be calling security now to get you two knuckleheads out of my office so that I can work."

   "Yet you still have questions to answer from us, and we can take down any guards you send us." Ivan challenged Stanton.

   "Yeah right. Look at your buddy big guy." He pointed at me. I was holding my arm now, and instinctively wincing at the throbs of pain. "He can't draw his stupid gun 'cause a guy at my door gave him a good whack. I'll let the guys with body armor take you down and throw you in a dumpster for the night."

   Scout hurriedly spoke into our comm channel. "Hey, these are not idle threats. I have visual on a security room that has large men with significant weapons at their disposal." Scout paused for a second and changed her voice. "But hold out a bit longer, help is on the way."

   Ivan kept his pistol drawn and pointed at Stanton. "Sir, if you do not comply, I will disable you without a second though. Now sit down so that you and I can act like decent gentlemen and not roughhousing-"

   "Kids?" Stanton interrupted. "I've said this, but you barged in here, not me. The only way you kiddie detectives could even touch me is if you had a warrant."

   "-And they do." I turned towards the doorway, surprised. Sionne and another woman stood in the doorway. Sionne had on a long red dress and led another woman into the room. She wore a fancy jacket with tall black boots. "Ivan. Jonathan. This is Kathrine. She's my contact that can provide... access to locations that requires the cities's highest security clearance."

   I nodded my head slowly, and Ivan gave his un-welcoming stare. He didn't seem too pleased that Sionne barged in us. Bringing a friend probably caused some more discomfort for him as well.

   "What? No! Kathrine O'Neal?" Stanton seemed pretty upset as he stepped away from his phone towards Kathrine. "You're that stupid, corrupt bitch that keeps warranting my firm to be cleared by police! When I-" Stanton had started to point his finger accusingly at Karthine, but she politely interrupted with a killer slap to his face. 

   "Call me that again, and I'll have so many sick crime charges credited to your name that you'll get killed in jail faster than you paid your way out of my court." She slammed the physical  warrant for our entry onto his desk, practically causing the whole room to shake. "And don't you DARE talk corruption to me Stanton," she said spitting in face with the vicious pronunciation. "because I know you're waist deep in it."

   Stanton stood shaking and white faced, daring glances and Ivan, Sionne, and I. Kathrine walked over to me and pulled up a chair. She gently forced me into the chair and knelt next to me. "One of those Thrashers hit you in your arm?" I still must have been holding my arm in a weird way for her to notice. She began making a sling for it out of the scarf she had around her neck.

   Sionne sauntered over to Stanton. "You ready to answer some questions Mr. Stanton?" Ivan began to shift in protest but I gave him a stern look. Sionne might be a bit more effective with extracting information from him.

   He leaned down and got in her face. "I don't need to tell you anything." A sudden kick from Sionne's boot embed itself above Stanton's knee. He cried out in immense pain as he collapsed to the ground. She took her hand and grabbed his throat, pulling him upwards until his face was slightly below hers.

   "Thought so. Why kill your wife Roger? Why leave her in the park?"

   "I didn't..." the man let out a quiet cough. "kill... my wife".

   "Right now, it seems indubitably possible. For argument's sake, why would you kill your wife?"

   Stanton started to say "Why would I answer that?", but Sionne's choke forced him to respond correctly. "We've been having a hard time in the marriage. I'm trying to expand my company to other nations, and she wanted to settle down out west somewhere."

   "Did you remorse? Seems like your new date might disagree." Sionne quizzed. I shot a glace at Ivan again. Scout must have told Sionne about the information given to him through Stephanie. Ivan began tightening the gloves on his hands, a pure sign that he was becoming very frustrated and angry. He usually handled interrogations, and I believe that Sionne's intrusion had started pushing Ivan over the edge of his cool demeanor.

   "Yes... of course. I... Stephanie was the only way I was to... cope..." Stanton said, gasping for air under Sionne's grip.

   "Do you expect me to believe that?"

   "Ask the lady yourself, you might be surprised." When Stanton started to smile, Sionne gripped her nails into his neck, causing him to screech a bit.

   "So, where were you when she died? Do you have an alibi?" Sionne finally loosened her grip to allow Stanton to speak properly.

   "I was in a conference with... investors." said Stanton, still recovering breath.

   "But records show that you were on a plane down to the islands. Not much of a conversation with investors, eh?"

