Saving the Broken (Peregrine x Laggy)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Peregrine, Mar 2, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. It was a little after two AM when the phone on Adam Tinsley's bedside began to vibrate, sending cascade of bright blue light onto the rumpled sheets and mop of untidy blonde hair that had slowly formed over the past three hours. It had been another late night at the office, sorting through never-ending files in the hope that he could find some sort of connection between the victims, a connection between anything, really.

    Mary Rice had been found in a little used janitor's closet in one of Philadelphia's many subway stations. She had been neatly dressed in a red gown, hung from the ceiling, and had her throat slit. The blood had gathered into a pool on the ground, and had slowly spread outwards upon the lines of a demonic pentagram that had been carved into the floor. She was the first of three victims, spread out over the course of a month. Whoever was responsible for the acts was getting bolder, leaving his, her, or their victims in incredibly conspicuous places.

    Adam was one of the few people in the department who could look at the crime scene and see more than violent murder. It was a creative piece of art, at least in the killer or killers' eyes. It was one thing to draw a pentagram on the floor in red paint. It was another thing all together to have the victim's blood do the painting, almost on it's own volition. Not only did it take a meticulous eye for detail, it took time. Concrete was not an easy thing to carve. Tile even less so.

    The buzzing of his phone was starting to get annoying, enough so that it prompted him to roll over and scoop up the vibrating piece of technology. "Tinsley," he muttered blearily. "And are you sure this couldn't wait another three hours?"

    "Quite sure, boss." How was it that Tarren could always coming across sounding so remarkably awake. What was the man even doing awake at this time of night? It seemed like a prudent enough question to bother asking, so Adam relayed it back to his phone. "What are you doing, Tarren?"

    "You remember that residue we found on all the corpses? Well, I've finally managed to figure out what it is."

    "And?" Adam pressed, not one for melodrama, and especially not one for melodrama when it was two in the morning.

    "Well, it's shit,"

    "Excuse me?"

    "Literally, feces. Also bits of food, some urine, lots of soap-"

    "What are you getting at Tarren?" Adam asked, finally irritated enough to bother interrupting.

    "Sewer water, man. It's sewer water."

    Suddenly Adam was feeling wide awake. He sat up, hurriedly slipping his feet into a pair of shoes by the bed and hustling over to the closet. "You are sure."

    "Hundred percent, boss. Well, maybe ninety-nine point nine, nine, nine -"

    "Have you called Ben yet?" Adam asked, interrupting again.

    "Nine, nine percent," Tarren finished, "Ben's next on the list. You want me to wake anyone else up?"

    "No," Adam replied with the beginnings of a laugh. "He should do."

    Sewers. It was so remarkably obvious that it was no wonder they had overlooked them. There was a reason no one thought about the sewers. It was something that had been neatly erased from the consciousness of society, like scraping the scum off the top of a layer of filthy water. No one who didn't have to work directly in them wanted to deal with the sewers. It made it the perfect hiding space. And with a few access maps, Adam would be willing to bet this month's salary that he would be able to find a direct connection to all the places the vic's had been left. And a junction that unified them all.

    It wasn't the end of the case, but it was more of a lead than they had gotten in a month. "I don't suppose that we have some maps of the underground sorted away in evidence?"

    "I'll check," Tarren replied. "Wouldn't want you running into any alligators, now would we?"
  2. "Do what you love, they said. Getting called at ungodly hours won't matter, they said. I swear, when I find whoever thought this was a good idea, I'm going to wring their neck like a dishcloth..."
    bleary-eyed man rose from his bed, and shuffled over to the sockets on the other side of the wall. He regretted not charging his phone earlier, for the sheer fact that he now had to drag himself all the way over to the other end of the room to pick up a call. He also counted himself lucky that his home phone hadn't been called - that one was even further away.

    Ben was at least awake enough to know that someone at least had a good reason for phoning him at such a time. It took him couple of tries, but he eventually managed to pick up and answer.
    "What happened, and why is it so important that I've got to be woken up at two in the morning for it?
    Uh huh.
    Uh huh.
    Wait, did you say what I think you said?
    That's disgusting.
    Sewers? Bugger me, did it HAVE to be sewers? Alright, tell Adam I'll be there as soon as I can. No, I'm not phoning him myself, have you ever tried driving while making a call?"

    Ben cursed himself for choosing his line of work. He did well enough, and Adam was by no means someone he would avoid, but with late nights and early mornings becoming something of regular occurrence, Ben was looking a little worse for wear. Not that it ever showed in his work, of course. He did what he could, and as it was him and Adam, there wasn't a lot that the pair couldn't get done. But now was not the time for trips down memory lane. He'd been called out to take action, and if he knew human nature, nobody wanted their precious mornings wasted - so no delays for him.

