BAH! More loose ends!

(posted Monday, September 13, 2004)


It was mid-morning of the 2nd day after Major Ursa had found young Nightstryke's broken body on the pier of the Old Mill on Perez Lake. He hadn't slept at all after dropping the young man's body off at the CCCP HQ lab for autopsy. He couldn't get the image of how he'd found the body lying there... twisted... like one does to wring water from a wash cloth, his open eyes staring at nothing. Or were they locked in an eternal stare on his assailant?


Perhaps Red Spectre should be summoned... perhaps there was some form of psychic DNA the attacker had left, or an image that might be pulled from the wells of Nightstryke's eyes? "Bah!" he thought as he moved swiftly through the air, "what do I know of such things?". He was leaping from rooftop to rooftop, but at a rate of 15 buildings at a time, his boot mounted propulsion units whirring and discharging blasts of enrergy that both proppelled him great distances and absorbed the impact of landing from great heights.


Earlier that morning he'd hacked into the King's Row Police Dept's database to obtain the info he'd needed on Nightstryke's underworld contact, this "Spivey". Former affiliation with the Skulls, arrested on drugs charges ranging from possession to intent to distribute. Grand Theft Auto, Larceny, and a number of misdemeanors. He obtained Spivey's last known address and had headed straight there. He would see what he could learn from Spivey, even if it meant beating it out of him. Nightstryke had said he had no fear of this man, but was concerned by Spivey's nervousness during the calls to set up the meeting in Perez. If Spivey wasn't directly behind Nightstryke's death, he'd damn well have an idea who was. Major had the feeling Spivey was put up to making the calls, that he wasn't alone at the time of the calls, and from what Nightstryke had surmised, he'd sounded scared. Really scared.


Major arrived at the run down tenement building which was the last known address the police had on him, luckily the phone records indicated the call was made from the address he was given so it appeared this info was up to date. He entered through the front door and made his way up the stairwell to the 5th floor, pausing on the landing to activate his cloaking device before passing silently through the stairwell door. He moved swiftly but silently down the hallway to door number 506. Outside the door ha paused, listening, scanning the door for signs of forced entry. None were apparent and no sounds came from inside. He then noticed a rather pungeant smell, one that immediately reminded him of the smell you get when a rat dies in a dumpster that hasn't been emptied in days.


Major knelt on one knee and produced from his utility belt an impossibly small wireless camera on a long, impossibly thin flexible stem and slowly, silently, slid it under the door. The image from the camera was recieved on his targetting monacle, which switched from heat sensing mode to digital camera feed as the camera was activated. He panned slowly left to right, and then back again, then again still, increasing the angle to get a veiw of the entire room, including the ceiling. The room was dimly lit and but nothing moved, he flipped a small switch at the base of the camera control unit and the camera view went to Infrared. No discernable body heat... no wait, a small red glowing shape scampered across the floor at one end of the room. A rat. No shock there. This was a run down building in a tenement neighborhood. Rats were as common as people down here.


The Major retracted the camera and stowed it back in it's place on his belt. He then tried the door knob: locked. He withdrew from his belt a small pouch and removed his lockpicking tools. Faster than you can say "Coalition of Communist Crusaders for the Proletariat" he had the door unlocked. Quietly he slipped in, closing the door soflty behind him. He scanned the dingy, sparcely decorated room and noted this Spivey is a slob.


The dead animal smell was stronger once inside the unit, and the Major was also reminded of the smell that's prevalent during any contact with the Vahzilok undead. He gripped his rifle a little tighter, and then reminded himself to stay loose. He made his way to the hallway at the other end of the living room. The short hallway was clear and he made his way down to the two doors that stood open at either end of the hall.


One he could see was the bathroom, the other appeared to be the bedroom. Both rooms were poorly lit so he switched his targetting monacle to Infrared mode. He immediately noticed the presence of many rats moving about in the dark shadows of the bedroom. The bathroom was still and no heat sources showed from within so he switched the monacle to night vision and moved into the bedroom and the rats began to scatter. The red glow of rats was replaced by a washed out green, but now he could see more detail of the inanimate objects in the room. A chair at a small folding card table in the corner, a small shabby dresser next to the heavily shaded window. And against the wall of the other corner was a bed.


Something lay on the bed, and at once Major Ursa knew what it must be that lay there, motionless, devoid of body heat. The Major switched his monacle back to standard view and reached over to the wall near the door and flicked a switch. A too bright bulb came to life from above and the details of the room sprang to view. And on the bed, as the Major had guessed, lay the twisted, bent and broken body of Spivey. To be sure he held up the small photo he'd printed out from his time in the Police Dept's database of known offenders. The skin was discolored, but the facial hair, and the scar on the forehead matched up well enough.


So Spivey had met the same fate as Nightstryke. And likely just hours before Nightstryke met his own. The cause of death was certainly the same. Broken back and neck. Twisted. Broken. The only difference was the obvious look of horror on Spivey's face. Nightstryke had shown no such weakness... his had been an expressionless deathsmask. Privately the Major was proud. To the end, Nightstryke had gone down unafraid, gone out like a true hero. He would request a posthumous recommendation from the commitee.


In leaving the bedroom he noticed the bathroom window was open as the curtain billowed inward from a momentary breeze. He moved to the window and looked out noting the fire escape leading both down and up from the the bathroom. He turned to the bathroom mirror and was reminded that he was still cloaked. He was beginning to grow more and more used to being nearly invisible, and often forgot to uncloak when stealth was no longer in need. "Hmmph, you are becomming ghost, Nikolai..." he mumbled to himself accusatorily, "and am thinking you are liking it that way"


He left the cloaking device on as he swung out onto the fire escape and made his way up to the roof. At the top where the ladder railing curled up and over the roof edge and bolted to the roofer proper, he took note of a faint set of foot prints leading to the westward end of the rooftop. There at the edge they stopped, and disappeared. Major peered over the edge, now 10 stories up from the asphalt below. No ladder, no fire escape. The intruder had departed the roof from this spot.


With nothing more to do, the Major decided he could use the exercise of a sturdy patrolling. He knew a section of Founder's Falls that was rife with 5th Column and Rikti activity. Yeah, a little combat would do him good. He needed a few collars to clear the head.