Sick Game



Also featuring:
NPCs by Chinatown

Scene Title Sick Game
Synopsis It's what Leland's slowly beginning to realize he's hunting, and accurately describes the prey that his quarry chooses. It's what this whole thing seems to be. In light of the New Jersey State Police homicides, Lee investigates further.
Date May 31, 2009

Bayonne, New Jersey — Precincthouse: Crime Scene

From this angle, it looks like some great mythology leviathan had hauled the scaley column of its body out of the sea below the Bayonne bridge and dropped its jaws onto the precincthouse to rend a massive bite free, crumpling bricked wall and sheetrock with a sword-toothed radius of wetted jaws, belching stale black air into its recesses and rewarded with a few gallosn of blood to swallow for its trouble. Leland cuts an odd figure, standing in the space where rubble had been cleared away. Yellow tape sections him off from the few eyes that remain to pry despite the onset of the work day.

Inside the room is the remains of office space, strewn papers and smashed fax electronics parts are still tumbled across the floor and flung across table-tops like so much misappropriated confetti.

The explosive had found its origin at the wall. At the edges of the blast zone, the tables have been shoved together, clumped against cracked and buckled walls; in the middle, there's a severed leg of one, the perforated iron rail of a computer tray seesawing gently whenever a forensics guy steps past. There are a few forensics guys, still, marked apart by powdered gloves and silver-bright tongs and plastic baggies and, of course, badges strung around their necks. The chair in the corner is splashed with a sloppy crescent of blood, and tagged in neon orange for the recent removal of a body.

"Detective Daubrey?" A woman's voice, this time. Behind him: she's older than he is, cafe-au-lait skintone given line and texture by carewear, and faintly plump, a few threads of her hair faded in the coil clipped to the back of her head. "Detective Ibiza of the New Jersey State Police. A pleasure." She offers a hand to shake. Her nails are painted, a richly molasses brown that implies vanity, but too utilitarian short to really get away with it.

Leland wears a look of simmering irritation so constantly that it's difficult to read the degrees of said irritation. Pretenses and politeness are the first to fall away when he's faced with a situation like this. Something cracks underfoot as he steps towards Ibiza, but he doesn't look down. He's not sure he wants to know.

"Ibiza." He grips her hand with his own, thickened with calluses and strong enough to crush a man's windpipe. Her own manicured one only gets a squeeze, though. "Fucking…mess." That's not the most articulate way to put it, but then again, he's no wordsmith. "Something specific about this scene made you call me in. Let's get right to that, shall we?" He looks back to her, one brow raised.

It is that, frankly. Fucking mess. Ibiza's lip curls slightly as she spins a glance through the precincthouse, mutters something in Spanish that sounds decidedly disagreeable, insofar as that she agrees entirely. Huffing, she steps over broken glass, low heels negotiating the treacherous footing with the agility of one who's made a career out of fucking messes. Small blessing, maybe, that she doesn't waste her time on jurisdictional snarling, but suffering an attack on one's own has a way of doing that to a cop.

"There," she says, stretching one slim-sleeved arm over at the jumbled corner-table, the one with the chair, the one with the blood. "The precincthouse was hit by a cop-killer. Officer Roger Gibbs received a written confession from him— or her— shortly before the attack began. The original document is currently being analyzed for residuals at a lab downtown, but I got a copy floated my way. The killer confessed to executing half a dozen other crimes." She angles a dark eye over her round shoulder. "Including your double-homicide in Flushing.

"So I'm wondering if our perp really is the same one. Thank you," she pauses to accept a sheaf in manila from a younger officer, skittering through with a cardboard box open in his arms. "What do you have on yours so far?"

Where Leland stops, a squat red bucket greets him at his toe, a quarter full of water, its surface rupturing with rhythmic geometry as the sprinkler at the ceiling spits irregular leakage down despite the system technically having been switched off hours earlier. The precincthouse that overlooked the Bayonne Bridge had been shabby, neglected if heavily used, poorly maintained, as if tainted by Staten Island's proximity as well as the general socio-economic decay post-Bomb. These are not the sorts of facilities that produce SCOUT's golden children or Mayorial honors.