    "Right, Tarren, where am I headed?
    Understood. Won't be long."
    Ben hung up. That was it, then. A new lead into a case that, while it was pretty grim, probably wasn't the worst he'd come across or heard of. That didn't mean he didn't find it odd, though. he'd seen crazies in his time, but Ben had to admit, the blood pentagrams, carved concrete, and faecal matter all in one place made for quite an interesting - if slightly disturbing - case. Like the one with the-
    "No, brain, no distractions. Distractions bad. Just because you're tired, doesn't mean you can drift off. Come on Ben, get it together..."

    He had to wonder exactly what kind of use he was to Adam, however. They'd been partners for a while, sure, but Adam always seemed to be the one leading, while Ben just followed dutifully. Not that he minded, though. Things went quickly and accurately with two trained eyes on the scene. It was just that, to Ben, it seemed like he was just coasting along on cases dam could easily do without his help. He shrugged as he fumbled with his keys.
    "No point in complaining now, I suppose. Besides, wouldn't want to quit right now. Sewers, crazies, dead people... If I didn't know better, I'd say that Christmas'd come early."

    A light chuckle - something to lighten up the mood of the half-awake zombie of a man. He was at least coherent when he walked out of the door, so he supposed that counted for something.
  3. One would think that at two-fifteen in the morning there would be no traffic on the road. Somehow, that was not the case. Adam found himself pinned behind two abysmally slow drivers, winding their way through the side-streets. He was so tempted to pull one over because there was no doubt that one, if not both, were horribly drunk. But he was in his own car, not a patrol car, and right now wasn't the moment to be wasting time. Even though there was a very good chance that he and Ben would have to spend all night pouring over the sewer maps to find an appropriate location to begin their search, he did not want to waste any time.

    There was no doubt they were going to have to move carefully. The sewers were not a plesant place at any time of year, but the chance that the person or people who had committed these murders would be in there made the expedition even more dangerous. Send in too many officers, and they would almost undoubtedly chase away any culprit with a lick of sense. And these crimes could not have been successfully pulled off by someone stupid. But, depending on how many people were responsible for the killings, send in too few and the police would likely be finding the bodies of Detectives Adam and Ben dumped unceremoniously behind some dumpster.

    While he was lost in his thoughts he was able to tolerate the fifteen miles under the speed limit that the two idiots ahead of him were driving. But now that his mind was more firmly fixed on the tasks at hand, Evan felt himself beginning to grow impatient. At first it was almost unnoticeable, but as soon as he felt it Evan turned onto a side street. He would take a different route to work. One where he hopefully would not run into any more traffic.

    Irritation was a dangerous emotion for Adam. It made him tempted to do reckless things, reckless things he had been doing his best to avoid for the past fifteen years. He was not about to fall off the wagon now for a couple of drunks who couldn't figure out how to work their own cars anymore. Adam rolled down the window, letting the cool night air rush into the car and ruffle his hair. He took a few deep breaths, before pointedly redirecting his mind to the case.

    The precinct was never dark, not even in the middle of the night. Crime never slept, and that meant the police did not get a chance to either. Adam pulled into his parking spot and shut off his car before hurrying into the building. He waved at the guard watching the front door, who didn't even bother to slow him down. The night shift had become very familiar with Adam's face, as this was not his first nighttime excursion back to work.

    Adam and Ben's desks were situated in the far corner of the room where most of the officers had their desks. On the one hand, it was nice not to be surrounded by others, and the corner meant that Adam and Ben could work at right angles to each other. They each had their own space, but it was very easy to interact with each other. But it also meant that it was necessary to cross the entire room, and the sympathetic looks coming from the graveyard officers were more than unwelcome. He had his job, same as them. He didn't want their sleep-deprived pity.

    Adam placed his coat over the back of his char, before swiveling it around and seating himself heavily. He let out a long, slow breath, before leaning back into the chair. His eyes fluttered closed, and he knew that if he didn't start moving, he was going to fall asleep again.
  4. Maybe it was just luck, but Ben could have counted the number of motorists he'd encountered on the way to the office on one hand, and even then, they were going in the opposite direction. Then again, he was driving around at a time most people wouldn't even think of staying up until. Frankly, he was rather thankful for this. Not because he could have been stuck behind someone whose idea of safe driving was indistinguishable from giving a tortoise a chance in a race, but because he didn't believe himself quite wake enough not to fly into a Hulk-style road rage tantrum.

    The journey did, however, let Ben do some reflecting - something he'd not had much of a chance to do as of late, given the sheer amount of work that'd been dumped on him and Adam. At first, it was just the typical things - when he'd retire, what he'd do afterwards, if he'd even make it to retirement, nothing he hadn't contemplated before. But then his mind drifted towards other things. The recent murders, for example. The sort of thing that made an ordinary citizen's stomach turn, that made a rookie question uneasy, and just made him sigh and mutter "Not another one..."