   "Look, I don't know watcha talking about-"

   Ivan took steps forward and added a question. "We have evidence that your wife was killed by a narcotic or chemical. Are you willing to speak to your personal experience with creating your own substances, Mr. Stanton? Or am I going to have to beat it out of you?"

   "Go to Hell." Ivan leaped forward and back-handed Stanton out of Sionne's hold, forcing Stanton to the ground. Before Ivan could land another hit on him, Sionne grabbed his shoulders and blocked him.

   "Please Ivan, this is already hard enough!"

   "We could interrogate him without you getting in the way!" Ivan's voice turned from hissing to full out thunder and pure anger. "He has us spinning around when he clearly has the answers hidden from plain sight. Why the lies, the elaborate parties, the guards? My technique is refined to extract proper information, and I need to do this, without you getting in the way for once!"

   "Ivan, let Sionne do her thing." He turned to me, breathing heavily. His presence had frightened or disturbed everyone in the room. Scout had even silenced herself over the comm channel. He turned quickly and walked to the window, which he put his hand on and refrained from any other confrontation. Sionne took a new approach; she helped Roger sit up on the ground and started speaking in a very low, sweet voice.

   "Look, I need you to tell me if you have any experience with chemical production. That's all I really need to know, and we can get let you be without any more pain."

   Stanton looked angrily around at us, and turned to view Ivan, who stood still staring out the window. "Well... I have no real experience, but the man who trains my men might."

   "The guards?"

   "Yeah, the guards. Thrasher mercenaries trained by Igor Haorat. Stern fellow, involved with gangs a bit, but I've heard he has some special training with potions and drinks."

   "Thank you." Sionne said, helping Stanton up. "I'm going to call for medical assistance to assist you and your two men. You  know you can't sue because of Kathrine, right?" Stanton grumbled as if to bluntly say "yes". She walked him over to his seat and signaled for everyone to leave. "Ivan" she said gently. He adjusted his hat, turned, and coldly walked out the office door without a word. I stood, in my new sling, and followed him out.

   The three of us followed him to the elevator. I noticed how Stephanie looked at us blankly. I was not sure if she knew what had happened, but I hope she realized that we had to do our jobs, and that meant roughing up a man who refused to talk to us. When at the elevator, we all entered and let the doors shut, burying everyone in a dim light.

   "You shouldn't have come." Ivan said. I was about to confront him, but Sionne beat me to it.

   "For your information, we received another lead that you would have not found if you simply acted on your impulses." She paused for a moment, considering the risk of opening another question to Ivan. She rendered the risk was worth the result. "Do you always operate like this? Beating the life from suspects?"

   "I could have taken care of everything in a reasonable fashion,  but you have provided little to our company of detectives other than breaking down our set routine." Ivan calmly stated.

   "So you think that I'm the issue here? You seem to think that I'm getting in your way, but the fact is that I've contributed quite a lot to this investigation. I could just check on you guys to make sure you do something other than assaulting suspects, but I have given my own time to assist in your endevours. Yet you reward my efforts with dry criticism and silent disapproval " Sionne challenged Ivan with her cry for justice, yet he did not answer. For once, I felt new emotions stemming from him, because he felt nervous and uncomfortable. I experienced the trauma with him, somehow feeling the guilt that he had suddenly discovered through Sionne's truthful words. I gave he a little nudge to him with my left elbow. No nudge back.

   For a couple of floors, silence plagued the group. The women had nothing to say to Ivan, and he stood, silently dealing with guilt and anger at the same time. I kept to myself due to the throbbing pain from my arm, and I felt like a conversation with Ivan might be more appropriate in the confines of my office. When we passed floor twelve, a sudden shriek ripped apart our eardrums. I held my head with my left arm, and realized that Ivan and Sionne had heard the same shriek die to their reactions.

   "What's wrong?" Kathrine asked.

   Sionne shot me a glance. "Is the elevator shattering, or is that a Departed?" After she said this, soft whimpering could be heard. Ivan dipped his head and began whispering, trying to calm the spirit. Floor eleven blinked above the door, and shadows started crawling all over the floor.

   "Kathrine," I said, trying to remain cool from the freakish shadows crawling at my feet. "stop at floor 10". She nodded and clicked the button.

   Scout piped over the comm in my ear. "Hey guys, you're going to want to stop at floor 10." Just as she said this, the sign above the door blinked 10 and gave a loud "ding". "There's something you should see."

