No'Only a Black Swan


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Scene Title No'Only a Black Swan
Synopsis Agents Lupinetti and Price examine the scene of Kain Zarek's murder. Their liaison with the NYPD gives them some valuable insight on the murder weapon.
Date December 7, 2010

Financial District: Linderman Building

Beyond the front entrance, the Linderman Building foyer is likewise unremarkable but still impressive in its size. The black and white marble floor extends from the front clear to the back, and the walls have a layer of Moroccan tiles beneath crown molding to lend the area a much-needed splash of colour. Ornate brass lanterns hanging from the ceiling and mounted on the walls provide just enough illumination to see by, and no matter what the weather, the room is surprisingly cold, as if the heat were being removed from it somehow.

At the far end of the room, opposite the entrance is a trio of elevator doors, but halfway there is a checkpoint consisting of some sort of detection machine hooked up to a portable computer, as well as several security guards who are no doubt armed beneath their immaculately-pressed uniforms.

"It's a fuckin' mess is what it is…"

Two birds have been killed with one stone, as homicide detective Daniel Walsh steps out of the elevator into the 55th floor of the Linderman building. "I got called in t'investigate this shitstorm in the middle of th' fuckin' riots because I was th' only goddamned cop in the whole area who wasn't tied down. I normally work Chinatown, tha's my precinct," Walsh admits as he strides across the black and white tiled floor of the lobby, a cup of coffee held in gloved hands. "If you've a weak stomach, might be best t'keep it in mind tha' I asked that as we go in."

Detective Walsh is speaking to the two agents in the elevator he'd just departed. Agent Dante Lupinetti of the Department of Homeland Security, and Doctor Odessa Price from the Department of Evolved Affairs mean that this case has been kicked up several floors above Detective Walsh's head. "The secretary 'oo was on duty tha' day's been on a leave of absence since, she's got all sorts'f PTSD from findin' what she did."

Walsh is Irish, this much is clear from the curly tuft of fading red hair atop his head, to the lilt of his voice in typical Irish twinge. The black, button-down wool coat he wears is long, being unbuttoned by one hand as he passes by the unoccupied secretary's desk and approaches the glossy, black double doors to Daniel Linderman's office. He stops, though, short of the doors and turns, looking back to the agents.

"You wan' t'head straight in?"

By all appearances, Dante is in SUPER SERIOUS mode, perhaps even a little pissed off to be called into this investigation. His face is a lined mask, designed for frowning, and his hands are shoved in his trenchcoat pockets as he whisks down the hall after Walsh with stifflegged strides. Inside, though, he's trying his damnedest to keep from breaking out into a huge grin. His first murder scene! So exciting!! Ahem, remember, Dante. Homicide detectives are stoic. Serious. Jaded. He can be jaded, yeah.

As they come up to the double doors, Dante pauses with a glance towards the black, polished wood. "Thanks for the warning. Yes, please. The sooner the better." He takes a breath, stealing himself, and looks to his companion. "Are you ready, Dr. Price?"

Odessa - identifying herself as Agent Price today - braces one hand against the wall of the elevator as she tugs on a shoe cover with the other. The stance is then mirrored and process repeated for the opposite shoe. "We're not squeamish, Detective Walsh," she assures. She works open the buttons of her red pea coat, revealing a green cashmere sweater and a dark charcoal grey skirt with backseamed stockings. The click-click-click of her eggplant-coloured high heels is muted by the covers some as she steps out of the elevator and into the lobby, following the two men. "Certainly, Agent Lupinetti."

Walsh's brows rise slowly as he reaches out for the vertical, brushed metal bars that serve as handles for the door. Pushing them open, an expansive office is revealed. Polished black marble flooring gives way to a matte black wall and gray painted ceiling with recessed sconce lamps. Immediately across the office, rests a large glass desk with a high-backed black chair behind it. The desk is empty, clear across the top, and a pair of low-backed metal-framed leather chairs sit in opposition to it.

Distinctly visible behind the desk are the floor-to-ceiling windows that view the skyline of Manhattan and the decimation of Midtown. But more prominently, the brown stain of blood is a smear along the glass. It streaks down, dry and crusted, long since sitting here. Gray daylight and flurries of snow beyond the windows backlight the silhouette — it almost looks like a monarch butterfly, like some morbid Rorschach test result.

"'Ere it is," Walsh admits as he walks in, heading not for the blood but for a point in front of the desk. Dante's attention is immediately drawn to four different vents in the ceiling, all potential avenues of access for someone capable of changing their form.