    The city reminded him of the many crime-addled hell-holes fiction seemed so fixated upon. Sure, it was no Gotham, but Ben knew he'd be lying if he said that it was under control. The police were doing their jobs, that much was true. But, despite what starry-eyed idealists kept telling him when they saw him frowning into a cup of overpriced coffee, crime couldn't be stopped. Controlled, maybe. Gang leaders seemed to be able to organise and direct crime fairly well, even if it wasn't to the city's advantage. Ben chuckled, thinking about how he actually admired them a little - some could say they were doing a better job of keeping criminals in line than the law ever had.

    He briefly pondered the possibility of the police taking a less... morally sound... method to keeping crime levels low. Criminals weren't scared of them, they were scared of prison. They saw the police as just a means to an end. He wanted the people to respect authority and for criminals to fear it.
    Ben shook his head, and continued driving. He didn't have time to debate with himself. leads didn't chase themselves, and if the recent phone call was anything to go by, something had actually gone right for once. He didn't want to waste the opportunity. Not again.

    Ben shivered a little once he stepped out into the open, having parked his car in the first place that seemed convenient. He was awake enough to park, yes, but not to the extent that he was willing to faff around with anything more than the minimum amount of effort. Not when he didn't remember what he had for breakfast.
    He wasn't sure if he'd even had breakfast.

    Ben raised his hand in greeting at the guard, who mentioned that Adam had already gone in. Ben muttered something fairly slurred that sounded something along the lines of 'thank you', but didn't bother to repeat himself.

    The office wasn't much, in Ben's eyes, but it was functional, and that was all that mattered to him. Almost in testament to the simplicity of his workspace, the only thing of note in his own little area was an empty photo frame, put to one side. Everyone knew it was empty, of course. Ben just didn't have anywhere to put it at home, and figured eh'd be able to use it at work, sooner or later. He could have thrown it away, but that seemed rather pointless.

    "I'm going to tell you one thing before we start, Adam. We're getting coffee before we go anywhere. I don't care what you say, I'm not investigating anything while I'm still seeing double."
    Not the kind of greeting most people would expect, but given the time, Adam would have been a fool to expect anything but complaints from his colleague.
  5. Adam's eyes flashed open suddenly, and he flinched slightly at the sound of Ben's voice. He took a deep breath, and purposely unclenched his hands from where they had locked around the arm rests of his rolling chair.

    "We aren't going anywhere yet," Adam replied, stifling a yawn and trying his best to smile at his partner. "Except maybe to the evidence lockup. Tarren said he was going to go get us some sewer maps." He paused briefly, considering, then added, "You are up to date, right?"

    Precisely at that moment, Tarren came barreling into the room, his arms full of rolled up tubes of paper. He skirted around one chair, took one step backwards, and found himself nearly tripping over another chair. He swore quietly as one of the rolls of paper smacked him firmly in the face, further upsetting the glasses that were always one step away from straight. He paused when he saw both Adam and Ben gathered at their desks, before sighing slightly, ignoring the stares of everyone else in the room. Tarren was far too familiar with being a klutz to ever worry about what anyone thought about him.

    "How did you two manage to beat me here?" he asked, grinning sheepishly.

    As messy as evidence was, Adam was only mildly surprised that Tarren hadn't managed to get completely lost in the place. He beckoned Tarren over, before pausing, raising a hand, and pointing back the way he had come.

    "There are enough papers there that we had better move this to one of the conference rooms." he said. Turning to Ben, he added "Do you want to go brew up a pot for us? We've got a fair bit of research ahead of us.

    "Make sure the conference room is going to stay empty before you set us up in there," he hollered after Tarren a moment later.
  6. "Of course I'm up to date. Tarren called me right after he called you. But still, sewers... Why does it have to be sewers?"
    Of course, Ben could list multiple reasons why it had to be sewers. He ust really, really hated them. They gave off the kind of smell you'd only get off with liberal application of the strongest soap imaginable, and stained to a point where you'd need industrial-strength bleach to even make a dent in whatever the brown patch was on his trouser leg. The look of disdain was plain for all to see, and it wasn't there because he was tired.

    Ben, while fairly amused at the sight of Taren bumbling around with a small mountain of paper stuffed haphazardly into his grip, didn't bother to even chuckle at the situation. As far as he was concerned, this was something to be taken seriously. Not because it was a murder, though that was a part of it. It was actually just due to the sheer absurdity of it, and the fact that this was the first major led they'd gotten in a while. Not that it showed, though. Most onlookers would have thought that he'd just been asked to watch the "Paint Drying" channel.