   The doors opened, and Coraline stood with her camera crew, giving some kind of exclusive report. We stepped out as the moaning from the Departed continued. But it wasn't just one. The moaning and tears of three and conjured that deafening sound in the elevator. A crowd gathered at the center of the dance floor, and panic filled everyone's eyes. "Step aside, sir, step aside, step back-" Ivan started to shove through the crowd to reach the dance floor. Suddenly, the cries stopped as Ivan reached a clearing. I stepped out next to him, and saw the three dead bodies laying in pools of blood.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Controversy - Author Bell - Part 4

Controversy - Bell

Official Journal: File #---16. Part 4

  Ivan and I sat on a bench under the moonlit night. The breeze sent stiff chills down my spine, but seemed to help Ivan relax. The hot dogs we were eating seemed to help ward off some of the cool air. Murray, the friendly hot dog vendor, had set up shop about two blocks away from Stanton's tower, and so we decided to grab a snack before gathering evidence from Stanton. Ivan had eaten his bratwurst carefully, yet speedily, but I took my time to make sure the mustard and relish did not drip and stain my news anchor uniform. I was dressed to sneak into the party in full gear: a vest with a small news logo, a baseball cap, and my jeans and gym shoes. Expectantly, Ivan wore a tuxedo with a white collar and red pocket handkerchief. His fedora now had a small white card, with the word "PRESS" on the side, sticking out of the small belt wrapping around his hat. I never needed to remind him to stay classy. Soon after I finished wiping my hands clean with a napkin, a news van drove up and opened the side door. Coraline opened a window and waved us in. It was only a minute drive to the tower, but we needed to arrive together.

   I grabbed a news duffle bag from the back of the van and handed Ivan the news camera. When we stepped onto the curb, the spot lights and multicolored windows gave quite the display. The windows and front entrance would switch colors from a deep rose, a light blue, and mantis green. Not to mention that the pounding music made a distinctive impression to any guests waiting outside.

   "Ready?" I turned to see Coraline waiting for us on the sidewalk. She had on a long, violet dress; not conventional for new reporters, but it looked nice on her.

   "Yes, let's do this." Approaching the front door, a security guard stopped us. Coraline flashed a news card, and the guard reluctantly let us in. Walking towards the elevator, I noticed the secretary from the previous week sitting at the reception desk working. Tipping my head and hat down towards the ground, I hid my face while Ivan's camera rested on his left shoulder, blocking the secretary's view. Coraline gave her a smile and a light wave, and the secretary smiled back and opened the elevator with a button on her desk. We stepped in, and I pressed the "10" button. It glowed with life, and the elevator closed to shut us in total darkness. Then, the lights flicked on and lit the elevator with a dark pink hue.

   "Have you ever been to one of Stanton's parties, Ivan?" I was not sure why she did not ask me, but Ivan's shroud of mystery and facelessness definitely attracted more questions.

   Ivan shook his head. "No, I'm afraid I attend few gatherings of this sort."

   "Well, if you finish with Stanton early, you two should join us on floor ten." Coraline smiled and chuckled a bit. "For me, it's a nice time to relax and take a break from some of the stress of news work."

   "Understood, but I refrain from getting mixed in too many social affairs." Ivan stated bluntly. 

   Coraline rolled her eyes. "Suit yourself."

   "I prefer tuxedos." I looked over inquiringly to my partner. I swear I could barely make out a smile on the side of his face. it took her a few seconds, but Coraline recognized his dry humor and laughed a bit. When she turned her head away and flipped her hair, I nudged Ivan with my elbow to remind him of his dry humor. After a few seconds, I got a nudge back.

   Booming sounds of the party on floor ten soon started to fade out the quiet whir of the elevator. "Ding!" rang the elevator, and the doors noisily opened to reveal the giant room before us. Music blasted our eardrums, lasers and red lights gave dim light to the dark room, and hundreds of people were dancing and drinking to the music. Coraline stepped out and pointed to two men with news gear on. It was the driver and the cameraman with their news passes around their necks.