Walsh comes to the floor behind those low-backed chairs, where an evidence marker card is standing up. "We found th' slug Zarek fired here," then he motions towards the blood stain, "Zarek's body there, his gun by th' card marker o'er there…" The redhead looks around the office, raising his coffee to his lips to take a sip.

"Anythin' I can do t'help you agents, or d'you want me outta yer hair?" He seems eager to not be bothered with this.

Dante steps in after Walsh's entrance, and immediately slows as he's hit by the sight of…well, quite a lot of gore, for once. And a plethora of possible clues. His eyes open wide, sweeping about the room in amazement for a moment. After, he takes a slow breath, forcing relaxation into his body and making his mind go blank. Letting the world talk to him. His eyes lid a little…and they're drawn to each of those vents, in order. Hmmmm… What are you telling me, crime scene?

Walsh's remark gets him to focus again, and he follows after the other detective, going around the spot where the body laid, eyeing it sideways. Okay, ew. No matter how jaded he gets, he swears that will still draw out an 'ew'. He crouches down by the card, pulling a pencil out of his pocket to prod a little at the carpet. "Hmmm…run through the scene one more time, from what your boys found when they arrived?"

"It's no cherry cobbler," Odessa utters under her breath, tugging a pair of gloves out of her coat pocket and pulling them on with the quiet snap that comes with latex. She is unimpressed by the level of gore and grey matter present. The urge to ask for coffee, black from the disinterested detective is let go as she steps into the office and peers upward toward the vents in the ceiling. No tell-tale soot like what's been left behind in her home.

When Odessa approaches Dante's side, more jaded and disdainful than he. Ew is not a word that comes to mind. But she has a few more years of being jaded and nearly a decade of autopsies under her belt. She turns her gaze to Walsh, sweeping her bangs back from her face for a moment, only for them to fall back into place immediately after. Quietly awaiting his response to Lupinetti's question.

"Zarek was dead, right o'er here…" Walsh begins, walking Dante through the scene as the NYPD discovered it. As Walsh speaks, details from the police report roll through the agent's mind, and his brilliant intuition begins to snap together pieces of the puzzle based on forensic information, based on every piece of evidence.

In Dante Lupinetti's eyes, the crime scene begins to reconstruct itself like a shadow-puppet play. His attentive stare brings together dozens of small elements. Each evidence card marking a point of blood spatter, a shell casing, a corpse, a bullet, they begin to tell a story one by one.

Dante can envision Kain's silhouette by the window, from the forensic report and the position his body was found in, that silhouette is facing Dante, right hand out and gun drawn. It was during the riots, and Dante can imagine the dark skies beyond the windows, fire silhouetting the buildings.

As Lupinetti's head turns, he sees the assailant as a black silhouette, an undefined quantity standing just to his right. The gun goes off, the attacker is hit and the bullet falls to the floor after striking some sort of armor. It's a blur in Dante's mind, a hasty reconstruction. By the time the situation is clear to him again, the attacker has a gun out. The gun, so clear identified, known.

Russian make, a machine pistol; the discharge rattles through the soundproofed walls.

Mostly soundproofed walls.

Maybe they were talking. Kain was shot from the front, not from behind. There was no sign of a scuffle. It all begins to come together slowly. He had no reason to scuffle, he knew his attacker.

Dante turns, following the trajectory of the bullet estimated by the forensics team. 22-foot range, bullet between the eyes, Kain's head jerks back and a butterfly splotch of red splatters against he windows. He hits the glass, slouches, the gun falls and he drops.

Dante snaps out of it, looking once more around the room.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Dante blinks as the rush of information trickles out of his mind, like water from sieve, leaving the noodles of knowledge soft and quivering in his memory. He rubs a hand over the back of his neck, settling down his raised hackles coming around the desk and circling the spot where the silhouette was standing. "Zarek knew his attacker," he says with dead certainty, gifted by those hints. He looks up to his Cyclopean partner with a raised eyebrow before dropping to his knees, cheek lowering towards the floor to look along the fibers that were under those mysterious feet, one eye closing. "No struggle. Even though Zarek shot first, I don't think he was expecting the retaliation. Or at least, he wasn't expecting the other ma…person to fire back." Rising up to his knee,s Dante rubs the lint off his cheek, looking to Walsh. "What do we know about the gun that shot Zarek?"