    Ben nodded at the proposal, and stood up, groaning as he did so.
    "As bad an idea as trusting me with boiling water when I've just woken up is, I'll get right on it. Want me to grab anything while I'm there?"
    If looking over the evidence was going to take as long as he thought, Ben decided that they were going to need supplies. He didn't want to make a habit of it, but t this rate, he was going to be forced to substitute breakfast for a packet of custard creams. Either that, or he could just tough it out. He'd gone for longer without eating.
  7. Adam shook his head absentmindedly, pushing his way up out of his chair. “Coffee’ll do for now. I can get anything else I need later.” He sighed wearily, shaking his head from side to side. He was so tired of sleep, of the necessity of it, and of how he responded when he was lacking it.

    With that he wandered out of the room, ignoring the stares of the few officers in the room. This case had, naturally, been attracting a lot of attention, both inside of the office and out. And all of that attention served to apply more pressure to both Adam and Ben. After so long without any new leads, people were starting to wonder if the murderers would ever be found, and politicians were starting to question the competency of the police department. They needed a lead.

    Adam hurried to catch up with Tarren, but had to check a few different rooms until he figured out which one the younger officer had chosen to occupy.

    “Go prop the door open,” he told Tarren. “We want to make sure Ben can find it ok.” Tarren, who had already deposited his burden of papers onto the table in the middle of the room, nodded and walked over to the door, shoving the door jamb into the corner so that the door remained partially opened. Adam set about moving the chairs near the table out of the way, for ease of access. Once the maps were spread out and organized, then he would be able to sit down.

    He threw himself into the maps with a sleepily determined will. Slowly but surely he began to connect them, creating a complex and nearly unrecognizable map of the city.

    “Will you get the case files as well, Tarren?”

    “They’re over there, boss.”

    Adam glanced up at Tarren, saw that he was pointing to a corner of the table, and looked over there. Indeed, several stacks of yellow folders were piled in the corner. He reached over, hauling them towards himself, and opened a few up. Now, he would simply have to see if there was any way to connect the information in these folders to the map.

    “Is there any way to narrow down where we could be looking based on the... uhh... contents of the water?”

    “Sorry, no. It all gets mixed together.”

    Adam shrugged, and went back to his map. He hadn’t really expected it to be that easy, but it never hurt to ask.
  8. "Oh, for the love of- I swear, I'm going to have Johnson's HEAD for this."
    Given how many times it'd happened before, Ben didn't need forensics to take a look at the half-eaten packet of biscuits. He knew perfectly well who'd been at them. It wasn't exactly an office rule, but people treated it as an unspoken law - nobody touched the custard creams without first checking to see if they were Ben's. While he lamented the loss of his breakfast, though, Ben knew he needed to focus. He could send Johnson to the depths of Hell later.

    The coffee was more important.

    A few minutes later, Ben wandered into the room, with two mugs of steaming coffee led precariously in his hands. After setting them down, he looked over what had been done so far, his expression dropping with every folder he saw.
    "This day just keeps getting better and better..." he mumbled, taking a swig of the brew, seeming not to care that it was burning the inside of his mouth. Painful though it was, he welcomed the fact that it at least shocked him into waking up. Granted, there were other, less injury-inducing ways to do it, but hew as strapped for time and resources.

    Without a further word, Ben took a folder, and began looking over the autopsies of the murderer's - or, indeed, murderers' - victims. He was already fairly familiar with them, but he hadn't had a case yet that he'd failed because he didn't bother to double-check.
    "Remind me," he said, to nobody in particular, "Do we even have a vague description of our killer? Killers? Anyone? It might just be the sleep talking, but there's something about how the deaths are done that gets me. And now sewers are relevant. I'm sure it's obvious to you, but sewers are pretty good for hiding things. And people."

    Ben flipped through whatever reports he had, but he was only skim reading He was just picking out information that was relevant to his train of thought - no distractions, no nothing. While this would sometimes make him miss links, he was at least able to piece together the situation, if only partially. His finger danced down the page, his eyes flitting back and forth, with not a single sign of relent showing. There was no mistake about it - Ben was in the zone. The coffee was doing its job. But judging by his increasingly frustrated expression, anyone could see Ben wasn't getting anything useful.
  9. Adam greeted Ben's arrival with a half grin and an outstretched hand. He cupped the mug gently in his hands, careful of the hot ceramic, blowing over the top in an attempt to cool it down. He took a hasty sip, testing the liquid in his mouth before sighing and setting it aside with a half-frown. He knew that by the time he remembered it again the dark brown liquid would be lukewarm at best, if not completely cold. But nor was he willing to wait for it to cool when there was work that needed to be done.

    He was only given a few minutes to look at the map before Ben spoke again. Adam glanced up, glanced at Tarren, before sighing and starting to speak.