   "Welcome to the party, lady!" The driver laughed.
   "We've got a place set up and do a report, then we can hit the drinks." The cameraman said, nodding to her. He then looked towards Ivan. "Hey man, can I have my baby now?" Ivan handed the camera to him, and the cameraman smiled and gave him a pat on the back. "Oh, and you two should take our passes if you're going to the upper party." He slipped off his tag and handed it to Ivan. The driver stood up and threw his own tag to me. I caught it and slipped it around my neck while I pulled a small plastic bag out of the duffle bag.

   "And again, we're more than happy to have you guys come down afterwards and enjoy a night with us!" Cora smiled.

   "Thanks, but we might have a lot of work to do. Thanks for getting us in, and good luck with the report. We'll maybe talk in the future." I said as I backed into the elevator. Ivan followed behind and pressed the button for the top floor. The doors closed, and the dark lights dimly lit the elevator again. I unzipped the bag and pulled out my suit, a white shirt and black tie. I changed in the elevator and slipped the news clothes into the plastic bag again. I looked to Ivan, and he gave me a small earpiece that I stuck in my ear. Letting out a small grunt to clear his throat, he called out "The party needs a little more life."

   "Online. Are we well?" Scout's voice filled the comm in our ears.

   "Loud and clear Scout," Ivan's voice took a gentle but strong tone, indicating the focus starting to fill his mind. "we're about to enter Stanton's private party. Provide us a warning when you locate him on the cameras."

   "Roger that. I haven't seen any activity, but I can tell you that the dress here is fabulous."

   "Right, we'll fit the part. Thanks." Ivan tapped his ear just as the elevator gave another "Ding". The doors opened, but quiet chatter and the distant sound of string instruments filled the air. Stepping out of the elevator revealed that the room smelled like old furniture and roses. "Now this..." Ivan took in a large breath and let out a small chuckle. He likes crazy parties for sneaking around, but he likes delicate parties for relaxing. We approached a guard who blocked the entrance into the main room. We flashed our passes, but he held out his hand.

   "Hold up!" he let out a booming voice that shook us harder than the loud music did. "I ain't supposed to let'chu news peoples in tonight."

   "Um, sir-" I started to appeal.

   "No excuses, now get your asses out of here!"

   "Mark-" A woman grabbed the guard's shoulder. She had black hair tied in a bun, a flowing black dress, and a gentle yet firm grip on the man. "You can let these men in. I will make sure they stay in line." The guard, Mark, did not seem pleased, but he stepped aside to let us through. The woman motioned us to follow so Ivan took lead. I stopped and patted Mark's chest.
   "Don't worry, you're just doing your job." I could not resist giving a fiendish smile when he returned a death glare to my comment.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Controversy - Author Bell - Part 3

Controversy - Bell

Official Journal: File #---16. Part 3

   While the sun had vanished behind the clouds, the rain refused to fall to the ground, giving the air a most, cool sensation all around. Ivan reached down to the A/C knob and carefully adjusted it to give the car a slight burst of warm air. In the back, Coraline Reading sat quietly, awaiting for me to drive us to our arrival. At the sandwich shop, we all had discussed how Coraline could help us with the heist to infultrate Stanton's party. She had already planned on attending the party for news coverage, but she promised to sneak us in with her film crew if she got an exclusive scoop with us. It was an offer that we could not refuse.

   "If you don't mind me asking-" she started to squeak out in our van, but Ivan's seemingly faceless gaze towards her caused the speech emanating from her mouth to stumble. She shrank into the back seat, intimidated by Ivan, but bravely continued after she regained composure. "Um, where are we headed to? I know you said we were going someplace important to your work..."

   "We're heading to the coroner's building." Ivan stated simply without removing his gaze from Coraline. Ivan definitely did not fully trust her yet, and his steady gaze penetrated her skull and was looking for dark secrets hidden inside of her. Coraline shifted her legs and shoulders, uncomfortable with the current situation. I eyed Ivan out of the corner of my eyesight to tell him to back off, and he eventually complied. "So, why work for the news?" I asked. We wanted her to ride with us so that we knew who we were working with. These questions popped on and off, and she normally answered them with ease.

   "I grew up in the heights of outer Deinsport, and I've always been amazed with how uninformed the people are. That's why I became a reporter: to spread truth and news to inform people."

   "What do you mean, 'uninformed'?" Ivan asked suspiciously.

   "Most of the people around here believe in ghost stories over hard facts. I'm not a superstitious person, but the more I've encountered stories in the city, the more complex these stories become. That's why I'm so interested in what you're doing. You're getting down to the hard facts instead of crazy supernatural theories!"

