Raeden (Rae) Seiko

Not all is what it seems......

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March 15, 2020 - 4pm

 

The Battery Maritime Building was not exactly in her district but not all districts had detectives of her caliber so she was often called in for the extreme and unusual cases.  The old ferry station was supposed to have been abandoned since even before the Nevus; but there was clear evidence it had been in use for a number of months at the very least.

 

Feet stepped over broken glass and charred metal as she picked her way past the milling Blues who had been first on the scene to the gaping hole in the side of the structure. The explosion had blown out windows as far north as the National Archives on State Street, sending people in a stampede of panic away from the ferry docks.  The moment she entered a scent had overwhelmed her senses, a delicate odor among the stronger chemicals, likely missed by the others.

 

Zombies….

 

The questioning mutter was half under her breath as she began to focus on the crime scene but nearby someone had taken notice,  a phone had flicked open and the man trotted out to make a call.

 

Time slipped away from her. Crouched among the warped twists of anguished metal, her head tilted as optics zoomed in on fragments she had been slowly tagging with small plastic evidence numbers. The world around her was going silent as she began to zoom deeper into the charred remnants of the Battery's interior. She ignored the speculative theories that were rumbling through the lower districts police core. The evidence did not speak of drug gangs accidently blowing themselves up while making heroin. It was a weak theory at best.

 

No. She had smelled instantly there were no drugs in the air, at least not the kind the cops here were muttering about. She smelled chemicals for a carefully crafted explosive. The destruction of the Battery was no accident. Someone was hiding what was happening here and from what she had pieced together thus far, what was going on was something far more sinister than some drug trafficking.  Head tilted slightly as she zoomed further, now inspecting the other side of the Battery from over eighty feet away, the remnants of charred paper holding fragments of scribbled writing. Journals of some kind. She would need to be sure those got collected.

 

Standing her optic zoom was released, the world suddenly coming into tune once more as the scattered snarky remarks around her heralded company. Glancing to Lance a brow lifted over the amber eyes.

 

ARMA?...

 

He nodded, the scowl expressing exactly how he felt about seeing the marked vehicles.  Blues tended to have a love/hate relationship with the ARMA sect.  Their manpower came in handy at times, the events of the Blood Moon had been a great example of that. But they also were not trusted much further than the Order of Light sect they had mutinied from.

 

Wonder who tipped them off…

 

Lance just shrugged, grunt of disapproval as he went back to writing down the numbers and items she had already tagged on the scene. They had jurisdiction here. ARMA needed to take a backseat.

 

27battery.600.jpg

 

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Over a year later, and he still hadn’t permanently snapped and gone feral. Not that he didn’t come within an inch of doing so on many occasions, and not that he didn’t sincerely want to snap the necks of half the people he interacted with these days… but since the Blood Moon he had always been kept so busy he didn’t exactly have time to sit and think too hard about it anymore. The city was in absolute shambles for months, reflecting the pain and brokenness that Gavin himself experienced in a twisted form of comfort at his worst.

 

The difference, however, was the city could be rebuilt and he couldn’t.  He was never fixed, and never went back to what he was before. The best he could do is do a field stitch of what he could and hope it held for long enough for him to either heal or die. So far, much to his chagrin, death has not taken him just yet. The reaper had been given some really great opportunities, too, it was just that each time he had a headache or wasn’t feeling well or something.

 

On this particular day, the soldier was responding to a call on the radio asking for him and his men to head to the Battery Maritime Building in support of the police and Knight Division. The Knights were understaffed before the Blood Moon, and never really recovered fully in Gavin’s opinion from the event. Shield was not hit nearly as hard due to being outside the city for the vast majority of it and some too far to even assist at the latter stages, but the Knights were right there in the fighting and so were the police. So was Gavin himself, but that was another story.

 

His once acute dislike of police has dulled over the years, specifically spurred by that Blood Moon event that made him appreciate them to the point of neutrality instead of open dislike and contempt. Now, he sure as hell wouldn’t go out of his way to hang out with cops or anything, but at least he had gotten past the point of intentionally being difficult to them just because they were police officers and he saw them as an inferior and more blustery imitation of the military. While that all might be true, they were doing the best with what they had and it wasn’t like there was a military anymore to join.

 

Also, the killings got to be really bad at times for the police in this city. For months and months the violence level was just absolutely absurd and so in turn was the police fatality rate. It had gotten better, but the tension still remained. Dispatch said something about the Ferry’s history Gavin didn’t particularly pay attention to, because it had nothing to do with location or anything useful he needed to know. He was going there to make sure the dipstick dandies in blue didn’t get themselves killed, and that was the end of it. Same thing Knight should be doing but didn’t have anybody nearby to do, and if the police ended up finding the guy who blasted the place he was probably expected to come and do the breach on his house too.

 

It was all the bad parts about being a mercenary but none of the pay associated with it. Gavin’s vehicle, an armored up Toyota Land Cruiser, was holding six men including himself who rushed to get into full kit for this call. His vehicle was the third and final vehicle to show up, and the only one to not park in Gavin’s opinion basically on the crime scene. It was one thing to disrespect the police after they have proven they can’t handle something, but it was another to be so goddamned lazy that you ran over potential evidence and then blamed them for fucking it up. Maybe it wasn’t too close, Gavin was certainly no crime scene expert, but he did see at least some debris that were definitely sat on by at least one of the vehicles at the perimeter.

 

The soldier stopped the vehicle clear of even the furthest debris and unlocked the doors for everyone to head outside. The other vehicles were smaller, so they were the only Shield unit there. Unless there were any detectives there from ARMA, quite Gavin seriously doubted because it would be an absolute waste of their time, that meant he was taking orders from a cop for the time being. If he was lucky, he might get to see a power struggle by some stupid Knight Division guy try and wrest control of an investigation. That was always fun, and even moreso when the Knight Division guy realizes a little too late that Gavin didn’t give enough of a damn to help in the least unless the police officer assaulted someone.

