Raeden (Rae) Seiko

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

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Stench putrefied the air as she walked over the carcasses stacked thick in the cargo hull. Unlike her partner who had been forced to scramble back outside for some fresh air, she was blessed with senses that could pick and choose their focus. At the moment her sense of smell was turned off as much as she possibly could, letting her eyes focus where the large flashlight highlighted and studying the scene. Even so, the smell was stomach turning.

 

The Anda was a small cargo ship, the windowless belly of it meant for metal cargo containers not the decimated human cargo she now picked her way over. She was up to forty bodies and the count was still rising.

 

A week ago the harbor master had been asked to let the small cargo vessel dock a couple days while they got resupplied. The captain had paid cash and then never came back. When the harbor master decided to step on board this morning he was struck by the scent of death and instantly knew he had a problem.  Which was why she was here, the basic blues that had come to investigate couldn’t handle the extreme nature of the loss of life.

 

It was a pit, a black hole of stagnant air. The door had been padlocked shut from the outside leaving the victims trapped with little air and no food or water. From the decay she suspected they hadn't made the trip across the ocean, dying miserably somewhere along the way. Some were stacked against the far wall, likely by those that were still alive and trying not to wallow in rotting flesh. Death had come in waves. She pitied the souls that had been the last to go.

 

They had been refugees.. she was sure of it. Skeletal remains of horns, wings, even tails peppered the more human looking dead. If she had to bet, they were all outworlders who had latched onto some swindlers promise to get out of Europe. It wasn’t the first signs that the registration violence was making its way to their shores.

 

Boots carefully picked her way back to the single steel door, trotting up the stairs to the rusty deck to take a deep breath of fresher air, nostrils starving for something other than the oppression of death.

 

Npc:…I've never seen anything like it

 

Lance's voice quaked as her cool expression flicked to him. She didn’t rattle. Its what made her so good at her job.

 

There is likely more but I got a count of fifty nine…. they are stacked at the back so hard to get a full count till we start pulling them out.

 

Eyes flicked to the harbor master, poor guy was pacing along the dock unwilling to come close to the vessel.

 

I suspect all outworlders… likely promised a better life here… "immigrants" coming to the "new world"…. probably paid a small fortune to end up in a metal coffin.

 

Npc: Fuck….

 

Ya….that about sums it up. Going to need his full statement.. don't trust the blues to get this one right.

 

Npc:.... sure... am on it

 

He pulled out his notepad  and trotted down the plank to the dock below, thankful to be off the floating cemetery.

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Hazel watched Lance talk to the harbor master as she rested a hip on the railing, continuing to breathe deep the fresh air.  This cross the pond shit had been spilling to their shores for about a month now but nothing of this magnitude. New York tended to be a bit more of an accepting melting pot, but recently the tension that was floating from Europe had bled into the city. Dumb asses were starting to take sides, random violence was on the rise per the department but the reports looked a lot like targeted violence to her.

 

The city was a powder keg waiting for a spark.

 

Eyes had been focusing on the small marks on the metal deck… claw marks by the looks of them. The magnification was over thirty times and Lance's voice was missed the first time.

 

Huh?

 

NPC:…I said our harbor master's pretty shook up. Not planning on coming over here any time soon. Best he remembers was two guys from the ship. Overweight middle aged Caucasian, maybe five foot eight or nine and a tall lanky Asian in his late twenties.

 

He was used to repeating himself when she was studying a crime scene.

 

The kind that can just blend in and vanish in this city.

 

NPC: Pretty much…

 

This shit hits the news…. NPC: I know…. can expect some protests…even possibly riots…  yeah…..

 

Sigh was soft in her chest. Between the virus crimes she had been investigating and the growing divisiveness with this damn earthborn purists movement… sleep was a luxury the force was starting to severely lack in.

 

Hazel flicked to the four white vans coming up to the dock… coroners were here. Hip pushed from the railing to head down the plank to meet them. Best they had a bit of a warning before walking into this mess.

 

She was worried the powder keg was already sitting next to a lit match.

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Abby had never seen anything like it. 

 

Almost everyone she could think of was here. Every detective from major precincts within the city. Tenth, seventh, fifth... A lot had been lost during the nevus, including her father's back in the Bronx. Abby was coming from the Central Park, and didn't hesitate when the call came in about a ship... 

 

The smell attracted plenty of seagulls. They screeched from high above, circling the cargo, no doubt attracted to the sickening stench. Abby ducked underneath the yellow caution tape, nodding to the other blues as they ambled past, creating a wider berth in hopes of escaping the smell, but there was none. They were all here, cops and detectives, staring at the large floating coffin that contained the dead. 