   Ivan shifted his hat. This usually meant that he found humor in something. Admittingly, I did find her statement humorous. She wanted to use us to help advance her stories, yet our work had a focus completely different from hers. We settled spirits and solved crimes through factual and ghostly ways. She had not realized this yet, but that would change soon enough.

   I had only jumped out of the parked car when the reporter's news van pulled up behind us. She had a driver that pulled some security while she was shooting a report, and the actual camera man was a tall figure who had surprising strength. Coraline seemed less than impressed with the exterior of the run down coroner office, but she started to plot where she wanted which shot and how the camera man should place himself. "You keep doing that, and we're going to go ahead and go on in to receive the report." She nodded and continued to mark out her shots.

   Ivan and I walked into the building, letting the door creak as it slowly shut. A man walked into the room with a long white doctor's jacket that had several pink stains splattered over it. "WWEEEELLLLCome!!" he greeted us with too much enthusiasm. I choked down a laugh and shook his hand, while Ivan hesitantly gave his hand a single, hard shake. "I'm Dr. Coupe! How may I be of service to you wonderful gentlemen?" He gave us a giant grin that seemed to exaggerate itself with his bushy beard and mustache. Ivan gave his head a slight shake as to recalibrate a respond to the human standing before him. "Ah... yes. We're here for Stanton."

   "OH, YES! You must be the detectives from across town! I believe I've seen your faces in the shamble of a report the police have published to me." He pointed at me. "I knew your face rang a bell. Get it? You're Bell!" He began giggling manically, and I chuckled along to tame the weirdness stemming from his personality. It only became worse. "You know... I have a very luscious fascination over bells..."

   "Sir," Ivan blurted. "Please take us to the body now before we-"

   "Oh, well pardon me!" the coroner flung his arms upward with palms forward. "I was just trying to be friendly! Follow me!" The doctor hunched and stormed behind a door. We had to practically run to keep up with him. I shot a glace at Ivan, and he eyed me back, twirling his finger in a circle next to his head as to say "crazy". I nodded in agreement. The man was off rocker, but most men who have some mental instability seem to be brilliant men that I enjoy working with.

   Coupe swept his key card on the door and opened it. When he stepped inside, he slammed the door shut with us standing outside. Ivan tried the door, but it had already locked. We waited a few seconds, yet the doctor did not come back. When Ivan tried to knock, Coupe opened the door, knocking Ivan back, and yelled "Well don't just wait out here! C'mon in!" We carefully stepped into the room, and the table in the center presumably held the victim under a sheet.

   "And this-" Coupe jumped towards the table, grabbed the sheet between his fingers, and ripped it away, leaving the body completely exposed. "-this is Barbara Stanton! Oh... you poor sweet!" Coupe kissed the cold, grey skin of Stanton's forehead. I'm cringed, and I thought I heard Ivan gag for a moment, yet I checked over my shoulder, and he stood with unmoving composure. If it hadn't been confirmed before, it was obvious now that Coupe was indeed crazy.

   "So... um," I started to stammer, at a loss of words with the show Coupe had been putting on. "Do you know the cause of death?"

   "Ah... yes..." Coupe replied, and he slipped on a pair of glasses that he had handing from his stained lab jacket. He then grabbed a laptop from a locked drawer, turned it on, and began typing and pulling up documents. "Judging from my tests, Barbara Stanton died an hour or two before you arrived at the scene with Harrow. Where is the lovely sweet, by the way?" Again, I began to stammer, now surprised by how normal Coupe sounded. It was possible that he was playing mind games with the two of us, but it was also possible that his work makes him very serious. 

   "Harrow is back with another colleague of ours making plans for next week." In actuality, Harrow had gone back to our office with Scout to start pulling up building plans to see where Scout could plug into security cameras and the like. "Back to the issue though, what caused the death?

   "That's the interesting part." Coupe got up and pulled out some plastic disks from a refrigerator. "There are samples that I extracted from the blood. It seems that the blood has changed to a malformed state where damages the blood vessels and veins while carrying no oxygen or sugars. It also seems to create some type of liquid while alive that spreads to other cells and infects them." Ivan twisted his head and picked up one of the disks with his gloved hand to inspect the doctor's work. "So, what is this chemical?"

