Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Unknown - Awakening - Part 2

The Unknown - The Awakening
Part 2

    Maria turned off the headlights of her car as the sky brightened to the morning sun's early light. It was almost six, but she would arrive on time, as always. She had arranged to meet outside of a house where she and the DDS had sleuthed their way to a target suspect. Linney Travis was a local drug dealer that was experimenting with getting high to see into the spiritual realm. Ivan said that the implications of such a development had been sending bad tremors into local people, and so this man had to be cuffed and taken off the street. Maria knew that the "spirit world" crap was just another way of saying "hallucinogen" for people that believed in things beyond the real world. However, it would still be an honor to take part in such a bust.

    She turned right onto Malmore Street and slowed close to the target house. She removed the keys and checked her watch. Five fifty-six. Excellent. After exiting the vehicle, she opened the back door and removed her coat. Slipping it on, she felt its warm grasp cling onto her structure. This coat and the clothes on her body were the only thing that brought her much, if any, closure anymore. A riveting past had made sure of that.

    Maria approached the designated meeting spot. A tall oak tree that had roots tearing apart the sidewalk stood towering over the neighborhood. It was also a few houses down from Linney's drug outlet. She approached the tree and looked up, staring into the dark mess of leaves. "Scout, its me."

    With a quiet slip, Scout landed on the ground gracefully. She turned and met Maria. "Greetings."

    "Hello. How is surveillance going?"

    Scout shrugged. "The target is out cold from some new mix of drugs. His dreams are pretty wild with spirit activity."

    "Uh-huh..." Maria sighed instinctively. She respected the DDS people, but they seemed to believe in the spirit stuff way too much. "So, how are we going to breach then?"

    "We could waltz in and entrap him with handcuffs." Scout smiled, seeing that the situation was rather easy to deal with. "What do you think about the sunrise?"

    "I'm sorry, what?" Maria was a bit taken back by the sudden topic change.

    "You like the sunrise don't you?"

    "Why... yes... I do. How did you-"

     Scout shrugged again. "I can just tell. Why do you like it?"

    Maria looked towards the east, where a slight yellow glow burned gently above the houses of the neighborhood. "Well... I suppose that it gives us clarity. Each new day starts with a sunrise. The cool air, the new light, damp ground. Awakening from sleep. And the world is at peace before the metropolis that is earth becomes busy once again. It just renews everything."

    "You really want a fresh start, don't you?" Scout interpreted.

    Maria's jaw dropped a little, but she caught it before Scout could notice. "Yes. But I do not want it. I need it."

    Scout smiled. "Katy and Bell have been looking into it. I hope it all works out for you."

    Maria kept a strait face. "Thanks, I guess. What about you? Do you like sunrises?"

    "They're fabulous. I also like rain. Rain is excellent."

    "Wait, you LIKE the rain here?" Maria's voice raised a bit with surprise. She had never heard of anyone liking Deinsport's constant rain.

    "Well... yes. It refreshes everything. A constant cleansing that pulls the dirt and debris from the air to give us something to breathe. Plus, it cools your skin and lets you realize your own warmth."

    "So, you feel comfortable with yourself in the rain?"

    "Precisely." Scout smiled again.

    "Very interesting. Thank you." Maria still hated the rain, but hearing Scout's remarks shed some new light onto the subject. "Well, are we going to catch this crook?"

    "Sure, the house should be-" Scout's voice was cut off by her cell phone ringing. She flipped it open and answered it quietly. After a minute of listening, she hung up the phone and turned back to Maria. "Turns out we need to bail and head over to another neighborhood a few miles west of here. An egregious homicide case or something from Ivan."

    Maria actually felt a bit disappointed at the news. This had been her first real case that she headed, and now she was not going to be able to bust the dealer. She paused for a moment in thought, and then looked to Scout again. "Think we could pick up Linney first?"


    "Fabulous." Maria said, chuckling.


    Harrow slugged down another slurp of coffee. She normally did not get up this early unless if an emergency with the DDS. She had to wake herself enough to keep driving to the homicide, but it was proving to be a challenge. Drowsy fingers slowly turned the radio knob to scan different stations. When finally met with some classical, she turned the music up in an attempt to wake herself further. However, the music only helped a little bit. Fir several weeks after the run-in with Shade, Harrow had been in bed on leave, recovering from the battering she had received from him. She did not mind the off time, for she recognized how lucky she was for having Ivan close by. Still, the weeks in bed had taken away her ability to get up early without flinching. This was tediously annoying, but it seemed to be a necessary annoyance.

    Finding the victim's house proved easier than suspected for Harrow. The massive amount of cops, police vehicles, and yellow tape clearly marked the house. Harrow parked at the other side of the street, slugged down the rest of her coffee, and wiped her eyes. Exiting the vehicle, a cop ran up to her. "Good to see you on the field again Miss Harrow! We were all so worried about-"

    "Please... just stop." Sionne let her morning sickness slip out her tongue. "Ah... excuse me officer. I'm still fatigued from getting up to-."

    "I understand Ma'm."

    "Good. Give me a situation report before my eyeballs gorge themselves with impudent fury."

    The young officer seemed a bit shocked by Harrow's negativity, but he ignored it. "Well, the coroner  said we have one body in the house. Shot through the head and lost a lot of blood. However, there seems to be a lot of blood. We have yet to identify who bled the excess."

    "Could it just be one poor soul?" Harrow asked nicely.

    "Impossible. Too much blood for one human to lose. Even a large man couldn't bleed so much. The DDS members are inside at the moment. You should join them."

    "Thank you officer." Harrow smiled blandly to the young officer, who's face glowed to her approval.

    Harrow walked slowly with hands in her pockets. She wiped her feet on the mat that politely said "Welcome". She noticed a yellow car at the base of the open door. Her eyes rose until they met the doorknob with a key in the lock, attached to all the other keys. She took mental note and stepped inside. Anders and Scout stood with Ivan in the kitchen area. She made eye contact with them, and the the two ladies smiled comfortably.

    Harrow moved forward and turned the corner, ignoring the body hiding under the white sheet and the hardened blood all over the place. "Hullo everyone."

    "Glad to see you have not perished."Ivan nodded a bit. She figured this was his hello to her. "But now we need to be onto important business."

    "Yes, lets start." Harrow answered somewhat bleakly.

    "Alright then. The victim on the floor here was killed by a gunshot to the head. Lost a lot of-"

    "I know," Harrow interrupted. "One of my men gave me necessary information. Who is he?"

    Ivan slowly leaned over and lifted the sheet and discarded it to the side. "We still need to identify the body, but-"

    "April!" Harrow gasp interrupted Bell once again. Everyone grew silent for a moment. "She's... she is one of my best officers. I... I..." She lost her cook at the sight of a fallen comrade. Her arms shook slowly, attempting to compute some action. No one could think of anything to retaliate to the uncomfortable and grim situation.

    "This victim was killed by a bullet fired from some type of firearm, most likely an assault rifle." Ivan pointed to the forehead where a bloody bullet hole was present. "The posterior portion of the skull is shattered. The splatter on the walls is from the bullet traveling through the head."

    "What about the blood on the counter? And the pool next to Scout?" Harrow asked, having a wavering in her voice from morning sickness and the shock of April's death.

    "Still not sure. From someone else. Presumably."