    "We have no clue for who or whom we are looking. The cameras didn't catch anything odd. Certainly no creepy looking men in masks carrying unconscious women. No unconscious women in general. Which means either the killers found a way to mess with the cameras in a way that we could not detect, or the women walked in under their own power. Presumably drugged or hypnotized." He paused, grabbed a folder, and quickly flipped to the relevant section. "None of the areas where the women were left had any cameras right nearby. Only those close enough to get a general impression of who might have passed through."

    Adam didn't mind reviewing the information. There were times when the little details piled up, and only when they were all spoken together did they connect. If it would help either of them, he'd give every piece of relevant information in the folders.

    "The ritualistic natures of the killings meant that we are almost certainly dealing with some sort of cultist group, although we can find no evidence that their sacrifices follow any known sacrificial patterns. All we know for sure is that their setup must take a great deal of time, and that the person or people who manage this aren't stupid. Their throats were slit with a sharp blade, so other than the death itself there was no desire to create suffering. The bodies were left in a place just public enough to be found before the scene could be ruined, but not so soon that the evidence could still be fresh. Not that there is any evidence."

    Adam sighed, flipping the folder closed, and leaned back in his chair. He closed his eyes, trying to think.

    "The sewers are most certainly relevant. It is entirely possible that they set up the scenes of their crimes months, if not years in advance, because it is almost undetectable unless someone spills something somewhat viscus. They also probably have their next several victims hidden away, although since their choices in victims follow no real pattern that makes every adult woman missing person's case in the city a potential victim.

    "What the sewers do provide is ease of access. Not all of them are passable, but someone who is familiar with the sewers would be able to navigate to many different points in the city. They probably brought the women with them to the nearest easy exit, and then changed their clothes at the scene."

    "Which is probably why the residue was only in their hair," Tarren threw in from where he was leaning against the wall. "And we have missed it so far."

    Adam nodded in agreement, eyes still closed. "By now they have probably moved base at least once, if not more. But, if we can find one of their old bases, something that they weren't certain the police would be inspecting, maybe we can find some evidence that can help us determine... whether or not we are looking for one person, or a group."
  10. Ben mumbled his understanding during sips of coffee, occasionally nodding as well. He was focussed on the case at hand, that much was true. However, he himself had made the coffee, and desperately needed something to keep him going until brunch rolled around. He made a strange face every now and again, most likely due to the bitter brew burning his tongue, but his desire for it overruled the resulting pain.

    "Nothing on camera, huh? Typical."
    Ben's tone was as bitter as the coffee itself, and his expression only served to compliment both. This was what he hated about this kind of case - those responsible never got caught on camera, and any witnesses were likely too scared to say anything, lest they themselves have their throats slashed. The killer - or, indeed, killers - had no face, no name, no form, nothing. They were simply murderous presence. Anyone could be a victim, or a culprit. It was no wonder some were too scared to come forward.

    "Hypnotism... I've herd of stranger things happening, but I wouldn't have thought it likely. Plausibility of people actually being able to hypnotise others aside, they'd need to be fairly good with their commands to get the victims to avoid cameras on their way in, while still not attracting any weird looks. And if these guys are as good as I think, they're not going to use a drug that stays in the body for too long. Perhaps there was some sort of leverage involved?"

    Ben tented his fingers, contemplating the possibility of a cult being responsible. It certainly didn't seem unlikely - all the available evidence certainly seemed to suggest it. The problem lay in that none of the evidence suggested what cult they were actually a part of - assuming they were part of one in the first place.
    "Tell me, guys," Ben said abruptly, "What's been going on, lately? What's been happening that's news-worthy? If we haven't seen their ilk before, there's a chance that something that happened in the past few months was a trigger. Or a signal. Either way, it's entirely possible they're reacting to something. I know it's obvious, but these deaths are far too well-organised to be random."

    "This... This is why I hate sewers. And the... Well... Hygienic side of it, or lack thereof. Come to think of it, though, there can only be so many places you can enter the sewer while there isn't at least a small amount of people milling around. Especially if you've got someone who blatantly isn't maintenance with you... Wait, Tarren, give me the estimated time of death for the last victim. Adam, let me see that map for a second. If I'm right, we could narrow down where they entered and exited from. Might not be by much, but it's better than nothing."

    Ben was just clutching at straws, however. He knew that the cult would do their best to remain inconspicuous - and he was just a guy with a bit of training. But he had to say something. That aside, finding their points of entry might lead them closer to their base - but he suspected this much might have been obvious.
  11. Adam nodded, pointing over to the maps that he had neatly laid out on the table. The sewers were about as complicated as any one thing could get, as every time there were new standards put in place it was far easier to just completely rebuild than replace all of the piping. There was not one single map that covered every aspect of the city sewers, and they added together into layers of public, private, and abandoned wastewater pipes. But he was unwilling to say anything to Ben. It was far better just to keep working.