 

The soldiers of Shield came out of the vehicle in full gear, wearing silver thread battle dress uniform, typically of whatever military they served in, and running around with M4s in their hands and sidearms in a leg holster on their dominant side. Gavin himself had taken to wearing his old Irish Defense Forces uniform with all of his old patches including the Irish flag and Army Ranger Wing patch still attached as well, since his rank was the same anyway in ARMA. Sergeant, it had a nice ring to it and relayed the type of grit that Gavin so appreciated. The military look did wonders for morale and intimidation factor, especially among the low level criminals often encountered, and Gavin himself quite enjoyed being able to put back on his old uniform so he had encouraged the practice quite a bit among his men in particular. It was on the colder end that day, so people wore face masks or in Gavin's case a camouflage scarf used tied around his nose and below. He used to authorize and even encourage skulls to be worn in the masks, but that had since been officially discouraged inside the city because it freaked out civilians a bit too much and made them seem too 'hostile'. Each man just wore their own solid colors or combinations of colors, but in general no scary looking things were advised within the city on any of their gear. Which was absurd, because the primary purpose of having those scary things and painting one's face before going to war remained the same since antiquity -- to give the wearer of the scary mask or war paint the confidence they needed to get the job done. It was morale booster only and a goddamned tradition especially amongst the American military before the Resonance, and no enemy worth their salt would give a shit what scary images were on their opponents -- sure as shit lycanthropes and their monster ilk didn't care either. Now he's stuck wearing this damn shemagh around his neck and face, and it just wasn't the same.

 

The Shield soldiers in the group typically wore extra magazines on their duty belts or a webbing rig across their chest, and some including Gavin had taken to strapping at least one magazine to their non-dominant leg as well to have an extra bit of sidearm ammunition in case the mages showed up and fucked up their primary weapons like assholes. The city was not as safe as it used to be, regardless of what the shithead politicians said, and live fire could and would occur within city limits with more frequency than before even now. All clusterfucked together and barely surviving, and people just turned to violence to secure their own shitty place in this world. Case in point, the bomb maker here. The place was supposed to be abandoned or something, right? What the hell was even the point?

 

After closing the doors and locking the vehicle, Gavin led his other five men up to the first police officer he could get to and just barked authoritatively: ”Take us to your supervisor, if this is going to be a clusterfuck we might as well just get it over with now.”

 

He could see the Knight unit guys who came before him already way ahead of him, including the unmistakable horrible haircut of Operative Forrest, the most pretentious and cocky piece of shit in the entire organization. One of these days Gavin was actually going to rip his throat out, and a quick look around saw that he was actually the highest ranked ARMA member in the area. The rest of the Knights he never had an issue with, it was just that Forrest guy and his female partner who couldn’t control him for shit that would be the issue. He already had to punch the damned kid once in the face, and even that didn’t shut him up because it didn’t kill him. At least the cop complied with the strongly intoned request Gavin gave and was promptly leading them to whoever was in charge there so he wouldn’t be too far behind them. He wouldn’t wish that particular moron on his worst enemy, let alone someone legitimately busy trying to do their job. As the officer motioned to the people he was supposed to talk to, Gavin raised his voice a bit in a caustic tone to interrupt the Forrest kid talking and announce his presence at the same time, all the while scanning the area with intense and mildly bloodshot gray eyes. Four Knight, Six Shield, and what looked to be several dozen police officers. This was going to be a clusterfuck and a likely waste of time, and for once Gavin briefly wished he had listened to the other information about the place to see whether it was even worth staying for. A waste of time was better than the alternative, though, because if all the police died he'd be stuck doing their job next as well as Knight Division. That would be the point where Gavin handed in his papers and retired to go die in a hole somewhere, because fuck that shit.

 

"Shield Division 'ere tah provide most likely unneeded protection an' fuck up yer crime scene the usual amount. Y'all know the drill by now I'm sure."

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She didn’t hold the same depth of "dislike" for ARMA that Lance shared with many of the Blue, but she wouldn’t exactly say she was ever overjoyed to work with them either. They had a platform of "for the people",  a motto the city used to hear a lot from Greene. But lately the ARMA had not been doing the whole PR tour. Perhaps too busy for it…. or perhaps… something had changed in their motto. Either way their public schmoozing was definitely lacking these days. She watched them exit their vehicles in their flashy armor, stark contrast to the detective and her simple black slacks, light blue button up with the kevlar vest strapped tight overtop. The glock tucked in the back of her waistband over the kevlar seemed a poor junior to their artillery. But it wasn’t the size of the gun… but how one used it. She wasn’t intimidated.

 

As what appeared to be the head of the Knight division approached her she was struck by his immediate askance for the Zombie evidence. How the hell did he know about…..amber eyes narrowed slightly as a tour of the Blues in this district was taken. This district had an ARMA snitch in it. She knew she had breathed the reference out loud but had never expected someone to turn around and call the Order offshoot.

 

Interesting. She would have a talk with their chief when she was done here.

 

They were after one thing, answers to the "zombie" association, which explained the complete disregard for the extended crime scene as they parked their rides on top of part of the blow out of the Maritime. Damn amateurs.  Fortunately for them she had already inspected the area, but that didn’t mean they would be saved from the short end of her barracuda nature, even Lance took a step back to stay out of the line of fire as she turned to face the arrogant dick. Nothing about her stance spoke of diminutive, for her petite stature she could be a massive presence.  

 

Hotshot, destroy another piece of evidence on my crime scene and I will have you arrested for obstruction of a criminal investigation.