Detective Ibiza hands over four sheets of paper, stapled neatly together at the upper left corner. The original text was transcribed down by some low-level pencil-pusher— still sports a typographical error that nature of which hearkens back to hasty fingers on keyboard rather than the original writer's dyslexic error. The information was then chunked apart, pulled into bullet points, relevant notes spliced in.

"And this— is our perp." She hands over a single grainy, blown-up frame pulled off the surveillance camera. A young man— somewhere in his twenties, perhaps, his eyes hollowed out by steep shadows and aquiline bone structure, a narrow dash of sharpened metal jutting long in the grip of his hand. "I'm not sure if he's yours." It's obvious, immediately, why she might think so. They don't all match up— the timeline implied by the confession, the age of the man photographed.

Ibiza sets one lacquer-taloned hand on her hip, watches Leland peruse the sheets before offering the rest of the file. "Gibbs might have been a lot of things, but he wasn't a fucking terrorist."

Leland takes the papers and peruses them, squinting at the typed pages. He flips back and forth, scans down the list as he checks to see if he recognizes any of the other cases. He takes the photo from Ibiza.

It's by a strange kick of fate that he has no idea that the man in the picture he's holding has actually been in his apartment. And been very close to his best friend.

It's actually a good thing he doesn't know that. He may not have an Evolved ability, but another part of the city might still end up a smoking crater.

"We'll have a better idea if this guy's just blowing smoke once we compare the device used at both scenes. I've had fuckers confess to shit in the past. Sometimes it's real, sometimes it's bullshit from kids who just want attention."

He scratches at his head and looks around. "This could all just be to throw us off. Or this guy might not be working alone. You got any idea why anyone would want to blow this place up, aside from regular scum cop-haters?"

Something about the woman's demeanor stiffens. Blink, and you miss it; if you aren't a cop used to dealing with other cops, you'd likely have missed it too, but there's something in the insinuation there, of what Leland said, no matter how logical or predictable the progression of his questioning, that pricks against a tripwire that jarrs Ibiza with a foul reminder that Lee is an outside. A sense of reputation, internal comraderie, obscure and secondhand guilt. Her eyes flick away.

"Several blocks of C-4. Iniator was a blasting cap— RMX, one of the forensics guy found a fragment of a copper cylinder that looks likely for the casing." Sensitive and profoundly dangerous demolitions work, Leland recognizes, unless you don't like having fingers.

And just as recognizable: the style and chemical make of the explosives built to take down the wall are precisely like the ones that had taken the lives of the Humanis First! associate and his daughter and — apprentice. "A lot of the information in those confessionals is either wrong or wasn't released to the public. Could you cross-check what's on the confession there with the NYPD's files? I'm sure both of our departments would be interested."

"You didn't answer my question." And people tend to answer Leland Daubrey's questions rather promptly. He turns toe-points to her, body squared, eyebrow raised, files in hand. "I'm not accusing you of anything. I just want to understand why this place was a target." Taahhget. Boston all over it. Not only not a member of her precinct, he's not even from New York.

"Could be that some of these things are related. Some of 'em might be legit. Could be some kind of street cred thing, trying to take responsibility for it all. I don't fuckin' know."

He grunts and thumbs through the paperwork. "Not saying any of you boys were part of the hate squad. But if they had sympathies, mouthed off about the Evolved, someone might've got it in their head that everyone here was like that." And then before she can act offended, he adds, "I'm no fan of the mutants either, all right? Coulda just as easily been me that got shrapnel in my skull."

There's a protracted moment's silence, her sculpted brows seizing downward, before she flicks an irritable glance at the sluggish traffic of CSI personnel and garbagemen, heaves a sigh that sounds like a wind through a broken window, and slides her dusky hands into her pockets. "IA was looking into him for something. I don't know what, but the investigation went on a couple years and nothing ever came of it. Same for Rivera and Casey— who took a knife and a bullet in the head, respectively.

"Gibbs didn't catch shrapnel in the head, Daubrey." Dwuobray. Ibiza has Jersey marching out of her mouth.

"He got his throat cut by the fucking sword." Ibiza jerks her head downward once, roughly, at the file in Leland's hand. The one intimated by the grainy photograph, there. "Look— I'm not going to make excuses for them because as far as I'm concerned, there was nothing they needed excuses for.