    "So, these bullet holes in the walls," Harrow pointed at the bloody holes next to the refrigerator. "Where did these come from?"

    "Someone extracted the shrapnel from the wall, and it looks like a .45 round. However, it could have not killed our victim here. Do you know what happens when you shoot someone in the head with a .45 ACP round at this close of a distance?" After a moment of silence, Ivan formed his hands at his waist and made a gentle bursting motion. "Only part of her head is blown away, so I doubt these bullet holes came from the actual killer."

    Harrow stared blankly, trying to find a connection buried within the depths of her mind. "Ivan, did you find any weapons or bullet casings in here?"

    "Of course." With a slight of hand, Ivan seemingly generated an evidence bag from within his coat. "We have a pistol, found next to the victim, and several casings of a round that match the caliber of this pistol found within the room across from us."

    Harrow took the bag and examined the contents. The pistol had a plastic wire tied through the action, and the casings matched that of the "This is definitely April's weapon. Its not standard issue, but it is similar to the weapons the force uses." Harrow's face froze upon reaching a sudden and confusing realization. "April must have been the aggressor here. But she never notified central of her actions..." Her eyes returned to a puzzled stare at the body.

    "She came in here to see someone. That someone," Ivan flipped around the picture frame laying face down in the counter's blood. It showed April affectionately holding onto a man. "Was her boyfriend. For whatever reason, April fired shots and is now dead, and the boyfriend is gone." Ivan stepped over the body and walked towards the front door. He touched the keys and set off a car alarm in the driveway. Shutting it off, he turned and looked back at the group. "Two cars in the driveway. One belongs to the victim. The other is registered to a man named David Longston."

    Harrow's eyebrows raised. "I heard she was dating a guy named David."

    Ivan nodded. "Now, neighbors reported several gunshots, and then one loud shot being fired. We're trying to identify if David had any gun permits or recent ammunition purchases, but he has not reported anything yet." Ivan paused, as if exhausted by the unusual amount of speaking.  "But something does not seem to add up. There is enough blood here to revive a few patients at a hospital. Yet David is not here with no signs of escape besides running on foot. I have police sweeping the area for him, but I have not heard anything back yet."

    "Did you guys get any spiritual signals?" Harrow quizzed. Anders rolled her eyes without anyone noticing.

    Ivan cleared his throat. "Honestly, no. At least, nothing majorly obvious. A spirit quietly lingered for a bit, but I feel that this murder had no spiritual influences. Yet, Jon felt some awful taste in his mouth when he first came in here. He said it could be the smell; or it could be some influence of some disturbed individual."

    "Like a serial killer who hasn't showered for days?" Anders chuckled.

    "No." Ivan growled. "Sensations of terrible origins usually derive from poor saps that either have experienced something traumatic or something inhuman."

    After giving a minute to finalize these thoughts, Anders dared to speak up again. "Well, have you worked up any leads yet, Ivan?"

    "Yes." Ivan replied. "Check the window behind you." Anders turned and pulled back the waving curtain. A gaping hole in the cracked glass appeared before them. Outside, Fairview was helping Jon onto an adjacent roof.

    "Judging by the height of our victim, the location of the broken glass, and the bullet hole in the wall behind me, we estimated that the killing shot was fired from the roof of a nearby building." They all watched as Jon slipped on the roof, forcing Fairview to catch him and pull him back up. "Unfortunately, those two have not been the most efficient with the steep roofs around here. Still, they persist on finding some type of bullet casing, which could lead us to a brand and caliber of ammunition."

    Harrow nodded. Ivan seemed to run a pretty tight operation when he was not cowering in the shadows. "Anders, Scout, can you go and see if you can help locate any type of round or casing outside." After their confirmation, the two stepped over the body and left the house. Harrow looked to Ivan, who was now leaning on the counter, staring at the body. "Ivan... I never officially thanked you for saving me."

    "It was nothing." Ivan stated blandly. "I am sorry that you lost one of your own today."

    Harrow returned her eyes to April, dead on the floor. "Thank you. Hopefully, I won't lose another one." She covered the face of the body again, and she walked out of the building.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Unknown - Awakening - Part 1

The Unknown: Awakening
Part 1

    A raging fire razed the coast. The heat from a setting sun violently collided with the disturbed water, colliding to bend orange light in spontaneous directions. Retreating, the sun's powerful heat blended with the cool breeze, melting into a blanket of comfort for anyone standing on the Deinsport docks that night. Such natural beauty was an extreme rarity in the bleak city. Yet this rare light breaking the void seemed to display itself like eloquent speech following an abrasive appearance. 

    For David and April, they stood on the damp wooden boards, completely enveloped by nature's dance and embrace. They too, held each other in the walk. Gentle presence and conjoined appreciation for each other in much more loving words than either of them could clumsily conjure.

    "I've always loved how the water moves like that."

    "What do you mean?" David used the broken silence to shift. He had to track down the ring in one of his pockets.

    "Well, the little points and waves, they crash together, but they separate so neatly too. It causes the light to scatter on the surface of the water. Its beautiful, don't you think?"

    "That's not the only thing I think is beautiful." David smirked to himself with his corny humor. Yet, he quickly lost the smirk as he patted his back pocket.

    "You're such a charmer." April replied with a sarcastic eyebrow, but she quickly giggled and leaned into his arm again.

    "I know." He turned around to stretch with his free arm. Checking side pockets, he again found nothing.

    "Hey, are you okay? You're a little fidgety".

    "Yeah, I'm fine. What time is it?"

    "Nine twenty-four." She responded after checking her watch.

    "Good golly! I need to feed the cat!" David's voice was overly convincing.

    "M-hm. I know you have to work tomorrow. Its been a good night though."

    "No, the cat- well wait, yes! It has been, but I mean, its not that-" April silenced him with a quick kiss, followed by a smile.

    "Call me when you get home. You haven't been feeling well for a while."

    "The doctors have cleared me and given me some meds to be safe. They said I'm healthier than most people, and I didn't even do anything extraordinary to get to that point."

    "You're such an over-achiever" she said, smirking. She turned and started walking down the boardwalk again. "Call me."

    "Do you need me to call a cab right now?"

    "No, you need to get home to 'feed your cat'".

    "Right. Ha, okay. Thanks for the date! It was... it was great." April just returned a smile to his last words. She walked back to the street and flagged down a taxi in seconds.

    David returned his gaze to the restless water mixing with pouring sun. His stomach slowly churned and moaned. "Maybe I am getting sick." he said to himself, denying the nervous tension also in his head.


    A cab returned him to a middle class subdivision just outside of the city. David threw the cab driver a five dollar bill and stumbled out of the car. As the taxi sped away, he felt his head spinning and aching. His stomach also felt dizzy and rather upset. After blinking a few times, David thought to pull some keys from his pocket. After a thorough search, he managed to find the key ring in his right leg pocket.

    Fumbling with the keys, he identified what looked like his house key. The jagged edges of each key carefully blended together in his pale palm. His drooping eyes did not help the situation. "I don't remember... having any dr-drinkss" he stuttered to himself, forcing his eyes open and closed to regain focus. The world began spinning in circles again, and he had to get through the door of his home.

    One step at a time, each two-square foot block of concrete seemed like miles of runway. That, and the world seemed to be going through a silent earthquake. After a few minutes of stumbling, David managed to slump against the door to steady himself. Taking the key, he slowly inserted it into the lock and forced his hand to turn. The door jolted to signify it unlocking. With a sturdy twist, he turned the doorknob and forced the door open. The door hit the wall, and David fell on the floor.