 

Abby specialized with violent crimes, but she had always been first on the case regarding special victims - not just children, but the gifted, creatures, those affected by the nevus. Her sister was among them, and she would do everything necessary to help, serve, and protect. Overtime, a shift had occured within the police department. There were those who believed in basic civil rights to all citizens, and those who wanted to close the borders to outworlders. 

 

The breaking news had her thinking of her sister immediately, how Margie could have easily been a victim. 

 

The forensics unit were setting up, cameras flashing as every detail was taken. Abby approached the detective who had crossed the plank and back to dock. "Detective Wynn from Central Park." She moved her chestnut gaze to the plank, to the opening that would lead to the source of the seagulls crying. 

 

"How many are in there?" Her mind was racing, her heart tight. Abby had grown thick skin over the years, and she always worked with her emotions tightly controlled. Sometimes, even the barrier wasn't tough enough. Abby had a strong conviction to do good in this world, and it hurt that no matter how different the world was, the corrupt and the bad still thrived. The worst. 

 

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NPC: Play Nice…..

 

The soft whisper near her as Lance passed behind her shoulders was met with a grunt soft in her chest as she signed the coroners release to start removing bodies. She had spotted the detective already as she made her way through the crowd.

 

I always play nice……

 

They crossed paths often. The former FBI Special agent was now the Detective for special crimes, homicides and narcotics, she often found herself at the same crime scene as the violent crimes Detective. Mostly amicable. Truth be told, the Asian had stepped on more than a few toes from the other divisions when she promptly told them how they were wrong in their assessment of a crime scene. Her forensic gifts made her nearly never wrong and while others respected this, she had a tendency of being a little less than politically correct in her sharing of her corrections of the observations of others.

 

You don’t have enough trucks by the way.

 

The coroner representative blinked at her and glanced back at the four big white trucks.

 

NPC: Really?

 

…….really.

 

His soft fuck came with a sigh as he nodded and flipped open his phone to make a call. Hand ran over the top of her head, pulling back the stray ebony strands that had escaped. Nostrils flared as the winds shifted. Frown etched her brow. Fuck. The breeze was going to carry the stench into the city now, a fact made clear as several on the dock began gagging and covering their mouth and noses. They would have the site-seers in no time now. So much for trying to keep the whole fiasco quiet.

 

As Wynn approached the coroner rep that had just flipped his phone shut the detective listened to the question on her lips.

 

"How many are in there?"

 

Before the guy could shrug her own voice carried over.

 

More than fifty.

 

She watched the man spin around to gape at her before flipping his phone open again and calling in even more reinforcements as he marched back to his truck to gear up for a very long night. Nod was faint but acknowledging.

 

Detective Wynn.

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The event didn't just affect humans. It affected everyone, even beyond the veil that the world once comfortably lived within. Abby had been a part of that bubble, where humans were the only the bad things to worry about. Bad humans. This time, it was a greater evil. Humans could be a part of it, or a faceless creature. Nightmares were just as real, and while crimes still ran throughout New York, both familiar and unique, nothing compared to the worst that could happen. 

 

Abby closed her eyes as she held her breath a moment, trying to compose herself from the stench. Being this close made her stomach turn, but she fought against it, murmuring the mantra that her body was a temple and she wasn't going to let it purge like that. 

 

When Raeden answered her, both eyebrows shot up as her eyes popped open. "Cheese and rice," the detective uttered - a phrase she picked up from her sister. She pinched the bridge of her nose, other hand sliding over her slack covered hip, slightly raising the end of her matching blazer.  When acknowledged, Abby was able to focus beyond the stench that pervaded the air. It thickened like old soup left out for weeks on the stove. She wanted to forget about that smell, even a shower didn't seem like it'd do the trick.

 

She wasn't a fool to not know who she was talking to. Detective Raeden Seiko was a well known name among the surviving precincts. Men liked to say a lot of things about strong leading women in the field, and Abby couldn't help admiring Seiko's candor when it came to telling it how it is. 

 

"I'd like to do what I can to assist with this case." Abby began. She was looking at the ship again, and she finally tore her gaze away and stepped aside to make room for what was going to be a long haul for the forensics team. Bodies, fifty of them.... 

 

"Where do we begin? Do we have a lead?" Abby wanted to know everything there is to know. She didn't want to go into this empty handed, and she knew by talking to Raeden she would get the best information, rather than dicey accounts from the men in blue. She used to be a beat cop when her father was chief, but she wasn't anymore.