"But you should keep in mind: anything this close to Staten Island, you're not going to be able to handle business the same way as your boys on Manhattan Island have the luxury of. Especially not since the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge went up in lightning." Straightening to her full height, she's still more than half a head shorter than Leland, but there's black-coalled ferocity in her eyes as she steps back to lay ticking fingernails atop a charred filing cabinet. "It seems like the two talked for a few minutes before he attacked. Do you want a copy of the footage?"

"Fucking goddamn sword?" Leland uses curse words in conversation just like any other word. There's not necessarily an extra thrust behind them. He looks down at the report and scans through until he finds the description. "Something personal there. You don't want to feel someone die like that less you have a damn good reason." And no one brings a sword to something they're prepared for unless there's a special gut that needs slicing.

"IA might not find anything, but that doesn't mean there's nothin' there to find. Look, I know shit ain't easy, all right? Isn't anywhere in this city. Might as well throw the book out the window for all it applies these days. And I'm sympathetic." He taps the folded edge of the file against his palm and looks her in the eye. "I don't care what they may or may not have done. Not my fuckin' concern. My concern is catching this guy before he blows up anyone else. But I need to know what they were accused of so's I know what this guy thought they did." He holds up the picture. "And yeah. I want the footage."

Ibiza crosses her arms underneath her breasts and out of the halves of her silvery maroon blouse, there's a wink of gold: a crucifix chained there, around her neck. She doesn't say anything for a few seconds, either suspicious that the Bostonian is bullshitting her about his apparently rather mobile sense of brotherhood or accepting it.

In the end, it doesn't matter. There are connections to form or to rule out, and she isn't willing to cock-block the adjacent island's people to honor the dead when there is still a serial killer on the loose. "All right. Good." She turns back to look out the ragged orifice that the plastique explosives had made out of the wall. "I already have a guy stripping the VHS down into a format that this century could maybe fucking use. I'll have him send it over when he's done.

"Do you think we're looking for the same assholes?" She goes with plural, for now, to stay on the safe side, without angling so much as another glance Leland's way. "You didn't comment on the devices."

"They're the same," says Leland. "Same complicated, dangerous shit that was used to blow up my two. Tells me those two're probably connected, even if the rest of the confessions are all bull." He rocks back half a step and then stops. "Think you can get me the IA report? Or ask around? I wanna know why they were on their asses." Because right now the only conclusion he can draw is that there were Humanis First members inside the ranks of cops. And that's not something he really wants to believe. He'd rather there be another explanation.

As much as Leland Daubrey dislikes the Evolved, he is a far cry from wanting them exterminated.

Manhattan Island — Precincthouse: Lee's Batcave

Hours later and Leland's at his desk with a fresh cup of coffee at his elbow and a styrofoam takeout container from the Italian deli down the block. It's really good pasta. He is picky even about his 'sit at his desk and eat' food. The static-filled video plays on an old monitor. "Fucking hell." Nobody has a budget for anything anymore it seems, even security at a police station.

In the meantime, the media monkeys in the lab off the back of the office room have been playing E-mail tag with each other. Slaving over their keyboards, thickening the glass in front of their eyes an obsessive degree at a time, in service of great justice and a bunch of dead innocents that— well, are presumably innocent— they're kind of on a need-to-know basis about the details of these cases, less because of confidentiality issues that the staggering ratio of analytical work to do versus time. The painstaking process of removing distortion artifacts, combing background noise out of the audio track.

You know, while Lee's busy eating his delicious pasta and everything.

The door clicks, briefly gasping a blare of alternative rock music over the desks, before it claps shut and back into the merciful quiet of twittering telephones and accented conversations. Seconds later, Finn's head pops into view, gopher-like, above the monitor of Leland's desktop. Blue dye is still clinging to the edge of his hair, the left side; he wiggles his fingers and grins, shows teeth. "Uploaded to your directory," he crows brightly. "Under N-J-S-P-O-M-F-G." He arches an articulate eyebrow. "Did you notice he was using a sword?"

Blue hair. People shouldn't have blue hair. It's not right. He bites his tongue a lot around the tech guys. So much so that there are teeth marks. He squints up at Finn. "Yeah. The coronor's report that read 'hole caused by sword' was a fairly big clue."