    Opening his eyes, he lifted his head again. The room was blurring and spinning more quickly now. "The pills" he thought to himself, thinking of the medication the doctor had prescribed for his recent headache attacks. He raised his body to a crawl and began to shuffle towards the kitchen. Upon arrival, he tossed an arm onto the counter and grabbed the pills. After momentarily struggling with the cap, he tossed two pills down his throat and forced himself to swallow them dry.

    Sitting on the floor, pills in hand, David kept mental focus in order to keep himself awake. He counted up to and back down from one-hundred.  A few minutes of this passed by, and he began to look around. The pills had worked exponentially quicker than he could have imagined, though the world still seemed off rocker. Carefully pulling himself up to the counter, he grabbed a glass and poured some water. Drinking slowly, he felt the coolness of the liquid drain the tightness of his muscles. David normally did not get sick, but something was definitely wrong. He hated doctors though.

    The picture on the counter of his girlfriend, and the small black box holding the ring inside caught his attention. They had been together for about two years, and he felt that it was time to get settled down. He made good money; enough to own a small home at least. He always wanted a wife and a few kids too, and April was perfect. She was strong woman - a cop even- yet she deeply loved David's strength. He had to go to the doctor again for them, not just for himself. Not if he would marry this woman.

    A rumble ran through his legs. David looked down and grabbed his stomach. He still felt sick, but the pain was unusual. It was slowly building, but much more rapidly than what he had felt before. He prepared himself for the upcoming assault from his stomach. "Blaaugh!" David felt like he was firing his insides into the sink. The smell was putrid, and his stomach kept lurching. Again and again, he felt his stomach cleansing itself of the sickness residing inside him.

    After a few minutes, the throwing up stopped. David's eyes were forced shut by the force of each heave. He didn't want to see the mess he had made of the meals of the past day's food. He had to clean it up sometime though, so he opened his eyes.

    Seeing the sink, he would have taken just the digested food.


     Staining the sink, coating the counter, and dripping onto the floor, his own insides had coughed up what seemed like a couple of liters of blood. His vision tunneled on the scene as the room began to spin again. Grabbing the glass to attain more water, David's wobbly hands simply knocked it over, mixing the clean liquid with the chunky, thick blood. David felt himself lowering to the ground, gasping for air. "I need to be strong, I need to... I need..." his cell phone screamed at him, turning the gentle ringtone into a horrid nightmare that attacked his ears. "April!" Gasping, and losing full control.

Initiating start-up protocols "Awakening".


    Sight restored. Senses tingling. Full control. Somehow, everything seemed calm, quiet, and at peace in the night.  David took a quick glance at the clock in the kitchen from the floor. With sharp accuracy, he noted that it was now twelve forty-nine. Another scan displayed the bloody mess he had created. Chunky blood now began to harden on the surface, and it would be a pain to clean it.

    "David?" A voice came from the front door, now creaking open. "David? Are you alright?" Footsteps entered the house. A bright light began swinging around the dark in hopes of finding him. It was April. He stood, surprisingly, and spoke "Here, I'm okay..."

    April turned and froze. She pointed the flashlight in his face, and he was temporarily blinded. "Ugh! Stop, it hurts! St-"

    Bang! Bang! David grabbed his right shoulder and fell back to the ground. Pain riveted through his body. "Gah, what the HELL are you doing?" 

    "Stay down, bastard! One more move and you're as good as gone!" April's voice boomed. David felt pain from her bullet, and confusion as to why he had shot him. April rounded the corner slowly and kept her pistol pointed at his face.

    "He-OW! Put-put that thing down! Please!" David begged.

    "Not until you tell me where David is! Tell me right now or I"ll blow your plastered face off!"

    Assessing situation.

    David's vision suddenly lit up with neon green numbers, lines, and symbols. Circles darted all over, centering on April's face, her gun, and two bullet holes in the wall that had black blood surrounding the punctures. Words on the bottom left of his vision stated "Reconstructing right shoulder: 76%".

    "What are you doing? Stop, its me! David!" He spat out.

    "Did I tell you to talk? Stand up and put your hands up, NOW!"

    David shook his head in disbelief, but then complied. As he stood, the circles followed the different points of interest flawlessly. Weapon Evaluation was stated by the computer voice inside his head. Numbers pulled up beside April's gun. Beretta 8045, .45 ACP, 6 rounds left in the magazine, and an graph showing bullet velocity, the weight of the trigger along with the current weight being applied to the trigger, and current distance from the weapon were all statistics provided. He had no clue of what all this information was doing in his vision, but he did not fear it. Yet it still caused him some confusion. 

    "April, I don't know what's going-"

    POP! April fired a shot at him, but he had dodged it. "Dodging bullets?" he instinctively thought to himself. A small red flashing icon indicated instinctive countermeasures being used against April. All of the green lights around April turned dark red. The words eliminate target appeared next to April's face.

    "Don't say my name! Hands behind your head asshole, and tell me why there's so much blood here. Who's blood?"

    "April, its me! David!" he plead.

    "Who are you psycho?

    "I don't know what's happening to me, but you have to believe me!"

    "Well I don't believe you, freak! What did you do with him?"

    A red circle highlighted the ring box surrounded by blood on the counter. Pacify. "The black box! Its a circular diamond engagement ring for you." She did not respond. She did not see his point. "Uhh... We started dating two years ago. You're a cop, I work stocks. We both played golf, but I was never good at it. Your dog Marty died eight months ago and you grieved for two weeks. We went on a date today and watched as the water collided and scattered light. I said I had to feed my cat as an excuse to come get the ring, and you left in a cab before I got off the boardwalk... April..." The words rocketed out of his mouth like machine gun fire. In response, April continued to stand still with her gun pointed at his face. All of the lights in David's vision turned a cautious yellow with a yellow circle analyzing April's face by identifying eye movements and facial gestures.

    All was quiet for a minute while April considered David's plea. David did not know his appearance, but he hoped their love would win out. After a sigh, April took a step foreward and jammed the muzzle of her pistol up into his jaw, and warning lights and sounds erupted into a blaze of neon light and terrifying sounds. Circles drew lines to display angles of attacks. April saw none of this as she glared at him, almost puzzled by him.
She sighed, and then returned to David's eye with a grave gaze. "I would love to believe you. Tell me right now where he is, or I'll blow your brains out." At that moment, a box opened up in David's vision that displayed different replies and survival probabilities beside them. Some had notes that stated appeals to intelligence or appeals to emotion and other labels. None of them had survival percentages over 20%. David noted the lines that aligned his hands to vital disabling points on April's body, but he was revolted at the idea of harming her. After a gulp, David gave his answer.

    "I love you, and I'm sorry."

    A single shot rang out across the neighborhood, echoing between houses in the cold night.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Important Journal Update

Good tidings to you, fair reader.

    Today, the city of Deinsport dodged the oncoming rain from the west. We stayed dry, and the sun even awakened from its slumber. With such a shining of brilliance, I took a saunter to the park and began to inspect the Deinsport City Journal's site.