"I haven't been able to go over the ballistics report yet, Detective," the young doctor says quietly, a lie. Odessa spent most of the previous evening pouring over the details. She doesn't have a photographic memory, but she feels like the report's been burned into her retinas. That's almost the same thing. "The gun was a… Oh, it started with a T, didn't it? Russian make?"

Odessa approaches the window, almost distracted as she follows the spatter pattern with her eyes, creating a mental picture less refined than Lupinetti's. "Based on that information, was the NYPD able to determine from what distance Mister Zarek was shot from? Or the approximate height of the shooter from the trajectory?" She only flickers a brief glance to Dante, like asking for approval after the fact, then turns her attention back to Walsh. A small smile worn with the intention of making her appear to need a little more hand-holding. This is her first big case in the field, and she's technically a rookie agent. So perhaps there's less feigning than she'd like to believe.

"Stechkin," Walsh corrects Odessa, one brow raised, but it's also for Dante's benefit. "It's a Russian made gun, ain't common at all. What th' ballistics report didn't bother t'fuckin' say— an' the whole bloody reason I came out here— is tha' it isn't an ordinary Stechkin either. Which makes this no'only a black swan, but a black swan with a fuckin' mohawk."

Sipping his coffee, Walsh paces around the office, giving a brief look to the red gore mark on the window that was once Kain Zarek. "This is a collector's piece here, I'm talkin' antiquity. The Stechkin APS was designed in 1951, meant t'replace another outdated Russian design. The gun was chambered for 7.62 by 25 millimeter rounds. Ain't ordinary handgun ammo, that. Thing that the ballistics report failed t'mention, is tha' the Stechkin was only chambered fer tha' ammunition type for the initial year of its production. From 1952 an' onwards, it was remodeled to th' more common nine millimeter round most any low-caliber handgun uses t'day."

Looking from Dante to Odessa and then back, Walsh takes a moment to sip his coffee again. "So yer' looking at probably… maybe five hundred of these still in circulation tha'r in any condition t'fire? It ain't an ordinary bloody weapon, an' I ain't never seen or heard of one out here in New York City either. I put my ear to th' ground, about gun sales… nobody's seen a Stechkin, not anywhere 'round here."

Furrowing his brows, Walsh looks down to the floor, then up to the blood stain. "Yer probably lookin' at someone with tight connections to an arms dealer, collectors, or honest t'god Russians. I know Zarek dealt in firearms, but he was a bulk vendor for his little back-door business. Didn't deal in specialties like tha'."

Though as he considers the room, Walsh's brows raise. "Far's how tall th' attacker was, estimates say 'round about maybe six feet? But tha's never an accurate science. Any slight change'f angle can knock out inches in either direction. Unfortunately, tha' ain't much t'go on."

"Only reason anyone would use that kind of weapon would be for personal significance," Dante says, "That's what my gut is telling me."

He stands on his feet, gaze sweeping the floor from the door to the desk and back again. "Any hints as to the shooter's passage through the room?" he asks, partially talking to his own eyes, as well. He stands beside the attacker's spot, looking around and getting a good view of what it looked like from the attacker's point of view. He faces the desk…and takes slow steps backwards, towards one of those vents.

"Stechkin!" Odessa repeats, her smile brightening like the lightbulb's been switched on over her head. "That's right." She presses a finger to her mouth as she listens to Walsh detail the gun, and its quirks. "Always did like the black swan best," is spoken under her breath absently as she follows Dante's gaze at his query.

"Well, give or take a couple of inches at six feet helps rule out someone around my height." Winslow is mouthed to her partner, when she catches his eye. Though it isn't as though she's trying to hide her hunch from Walsh. Helpfully, or so she hopes, she stands about where Zarek was assumed to be, when the other agent tries to discern where the attacker stood.

"We're cops not fuckin' fortune tellers," Walsh admits with a chuckle, "well, most'f us are, the good ones anyway." Tipping up his coffee and taking a long sip from it, the detective offers a look up to Dante. "We ain't got a bloody clue as t'how he got himself in or out, let alone what he was doin' in here. Nothin' was disturbed, not a single feckin' thing. Marble floors don't tell much of a tale either. Whoever it was, they walked lightly. We didn't get no rubber smudges off of the floor, so th' boots mighta' been hard-soled, not soft."