 

 

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Sense of smell was dulled purposefully as she let her ears and eyes take the lead. Partially to continue her observations, partially to protect herself from the gag reflex that nearly every cop on the dock was now suffering from.  Since no one really knew or understood her gifts she was simply seen as indifferently cold to such horrors. 

 

She noted the coroners had all put on gas masks…. half a brain at least between them.

 

"Cheese and rice"

 

Brow quirked upward at the woman. That was….different. She watched the woman fight the same battle as the others, pinching the bridge of her nose to stave off the horror that was wafting on the air.

 

"I'd like to do what I can to assist with this case."

 

She blinked at the woman as the team of white suits made past her to head up the plank. Despite what some said of her, the Asian was not arrogant nor elitist. Good hands were hard to come by in the new world and she knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth.

 

Head tilted towards the plank inviting the detective to follow as she herself turned and already started up the rusted support back up to the deck of the freighter.

 

"Where do we begin? Do we have a lead?"

 

Nod was faint as she leaned a hip against the rusted rail to let the forensic teams all head down into the hull.

 

Human cargo, all appear to be outworlders. If I were to bet I would say the ship originated in Ireland and they were promised some sort of freedom.

 

Hand rubbed under her chin as the eyes watched the last team descend into the black abyss, light beginning to glow up the stairs as the white suited city servants set up flood lights inside the container. She had been waiting for that as she pushed from the rail and headed towards the steps, the detective welcome to follow if she could stomach it.

 

Trotting down the metal steps she kept talking.

 

Door was locked from the outside with no windows or access to basics. Looks like they started dying on the way. Survivors tried to pile the dead on one end and from the little I could see, I would say they started cannibalizing the dead in an effort to survive.

 

Head nodded as she hit the doorway and her assumption was confirmed. The flashlight had already highlighted it for her but now with the flood lights in the massive container the bite marks on bones and flesh were apparent. Eyes zoomed in several times looking over details and forcing her sense of smell into dormancy, at least as far as it could go, the stench of death, urine and feces still permeating. The claw marks on the metal walls told the story of their desperation to escape.

 

This was not what they had signed up for.

 

Dock master took cash from a man to dock but the guy never came back. My partner is getting all the details he can from the dock master now.

 

The pile was thicker than she had seen in the dark. Their body count was likely closer to sixty five or seventy.

 

Fuck…

 

Soft swear of near defeat escaped her lips even as eyes didn’t seem to betray any emotions. The world was getting worse by the day and she wasn’t sure there was a way to reverse the rapid decline anymore.

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Abby needed another moment.

 

The horrid stench was indescribable, but enough to probably put her sister down with just a whiff. Abby didn't have that sensitive nose, but the smell was spreading from the cargo ship, reeling in the crows as well. They were less loud compared to the seagulls that continued to circle the vessel, avoiding the crows that now perched themselves on the steel railing.

 

Beady crimsons eyes watched the scene down below. The forensics team had on their hazmat suits, prepping themselves for the workload awaiting them. Fifty bodies... Possibly more. Abby had to steel her emotions, and harden her features. Work now, shed a tear later. Most detectives had a psychiatrist, and Abby had yet to consider one.

 

She might have to, after tonight.

 

As Raeden led the way, Abby switched her breathing from her nose to her mouth. It was the best thing she could do – slow, steady breaths. She walked up the rank, pausing to let the team through, and then continuing up. She listened with a calm expression, while her insides squirmed. This was a mucked up version of Lady Liberty welcoming the immigrants to Ellis Island. This had no welcome. No liberty. Only tragedy and despair.

 

She had no comment, only walking and steadying her nerves. It was a good thing Ghost didn't come along on this trip.

 

The mouth of the ship was now in front of them, an invitation to the gruesome underworld. Abby hesitated, her hand clenching the end of the rail as Raeden stood before the entrance like Orpheus before his descent below. She admired the other detective, and closed her eyes, thinking a few words of encouragement that would finally help her let go of the rail.

 

Stomach it, she did. Once she reached the head of the stairs, the floodlights were in place, lighting up the disturbing scene. Bodies.... Everywhere. They burned into her retinas, painting themselves in harsh, vivid lines in the back of her mind. She wasn't going to sleep for weeks after this, but nonetheless, she persisted, focusing on Raeden's voice as they made the descent.