    Normally, we receive anywhere between 5-10 readers a day, and 20-30 readers after a new post. These numbers usually come from the select few that the Journals have been shared with. Unfortunately, most of the numbers also come from random domain sites that advertise strange products like bad infomercials on Sundays. However, we received an astounding 48 views on July 6th, and quite a few views today on the 11th. Of course, more than half of these views are spam, but a good portion of these views are from acquaintances on Facebook and Google+.

    So to you that actually read these journals, thank you.

    Now, upon consideration of this site, I noticed that the "theme" of the blog was a bit... dull  and broken. I also noticed that many posts had strange white highlighting around them. Some journals in "Breakdown", "Controversy", and in the isolated journals of "Everyman" and "I'm Magic" seemed to have this white highlighting, providing a distracting reading experience. I am now correcting these, and most of these journals are now fixed. I would encourage you to read them again if you so desire, since the reading process will not be as painful.

    About the theme,  changed it to be more aesthetically appealing. It looks distinguished in my opinion.

    As another side note, most of the material that Author Bell and Author Anders writes is specifically the "main plot". Other entries shed light into the world of Deinsport, and are just as valuable. However, I felt the need to clarify this after some people seemed confused about the timeline of these journals. I have classified these miscellaneous stories under a certain "label" that you may find in a tab on the right side of the screen.

    Now, I would like to thank those who have written journals for the database. My schedule is busy sometimes, yet these authors really fantastic. A special thanks to Author Anders who has worked with me and motivated me with writing these journals and exploring plot details. I would also like to thank you, the readers, again for reading this material. I appreciate the time you take to enjoy some scrabble that we have put together.

    To break character for a moment, I've been writing these stories to hone my abilities as an author. I've loved creating these stories, and I've already seen improvement in my writing ability. Thank you for supporting me. Yet, my life is going to become very busy soon, and I will not be able to spend as much time as I would like to writing these journals. If I find time, I will still write, but the journals will have to take a backseat for my next adventure in life.

    Thank you for reading this tedious letter. If I may, I would like to make a final request. If you enjoy reading these, please do not hesitate to let me know or to leave a comment on a post. If you see something to improve on, please comment about it. Again, this project is about improving, so as someone documenting the proceedings of Deinsport, I would like to know how to improve on many things.

   May the stories continue.
-The Documenter of Deinsport City Journals


Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Unknown - Introduction

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The Unknown: A Deinsport City Journals Story

Introduction: Downloaded File prj_cdp_461.mp3    


    "This is Colonel Daniel Pierce clocking in at 10:32 AM at location "see-bee two underscore five one one". I was called in early this morning because my head researcher was hysterical over the phone over some dangerous national security risk being housed here."


    "Nothing new. The only thing I even consider a risk is the cold coffee, and too little cream."


    "Set reminder: appeal for higher quality research materials for important research, or just get some better damn cream."


    "C'mon in." *Squee-Slam*

    "Colonel, sir."

    "At ease Doctor Taylor. I'm not in a good mood for formalities. Give me a sit-rep of why you had to call me down from the Outer Banks at such an ungodly time in the morning."

    "I apologize sir. You know I would not call upon you if it were not an emergency."

    "I understand."

    "I request that this conversation be rendered 'bug-free'."

    "Under regulation, I have to have my recorder running, but I keep this on me at all times, so it is secure. I can seal off the room from all other ears -if you really think it necessary."

    "As ear-free as possible please."

    "(Sigh...) Captain, please de-bug my room. Security check in ten minutes. I want all ears off of us, copy?"

    "Yes sir. Shutting off all systems in your office. We will send a team to your room if we do not hear from you in ten minutes. Over and out."

    "Thank you son. Now Doctor, have a seat, and tell me what you are so worried about."

    "You understand that we now house a code 'Black' artifact in our premises, correct?"

    "As we have before."

    "But did you know its not a foreign object this time? It's the Centauri."

    "...Excuse me?"

    "Yes. A Centauri."

    "I thought they scattered the Centauri from the project years ago? And now you're telling me that you found one and you had the audacity to bring it here?"

    "Sir, I understand your frustration with the Gates Project, I agree that they were unstable in many ways, but-"

    "No! I don't believe you understand my frustration. Not only were they... ARE they unstable, but they are morally terrifying! Look, I'm not religious by any means, but observe. Their production. Their purpose. Their power. Their freedom into the world!" How is something good bound to that project? Nothing!"

    "Permission to freely speak sir?"


    "Permission to-"

    "Yes! Spit it out."

    "I believed you accepted your responsibilities here to benefit the safety of this nation. We now have a potentially dangerous situation here, and I need a commanding officer to handle it."

    "...Fine. How long has it been here?"

    "We had it detained and secure at five-hundred nine hours yesterday morning."

    "Okay, now what number Centauri is it?"
    "We are not sure, but we believe it is from the second series."

    "How do you know that? Seems like a short amount of time to figure that out."

    "We lost twelve elites and three researchers taking it into custody."
    "Twelve? That seems to be a lot."

    "Well... it could be a third series."

    "No, a third?! Why the Hell did you even bring one of those things here?"

    "It was not my call sir. Now it is here. I ask for direction of how we go about handling the current situation."

    "If its a three, I want that thing out of here. I don't care if you have to put it in the center of the earth, just get it away from here. Got that?"

    "But sir-"

    "That's an order Doctor. You got that?"

    "...Yes, sir."

    "Good woman. Now, if its a series two, its less of a problem, but still dangerous. However, I will need 
you to safely interrogate it for information as a first step."

    "So far, it has resisted all forms of interrogation. We're beginning to resort to harsher methods and-"

    "No. Use the harshest methods. Even those revoked by the UN."

    "But... sir!"

    "That's an order. Don't test me again. That thing is not human... at least not anymore. It wouldn't mind tearing you to pieces if it had a chance to. Now, for a second step, I want the President notified as soon as possible."

    "Yes sir. Anything else?"

    "Yes. Triple our security. There has to be more out there close by. Also, if this Centauri that you've captured is truly a series three..."


    "Well... if its a three, then the others will be here soon."



I'm Magic - Author Fairview - Part 3

I'm Magic - Fairview

Official Journal: file #---7. Part 3

    6:00 PM... that's a good time for acoustic punk... going to go with some Man Overboard.

    I had my iPod hooked up to an alarm clock; it played a song of my choosing instead of making that horrible buzzing noise that I hated so much. Though I would hate waking up at 6:00, I would enjoy some of my favorite bands. That was the idea, anyway. Whatever.

    I'd been working for this Aquila bro for a sum total of 2 weeks. I had my own room, a change of clothes, and I got the only non-shared bathroom in the place. The walls were the same blue color as in the sickroom, and there was one window leading to a rusted fire escape, which connected to the roof. There also was a black door; I had no idea where it led or what was inside, as it was locked. All in all, the accommodations were satisfying and comfortable. Pretty decent pay too; at least enough to cover my meager expenses. The downside was getting up at 6:00AM.

    Also the part where a drunk guy put a hole in my shoulder with a knife. It's healed by now, but I'm hoping that getting stabbed isn't the norm. With my luck, well, you never know.

    I turned of the light and fell to sleep immediately. I dreamed of nothing.

-6:00 AM, Tuesday-
    “I understand how it works, on paper, we're similar people. But we're different people, we're different people”

    I awoke to the sad, slow strains of Man Overboard, and I turned off the iPod. I had barely gotten dressed, (typical black skinny jeans and a striped black and gray 'V' neck T-Shirt) when Aquila opened my door without knocking.
“You nearly ready to leave, Fairview?”