 

It wasn’t an idle threat either.  She was known in some of the upper circles of ARMA for an altercation that ended in two Knights being arrested and ARMA having to make a public apology for the idiots complete disregard of protocol. And not just ARMA, she had locked up an Order rep once for attempting to remove evidence from her crime scene.

 

More was on her lips but sensitive ears had been listening to the second wave of ARMA that were coming, demanding to meet the "supervisor", the Blue quickly pointing her out to avoid direct confrontation with the band of "brothers". Coward.

 

The self appointed mouth piece was blustering at her "threat" when what appeared to be the head of the joining party let himself be heard over the stammering bluster in front of her.

 

"Shield Division 'ere tah provide most likely unneeded protection an' fuck up yer crime scene the usual amount. Y'all know the drill by now I'm sure."

 

This was just getting better and better. The chilled gaze slid away from spikeytop to the newcomer trying to read if he was being a pissant to her Blues or mocking his own.  Oddly enough, he seemed to be telling off Mr Spikeytop who hadn't even bothered to introduce himself yet.

 

Ya. I know the drill and by now ARMA should know stepping on my toes leads to public back-peddling.

 

Spikeytop was about to open his mouth and likely tell her off when she politely made the first introduction.

 

Detective Seiko. Special crimes and homicide.

 

She watched his lips clamp shut. Clearly her name was shared within ARMA. Good.

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Zombie evidence, huh? Gavin moved slightly to intentionally bump into the taller man to his left as a way to get close enough to not be overheard when he heard that little note.

 

”Was that in the dispatch?” he whispered after pulling up his shemagh to cover his mouth momentarily and when the man shook his head no there was a slight tinge of anger that spread throughout the soldier’s body. Not super intensely, at least for him, because he recognized that he had dug his own metaphorical hole in instances like this. An owner does not tell a dog why to attack, only who and when to attack.

 

As he approached the woman in charge and Forrest, Gavin’s demeanor and body language was very relaxed. His bare right hand was lazily holding the grip of his carbine, pointed down and to the side and most of the weight being held up by the three-point sling across his chest. As he got close enough to stand beside Operative Forrest, the man could not suppress a grin at how uncomfortable the kid looked at the female officer just making him feel like the piss-ant scum that he was.

 

The woman tried to posture herself, and she did it very well at least physically. She didn’t have the sort of legendary command presence he had seen before, but her body language and stance told him everything he needed to know about her. A veteran of the force, likely combat experienced who had been there long enough to get over the petty bullshit and just project the type of aggressive confidence Gavin appreciated. The man didn’t speak until he was side by side with the others, and by then the woman had introduced herself. Seiko, he remembered that name, and so did Forrest by the look on his face.

 

”It seems yer reputation precedes yah, Detective Psycho.” Gavin started, keeping a completely straight face when the Knight Division in earshot gave him a look like he was an absolute madman for saying that to her face. In the past, he would have done that just to break the ice and get rid of some of the tension. Truth be told at this point he had just made a mistake and didn’t care enough to correct it or acknowledge it. It was a wondrous thing how easy it was to not visually and bodily react to an error when you just could not care what happened to you.

 

”Te guy tah my right wit’ glue in his hair is Operative Forrest.” he continued, voice completely controlled and formal nearly to the point of parody like he was giving the side effects warnings to an experimental medicine in a commercial. His… unique mishmash of an accent was still present but subdued due to the effort he was taking in controlling his voice. His steel gray eyes remained locked with the Detective’s and his stance, while much less authoritative exuded just as much confidence and much more arrogance. The slight backward lean and putting his wait on his back foot as well as the complete lack of a formal handshake or any sort of visual indicator of a greeting for either Forrest or Seiko was probably also noted. ”Ahm Sergeant DeLuc, and while the zombie stuff is ahm sure very interesting, ehm, unless it has the potential to be an active threat in the near future ah dun tink it’s particularly relevant to our purposes at the present – especially because you’re going to send us a report on it if anything could present a threat to the city I’m sure.”

 

His gaze shifted to Forrest, then, as he continued without missing a beat: ”If tere are no inside threats, Ah’ll go ahead and set my team to make a secondary perimeter facing outwards while Forrest does… the Knight thing I guess. If tere are threats inside the perimeter, first I’d question te positioning of yer men and second I’d need whar and what.” The look of complete anger and hatred on the kid’s face at the insult and Gavin waltzing in to take the spotlight from him was so satisfying. The kid knew it was impossible for him to win a verbal confrontation in this moment due to the rank difference, and he couldn't win a physical confrontation because they were surrounded by police. It was so wonderful to watch him just impotently seethe in the corner. The soldier turned his gaze back on the policewoman, though, and awaited instruction. He didn’t come here to start a fight, not this time, so he was more than happy to play by the rules as long as he got the amusement of getting under Forrest’s skin the entire encounter.

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She had yet to so much as stiffen a muscle as cool eyes appraised the Knight with a veiled challenge, daring him to push her buttons. The faint twitch at the corner of his eyes told her she could eat him alive. He was all bark and no bite.

 

”It seems yer reputation precedes yah, Detective Psycho.”

 

Lance made an aggressive step towards the man that was halted by a simple clearing of her throat. Amber eyes were on him only as long as needed. It wasn’t the first time her name had been twisted that way, though usually it was done with far more venom. Either it was a true mispronunciation or it was to knock the Knight off his proverbial horse. She didn’t miss Forrest glaring at the Shield rep as though he was insane.

 

”Te guy tah my right wit’ glue in his hair is Operative Forrest.”