Scratching at his nose, Walsh looks over to Odessa. "You know this is the second murder t'happen in this buildin'?" It doesn't totally knock Dante off of his track, but it does create a pique of interest. "Daniel Linderman's adopted daughter, Zoe, died down in'na basement 'cause some thug with a grudge broke in an' killed 'er bloody dead. That was a lot more open n'shut than this though, we had more t'go on. I didn't investigate tha' one m'self, of course…"

Irrelevant Dante's intuition tells him, nothing to gain from further investigating Zoe's passing. But what is important, and what Walsh's rambling almost distracted Dante from, is that turning from the shooter's point of view there is a perfectly straight access to one of the air vents in the wall near the ceiling.

"You two got anythin' else?" Walsh impatiently raises a brow. "I've got t'get down t'Precinct in an hour an' traffic's a fuckin' nightmare durin' the day in Chinatown."

Dante catches Odessa's gaze, and his lips quirk up in a smile. Good thinking, his expression says, and he gives her a nod, even if she's just eliminating a possibility.

The ex-detective pauses midstep at that little tidbit of info, and he glances over at Walsh with eyebrows raised. "Really? Hmmm…" He frowns, disappointed as that possible lead fizzles out, and he shakes his head disapprovingly, running a hand through his shortcropped hair. Turning around, getting his bearings again, he freezes and looks up at that air vent. Hmmmm!

Walsh's question is just about answered as Dante makes a beeline for the vent, looking around…and grabbing an out-of-the-way chair to pull over against the wall. He climbs up on it, rising up to try and peers into the vent, and at the vent itself. "…got a screwdriver on you?" he asks, not looking back to Walsh.

"I do!" Odessa pipes up before Walsh has a chance to scoff. She reaches into a black Juicy Couture branded handbag. The way she digs around in it gives the impression that it's bigger on the inside. "Flathead or Phil-" A squint at the vent answers her question and she's passing a screwdriver to Dante, translucent green handle first. "Here you go."

Should he even ask why she carries a screwdriver in her purse?

Walsh eyes Dante, peers at Odessa, then considers the vent before lifting up his coffee again, taking another sip from it slowly. Beady eyes consider the vent, intently watching Dante to see if he can figure out what the detective sees. They come from two, vastly different fields of perspective, to say they don't see on the same level is an understatement.

Dante looks over at Odessa like she'd just said she carried an acetylene torch and a cuisinart, blinking in surprise. He stares at that screwdriver for a moment, before taking it from her with a smile. "I need to bring you along more often," he says, before getting to work on that vent. The thin metal reverberates with the cracks of the thread-sealer breaking as he works those screws loose, getting the vent loose. Right when it's about to fall, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handkerchief, holding onto the vent. When the last screw comes loose, he lifts it away, and peers into the dimness within.

"Central air system?" he asks.

Dante's praise brings a smile to Odessa's lips. "I do my best, Agent Lupinetti." The simple answer is really that she doesn't always carry a screwdriver with her. But knowing they were going to be looking at the ventilation ducts for point of entry made it seem like a smart move. But she'll let him think she just happened to be prepared for some odd reason. Next from her purse, she retrieves a folder, flipping to documentation detailing the layout of the fifty-fifth floor, glancing frequently from diagram to room. "Uhm… I want to say yyyyessss?"

"Beats t'fuck outta' me," Walsh notes with a shrug, "but in a building this big? What, you think they got a really smart boiler an' some strong forced air? Maybe lil' pyrokinetics in th' ductwork?" Brows rise slowly, and Walsh offers a crooked brow, inspecting Dante as he inspects the vent. The aforementioned ductwork is dusty, but otherwise uninteresting. Nothing that stands out to his intuitive inspection, no residue, no paw prints, finger marks or odds and ends tucked away in the ductwork.

"You find Santa?" Walsh notes with a raised brow. "Thought I might've heard a fat man clangin' around in there whilst we was talkin." He rattles his coffee from side to side, disappointingly empty.

"Didn't find Santa himself, but he may have left a present for us." Dante looks back at Walsh, coming down with that vent still in his hand. "Have the police considered the possibility of air or mist-shaping Evolved? Someone who can get in and out, without the need of doors. Would explain the lack of tracks around the office, how no cameras showed them coming in or out of any doors." He offers the vent out to Walsh, setting his jaw. "I want the security footage of the whole building, for 24 hours before and after the murder, as well as the footage from any shops across the street that would have a view of this building. Does the building connect to sewers or any underground access tunnels?"

Odessa just watches Dante formulate his theories, blinking several times, then peering over at Detective Walsh to see how ruffled he may get over the request/demand just made of him and the department.