He spears a piece of pasta and pops it into his mouth. The tech guy is eyed as he slowly chews. "Did you manage to clear up any of the shit? Can't barely see nothin' on that tape. Looks like old home movies that'd been taped over a million times." The state of the station's equipment is almost as upsetting as the deaths. Well, maybe not, but it's another upset to add to the pile. "Who uses a fucking sword? Seems like the world is descending into a goddamn comic book."

The younger man— and he is younger, almost derangedly so, it seems, despite that he at least has stuck to business casual for his wardrobe without incident— wrinkles his face slightly, perturbment or exasperation, maybe some clotty adolescent mixture of both. Nobody uses a fucking sword. Except for Leland's best friend, maybe, or so the rumor mill had it back in January, but Felix Ivanov came from a goddamn comic book, too.

"He does," Finn answers, even as he slings an arm down over the monitor in order to type upside-down on Leland's computer. He even manages to mouse upside-down, too, apparently able to make enough sense of both the display and the reversed controls to navigate the network using the interface like this. In a few mouseclicks and window blooms, the folder— NJSPOMFG— has divulged an AVI. The sound remains flat, blustery, but you can make out words between the breathy click and shudder of the air-conditioning unit somewhere in the background.

Already, Finn's moving a soft-fingered hand down to turn up the volume as high as it will go. The camera's vantage point shows the profiles of both men, the youth, Gibbs— who proves overweight, Caucasian, and arrogant as a fat cat lolling in his chair. Though the words are difficult to make out, it's obvious from the get-go that the two know each other: Gibbs even obliges the arrival by scrolling his chair back as he ducks down to poke around underneath the desk.

Leland eyes the monitor and what Finn is doing, then while he's doing his techno…stuff, he pushes his fork through his tortellini and pops it into his mouth. He chews as he watches, squints again. "Huh." Well. That is certainly an interesting turn of events.

He sets the pasta aside, rubs his fingers clean on a napkin, then leans forward to observe the video more closely. He doesn't comment, but the wheels in his head are starting to turn.

The two diminutive figures move within the rectangle of the animated imagery like small pets inside the glass of an aquarium. Speaking— words you can pick out here and there, if you focus, and Finn certainly is, his normally carefree flippancy grounded by a sense of dread intrigue— a salutation here, greeting, syllables that lift at the end, with query.

Then comes the sword, though not instantly recognizable as such unless you've read the report— hole caused by sword— or reviewed the footage once, earlier. The arc of weapon in hand is seamlessly fluid, inscrutably graceful. Finn doesn't flinch away from peering at the monitor until the instant before metal contacts flesh, and dark fluid begins to thicken, block in the pixels that form the fleshy column of Gibbs' neck. He glances back in time to see the young man lope away from his erstwhile victim, pivots, pulling a handgun out of his jacket. Straightens an arm out, pulls the trigger. A flash of gunfire, and then he steps out of the frame entirely.

Wordlessly, Finn rewinds the video as it cycles down to its climax. Sets it to play again, before hitting the Loop. "What is that?" he says. "Are they talking about— hookers, or something? Han— I swear," he says, straightening above the computer. He squints at Lee out from underneath the quizzical furrow of his brow. "I swear— I could swear, the cop just said 'Handjob.'"

Lee hears it too, the next moment. But it isn't that perverted contrivance of a name or the sick joke attached that snares his attention, now. No, there's another name, a thin, half-remembered association to a news story he had glimpsed only weeks ago, a girl he had brought to Felix, and the startling number of Registration database checks enumerated on the IA's summary of Gibbs'. Gale— Shawn? Bea— Gale—?

Leland grabs a small notepad and writes down the timecode for the instances of words he thinks he hears. The gore doesn't make him flinch outwardly. Inwardly, it builds the case against this man and helps determine who he is and how he thinks. And the checks are piling up in the 'sick fuck' column.

If there was another cop here and not an exciteable tech kid, Leland would be talking this out. Known to the victims. Blackmail maybe. Hookers tend to be good blackmail fodder.

His hand grips tightly on the pencil and the downward strokes of timecode numbers press through several layers of the pad.

"Nngh," and then he looks up, blinks at Finn. "Thanks for your help." You can go now. Shoo.

He said, "Abigail Beauchamp."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License