 

He was knocking the Knight. Interesting. Seemed there was a distinct lack of respect between them. The second one was a war dog, that much was very evident in the cool demeanor, focus of his gaze, backward tempered stance and bristle at the nitwit in front of her who still seemed to think he was going to take charge. DeLuc. She made a mental note of the name even as she appeared completely disinterested. They were interrupting her analysis of the site

 

"…… especially because you’re going to send us a report on it if anything could present a threat to the city I’m sure."

 

…I'm sure.

 

Words slid with complete indifference from her lips, impossible to tell if she was telling them to piss off or agreeing to the task.

 

"If tere are no inside threats, Ah’ll go ahead and set my team to make a secondary perimeter facing outwards while Forrest does… the Knight thing I guess. If tere are threats inside the perimeter, first I’d question te positioning of yer men and second I’d need whar and what."

 

Cool gaze fixed on DeLuc more completely for the first time. He was abrasive but level headed for a war dog. A quality she could appreciate in a "soldier". The chilled amber flicked a last time at Forrest, she could almost see the cartoon steam curling out of his ears as he seethed. Pupils narrowed as she dismissed the man completely by addressing the soldier.

 

No inside threat. Pull back to a second perimeter outside the debris zone and ensure we don’t have scavengers.

 

Turning back to Lance she tossed over her shoulder.

 

And take tweedle dee and his troupe with you and off my crime scene.

 

Lance had handed her the notepad to review. She had pushed Forrest's buttons on purpose. That sort of pompous arrogance was dangerous. It made people sloppy and unaware of real dangers. It also led to teams that were loyal to a rank only and not the person themselves.

 

His reaction only proved it, as the camel's back had been broken. The large hand had snatched her upper arm with a grip that would leave a bruise as the spikeytop idiot sputtered at her. The detective didn’t even flinch as the eyes lifted slowly to Lance who actually took a step backwards to give her space. She had laid cops out for far less. Lips breathed with an ice that could run blood cold.

 

Sergeant Haney, please escort Operative Forrest to one of our black and white "taxis" and take the time to read him his rights before you fill out the paperwork for obstruction of a criminal investigation, destruction of evidence and assaulting an officer.

 

The slow grin that slipped over Lance's lips was devilishly amused. This wasn’t the first time he had witnessed the power struggle between her and ARMA. There was always a definitive winner.

 

Like hell….

 

Forrest didn’t get the words out, her right hand came up and grabbed his hand on her arm, the thumb pressing into pressure point and instantly the grip went weak as she turned slowly, hand twisting his as she did, driving him back and off balance as he tried to avoid the pain. Guns had come out from his little landing party, triggering guns to come out of blue holsters. From here it could go bad quickly, but the detective remained expressionless and indifferent as she faced the Operative.

 

I will remind you that you are in my district, you have no jurisdiction here and you are not above the law.

 

Chin lifted ever so slightly and the blues holstered their weapons. While she was happy to tear the guy a new one, she also knew that politics of power said she needed to play nice with ARMA. She would love to get the arrogant little prick in the boxing ring and teach him how much he didn’t know. As it was…….

 

Hand released his, gasp from his lips as he yanked it back into his own space. Hands on her hips she waited for him to say something stupid, fortunately for him he seemed to have grown enough sense to keep quiet.

 

Hard or easy… I can deal with you either way.

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One of the male police officers damn near lunged at him for dare calling his boss a name. Neither Gavin nor his men reacted visibly, because with any interaction with the police and ARMA the blame always fell upon the side that went to shit first if things went south. Justifiably so, because they were at least in theory supposed to be allies and working toward common cause. In the past, it was more true, but while there were wonderful and competent members of both ARMA and the police forces left… the still far too recent casualties from violent events have left their toll and lowered the quality overall of both organizations by a noticeable amount.

 

Still, there was supposed to be this fundamental understanding that within city limits the police had primary responsibility for all mundane activities and ARMA was supposed to play a supporting role. The opposite was true for supernatural and magical threats, and outside the city Shield Division generally took primary command. It would take a special breed of moron to not understand that a bombing was not a supernatural threat and the police had primary command by default. Assistance was all well and good, but when push came to shove the officer in charge of the police forces could order ARMA to vacate the premises and ARMA would have to obey the order.

 

Gavin had originally suggested that the police take the outer perimeter, but Seiko amended that for Shield to be out of the debris zone and presumably to avoid fucking up their crime scene. That was fair, quite frankly, and had he been in her shoes he likely would have done the same thing.

 

”O’Connor, set up Fireteam 1 and 2 on te outside perimeter. Fire second.” he barked, not raising his voice in volume but instead in intensity. His men were moving out when the special breed of moron made his move, and while they turned back to see what the commotion was Gavin just waved them off to go do their jobs. He could handle this, and if there was any bloodshed it was easier to do the paperwork if he was the only one involved in it anyway.

 

Forrest was no longer his concern, but when the rest of the green as grass Knight Division idiots unholstered their sidearms Gavin physically moved in between them and the police forces and just lost his shit. His voice raised slightly, but only slightly, but his voice was dead calm despite the amount of barely suppressed anger being present in the voice and his face when he pulled away his shemagh so when he turned to the Knights they could see how close he was to that edge. His hands left his M4 entirely and he shoved it to rest in the sling towards his back so it was out of easy access, ensuring the cops he had his back turned to had no valid reason to shoot the man with no weapons in his hand.

 

”Can one of you fucking degenerates please explain to me why you tought it was a good idea tah point yer goddamn guns at the New York City Police Department?”

 

At that, the remaining Knight members sheepishly started lowering their firearms. Gavin had lost his shit previously with most of them, but that was screaming and yelling. This was a new kind of anger, because it not only jeopardized the life of himself and his men but the entire working relationship ARMA had with the police department that was absolutely fucking vital to anything at all getting done. There was no yelling and screaming now, just the most aggressive calmness that was possible for him to output.