    “Yeah man, hang on.” I slid on my beat-up Converse All Stars (Vintage 1999!) and started to walk out of the room. He put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me before I had cleared the threshold.
“You're forgetting something.”

    “Yeah? What's that?”

    Aquila smirked. “Your weapon. We heard you have a bit of training in that area and have a couple weapons for you to choose from. The Department of Operations has been particularly generous in your case; they were quite... intrigued... by your abilities and did not want such an... opportunistic asset to be lost.” He then unlocked the black door. Apparently I'd earned access to this for doing... something. I had no idea.
It was an Operation Room. There was a map of the city on the wall, a computer, a file cabinet labeled “Case Files” and on the wall hung a bulletproof tactical vest. There were slots for magazine pouches, but no pouches had been attached. I had yet to choose my weapon.
    “We have a couple things here. You can have an MP9 with a silencer, folding stock, and EoTech optic with 3x Magnification. Or you can have a PP2000 with the same loadout. Up to you.” I chose the MP9. Aquila then handed me a thick black hoodie with a skull and crossbones encircled by a white ring emblazoned across the front.

    “While I find your enjoyment of all things punk somewhat distasteful, we have this for you. The MP9 will fit inside of it here-” he gestured towards a carrying strap on the inside- “and it will be invisible, for the most part. If you are stupid with the weapon, it will be revoked, understand?” He pulled the weapon out of his trench coat and handed it to me. It went into the jacket, which I put on overtop the tac-vest. Not too uncomfortable.
“Yeah, gotcha dude. What do you want me to do today?”

    “You're going back to where you were stabbed and you're going to figure out what did it. We are nearly certain it wasn't a man. No man moves like he did. Far too fast. Not very coordinated, but fast. There's a van waiting. Have fun.” Ivan wasn't big on details. That's fine, I needed freedom anyway. I was getting tired of sitting in on psych analysis and telling people their own secrets about themselves.
About ten minutes later, I was sitting on a bench across the street from the spot where I was stabbed. Just watching, just feeling the place. It was sunny, but cold. The white face of an apartment complex across the street glared sharply, directly contrasting the gray pallor of the buildings adjacent. The black tinted windows reflected the surrounding urban landscape. It was one of those mornings, humid and cold, which certainly meant that the day would be either oppressively hot, or stormy. Or both.

    The most interesting thing I'd felt from anyone all day was from a passing businessman, who I somehow knew was completely straight but really enjoyed wearing dresses and skirts and makeup. If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that people are weird. Whatever, man.

    At about 8:30, I looked at the roof of the white apartment. There was a man on top of it. That's odd... he seems to be looking directly at me, though I can't see his face... He turned and walked away, out of my view. Gotta check this out... I walked across the street and into the building, took an elevator to the roof and looked around. I stepped onto the gravel that covered the roof and quickly walked the perimeter. Nobody. Ugh, why does this have to be so hard. I could feel the telltale darkness that signified an evil spirit. Looks like I was hunting either a possessed man, a demon, or something else entirely. Fun times. Suddenly the presence intensified, like a blow to the body.

    Except it was, actually, a blow to my body.

    I felt myself falling forward before I even knew what to do. I tucked and rolled, and came up facing the man who had stabbed me. He spoke, but this time it was not slurred, nor was it coarse. It was pristine and low, contrasting sharply with his bedraggled appearance.
“Hi there. So sorry you survived that last encounter. Seemed a policeman was just around the corner and he didn't enjoy my stabbing you. I had to leave our little party, but now we're together again and it's time for some fun.”

    “You bastard.” I pulled out my MP9 and lined him up. “Don't move, man, or the last thing to go through your mind will be a 9 Millimeter, Full Metal Jacket slug.”

    “Go ahead! Shoot me. It'll be so much fun knowing you've killed an innocent drunk, and loosed me from my container. Seriously, do it.”

    “You're bluffing.” He had to be. No way could he just go and inhabit someone else. He had to have an opening into their mind. That was hard to get.

    “Find out, fool.” He spat at me.


    And I spat two bullets straight through his shoulder. He shuffled backwards but made no noise. The white gravel crunched against his feet and glared in the sun. A gust of hot wind ruffled my hair. Traffic continued on the road below.

    Nothing. Damn!

    Pchik- One through the calf. He hit the dirt with a crunch. Good, he's immobilized.

    But the demon felt none of the pain his man experienced. He seemed to be slowing the bleeding somehow, as well... interesting. “That was for the knife wound, dude. You wanna play this game? I'm not a regular cop and I certainly won't hesitate to get your 'container' locked up forever for threatening me. That would be pretty unfortunate, you'd be forced to leave him. But you can't, can you? Or you'd have left him here to bleed out already” Now it was my turn to run things. If I killed him, he'd die too- or be sent somewhere less desirable. “You have to get your container there in for some medical attention. But I don't see you leaving me anytime soon. So we're going to do something about that...” I picked up my phone and called Ivan. “Yo dude, I got us a suspect. We're going to need the house doctor in the van, he's hit. Once in the calf, twice in the shoulder. Do you copy, over?”

    “Copy that.” was Ivan's only reply.
I sat there with the demon for about 10 minutes. He said nothing. Finally Harrow and the doctor popped out of the elevator with a folding stretcher.

    “Wow, Fairview, first field case and you shoot the poor guy.” said Harrow. She pulled out a stun gun and immediately stunned the demon with it, incapacitating him entirely.

    “I see you have no qualms about sending 200,000 volts through a downed man.”

    “Just help me get him onto the stretcher.” We lifted his now unconscious container/body on, and the doctor tied a tourniquet around his leg and bound his shoulder. 10 minutes later we were back at the Facility, and the demon was in the holding cell.


    “So... this is, what, exactly?” Scout asked. She had stood and watched him sit in the cell for about 20 minutes, without saying anything. The demon had been trying to break the bars of the cell and screaming loudly- we eventually needed to give him sedatives so that the shell he contained couldn't physically act the way the demon wanted him to. 

    “It's a possessed man. Except with a twist; this guy is his permanent container. The demon literally can't leave him. I wouldn't be surprised if he's over 200 years old- the demon kept him from bleeding out when I shot him.”

    “You shot him?”

     “Um, yeah, it was sorta required. I don't screw around with these guys. They live for control. I'm supposed to interrogate him, wanna watch? Could be interesting.”

    “Yeah, okay.” She said. Cool. I like audiences, and I assume he does too. Should make it more interesting. I slammed the bars of the 10 by 10 holding cell.

    “Up! Now! Get up! … Sit down at the table, okay?” I yelled at the demon. I entered the cage and locked it behind me. I wasn't particularly afraid- Scout was right behind me, and she was armed. I sat down opposite him. “What's your name, dude.”

    “Alex.” He said plainly.

    “Okay, Alex. I've got a few things to ask you really fast, so listen up and we'll get this over really fast, okay? You got that?” He mumbled some incomprehensible gibberish. “HEY.” WHAM! I slammed table with my fist, about 2 inches from his face. “I'm not playing games here! You need to get something straight here- you have no rights. None. At all. There are no laws on the books that deal with the treatment of Spirits. I freaking own you, got it? That's why I shot you, and that's why I'll do it again if I don't get what I want. You can make this easy or hard. But we are NOT starting out like this, got it?”