    So, instead, he handed half of the folders over to Tarren and dove into the second half himself. The victims were easy to find, and he quickly reeled off their times of death, and, for good measure, the locations where they had been found. Once he finished that, he moved in closer to the maps, quickly pointing out each spot, before grabbing a couple loose paper clips from the folder and sticking them in each of the locations.

    “Tarren,” he practically mumbled, “Would you go get us some colored sticky notes?” It was easy enough to find the different entrances, but as soon as he looked away it always took him a moment to find it again. Bright colors would keep things situated.

    Tarren, very used to running seemingly peculiar or unnecessary errors for his two superiors, nodded and scuttled quickly out of the door.

    “Anything obvious,” he asked Ben a moment later. It was doubtful that such would be the case, but it was worth asking before he set about trying to systematically mark every single relevant feature on the map.
  12. Even with the pipework constantly shifting, there had to be at least one or two constants. While there was a slim chance of either providing much of a lead, it wasn't like he was going to lose anything by testing his theory anyway. Ben's gaze flitted over the map, taking in every detail, every line, everything. It didn't matter whether others would consider a part of it inconsequential - he couldn't afford to take chances. not when people's lives were on the line. His face screwed up into something that resembled the classic mix of determination and focus, with a dash of frustration thrown in for good measure.

    "Anything obvious you ask? Well, as of yet, the only obvious thing... Is that this is going to take a while. It'd probably take a while to check all this information, and even then, it only gives vague idea. We'll need to see which entrances have remained consistently open, along with which roads. If any paths opened up in the last six months, I want to know about them. If they were transporting people, it had to be inconspicuous, like I said. So they'd have to adapt it to the city's schedule. If we cross-reference the times of death with the areas of the city least active at that time, we should be able to see the most likely areas for where they entered the sewers."

    "But then again, they could just as easily have blended into the crowd. What's one person with a blank expression amongst the throngs of others? Who bothers to notice or care if she goes into the sewers with a strange man? Gah, I'm clutching at straws here."
  13. “No,” Adam said absentmindedly, smiling and nodding at Tarren as he returned with several handfuls of variously colored and sized sticky notes. “I agree with you. That is what these,” he waved the hand now containing several sets of sticky notes, “are for. We can mark out all the things you mentioned, plus a few others that might be important.” He set a stack of blue sticky notes down on the table, and began peeling a few off, marking the sewer entrances he had already noted.

    “I’m not sure how significant this will wind up being. They probably expect us to figure out they are in the sewers, and because of that we will have to be careful. But that does not mean that we can just ignore it. This is, unfortunately, the best lead we have at the moment.” Adam let out a sigh.

    “Would you rather find and mark all the sewer entrances, or go get the information you mentioned?”

    And so the two partners settled into a rhythm, with Tarren flitting in and out at various times, bringing them things they needed, and gathering information. He vanished for a little while towards midday, presumably to get some sort of food, but Adam plowed right on through the break. The now cold mug of coffee he had known he would forget about sat in one corner, occasionally getting refilled with a new, warm, energizing liquid, but most of the time was ignored.

    The pattern wasn’t obvious, but it was there. And the more information they gathered, the more apparent it became. There was a bubble of influence, in the sewers beneath a heavily populated residential neighborhood. It would be loud, messy, stinky, had a large range of access, and was completely deserted. Exactly what anyone looking to travel the city inconspicuously would look for.

    Adam shook his head, not trusting himself to smile. A part of him feared how easy it was to put the clues together. If these people were as clever and pre-planned as they seemed to be, anything that only took a mornings work couldn’t be valid. Could it?

    He turned to Ben, frowning slightly. “What do you think?”
  14. Ben shrugged tiredly at what Adam had to say. It seemed that he didn't have the drive to do much else in reaction.
    "You can mark the sewers. You know how well I can read maps. How they trusted me with this, knowing I can't read a map to save my life, I'll never know..."
    Ben trailed off as he began sifting through files, scribbling notes down every minute or so. Though tired, he seemed to be working quite efficiently. That was not to say his handwriting was any more legible, however. If anything, he managed to give doctors a run for their money in the 'illegible characters' style of writing.

    Ben, in contrast to his partner, knocked back coffee like it was water, once it had cooled enough. While he did not usually have his coffee lukewarm, more important things required his attention. His brew was keeping him awake, this much was true. But he managed to get to the point where he could just act on willpower alone, ploughing through his work at a commendable pace while somehow not taking a quick nap. He did occasionally look to Adam, observing his progress, but when it came down to it, he was more absorbed in his own work.