   "That is the issue." Said Doctor Coupe in a very serious tone. "The chemical actually disintegrates before I can run any tests on it. I can't extract the chemical from the blood cells either. Any infected cells have disintegrated as well. I've been finding traces of it throughout the body, but I can't extract it without destroying it."

   I nodded my head. It was indeed strange, and I had strange vibe that we were either dealing with a master alchemist or some supernatural force. "So, was this unidentified chemical injected or ingested?"

   "I did not find any bruises or injection sites on the body. Plus, the esophagus and stomach have suffered severe damage.I would say it was ingested." The doctor nodded his head lightly and pushed his glasses up his face. He might be kind of crazy, but he was definitely a professional with his job. "So, that is all I have for you. I'm sorry there isn't more, but all of the evidence for whatever killed Mrs. Stanton has been obliterated."

   "That's fine doc." I said, smiling, yet somewhat disappointing that we were not able to find out more. "Keep us posted in case if you find anything."

   "Will do!" Coupe took off his glasses. "Would you like some cookies? I made them myself with some ingredients I found lying around!"

   Ivan put his hand up. "We're good, we just had lunch. Goodbye." And with that, we scuttled out of the building with haste. We opened the doors and spotted Coraline finding the perfect camera angle for her big news story. She led us to a spot and went over some basic questions that she would ask us. While she was talking, I heard two blips from my phone. I excused myself for a second and opened up my mailbox. The first message was from Scout. They had found a way into the security systems of Stanton's penthouse, and they had full access without any way for his security team to trace back to us. "We're in. Scout and Harrow have the security locked down for us." Coraline smiled, and Ivan stood idly, yet somehow, I felt he had approved of this achievement. I looked down and opened a text message that I had received moment after the email. It came from a private phone number, so it was probably spam. I decided to open it anyway just in case. All the message said was "THEY'RE WATCHING U". 

   Instinctively, I began scanning around the area without making it look like I was watching for someone. I turned to Ivan, and he was doing to same instinctively. Coraline stepped out of the back of the TV crew van with a microphone and motioned for us to stand where she had instructed. I kept my eye out, but my attention drew to the reporter when she started rolling. "I'm Coraline Reading, and this is a special report featuring the Deinsport Detective Service".

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dances and Threats - Author Shade

Hacked File Encryption - Source: Unknown

Dances and Threats - Author Shade

Standard security systems malfunctioning. Waiting for reboot...

Process failed! Would you like to send an error report?

Absolum_wonka28 launching...
decrypting now... success! 
Launching new chat overlay...
Opening chat session…

Proxy40K: Sweet, it worked!

Proxy40K: So you're probably wondering who I am. Let me introduce myself.

Proxy40K: I’m that “Steve” person from Maria Ander’s post. She could have picked a better fake
name though. Steve? Seriously?

Proxy40K: Oh, don’t bother trying to trace this. You don’t have the right tech stuff. So just sit
back and enjoy the ride.

Proxy40K: Also, if you ever see these things *** then that’s just my automatic filter that’ll keep
out any names that might get me killed. It also replaces (using these brackets [ ] ) some
names with the fake ones that Maria Anders established in her posts to you. So anyways, now I’m going
to connect this to Maria so that I can carry out this fun conversation for you to read when you get back from your squandering around the city. It's going to be so fun feeding this to you. Just one sec…

{Logical1 just joined the conversation}

Proxy40K: Hey sunshine.

Logical1: Hacking my account is stalkerish, or did you not get the memo?

Proxy40K: What if I like stalkerish? ;)

Logical1: Then good luck getting anywhere in life. So what’s your motive this time?

Proxy40K: Do I have to have a motive?? Come on…

Logical1: U always have a motive.

Proxy40K: Fine, my motive is to ask you out.

Logical1: I’m not in the mood to play this game today. I’ve got work, so is it ***, or ***, or
who? Or maybe it’s just your mission in life to annoy me.

Proxy40K: Same old… Same old.

Logical1: You’re loosing me [Steve]…

Proxy40K: Fine, you can go, I’ve just got some information you might want, so if you don’t want

Logical1: Spit it out.

Proxy40K: Ah, but you see, that’s not how this works. We do things my way when I’ve got the


Proxy40K: Now is that the right attitude?

Logical1: Play yourself to pieces.

Proxy40K: You’re no fun. But I’m still going to have fun whether you like it or not. So, the
question game… What do you know about me?