    “Great!” I smiled and quit Bad Cop mode right away. “So what are you doing here, Alex? Why are you in Deinsport, and how did you get into that body?”

    “Shit, man. You're dense. This isn't a body. It's a shell. It's a container. I was trapped in it forever exactly 234 years ago, to the day. It's not real. Yeah, it has the physical functions and limitations of a human, but I don't feel pain and I don't decay. I can also heal it very quickly on my own. That's why I barely bled and wasn't hurt when you shot me, and it's why hurting me will do nothing.” He was arrogant. Good. He was also stupid. Not surprising.

    “Great, man. Just great. Why are you here?”

    “I thought I'd have a nice vacation, you know. See the sights-” Thwack! I punched him right in the face. He didn't blink but he looked surprised.

    “Remember the part where you don't screw with me? Granted, that didn't hurt, but I could break your legs and then you'd have a whole lot of fun not doing anything until that healed.”

    “I came here on a whim. That's it. Break my legs, or my face, or whatever. I'm sticking to that. As for attacking you, I knew you'd know what I was and do something about it. Didn't want to take the chance. As it turns out, you did anyway and so here we are. A fun time has been had by all. Now let me go.”

    I needed one more thing. This guy was useless. Just a run of the mill demon in a shell. His body would be more use to us dead. “How did you get into that shell?”

    “Darker forces than myself put me here.”

    “And what happens when your shell is fatally wounded?” Here we go...

    “Yeah, my spirit is banished back to where I came from. Hell.” Perfect.

    “One last thing, Alex.” I said. I put my hands on the pistol grip of the MP9.


    “Go to Hell. Literally.” I pulled out the MP9. His eyes and expression didn't change as I lined up a point blank shot and pulled the trigger.


    Blood spurted out the back of his head and the new third eye in the middle of his forehead. Alex collapsed across the desk, but he bled no more. His body started to disintegrate into a pile of dust. Fascinating. Scout stared at me, looking somewhat confused. 

    “You just... kill him? No more questions, nothing?”

    “That was a demon. He has no right to life, and he had no information for me. Besides, he's not even dead. He's back in Hell where he belongs. Ivan gave me the go ahead to do whatever I liked with him. I did.”

    “So, he's just gone?”

    “Yep. But a bigger question remains. How many more of these shells are there? I don't know. But we're going to want to run some tests on this dust. Figure out what it is, maybe we figure out who created him. Get Harrow. She's going to want to see this.” Scout left, and I left the cage. I had to figure out who made this guy. No way he knew. I read that much from him before I finished him off. As far as killing the demon went, well... I felt nothing.

    Ugh, this damn city.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Breakdown - Author Bell and Anders- Part 5

Breakdown - Bell & Anders

Official Journal - File #---20. Part 5

    Everyone piled into the vehicle. Police cars and ambulances still littered the parking lot. The Russian, Igor, had set up some kind of trap to cause a sub-surface explosion that would knock everyone out cold.  After the explosion,  he and Shade proceeded to take Harrow and run. Where they took Harrow was still a question. I gripped my stomach as it moaned with pain from the wisp’s poison, but I had to get going or else Harrow would be dead. Though, we also had to keep an eye out for Maria. At this point, it was likely that she was killed by Shade, or worse, she had joined Shade. With this probability, we knew that getting Harrow out of his grasp might be tricky, especially since we knew nothing about him.

    I pulled out to the park exit. Turns to the right and to the left spooked me. It occurred to me that there was no way I could find out where Harrow was taken. Even if we searched all night, we would never be able to search the whole city before Shade could escape or do something horrible. I shook my head. I did not want to think about anything bad happening to Harrow, but we were powerless in this situation.

    “Jon… which way are we going?” Kahrine asked, in a surprisingly worried tone. I looked into the rear view mirror to answer her, and light flickered behind me again. Cowering from the blinding light, I turned around to look directly at the bright object. Sitting next to Kathrine was the illuminated figure of Mrs. Stanton. I had heard of Departed coming back to haunt people, but this… was unreal. She smiled, but then frowned after staring at me for a few seconds. She kissed her fingertips and reached out to touch my forehead. As much as I wanted to move, I stood still, transfixed and held in place by curiosity. She touched my head, and a light flashed, blinding me.

    “Raughugh!” I flinched backwards, covering my eyes and landing on the car horn. After a second of honking, I re-opened my eyes to a spinning world and bright colors interpreted by overloaded retinas. Kathrine put away her flashlight while I massaged the pain away from my forehead. 

    “This isn’t the time to start staring off into your own world! We just need to make a choice and start looking!” I shook my head, not knowing what to think. When I returned my gaze to the road, my jaw dropped. An illuminated path streaked across the road and turned to the left. I looked to Scout. She nodded and mouthed, 

    “Do it”. Scout must have seen the apparition too. With nowhere else to go, we took the marked path.

    I turned on bright headlights as we drove down the empty road, piercing the darkness before us. It was late, and we were all physically exhausted. But we had to save Harrow and Maria, if possible. 

    “Hey Scout, have you seen or had contact with Ivan today?” She shook her head. 

    “I have not.” Well crap. As the odds were stacking up against us, and the best man of the DDS was unaccounted for, ever since he left the meeting this morning. Kathrine squeakily twisted silencers onto the barrels of her weapons in the backseat. At least we might have the element of surprise. Might.

    Following the illuminated path, I slowed the vehicle when the path turned sharply to the right into bushes on the side of the road. “Do we follow it?” Scout asked.

    “Follow what?” Kathrine doubted if we were sane or not.

    “You don’t see that?”

    “See what?”

    “Nevermind. Lets drive over there.” I nodded my head and complied with Scout. Driving off the road and into the bushes, the light trail led us to a concealed roadway. Kathrine became quiet and continued to double-check the silencers on the weapons. I drove up the road a bit, and noticed two rows of large SUVs. After a few seconds of decision-making, we backed our car into the bushes and turned off the engine and lights. Stepping out of the car, mud caught and held our feet. The sky still tormented us with drizzling, but seemed to be lightening up. Kathrine got out and handed Scout and I silenced UMPs. She then wrapped her SCAR over her shoulder and looked to me for direction. The illuminated path still streaked down the road, and I pointed my finger towards the woods along the side of the path. “We need to get into the woods, but follow the road until we arrive at the destination.”

    “So, what are the rules of engagement here?” Kathrine asked with a smirk.

    “Shoot to kill, do not engage Shade or Igor unless necessary. Wait for my go ahead before shooting anyone.” Kathrine seemed pleased with that answer. We began our slow trek into the woods. At least the rain stopped.

    For ten minutes, we walked in silence aside from the wet crunching of leaves and damp sticks. I still had a sick feeling in my stomach from the wisp’s chemical, but I was not going to die. I took a look at Kathrine. She had her rifle raised and was advancing in true tactical form. Focused and steady, she advanced lightly. I turned to Scout. Her UMP bumped against her leg with every step. Her gaze was upwards, towards the sky. Her hair lost its ponytail, and it freely glided behind as she walked. The red almost glowed with life, complimenting her contemplative solemnity.  I looked up to the sky through the trees and noticed how the sky had cleared. For once, the stars had come out in vibrant glory. Even with the city lights, the stars shone bright in the night sky. With a gentle breeze cooling us, I lurched and threw up in the woods. Scout rushed over to steady me. 