 

”Now, since all of you apparently ‘ave too many fuckin’ chromosomes tah remember basic fucking jurisdiction, let’s have a brief refresher course. Mundane threats – which includes fucking everything not supernatural in nature are te primary jurisdiction of te people you were just pointin’ yer goddamned guns at. Knight Division has primary jurisdiction over supernatural threats.” he paused for a moment, and raised his left hand slightly to about his neck level like he was particularly bad at raising his hand in class. ”Now, can someone please fucking explain te last time a lycanthrope bombed a structure in the city. Anyone? How about a zombie. Any zombie bombings happen recently, or ever? Dragon bombings? Troll bombings? Anyone? No?... You’re all fucking dismissed. Get the fuck out of here and back to base, I’m going to radio HQ and let them know you’re coming and what happened. Tat’s a direct order, you braindead civilians.”

 

The only time he raised his voice in the slightest from his original tone was at the end, where he raised it significantly when he saw the hesitation in the movement and eyes of the other Knights. They ended up leaving, though, for whatever reason whether it was the yelling or the fact that Gavin had made it damn clear Shield was not backing them up in any altercation with the police.

 

With that out of the way, Gavin turned back to the fuckery that was happening behind him and walked up briefly to Seiko to say briefly: ”Ah’ll act as friendly witness an’ sign whatever papers are required t’ process Operative Fuckup down ‘ere.”

 

With that said, the soldier crouched down to get eye level with the pained Forrest and said in a low voice that Gavin thought only the other man could hear: ”It’s a good thing yer parents are dead, because tey’re spared te knowledge tat teir only son grew up to be te biggest fuckin’ failure in New York City.”

 

The younger man lunged at Gavin with the punch that ended up getting the soldier pretty solidly in the jaw, then, and got a hard headbutt to the nose in return which sent the younger man reeling. Blood was coming out from his nose, and the soldier had definitely tried to break the damn thing. The older man stood back to his whole height and made a show of dusting off his chest before turning back to the detective. ”Add assault an’ battery t’ a private citizen t’ te list. Apologies for te fuck up, I ken assure yah tat it will be taken care of, severely.”

 

With that, Gavin turned away to head out to join the rest of his men and pulled out his cell phone to make a quick call to Headquarters. He had memorized every identifying unit of the Knights that had come down before they left, so even if they tried to weasel their way out of it discipline would come down fast and hard.

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Deluc didn’t argue, he just executed as she left him with orders to get off her damn crime scene and back up their perimeter. She had been right. A war dog. A soldier. He could take an order.

 

Dumbass in front of her was another story. As the idiot drove everything south quickly, the soldier again was the voice of reason on premises. Interesting.

 

She kept Forrest in pain and off kilter as the soldier reminded his own about jurisdictions. He was partially right. Recently there had been a spat of "weird" events that the police had perhaps not bothered to tell ARMA about. She suspected ARMA had come across a few themselves that they didn’t share with the "blues" either. Too much secrecy and mistrust.

 

She had been on all the cases because the average flat-foot had no damn idea what to make of the things they were finding. Some odd 'roid rage type killings, some odd infected deaths, some meth labs that under her closer inspection were only cover ups for a different form of lab. There was an evil undercurrent beginning to percolate in the city and the time would come that they would need all hands on deck. Another reason it was important for her to "play nice" with ARMA.

 

As "soldiers" turned into sheepish children under the man's tongue lashing her own blues relaxed and went back to tagging the crime scene. The shitshow was over. Except for numb-nut still gasping in pain under her grip. She was most certainly arresting this idiot.

 

" Ah’ll act as friendly witness an’ sign whatever papers are required t’ process Operative Fuckup down ‘ere.”

 

Dark amber flicked to him offering a nod as she released the hand she seemed to barely hold and yet the much larger man had been unable to free himself from her grip. The reaction with his own soldier drew a brow up from the detective as the punch was rapidly followed by a headbutt. Talk about a dysfunctional family.

 

”Add assault an’ battery t’ a private citizen t’ te list. Apologies for te fuck up, I ken assure yah tat it will be taken care of, severely.”

 

Clearly there was no love lost here.

 

Milo….

 

The blue that turned was a brick house. He had played for Alabama State as offensive tackle before the Nevus event, 6'6" and easily 300. Forrest looked as though he just shit his pants as the blue came over.

 

"yea Seiko?"

 

Escort our "friend" to a squad car and back to precinct. Book him on impeding an investigation, destruction of evidence and assaulting an officer and a civilian. Eventually someone will come vouch for him I am sure.

 

It was a clear indication that she didn’t expect Deluc to follow at this time. She was content to leave Forrest in a cell with some jacked up street thugs for a while. Milo grabbed Forrest by the arm and half lifted him off the ground as he "walked" him to a squad car and off her scene.

 

She had lost her focus on the scene and that left her annoyed. Turning she nodded slightly to Lance who seemed amused by the entire thing, grinning and clearing his throat as he went back to scribbling in his notepad. The authoritative voice added over her shoulder as she moved back into the midst of her crime scene.

 

'ey…. Luck…. You can stay on site to represent ARMA.

 

She was offering an olive branch. She was never really looking to pick a fight with ARMA. Truth be told, the group as a hole had done a lot of good in the city. But too often they had a bad apple and that apple seemed to always be the one confronting the cops.  Offering it to him and not one of the "Knights" was strategic too. He was a war dog, a soldier. He knew hierarchy and could take an order. Meant he could represent ARMA and not get in her damn way either.

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If that shot at Gavin’s jaw was thrown with a little bit more force, by someone who could keep their temper in check enough to throw with technique his jaw would’ve likely been broken. It turned out pretty fine, sure, but it could have gone a lot worse. If one of those idiots would have actually fired off a round or if the punch would’ve actually broken the Sergeant’s jaw this entire situation would have gone to shit really quickly.