Logical1: Other than the fact that you’re an annoying spy/ hitman that’s in over his head?

Proxy40K: Yeah, other than that.

Logical1: And other than physical description?

Proxy40K: Well, unless you count the scar, no.

Logical1: Oh, so this has to do with the fact that YOU SWITCH SIDES IF SOMEONE PAYS
YOU ENOUGH??? Oooh, never will forget the *** incident.

Proxy40K: Mm-hm… Right on the mark, though I did give you a good hint this time.

Logical1: So you’re not with [Lester] anymore.

Proxy40K: Nope, which makes me free to blow your cover if that helps me.

Logical1: There, motive. This is a threat.

Proxy40K: If that makes things work for you, then yes.

Logical1: So what is it that you want?

Proxy40K: In time, my dear.

Logical1: Riddles.

Proxy40K: Not at all, I just mean I’ll be getting my demands to you soon enough! So impatient,
aren’t we MARIA…

Logical1: If you blow my cover, you’ll be sorry if you’re not dead.

Proxy40K: Whoa, I thought I was the one threatening here?

Logical1: Cute.

Proxy40K: I could blow you’re cover right now and get so far away, you’d never be able to touch
me. So you might want to reconsider your attitude.

Logical1: Oh

Proxy40K: No one can interpret an “oh” in a chat room. Whatcha thinking about?

Logical1: So I’m guessing I’ll be able to read this conversation on that Desinsport detective site.

Proxy40K: Yep. Your call, Miss Anders. Oh, BTW, I so hate that name you gave me.

Logical1: I’ll be leaving before someone figures out how to track my location.

Proxy40K: You’ll do as I say cuz I got the power at the moment.

Logical1: Prisoner, am I? I think u need me for something. You won’t tick me off just yet.

Proxy40K: Fine, leave. But I still hate my fake name.

Logical1: Knew you would.

Proxy40K: Exactly, so my first demand is that I get a new one.

Logical1: Really? You’re so trivial.

Proxy40K: I WANNA NEW NAME. Please? :3

Logical1: Fine, shall we call you “Jerk-off” instead?

Proxy40K: My new fake name… DRUMROLL… Is Shade.

Logical1: Shade. Really? Shade? Whatever…

Proxy40K: YES. Shade. Now Miss Sunshine, maybe I should make my second demand a date.
Or… Something better than just a date.

Logial1: Shut it.

Proxy40K: After all, you REALLY don’t want your cover blown…

Logical1: I’d kill you, maybe in the middle of a dance, but you’d expect that.

Proxy40K: Ah yes. But I do have associates that could carry out the threat in the case of me getting
killed. You know what? I’m starting to like this idea.

Logical1: [personal edit, sorry: she just basically bad-mouthed me in a long line of annoyed
cussing. I thought I’d save you the discomfort. ;) ]

{Logical1 has left the conversation.}

Proxy40K: So yeah, I just used this to threaten her. And since I don’t really care about everyone
knowing what we said, have at it! You won’t track me down, so shit, let the world read
this. Shade out.

{Proxy40K has left the conversation}

Chat overlay disconnected.
Counter-tracing enabled.

Process failed! Would you like to send an error report?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Controversy - Author Bell - Part 2

Controversy - Bell

Official Journal: File #---16. Part 2

   The doors of our vehicles gave a good thunk that resonated off of the stone steps in front of the giant building. The wet glass panes glimmered with the sunlight, nearly blinding Ivan's dark presence. Though the sun was a rare joy, the other detectives felt uncomfortable with the light and moved to get indoors.  The lightweight doors spun when I pushed on them, and they opened up into a massive ground floor of Stanton's financial building.  Polished floor, articulate paintings, comfortable furniture, and expensive vases holding roses all displayed the wealth that this man possessed.  Across the ground floor, a secretary busily typed into a computer behind the desk.  As we walked up, a security guard approached us from behind and kept a careful and suspicious. Ivan and Scout both eyed him back, but he did not budge. Sionne gave my arm a tug and whispered into my ear, "I don't recognize these guards, they're definitely outside help. Be careful because I won't be able to stop them if you start up trouble.
   I nodded to her approached the desk. Sionne gave a low cough to gain the attention of the studious woman. She looked up, paused, and gave a quick smile.  "Welcome to Stanton INC. Do you have an appointment?"