    “Easy now…” she said, holding up my shoulders. I heaved a few times, with drool hanging form my chin, but the sickly feeling soon left me. After regaining balance, I carefully wiped my mouth on my loose jacket and kept walking. I felt better, but I still kept to myself. I was too worried over the safety of Scout and Kathrine. We would be walking strait into enemy territory with little information; we could be walking into a trap too. I honestly could not tell if any of us would survive the night. 

    A few minutes later, Kathrine held up her fist and crouched. Scout and I immediately took a knee. Listening, we could hear chatter and laughter. Kathrine crept up a few meters, stood to look over the crest of the hill, and then returned. She held up five fingers and pointed towards the turn in the road. Our targets were around the corner, possibly waiting for us. Scout pointed up the hill, and I nodded. We all knelt and crept up the hill as quietly as possible. Behind some trees, we hunkered down for cover and took a peek down the hill. An old van and car sat with their headlights pointed towards each other, forming a central, lighted area. Several men, probably ten, stood around laughing as a large man stood in the center of the lights telling jokes. After Igor’s punch line, the men laughed in a great roar, allowing us to move in closer. I started scanning the situation, evaluating who was where and what weaponry the men had. Harrow was not anywhere. 

    After a few minutes, a large SUV pulled up to the circle. Its blue lights shone brighter than the other, more ragged vehicles. Out of the SUV came five men in bulletproof armor. They pulled out their assault rifles and stood in front of the vehicle. All of the Russian’s henchmen returned cold silence to their show of power. From behind the vehicle came a tall man and a woman. I took a closer look, and recognized the woman. Maria Anders. She must have kept her word to join Shade, likely the man that she accompanied. Wearing a loose tie and a crisp business suit, he nailed the “business casual” look. Something about it, however, made him ever more mysterious and difficult to interpret. He sauntered over to Igor.

    “Well you clean up good Iggy. You’re not as sticky as last time, which is wonderful! Congratulations.” His sarcastic tone was cruel and spiteful. Igor didn’t seem happy with the comment. 

    “Big talk for man who does not dirty own hands.” A small chuckle resonated among the Russian guards over Igor’s comeback.

    “Right, of course. Enough banter. Where is she?”

    “You have money?”

    “Of course. Hey, Bobby? Yeah yeah, grab the money from the trunk for this gorilla, okay? Awesome.” He grinned as one of his guards opened up the trunk of the second SUV. Now where is Harrow?” I caught my breath a bit. At least they kept her alive.
Igor snapped and had someone open up his van.  They dragged out a woman with curly hair. She was gagged, blindfolded, and had her hands tied behind her back but the walked her to the center with Igor and Shade. Placing her on her knees, they removed the blindfold. Harrow seemed blinded by the light. After recovering, she nearly fell over from seeing Igor.

    “Now now lady. I’ve got you.” Shade engaged his switchblade. Harrow squeaked a bit, but she stared at Shade with ferocity all the same. “Hey, listen,” Shade knelt, pointing the knife at Harrow. “I could slit your throat and we’d be done here, okay? I wanna talk. But if you yell at me, I might have to cut out your tongue, okay? Chill girl, you’re going to be fiiiine.” He stood and cut off Harrow’s gag; she almost snapped at him. Instead, she forced herself to withdraw from fighting. “Good, glad we could understand each other. Hey big man, here’s your dumb money. 200 grand is good enough?” Shade’s henchman threw the case to him. He opened the case with curiosity, and then smiled. “Good to see two gentlemen could make an arrangement. Now for you…” Shade knelt next to Harrow and put his arm around her, holding her side. She audibly squirmed a bit, but he ignored her. 

    “I’ve got a business proposition. For you. You have quite the history. Busting criminals, solving mysteries, and fighting for the greater good of the city!” He endeared the last point with a sarcastic overtone. “However, I want to do some, ah, remodeling, for the city. And frankly, it would be better if the police worked for me, you know? Things work out better that way. I wouldn’t have to kill so many people then!” He laughed joyously, but Harrow seemed shocked as the laugh echoed creepily through the woods. “So, I’ll personally pay you to work for me. I’ll get you promoted to police chief, and you answer to me. That, or if you actually have weird morals, you can take off and disappear. Either way, I’ll personally pay your way to make sure you’re set for life. No worries. You can go to freakin’ Disneyland for a year, or send kids to college. What-do-ya say? Deal?” Harrow eyed the ground, refusing to speak. “Oh, don’t be shy honey. If you really do feel smitten by me, you can let me know. I don’t break hearts, much.” Harrow looked disgusted at this point. I also noticed Maria shifting a bit, likely uncomfortable from that last remark. What kind of history do they have? Maybe she didn’t want to be on Shade’s side.

    After long seconds, Harrow glared at Shade. “What happens if I don’t join your plans? How about you go screw yourself,” she boldly replied. Shade let out a forced laugh. As the laugh gained momentum, some others began to chuckle a bit too. He suddenly whipped around and kicked Harrow’s jaw with a forceful kick. Everyone’s laugh stopped abruptly. Kathrine, Scout and I now had our weapons trained on Shade. There was no way he would kill Harrow without receiving a few bullets first.

    Harrow’s body lay still on the ground with her hair covering her face; no one dared to move except for Shade.  After releasing tension in his body, he slowly massaged his forehead. He then knelt down next to Harrow and pulled a pistol from his pocket, proceeding to nudge Harrow’s head with the muzzle. She stirred, and Shade pulled back her hair. Blood was running out of her mouth and nose, staining  her gentle face. “Listen…” Shade began. “I may have not made this clear before, but my deals are not negotiable.  You can make a deal, or you can die. Its pretty simple; at least to me.  Now, do we have a deal?” On the ground, further soaking the ground with her blood, she did the unthinkable. 

    She shook her head and closed her eyes. 

    “Well, this is unfortunate.” Shade said, now standing. “I gotta say, I thought you would see reason, but I suppose I don’t have any other-“ Suddenly, the car lights extinguished with a burst of sparks. Besides the stars, there was no light, and all of the guards simultaneously became erratic. "Plic!" A small noise was heard, and one of the heavy guards dropped to the ground instantly. "Plic Plic." Two Russians a second later. “Heeee-aaack! Get ooaaACK” Shade’s voice rang out as he was being choked and his guards took action. One ran to Shade while the others took cover and opened fire on the Russians. Without cover, several of the Russian henchmen dropped.

    Kathrine was preparing to fire, but I shook my head. If they killed each other off, it made us much safer. Looking back to the fight, Maria had ducked and started dragging Harrow towards a Russian car for cover. Someone was choking Shade, but it was too dark to see.

    Too dark. Dark. Ivan.

    The lights started to flicker on again, and Shade suddenly threw Ivan over his shoulders and into the middle of the light. The fighting stopped at the sudden realization of what had happened. With a crazed look, Shade spotted Maria and Harrow. Maria stood to block him, but he shoved her to the ground. “You!” Harrow sent a trembling, yet damaging punch into Shade’s side. A loud grunt of pain burst from his mouth as he kicked Harrow in the knee and threw her to the ground once more. “Deal’s off!” He drew, pointed, and cocked his pistol. “Say goodbye!” We raised our rifles, but his gun fired.