 

Sloppy is what it was, and Gavin looked back for a moment to see a mountain of a man come to haul the youngster away. The phone number of the supervisor at HQ was already dialed and ringing, but a certain paranoia was still present since he was still in the midst of what was for all intents and purposes hostile territory at this point. He was damned sure his voice was low enough to where nobody should have been able to hear what he said, but with so many altered humans walking around these days there was absolutely no way to be sure.

 

This tenseness, however well he hid it, was why he heard Detective Psycho call out that he could have the honor of representing ARMA on the scene. Gavin responded by throwing his thumb up in the air and raising the arm with his free hand and continuing to walk to the outer perimeter. He could represent ARMA away from the crime scene, because God knows his powers were completely worthless in an investigative context and he didn’t have the training not to fuck up evidence anyway. Plus, as long as nobody hostile showed up he got to just sit around and shoot the shit until the police decided it was time to go home. If he was really lucky, there might be time for some donut or pizza runs in between if it was really quiet. Those were the best goddamned shifts, the ones where he could just there and pig out on junk food and nobody could make him do a damned bit of work.

 

You want a monster or twenty dead? Call Gavin. You want a person or group of people dead? Call Gavin. You have someone so important that anyone who comes near them dies? Gavin’s your man. With any other tasks, almost anyone else at this point would be a better option unless it involved a vehicle. A far cry from his earlier versatility, sure, but work had become little more than a legal outlet to vent anger in a violent manner these past months and years. During his time in the military before, he had always felt sorry for the men who would be nothing but felons in any other job – but Gavin had slowly morphed into that very type of individual since the incident.

 

The desk jockey finally put him on the line with the supervisor, and a twisted grin spread across the soldier’s features as he went out to the perimeter with his men at a slow, casual pace. ”Hello, sir. Tis is DeLuc again, but fer once the shit that went down had nothin’ to do with me…”

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She was turning away even as he offered his thumbs up. It was an olive branch. Either he accepted it or didn’t but this way she couldn’t be accused of keeping ARMA out.

 

Focus returned to the crime scene, pupils swelling before contracting once more, the world focusing closer as she began to comb once more over the debris. Before she let go of her sense of hearing completely she heard the war dog move away from the scene. It was better this way, she could assess freely while ARMA played security guards and kept the public out.

 

Was a lab.

 

Her quiet words caught Lance a bit off guard as he stopped taking notes and looked at the debris trying to see what it was that told her so. She was never wrong so it wasn’t that he didn’t believe her, it was just he never could figure out what she gleaned that no one else seemed to.

 

npc:  What kind of lab?

 

Her head shook as she crouched in the middle of the blast zone. That she didn’t know yet. She didn’t like the fact that decayed and burned zombie flesh had caught her sensitive nose earlier.  There had been stories coming out of the west and south of Pennsylvania about experiments being conducted on the Z-virus. The sketchy details that she had come across definitely didn’t imply that the experiments were looking for  cure.

 

Just what the fuck was going on and why had it suddenly reached up into New York?

 

Vision had zoomed in several times, the world around her fading away as dark hair slid off her shoulder, head tilting to make sense of the flecks of glass that were scattered on the floor. Mind was faster than a crime lab as the fragments were memorized, then floated in the back of her conscious thought, joining together to take their original shape.

 

Test tubes. She had been right, this had definitely been a lab.

 

Again and again the mind puzzled back the charred remains into their original shapes. The more progress she made the more concerned she became.

 

It was nearly two hours before she pushed her hands on her knees and left the crouch, senses finally coming back to her as she released the magnified vision.  Lance had taken to leaning against a fragment of a wall some time ago. He was used to her going silent and studying.

 

Neck stretched as she shook her head and picked over the debris towards him.

 

They were experimenting on the Z-virus and from the fragments of research I can piece together that wasn’t burned…  looks like they were trying to make the virus stronger.

 

npc : Fuck….why would anyone do that?

 

Head shook. It made no sense.

 

Not for anything good. That’s for certain.

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”…Fuckin’ great. Why te fuck should off-worlders not ‘ave t’ register? Ah’ve ‘ad Uncle Sam take my fuckin’ pay since day one an’ Ah’ll be damned if ahm lettin’ some freeloadin’ little shitheads come an’ take te same goddamn benefits ah had to pay intuh. Fuck, havin’ unregistered people runnin’ ‘round with no prints, no birth cert, no ID is fuckin’ ‘ell to deal wit’. Now don’ get me wrong, ahm not on board wit’ the burnin’ and lootin’ and pillagin’ tat’s goin’ on, but the idea behin’ the change was solid.”

 

”Didn’t they know that putting in the law would cause violence, though? Isn’t the entire place run by warlords’n’shit now? It’s not like the police can actually do anything and the military was gutted a while ago with everyone moving across the pond.”

 

”Don’ hit me wit’ tat hippy dippy bullshit, Reed. We left ‘cause tere was no fuckin’ opportunities and tey wanted t’ do teir own damn ting. Anythin’ over tere would cause violence – I mean yah got a shitton o’ off-worlders and magic in a place where the fuckin’ Vanguard provide most of the shit! Te people who ‘left’, went to only a few groups if they were smart enough to get the fuck out of that shitshow of a military – Silver Wings, Vanguard, or makin’ a merc company. Te only people who know how t’ fuckin’ tie their goddamn shoelaces over there with any kind of power is the Vanguard now – an’ it’s too fuckin’ late fer te outcome t’ be any different. If dey wan’ a purge? Guess fuckin’ what, dude, nobody can stop them!”

 

”Aren’t OFL over there, too? I mean, the Vanguard aren’t the ONLY ones.”