Grumbling in a way that suggests he isn't going to get to go anywhere any time soon, Walsh rolls his eyes and turns around to the desk behind himself, pitching his Starbucks coffee into the empty waste basket beside Daniel Linderman's desk. "I ain't an architect," Walsh admits, "but I can get you the plans for the buildin'. If it was one of them incorporeal fuckers," and he winces on using such coarse language, "you might not get it on video. I knew somebody what could turn to water vapor, really fuckin' hard to see, but left water everywhere they went, so I guess they weren't that hard t'track."

A little proud of himself there, Walsh looks down to the floor, brows furrowing. "Security in the building I can get, NYPD already scanned through it an' didn't find nothin' relevant, but I'll forward it t'you an' see what you can pick up. As fer' the underground, your guess is as good as mine. Ninety-nine percent of this bloody city's built on sewer accesses an' bomb shelters an' derelict subway shenanigans. Ain't nothing such as sure coverage either, but… I'll get you your video. Gonna take a few days though, to get the across the street stuff."

Walsh looks back to the red mark on the window, then back to Dante. "You actually think you're gonna' catch this guy? Bloody ghost assassin?"

"One step at a time. Gotta find him before we can catch him," Dante says, dropping the vent on a corner of Linderman's desk, and wiping his hands off with the handkerchief. The screwdriver gets flipped around and offered back to Odessa. "A few days is fine. It'll give us time to track some other leads. You really pieced together a suspect from puddles of water? Very nice." Dante smiles for Walsh, though his mouth twitches… He squints…and sneezes loudly into his arm. "Ugh, goddamn dust. If there's asbestos in this place, I'll be pissed."

Odessa palms the screwdriver and carefully tucks it back into her oversized handbag. "Most impressive, Detective Walsh," she's quick to offer in addition to Dante's kudos. "And thank you, you've been most helpful. And I'll be sure to pass that along to your department as well." Because this is how we make interdepartmental connections, right? "Is there anything else you want to look at here, Agent Lupinetti? I think I've seen what I need to for the time being."

"Aye, yeah, suspect," Walsh admits with a twitch of his mouth up into a faint smile, "somethin' like tha'." The subtlety, lost on most anyone else, clicks in Dante's head like a gear and cog working together. He didn't mean a suspect at all, in fact, he never said anything about an investigation either. Curious, but ultimately irrelevant. At least in this instance, at any rate.

Clearing his throat, Walsh tips his head in a nod to Odessa, then offers a look to the office doors. "If tha's everythin', I'll be sure t'forward along whatever else it is y'need to'yer respective offices. I'm sure th' Linderman Group'll be happy t'finally clear this whole mess up too and start puttin' it behind 'em."

Dante's smile falters for a moment of confusion…and then suspicion, head tilting to eye Walsh with a folding of his arms, reassessing the man. He scowls, and looks for a moment like he might be snarling… But it's just another sneeze, caught by Dante's trenchcoat sleeve.

Dante sniffles, nodding to the detective. "Much appreciation for the tour, Detective. I'd like to take a brief look at the basement levels, just to get a feel for the area, before we take off." Looking over at Odessa, a thought occurs to him, and he looks sheepish. "Ah, unless you really need to get back." That's right, don't leave your carpool passengers stranded. Good driver.

Do we have to look at the basement? Agent Price doesn't ask it, with her voice or with her posture, but if there were a telepath around, they'd know it. "I follow your lead, Agent Lupinetti," is murmured instead, agreeable enough. He's got the field experience, even if it's not necessarily in this same division. She has to sensibly defer to him in these things. She angles an apologetic look to Walsh, however, even as she heads for the lobby. "I'll buy you a coffee," she promises. "A large one. A good one. Least I can do for the traffic you're going to endure on our account."

Do we have to look at the basement? Detective Walsh doesn't ask it either, but he does exhale a deflating sigh as he turns for the door, slouching tiredly as he rubs one hand at the back of his neck. "Gonna need t'be a red eye at this rate," Walsh admits with an affable laughter. "Got a busy day 'head'f me, " he admits as he pulls open the office doors, stepping in front of them to hold them for the departing agents. "Just found out th' other day tha' I'm apparently a gran' dad." There's a crinkle of something resembling emotion in the corners of Walsh's eyes.

"Gotta… pick up something for me grandson, then head off to see him for the first time." He watches the agents pass, then turns around and reaches for the doors to bring them closed. "Ain't a happy family, but who has one'f those these days, right?"

"My daughter probably doesn't want me t'go see him either, stubborn girl." is murmured as the doors swing shut.

"But that's Susan for ya."

"Chip off the old block."

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