    A black blur whipped in front of Shade. The gun was sent flying, and Ivan landed several quick punches into Shade’s chest as the gunshot rang across the forest. The guards fired at Ivan, but he leaped over Shade and pulled him away from the bullets. Shade launched his heel into Ivan and followed with a left elbow into his gut. Countering, Ivan used the momentum of Shade’s arm to take him to the ground. He pulled his pistol and fired the rest of his clip at the guards. “Quick! The guards!” I shouted, releasing us from our stealth. Our bullets ripped apart the SUV, taking down at least two guards.  Shade forced Ivan off and punched at his face several times. Ivan tried to counter the punches, but each punch came too fast. Maria ran over and lifted her foot into Shade’s abdomen, as he was about to throw another punch. Ivan grab Shade’s slower fist and proceeded to crush it with pure force. His cry of pain was almost louder than the bones snapping into pieces. Maria pulled out her own pistol and crouched, and turned towards the guards. She began firing at the SUV to suppress the enemy. She glanced up at us. 

    “Scout! Go and-“ Scout, instinctively seeing the opportunity, had already slid down the hill to get to the SUV. She rolled on the ground and ran to the open trunk of the second vehicle. Turning the corner, she hit the first guard with the stock of her weapon, and shot the remaining guards. Kathrine monitored the Russians, who had run down the road in the confusion to escape the fray.  After seeing the last Russian drop his gun and run into the darkness, I watched Ivan slam Shade’s head into the hood of the first SUV. Ivan released his hold as his body slumped to the ground with a groan.

    After a moment, he turned his stare to us, and tipped his hat. 
He carefully walked over to Harrow’s body lying peacefully in the soggy grass. I ran to meet him, possibly to pay my respects.

    When at the bottom of the hill, I dropped my gun and sprinted to Harrow and Ivan. I gave the two some space, as Harrow seemed to be in bad shape, if not already dead. Ivan, calm and collected, had taken a knee to examine Harrow. He knelt in silence, silently observing her on the ground. With a gloved touch, he pulled the handkerchief form his front pocket and gently wiped away the blood from her mouth and upper lip, and then placed two fingers on her neck for pulse. He leaned over and whispered into her ear, and then he pulled back. Seconds ticked away slowly, but Harrow’s eyes eventually cracked open. Tension in my body eased out of my system; she was alive, somehow. Ivan scooped her up and turned towards us, losing balance on his right leg for a split second. His pants had a small tear, and the tear appeared soaked with a liquid. 

    “Ivan, did you get shot?” 

    “It is just a scratch.”

    “Ivan, you’re shot!” 

    “Jon, just call some police to grab Shade and get a car for us... please.” His voice stated calmly.

    “Uh… Right.” Some things never change.

    Ivan carried Harrow into the emergency room with a lightly bandaged leg. He refused to put Harrow down until he could personally place her into a gurney. Before slipping into the endless white walls of the hospital, she pulled Ivan down whispered into his hear again. Ivan lifted his head, adjusted his hat, turned, and limped to us as the emergency room staff carried her through the doors. Scout began wrapping his leg with sturdier gauze. He politely protested the procedure, but he did not force her to stop. When she was done, I held my hand out to him. 

    “Case closed. We found the killer and busted up Shade. Police should have him nabbed up by now. Good work out there.” He reached and shook my hand.

    “Thanks are unnecessary. We almost lost Sionne. Losing any of the DDS detectives would be detrimental to our cause.” I wanted to debate with him, but he had a point. We had all been in danger, and we came too close to losing people this time.

    “If I may…” Maria spoke up for us. We all turned to listen to her. “Shade is a worthy opponent.  Getting everyone out alive was very unusual, especially considering what happened last time someone rejected his offer."

    “Yeah, and you’ve got some explaining to do with these past experiences, right?” I spoke with a bit of a bite.

    “Yes. I'll explain all my thoughts later, but in the meantime," she hesitated a few seconds, "I want to thank you for saving me.  Next time Shade threatens us-"

    “Excuse me ma’m,” Ivan interrupted. “But, Shade is in custody with the police forces we sent after him. There will not be a 'next time'.”

    Maria sighed. “This type of situation has happened before, and he has come back. You all obviously underestimate him."
Everyone looked at her, waiting for her to elaborate.
"Shade is one of those guys that always has a backup plan.  He's got connections, especially right now, who are sure to come after him.  But even if he didn't, I do not doubt that he'd figure out an escape.  He's one of those people that seems to defy all odds."

    "What else do you know about this Shade character?" I asked, or maybe demanded.  I wasn't in the most patient of moods.

    She chuckled bitterly.  "Oh, a lot..." she said lowly, "More than I'd like to know actually."  She returned to a matter-of-fact tone of voice.  "Shade isn't someone to fool around with.  You can manipulate him, but only carefully—make a mistake and it will all fall apart.  He doesn't care about anyone beside himself.  He'll play nice, so long as he's getting what he wants, and he's not afraid to kill or be cruel.  One time, I was trying to trick him into handing two important captives over to me for phony money.  Unfortunately, his current partner had some background in forgery that I was unaware of and spotted the ruse.  Shade flipped out his gun, shot the two captives, and left saying 'Nice doing business with you.'  Yet..."  She groaned like she didn't like next part.  "Yet, admittedly, he's not completely devoid of humanity.  Shed the tough guy act and you have someone different.  A poet, an adventurer.  He's never been courteous or moral or even very nice.  But he didn't use to be so... cold, or vicious.  But it doesn't even matter. Ever since he got up to his ears in debt to that drug lord, anything remotely decent in him went out the window."

    Her final sentence had temporarily silenced our judgments and fears, allowing the ringing phones and whirring air condition to quietly fill the atmosphere with small amounts of noise.
"That was a nice character sketch," Ivan said after a moment, "But what we really need is how Shade is related to the case."
"My point," she replied sharply, "Was that he's become ruthless.  Not to mention dangerous.  I'm trying to get you to see just how unprepared and un-knowledgeable your little group is.  To get you to see just how much you need me on your side."

    Her purpose finally hit me.  "You want something before you'll help us."

    She nodded.  "Immunity.  I've got a horrible legal record.  The police as well as a few government agencies would love to lock me up for life."  She turned to Kathrine.  "You can fix that.  If all of you guarantee that no police force or any form of law enforcement will get a hold of me, then I'll help you.  Then maybe I can find a new city to hide in and build a normal life."

    Despite myself, I felt a twinge of sympathy for her.  She was probably wrapped up in plenty of dirty business.  But at least she was trying to stop.

    "Well," Kathrine said, "I've got a lot of strings to pull, but I might not have that many. Particularly with the higher government agencies."

    Maria laughed, "No problem.  Shade's not the only one that can boost your position.  With your reputation, it won't be very difficult."

    The rest of us looked at each other uncertainly.  An awkward silence would have filled the space if Scout hadn't spoken up, "I say we all just wait a day or two to settle down, and then we can discuss this together."

    Kathrine, and I nodded in agreement.  Maria smiled with a slight smirk.  She handed a folded piece of paper to me.

    "What's this?" I said as I opened it up.

    "My email address.  Contact me with your decision.  Until then, I'll be nowhere."

    Maria quickly walked out the door before anyone could think to protest.  It made sense.  If we decided against her deal, she'd still be able to make her own escape.

    It seemed the team had a lot of things to discuss.