 

”Give me one random Vanguard an’ one random Order, an’ the Vanguard’ll rip te fuckin’ spine outta the Order member at least seven outta ten times. Gimme a choice an’ ah’ll take te fuckin’ Order member erry time. Huge chance that they’re a clueless civvie punk who flipped burgers before all of tis. Vanguard are fuckin’ killers, same as us.”

 

”Speaking of civilians, Gavin, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but the hobo that Eric pointed out earlier seems to have wandered over here. That’s weird.”

 

No, Gavin hadn’t noticed. Whereas before he was more than content to just sit around and shoot the shit with Reed, one of the more quieter guys that would just let the soldier talk and make whatever assertions he wanted with little argument, now he was actually forced to pay attention. They were actually on the opposite side of where the ‘hobo’ was first spotted. At this distance he just seemed like an older man in the most disgusting clothing Gavin had seen all week shambling around, but he was circling the entire perimeter for some reason. Reed was right, that was weird. He was too far away to really approach without making it obvious or wasting a lot of time and energy, so Gavin refrained from moving at the present.

 

”Yer right. Tat is weird. Call it out over comms an’ keep an eye out fer ‘im. If ‘e’s still ‘ere in five ah’ll make a field trip. Prolly jus’ a homeless guy wit’ nowhere t’ go, though.”

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Details of what she had studied still tumbled in her mind. A few markings felt familiar and it itched like a bad mosquito bite that she couldn’t place them.  As Lance took the last notes on the number placards she had placed around the scene she turned and crouched to review a few items a seocnd time as the sensation of familiarity refused to dissipate.

 

Head turned as the partially burned letters was found again, rotating it in her vision until finally she had singular clarity. NY City Hospital.

 

Phone was slid from her pocket and an insider was called, standing she turned away from even Lance to ensure the conversation was kept private. A bit of a heated discussion at the beginning when she insisted on answers soon became a somber silence from the detective as she nodded a few times before murmuring a thanks.

 

Phone snapped shut, eyes a bit wide as she tried to register the danger. Scowl replaced the surprise quickly before spinning around on her heel.

 

Out of the debris zone.

 

She didn’t yell, but the sharp percussion of her words had all the cop's eyes on her in a second, their obedient movement instant. Clearly she carried a respected authority as none questioned her, picking their way out of the debris ring, though several had puzzled expressions as they retreated.

 

Her phone was snapping open once more, the speed dial already ringing as she stepped over a twisted beam of steel.

 

Judy…. need the full 10th out here, putting the area under quarantine. …… yes… you heard right. Also call the CDC…..

 

Her eyes nearly rolled at it. They were a pain in the ass, no respect for any authority. But they were also far the better equipped to handle a potential outbreak.

 

Several worried eyes were on her. They had heard "CDC" and they knew she would only make that call if things were extreme. She needed to control the panic.

 

Quit gawkin' and get to your med kits…. everyone take their multi.

 

Thick swallows were fighting down panic as the men looked at eachother. Every cop had a medkit and in it was a syringe of each antiviral and then one "apocalypse" syringe. A nasty blend of all anti-virals. It was only to be used in extreme cases when one didn’t know what they had been exposed to because the resulting side effects could make a person violently ill.

 

Lance's had quickly made his way to her side, his voice was low, trying hard to keep it from trembling.

 

npc:  "What the hell is going on Rae….. what happened here??"

 

Might be airborne….

 

The mutter under her breath made his breath stop.  Several months ago there had been a disaster at the NY Hospital. Information had been sketchy but there were rumors regarding a patient "X" and an airborne mutation of the z-virus. CDC had worked hard to quell the rumors but their efforts fell a bit short with the local law enforcement. Too much secrecy had surrounded the clean up. That had been her call, to an insider at the hospital.

 

As her guys were quickly and quietly obeying orders she glanced at the ARMA at the outer perimeter.  Exotic eyes sought the designated ARMA rep, spotting him in animated conversation with another.

 

Luck..

 

Her voice cut across the distance without yelling as she turned away from the pair and moved to her jeep, the key pad at the back unlocking the heavy duty metal lock box that held her arsenal. He clearly expected him to follow alone for a private conversation.

 

No matter what she felt about working with ARMA….they needed to know.

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A quick glance backwards led to a slight body shift to get a better look as Gavin happened to notice some odd movements by some of the police out of the corner of his eye. Before he could piece together what was going on, he heard his name getting called out by the Detective and started the walk over.

 

Something wasn’t right, that much was pretty obvious. His left hand was on the forward grip of his weapon, and while the rifle was now slung across his chest his right hand was resting on the back grip as well. Especially for an Altered like him, the physical action was basically useless. In most cases of physical threat, his powers would be strictly better unless circumstances were extremely unfavorable. In cases of non-physical threat, there was no point to the rifle anyway.

 

What the feel of the grips in his hands did provide, however, was familiarity and stability. It was much easier to get into the mindset one needed for dangerous situations when you had particular habits that you did every time. You wore similar gear, carried similar weapons a uniform way, rode similar vehicles and rolled out with similar people. It was very rare to find someone who could wake up cold and rush from complete safety into life-threatening situations with not even mental preparation.

 

Hell, Gavin could never really do that himself. Not really. In situations without adrenalin rushing through destroying all conscious thought he was only brave when the alternative was death or things he valued more than his own life were in danger. His self-preservation instinct had dulled since then, but had far from completely gone away. If the cops were running around scared, it meant that something pretty bad was about to happen. A bunch of civilians could go around screaming and crying about how the local elementary school didn’t put anyone on the honor roll for all anyone knew, that wasn’t really an indicator of much other than they found something new to complain about. Trained and armed, career men and women though? That’s when you knew something bad was about to drop.

