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Just after Dark February 11, 2021 Alley near the old Western Union building Blood was hot. So was his breath. As it quivered in and out of his chest, in came the frigid air… out came the anger of a devil. A thousand devils. Cerberus. Hell, Satan himself; in every tradition, in every faith, every level of purgatory and hell tangled tightly into a frayed knot that was breaking free. He was a ghost whose presence would reverberate across the globe, the building pressure finally bubbling to a volcanic tirade, one small droplet of blood from his finger splashing on the broken asphalt. Thera. Santarini. Vesuvius, the tales from his childhood, his home and corner of the world. A man that had played as a boy in what was left of dormant volcanic caves a harbinger of what would inevitably come when the world broke apart and skinned the callus from a man that had been made into something unthinkable. A man that needed to cleanse the world of the evil that created him. He finally blinked, lifting a palm to look at the red peppering his fingers that everyone always assumed was so bright. It wasn’t. Hot, sticky… leaving yellowish smears as it ran from skin and dried. The assassin was always so clean, meticulous, humane. This was just, just brutal. Hand was shaking. He’d never stayed, never longer than to whisper a gentle last rite over those that had been marked and he’d taken without question. That was a lifetime ago, a life that required of him total conformity and discretion. Now, one last cough from his target curdled stringy blood from the man’s lips, then crackled wheezing as he watched him die. It had been ragged, vicious, unrefined and effectively violent. Water magus unprepared for a magus that didn't need his power to kill. The same bloody fingers curled tightly into a fist, a signet ring so fragile against his burgeoning heat on cue threatening to cave entirely molten as he pressed it against the side of the man’s throat… leaving the brand of the Order in a scalded bubble of flesh. A conundrum for the law that would find the murdered Order magus; the third in as many weeks. Credentials were always left scattered over the magus' chest. The Order signet branded into skin above a throat so deeply cut it was almost severed to the spine. Starting with the "army", the foot soldiers, to flush the generals out of their offices and onto the streets. Out of the Long Lines and into his fire. For a moment, his soul felt at peace until the vitriolic rush of native tongue hissed forth... È la fonte della mia energia e il mio legame con tutti coloro che così toccato Noise woke his senses from the rush of justice, the ghost in the gray hoodie moving suddenly with the agility of a gymnast to kick off a dumpster and catch the bottom of a fire escape- the vertical leap almost impossible, but made with the ease of a trained killer. Up the fire escape, to disappear onto the rooftops and into the urban tangle that was New York. This was only the beginning... ((Translation/Italian- the third line of the Oath of the Order of Light; "It is the source of my power, and my bond to all those so touched."))
Inwood Park at the end of Bayview Avenue was in South New York proper and housed far too much exposure during the day for anyone worth their salt to consider if they had any iota of brain cells. Playground equipment, open areas and the like made it the most unlikely prospect for a crime. Yet, still. Here she was, investigating the unlikely - something she would not be doing pre-Nevus. Post-Nevus, it took on an entirely new meaning. Sadistic serial killers were chalked up to psychopaths before the big change. In this day and age, they were pinned on shapeshifters like herself or someone infected with one of the viruses that had appeared with the Nevus. There was no jurisdiction deferred to her this time. A new world with new rules and players. The CIA had been disbanded and absorbed into something Nora Sheeley had not been entirely on board with believing in after the Event. She knew the politics and how they shifted even before the catastrophic event. That did not mean she could embrace it. It was almost a fresh start. Bittersweet as it was with no family and few friends spread out in the devastation over the long years since things changed. Artificial lighting was already being set to provide illumination for the Medical Examiner - a new criteria evolved which held them to a broader standard in order to ascertain the definitions that led to such an atrocity. The man began to give a preliminary exam on the victim. Poking, prodding and letting the method lead to discovery of the madness which had become normalcy. Nora watched from outside the bubble with perceptive eyes roving the scene until the set themselves on important things of note. She had driven her Black Nissan GT a short distance from an apartment she rented in the Woodmere area near New York City. She had her access to nature and a balance of the cityscape at her disposal, engaging and promoting the balance she so coveted. It was both a blessing and a curse being a freelance consultant to investigations. Her aptitude and skill set had Nora adapting swiftly to the new age of investigative techniques and now the local police had called her in to consult with the lead homicide detectives on the case. Already feeling the bite in the air, the elemental earth shapeshifter held to the warmth of deeply rooted substance enveloped when stone still held heat. Mind wondering briefly to the hinted nucleus beneath the layers of scientific reference to hold its heat for her own as the open black leather jacket moved with her steps and the wind beneath the onslaught of plummeting rain. It was a night not fit for man nor beast as the old saying had gone. It lost the pack of its punch after the Nevus. Tarps had been resurrected but they did little good as Nora moved within the perimeter. Her careful footsteps did not do enough to preserve the crime scene she had been hired to consult on this dark and abysmally stormy night. The victim was already pronounced dead and the Criminal Scene Investigation Unit was taking photographs of the surrounding area. Canvassing already had begun and Nora used her sensory perception to glean whatever factual evidence she could in lieu of official access to the tools that made facts v. fiction black and white. In short, what they had was a dead body killed in ritualistic fashion by what appeared to be a shapeshifter beast of the animal persuasion - a mountain lion by her guess if it were before the Event given the gashes where the vic had been mauled to death, though that could very well be something else intended to mimic it thereby pinning the crime on someone else. These were indigenous to the Catskills, but determining if this was done here or if the body was dumped was yet to be discovered. Rather than dwelling on the past, Nora became present in the moment and picking up clues which might help profile their perp before she spoke to the official lead detectives on this case. Nora was squatting down and squinting as her gloved hands picked up a small, sharp bone knife that looked as primitive as it was functional. Strange carvings were etched into the hilt which made her think she would have to tap into her resources a bit further and call in some favors to determine if or how much of the occult, magic and animalistic shapeshifting influences were prevalent enough to be genuinely pursued and how much of it was just a sloppy fabrication, perhaps, of another politically based blame game in the killing fields. No crime was cut and dried and rarely as it appeared anymore.