    "What do I think, huh?"
    Ben rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, and leant back in the chair. "Its either a red herring or a trap. These cultists have managed to kill all these women, all over the place, and we catch them using something they've had to address themselves? I'm smelling something fishy, and it's not the sewers."
    Ben then placed his hands on the table, and looked to Adam with his frustration clear in his eyes.
    "But damn me if I've got any bright ideas. Waltzing right into their trap, stupid as it sounds, might lead us to who we need. Serial murders like this... And you just know something's going to go wrong eventually."
  15. Adam scratched vigorously at the side of his head, somehow hoping abstractly that it might bring the thoughts in his head to the forefront of his mind. He was getting irritated again, and he had to force himself to lean back, taking deep breaths. For a moment he closed his eyes and ignored his partner, but this wouldn't be that uncommon to Ben. Adam had never, in all his years at the police force, displayed a temper, but it was just as obvious that he had one. No one knew why he kept it so closely under reign, but he did.

    When he had pressed all of the frustration to the back of his mind again, Adam sat up again, devoting all of his attention to Ben. There was another moment of silence as he tried to figure out what to say, before he let out a quiet puff of a swear.

    "I don't know either," he replied, biting the corner of his mouth. "I can't imagine that they would be this incautious, but what can we do? We have no other leads." How could they do this with the least amount of risk? If it was a trap, waltzing into it alone could get them killed. But bringing other people might simply put more at risk. "Would they want to kill us? They are making a show of it. If they didn't want people to see what they were doing, they wouldn't leave it in such a public place. He stared at the map, trying to memorize it, trying to see the pattern that he knew he was still missing. But he just couldn't see the missing clue. And by the time he did see it, it would be too late to change anything.

    He and Ben were thinking the same way. It was far, far from ideal, but there was nothing else to be done. They were both grasping at straws, trying to get a lead that would get them even a single step closer.

    "Do we tell the chief? Let him make the final decision? Or do we just go?"
  16. Ben's eyes scanned every inch of the map. He moved in closer to verify details. he cross-referenced, he double checked, he thought up diagrams, eh triple-checked - and nothing. Nothing at all. He was almost beside himself with rage, at how he'd managed to get the closest thing they had to a breakthrough in weeks, and where it had lead them. Ben knew he didn't really have many reasons to live, but that didn't mean he wanted to die. Especially not to the murderers he was pursuing - the last thing he needed was both irony and a serial killer to blame for his death.

    "But what would they get from showing off to us? We're two guys who're just looking into things. If it's a message telling us to keep our noses out, they've left it a bit late. If they wanted to get to someone with power, they wouldn't need to go through us. Argh, what could they possibly gain from luring us into this?"
    Ben's grip on the mug handle tightened, his knuckles turning whiter than the mug itself. His eyes seemed to bore into the map, but predictably, he turned up nothing that hadn't been found before. He'd always had trouble with murders, but never this much trouble.

    Ben let his head sink into his hands, and he let out the kind of sigh only the most exhausted of men could make. He was truly at his wit's end - this cult was running ragged, and that was only counting that morning alone. He downed another lot of coffee, before shaking his head, and looking to Adam with an expression that was equal parts confused, tired, and just plain frustrated.
    "Honestly," he said, his voice resigned and his eyes looking at the desk, "I think we should just go. Let's face it, by the time the chief's gotten all the paperwork done, and by the time it actually goes through, we won't even have this to go on. Just make sure it doesn't look like this is all my fault - I'm not taking the fall for someone again. Not after what happened in Hong Kong."
  17. “I’m not sure it has anything to do with us, us.” Adam replied quietly. “I doubt they do get anything from showing off to Adam and Ben, but they might get something from tweaking the nose of the police in general. They probably want everyone to know how clever they are, and what a failure the police are. They’ve already gotten some panic at the murders, but that is starting to fade. What better way to get things stirred up again by giving the reporters a chance to have a field day. Big headlines, “Police found no alligators in the sewers.” It would make us... or rather, the police, the authority figures, look pathetic.” Adam grimaced slightly, turning his back on the map and running a hand through his hair.

    “Which is one good reason to just... just go. Then it isn’t a big deal, and if nothing comes of it that isn’t a big deal either. If something does come of it... well, maybe we can use the quiet to get a jump on them.

    “I hate speculation. It is so meaningless,” he complained, before biting the inside of his lip in annoyance.

    “Let’s go,” he finally said, walking over to the door and holding it open for Ben. “Maybe we will figure something out on the drive over. More maybes...” Adam sighed again, but at least this time a small smile touched the corner of his mouth. “Either way, we'll know once we get there. Lets just hope we aren’t making a mistake.”

    Tarren might come looking for them later, but he wouldn't be too surprised to find them gone. They had, after all, not yet paused for lunch, and everyone in the station knew they deserved a break. that didn't mean there was any time to take a break, but they still deserved it. No one would ask where they had gone, so long as they got back soon.