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This was just wonderful. Bloody apocalypse was coming for the world once more, only this time it was someone beckoning it, not a natural fallout of the Nevus event.

 

What the fuck kind of sociopath even thought of this sort of warped plan?

 

He was coming over but she remained with her back to him, lid of the metal box propped open as she pushed the rifle to the back and pulled out a long black case only two inches high.

 

As he came up on her right shoulder, chin turned slightly towards him, amber eyes scanning over the ARMA members in the distance and her own men, now all quietly in their vehicles with the doors open, busy with their glove compartments. She was very cognizant that a panic was easily set off if she showed it herself. Truth was, she didn’t panic, or get flustered. Her Barracuda nickname was earned for many reasons and that cool demeanor had more than once kept a skittish squad from doing something foolish in their fear. Careful to keep her back to his men and her words quiet she addressed the presence at her shoulder.

 

Luck….. your men carry anti-virals?

 

Not all of the blue precincts did, it was something she had installed as standard fare. They had their badge, their gun and their anti-virals on them at all times. It was a mandate. She didn’t know if ARMA had similar protocols.

 

As in can take them immediately?... not "when they get back to headquarters"……

 

There was something ominous in the inquiry. All three viruses transferred via fluids therefore the thought that an entire squad needed to take the anti-virals without so much as having gotten a scratch had earth-shattering implications.

 

The case was flipped open, inside, all in a row, were fifteen filled syringes. Two had red tape around their middles. Clearly…. it wasn’t an idle question she posed.

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Definitely something off.

 

The detective was grabbing at some box or other that jingled a bit like glass. He hadn’t caught on to exactly what was happening, but figured since guys were running to their cars it meant danger was pretty close and if they ended up hauling ass that would mean something that could kill was close.

 

The question that came out of the Detective’s mouth was weird, too. They were in the city, with nary an infected in sight and she was asking about anti-virals. Usually the police weren’t this damn squeamish unless there was something in their face, so that was weird too. Make fun of the police all you wanted before the Resonance, but especially in recent times it took a tough person to do that job with all the nonhumans, altered, and infected running around.

 

“We keep a few fer ahmergincies, but Shield don’t usually need tem inside te city. Tere was no reason to believe there were any hostiles in the call but ahm sure…”

 

He was interrupted by the second part of the woman’s question, and shrugged. “Two of each anti-viral in te truck.” When the woman flipped open the lid and showed the triple anti-virals, Gavin shook his head slightly. “None like that. Rarely ever need ‘em, we’re just supportin’ Knights most o’ te time. We’re real good at not getting bit, ah wouldn’t worry ‘bout it too much. Ah jus’ need t’ know what’s gon’ come out.”

 

The soldier shot a glance over to the horizon to track the sun’s steady progression into the horizon before turning his attention back to the cop. It was down enough for Gavin to be solid in a fight now, but if the conflict could wait for another hour or so then things would get a lot easier. The shitty part about being on the harbor, especially a recently exploded one was that there were only pockets of shadow to run around in. Inside the city, it was much easier to get around that issue… but water past the docks didn’t exactly provide much shade.

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“We keep a few fer ahmergincies, but Shield don’t usually need tem inside te city. Tere was no reason to believe there were any hostiles in the call but ahm sure…”

 

Fuck…..fuck fuck fuck……

 

Didn’t sound like they would have enough which meant she was going to have to make her own blues give up some of theirs. Stuff was NOT exactly growing on trees. On the other hand she was not about to be accused of having left ARMA to die a potentially horrible death.

 

“Two of each anti-viral in te truck. None like that. Rarely ever need ‘em, we’re just supportin’ Knights most o’ te time. We’re real good at not getting bit, ah wouldn’t worry ‘bout it too much. Ah jus’ need t’ know what’s gon’ come out.”

 

She glanced at him, clearly reading the concern in his expression as he glanced to the horizon and his men. He didn’t understand the request… she needed to explain. Fingers slid the syringe with the red band around the middle from under the elastic that kept it secure in the box.

 

Not "each"…..all of them….

 

Her squad all took the multi once a quarter. It was to help them work through the devastating effect of the triple dose poison, to build themselves up so they didn’t pass out taking it. It was their "apocalypse" syringe… the one you took when you had no clue what you had been exposed to or if you knew you had been exposed to more than one virus. It sucked balls to take it. One anti-viral made the "victim" feel like they had a nasty flu…. taking all three anti-virals at once had put a few of her men into a mild coma.

 

….and not coming out….. already here……

 

Amber eyes glanced at the war zone that had been the lab.

 

We don’t know all the details but I have an insider at the damn CDC who likes to keep their secrets. Few months back there was an outbreak at NY Hospital.

 

Sleeve was already being rolled up.

 

It was nearly a city-wide catastrophe. There was a patient X who was carrying a bastardized version of a virus, something that was clearly messed with chemically, not by nature.

 

Fist flexed several times to help swell her veins to the surface. The amber meeting his.

 

Someone is experimenting with it and made the virus airborne. It only survived short term in the air but it was a whole new danger that CDC tried to ensure didn’t go public.

 

Chin gestured to the charred debris.

 

That was a lab… and based on the fragments I was able to glean they were experimenting on the damn viruses. Everyone that came on premises might already be infected.

 

Everyone was going to be pissed as hell that she was sharing…. But this shit was not to be kept from any who had the slightest chance of being exposed and at least on the surface were looking out for public best interest.

 

Everyone needs to take all three anti-virals because I cant tell which they were working on. My guys have a multi-anti…. we should have some spares but I need to know quick how many you are going to need.

 

With that the needle was already sinking in her skin, hand expanding as she pushed the plunger, skin around the site instantly speckling red with what had the appearance of a nasty rash. This day went south quick.....

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