 

“They must have been in here for weeks, even months.” Times had changed since the late 1800s, but the outworlders must have been desperate. “No food, water...” It was merely a vessel with nothing to help them survive the journey. Abby blinked rapidly and she stepped further into the ship. A perimeter had been set up so the suits could carry the bodies through. They had their work cut out for them already – the bodies having increased exponentially once the lights were set up.

 

Her head swam, and she gulped harshly. Abby wasn't immune to being this close. Her body wanted to purge the stomach acid sloshing in her stomach, threatening to shoot out of her body like a geyser.

 

“There's no way the guy would casually hang around the dock for someone. Even if we get a good description, who's to say that he isn't wearing a disguise?” It was so messed up, all of it. “Regardless, that is the best option. Talking to the dock master, get something, anything out of that guy.” Her mind was running a mile of minute, the claw marks along the steel walls hurt her in many ways she didn't think possible. Were there children? God, no.

 

Abby shook her head, hands now moving to her pockets. She finally looked away from the graveyard the ship had become, back to the detective. “Maybe we can get in contact the Vanguard. They might know something.” The tricky thing about them... they might not even talk, or open themselves up to the investigation. Still, Abby felt they should try. This much carnage could only come from a place of hate.

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She wasn’t sure if the other detective was going to make it. She looked a little green. Of course, so did most of the force now out trying to hold back the curious public. To her credit though, Wynn was coming on board the ship behind her, a feat most of the blues below were not willing to do once they heard what was on the ship. There was a faint annoyance in the thought because she knew that while for some it was the horror and stench that kept them away, for others, it was their bigotry against outworlders.

 

World had been turned upside down, come face to face with the future… and yet they hadn't evolved a single iota.

 

Boots hit the rusted metal of the belly, walking the perimeter slowly, feet placed meticulously so that no evidence was disturbed while the eyes began to assess. The frowns from the coroners team were ignored. They never understood how she was so calm in the face of such horrors. There was time to be upset and disgusted later, right now the dead needed her forensic skills.

 

Head tilted as with the lights on she could see things she had missed before, dark lashes flicking up and to the side, clearly tracking some unspoken train of thought.

 

"They must have been in here for weeks, even months."

 

Freighter this size take about five weeks to cross…. saw some rotor damage outside so likely she runnin' slow…. six maybe seven weeks….

 

The murmur was almost to herself as she crouched near a pile of older bodies, the fester of decomposing flesh showing bones protruding through.

 

“There's no way the guy would casually hang around the dock for someone. Even if we get a good description, who's to say that he isn't wearing a disguise?  Regardless, that is the best option. Talking to the dock master, get something, anything out of that guy.”

 

Stepping over a small decomposed body, presumably a child she crouched closer, head tilting the other way as the pupils flushed and contracted, zooming in on what had caught her eye before the left hand went out beside her and fingers snapped. A suited forensic expert came over instantly, they were familiar with Seiko and the fact that if she spotted something, it was worth paying attention.

 

These two were shot.

 

NPC: huh?

 

They were always dumbfounded how she could see these things without autopsies, especially with the severe decomposition of the bodies.

 

Shot… there are at least two slugs in this tanker and I want them.

 

Standing she glanced back to the doorway then to where the two were. Farthest point. Against the wall, likely went first.

 

Likely shot as they were being closed in, probably figured out they were in trouble as they were being locked in.  

 

Again the murmur seemed to be mostly to herself. Glancing to the white suit the authoritative tone returned and left no room for arguing.

 

I want the make and model of the weapon before tomorrow noon.

 

NPC:… we don’t even have the slugs you cant….

 

Well you better start focusing on finding them.

 

Trail would go cold if they didn’t get moving.

 

“Maybe we can get in contact with the Vanguard. They might know something.”

 

Brow quirked at the woman. Was she kidding? Go to the organization that touted "human first"? For all she knew they were behind this death cruise.  What better way to start purging the world than set up a false underground railroad and kill the outworlders in droves as they fled persecution.

 

 Doubt it.

 

It was all she was saying on the matter as she moved through the carnage once more. With the beginning removals it was apparent they were right around seventy bodies in various states of decomposition.

 

I want to know if any others were shot by the end of the night.

 

Her demand was met with grumbling but she didn’t stick around, moving back up the stairs and taking a deep breath once on the deck again. Being submerged in the festering "coffin" below,  the stench on deck seemed almost refreshing in comparison.

 

Hands rested on her hips as she paced the deck looking over the rusted metal looking for more clues.

 

Not the first event like this we seen in New York….. first one of this size though…..

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