    "Should I drive?"
  18. Ben couldn't deny what Adam was telling him. It wasn't clear whether he couldn't debate what had been said, or if he was just too tired to. In the end, it was irrelevant - they both still needed to follow up on the lead they had. That it was so vague, and the possibility for danger was likely astronomical, didn't matter. Going would mean facing danger, this was true. But staying behind? Staying behind meant giving up on a lead. Staying behind meant that they wouldn't get anywhere at all. His sense of duty prevailed over his want to preserve his won life, and he stood up.

    "Come on, then. Let's go."
    Ben stretched himself a little, needing to get the tension and tiredness out of his body. He took notebook from his desk before leaving, and trudged over to Adam. Looking closely at his face would reveal that the coffee wasn't really working - and not just at that point in time. The man looked tired, worn out, and worn down. Like he didn't have any fight or fuel left in him. But, despite how he looked, and how he walked, his actions spoke differently. He could complain all he wanted, but when it came down to it, someone had to do his work.

    Ben pondered the question for a moment.
    "You should probably drive. I think the caffeine's starting to wear off, and I don't feel like dying before before we get there."
    Ben chuckled, but his chuckle faded fairly quickly, into an exasperated sigh. This kind of case was never pleasant, but this particular one was practically sapping the life out of him. Never before had he regretted being sober so much.
  19. The two policeman made a dismal pair as they wandered their way out of the police station and towards Adam's vehicle. Both were obviously careworn, both desperately trying to cope with the lack of sleep that came from a month of late nights and early mornings. The lack of results seemed to have sapped their strength, their confidence, perhaps even their very will to live. They had worked on the maps for long enough that the police station was already abuzz with the daily activity, but everyone gave the two of them a wide berth. There was sympathy, and more than a little bit of pity. Adam did his best to ignore it. All of them were simply glad that they weren't in their position.

    Adam had briefly considered taking one of the station cars, but had quickly rejected the idea as unrealistic. The lack of authority in his car would only be beneficial, as far as he was concerned. They had both agreed to just go, to not ask for permission or get proper authority. It was as if they were just leaving for lunch. And the two of them would certainly not take a police car to lunch.

    Adam unlocked the door, slid comfortably into the seat, before reaching across the car to flip back the lock on the passenger door. He buckled in his seat belt while waiting for Ben to get in, and got the car started. It took a couple of turns for the car to crank to life, but then its throaty vibration filled the car. Unaware of his action, Adam rubbed the steering wheel fondly with two fingers. The car had served her very well for the past fifteen years, and he had kept it in very good shape.

    And then they were rolling out of the parking lot and merging into traffic. The entrance that Adam and Ben had chosen to go take a look at was quite a ways away from the police station, and they easily had a twenty minute drive to get there if traffic was good. Adam cast a sidelong glance at his partner, sitting in the passenger seat. They had been partners for a little over a year now, yet they had never been much closer than colleagues. They trusted each other, certainly, but were they friends? It had been so long since Adam had known someone that he called friend, he was no longer quite sure.
  20. Ben wasn't particularly fond of the sympathy and/or pity that he and dam were getting. While he managed to keep himself from scowling, he was by no means pleased. He was a grown man and a professional, he didn't need people looking at him like he was a child that'd scraped his knee.

    Slowly, he trudged on, dragging himself long just behind Adam. It wasn't as if he wanted to lag behind, but he was doing everything he could not to use up energy he so desperately needed. He briefly considered pulling out the chocolate bar in his pocket, but remembered that he was supposed to be cutting down on the snacks that month.

    He looked over a squad car, and seemed to e staring it down, given how he was looking at the headlights. However, he was still coherent enough to know not to take it. Official reasons aside, he wanted to pass by at least relatively inconspicuously. Obviously, this wouldn't matter to the cult - or whoever was behind the murders. All that would matter to them would be getting two cops under their belts. Ben wasn't going to let that happen. Someone was going to have to take all the pent-up rage he'd accumulated over the course of the case, and it wasn't going to be Adam.

    Ben practically collapsed into the passenger seat, and it took all he had not to fall asleep. He knew he wanted to, but the case needed him more. He kept himself awake, repeating to himself that he'd been through worse with less sleep, as if that was supposed to be some sort of achievement or comfort. His head hung for a little while, but he managed to get himself together, and actually pay attention to what was going on. He wasn't paying much attention, but he did it nonetheless, and was slowly improving. Lacking anything better to do, h looked over to his partner, still slightly hazy.

    To him, Adam seemed more like someone you'd drink with in private, as opposed to getting the boys together and having a few pints. He liked the guy, to be sure. He wouldn't call him a friend, but he was a valued colleague that he'd grown to trust. It was just that he seemed more like the kind of guy who'd focus on his work and leave little time for his family. He dispelled the thought, remembering how he was hardly any better.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.