   "No," I responded first, "but I would like to arrange one with Mr. Stanton please."

   "Oh" she said, eyeing us and obviously judging. "Well, he is out of town at the moment, and you must be requested by Mr. Stanton in order to arrange an appointment."

   "First off," Ivan interrupted, "we're not some street scruff. We're the DDS- that's Deinsport Detective Service- and we need to see him now. We promise to act like gentlemen, but we can't make the same promise if we have to get a warrant to talk to your boss up there."

   "Well," her eyes dodged to the computer, obviously a bit nervous and taken back by Ivan. "I'll have you know that we can most likely make an appointment with Mr. Stanton, but he is out of the building on vacation until next Friday."

   "When can we arrange an appointment then?" I asked.

   "Since Mr. Stanton has his upcoming company party, it will be about four weeks."

   "Four weeks!? What kind of time do you think we have?" I blurted. The security guard did not look too happy with me. He whispered something into his shirt collar, most likely calling for backup. "We have a case going on, and your boss is connected to the woman lying on a table in a morgue!"

   "I can assure you that Mr. Stanton is not involved in any wa-"

   "You don't have the authority to say that." Ivan stated bluntly. Scout moved up to the desk, taking some unusual initiative. 

   "Look, can we meet with the guy sooner, or are we going to have to get a warrant to go talk to him?"

   The woman chuckled with a devious grin.  "If you think you can get a warrant to meet with Mr. Stanton, then you all are a hopeless lot. Now, I am actually busy beyond shooing away street scum, and the guard behind you would like to help you out."

   I could almost feel Ivan's muscles and teeth tensing, but I put a hand on his chest to control him. "Thanks, we'll be leaving without the help." I gave a stern look to the guards, and we all left.

   When we left the building, the clouds blocked the sunlight once again. However, they seemed duller than before, transfixed on making our luck even more dreary. We decided to drive to a small sandwich shop a few blocks away from our shaggy office. The place had a unique 70's vibe, and it had its share of sketchy quirks. The owners have us a small discount though, so we frequented the shop during long days at work. We arrived, took a seat at a table inside, and sat quietly for a second, not quite sure of what to do.  "Well," Sionne began to stammer. "that was a bust." Ivan scoffed and leaned back in his chair, arms folded as he fiddled with the front brim of his concealing hat.  "But, I'm sure I can work my contacts to receive a warrant. Maybe even before the day of the party."

   "I know I can break into security." Scout added.

   When I sighed, the rest of the people looked at me with surprise, except for Ivan; he still had his hand over his face. "Not that I want to discourage plans, but honestly, some of those guards in there won't care about warrants. They're not cops; they're mercenaries or hired security."

   Ivan pointed at Sionne. "You're the only real cop. You could get in with a warrant, but Bell and I would get overrun by guards before we even hit the red carpet." He pounded his pointer finger into the table as if it were a guard squashing one of us.

   The group threw around ideas for a while. Miss Harrow could deputize Ivan and I, but that would also require a good amount of training, paperwork, and time that we didn't have. The party was the best bet of getting close to the only lead on the case, yet it would have security and a whitelist to get into the door.

   "The only way any of you are getting in there is if you enter incognito with someone else who has proper access into the party." Sionne deducted.

   Scout pondered as she stood and paced with her hands stuffed into her jacket pockets and her head looking down towards the checkered ground.  She looked up and stopped, probably cultivating an idea in her head. "Maybe..." she spoke out softly. "A reporter. They have access to all sorts of areas with media passes. If we could pass you off as a media crew-"

   "Scout, we're not reporters, nor are we affiliated with any news network." Ivan hummed in a frustrated tone. "We would need to become affiliated with a reporter of some kind." His covered head dipped towards the ground for a moment, then lifted towards Scout again. "Do you have anyone in mind?"

   She looked around, then pointed towards the door behind me. "Her."

   I turned around and saw a fashionable woman walking into the shop with a burly cameraman behind her. She had direct eye contact with me, and I stood to greet her.

   "Mr. Bell, we've heard that you and the DDS have taken up responsibility for solving the case of Barbara Stanton. We're interested in working with you to provide coverage to the people. Have you prepared a statement?" I took off my hat and wiped my head in disbelief. This couldn't be happening, our luck had been running dry, and now this. In my disbelief, I have the first statement that I could conjure in my head.

   "Well, I'll be damned."