December 5th, Upper Rosewell Village, 9:00 A.M
Pulling up to the alleyway where she was scheduled to meet the rest of her squad, Kate parked her car and downed the rest of her coffee before heading into the alleyway where everyone was already set up. After so much hectic action it was nice to finally just settle back into her normal police work, even if it was for only a little bit. Taking a deep breath to settle herself down, she flashed the officer on duty her badge and went under the police tape that roped off the scene.
"Alright boys, what am I looking at?" Kate asked, looking down at the dead body that was lying face up on the lightly snowed ground.
"Caucasian male, probably around his mid-twenties to early thirties. We have no idea who this guy is by the way. Cause of death seems to be this giant slash wound," the newly promoted Sergeant Cruise explained, hands following the cut wound from the top of the body's pectoral muscle down to about where the liver was, almost as if he was tracing a line.
"That is… quite the cut. This slice is smooth as hell, no jagged edges or hesitation marks or anything. It's almost as if he was cutting a piece of meat apart," Kate observed as she put on a pair of rubber gloves and knelt down to examine the body wound. As she began touching one of the edges of the cut she noticed something extremely odd.
"Coroner, do you have an approximate time of death for me?"
"From what I was able to gather my initial prediction would be about four or five hours ago. However, due to the snow my calculations could be off," the coroner replied as he began wheeling in the gurney to take away the body.
"So assuming you're correct, why is the wound dry?"
"That's the part that's baffled me the entire time. With the depth and length of the cut, there should have been a large amount of blood splatter or at the very least a large pool of blood somewhere. However, there's almost no blood anywhere except for that extremely small pool next to the body. Based on that, I decided to check if there were any other places where blood had appeared. There wasn't, and so when I checked the body again as a result, I discovered that… how do I put this?" the coroner said before pausing. "This man has been completely exsanguinated."
"How is that possible? You said this dude died at most a couple hours ago. The killer would've had to work at literally twice breakneck speed to in order to remove that much blood with that little mess."
"I'm not sure myself. However, what I know for sure is that the pupils are heavily dilated, which indicates terror or extremely high anxiety at the time of death. This man knew he was going to die, and whatever he was staring down put the fear of God into him."
Armed with this initial information, Kate turned to both of the detectives canvasing the scene and told them to begin interviewing the locals to see if any information on the man would come up.
"Cruise, you finish up here. I've got a friend to go meet."
Maximus Circle, 10:30 A.M
Bryan was sitting at a café on the outside of the Maximus Circle, waiting for Kate to arrive so they could begin their discussion. With an irritated sigh, he took a sip of his coffee and slouched down a little bit in his chair. Ever since Monika's battle with that sadistic priest from the Order, she had flat out refused to talk to either him or Kate. He'd tried to explain to her what was going on and why they did it but she didn't care. With nothing to lose, he even told her about her ancestry and the Solaris in the hopes that she would understand. She responded at the time with a backhand to the face before accusing both him and Kate of being lying excuses for human beings who had the nerve to try to bring her family into this. Needless to say, it hadn't been the most fruitful of conversations. As he put the paper cup he was holding back down on the table, Kate arrived and sat down across from him.
"So how you doing?" Bryan asked nonchalantly.
"You know the answer. Have you patched things up with Monika for us yet?" Kate replied as she took off her jacket.
"If things were fixed do you think I would be here right now?"
"Fair enough. Maybe we should just let her stew for a while until she realizes there's actual weight to our words. In the meantime, however, there's a case I'm working on that I could use some assistance on. Would you be willing to help me?"
"That would depend on the case. Run me down on the initial investigation so far."
"One victim so far, male. There was a giant slash wound across his chest. The kicker is that the body was completely exsanguinated. Barely any drops of blood at the crime scene. All of that makes me think we're dealing with either some kind of vampire or, and this is much more likely, a psychopath with blood based powers. A hemomancer in other words."
"Well that's certainly less than what I would call good. It is what I would call interesting though. I will in fact help you. Do we have any leads so far?" Bryan asked after mulling over the situation for a moment.
"I just got a text from one of my detectives saying that they brought a witness to the station for questioning. Thank God for late night drug users I guess. You wanna go in for the interrogation?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Bryan replied with a sly smile.
Police Department, 11:00 A.M
Cory Tredwell was sitting on one of the steel chairs provided in the main precinct's interrogation room, hands shaking in anxiety and fear. He'd been sitting in that exact same chair for the past twenty minutes, letting his thoughts stew around over and over. The main thought he had at the moment was how he was about to be probably arrested for drug possession. More than anything else, he couldn't go back to prison. He wouldn't go back to prison, no matter what. He had people to take care of, people that needed him. Unless, this wasn't about the drugs. Maybe they brought him in to ask him about… oh God. Seeing that man last night, that sword, the body on the ground; the very thought of that scene made him want to gag and puke again. That man was something else, he wasn't just some run of the mill killer, he was a demon. And as these thoughts kept running through is head, swimming around threatening to take total control over him, they were just as quickly interrupted. The door had opened.
"Cory Tredwell, age twenty-five. Multiple charges for drug possession. You are a real piece of work my addict friend," Kate said as she took a seat while poring over his criminal file on a tablet. "Lucky for you, today we aren't here to discuss such trivial things. That is, if you're willing to comply with us."
'Oh Jesus,' Cory thought to himself. They were here to talk about that murder. Somewhat randomly, his mind wandered to the idea of how it was possible that someone saw him witnessing a murder last night. Either way, he knew he wasn't ever going to leave this police station unless he started speaking.
"I am, I am. What are you asking me about?" Cory replied with some reservations. Maybe if he feigned ignorance he might be able to get away pretending he knew nothing.
"At about four or five A.M last night someone reported you as a witness to a murder. We want you to tell us what you saw."
"That man, that demon rather," Cory said as he began breathing heavily "killed the other guy at about three in the morning. It was weird, he made a sword appear out of nowhere, and this thing was massive by the way; easily the size of what could be compared to a two handed broadsword. This guy held it like it was a butter knife."
"This man, how did he use the sword? Did he stab the man or did he just hit him with a powerful slash?" Bryan asked, who was seated at the same table right next to Kate.
"I don't remember exactly because I kind of looked away at the exact moment he… well, you know… but from what I saw prior to that, it was most definitely a slashing motion. He brought that sword up and then swung downwards. He only needed one shot to do it. He was near perfect in his execution," Cory answered as his breathing started to get even heavier. The thoughts of that man were proving to be too much to handle, despite how strong he tried to be.
"You mentioned something about the killer's sword. What did it do? Did it have any weird abilities attached to it?" Kate mentioned, hoping to get some more info on this weapon. There was the chance, no matter how slim, that it was already registered in the system.
"It seemed to be almost its own living entity. It glowed, I know that for certain. That isn't even the real kicker. As that man's blood was pouring out of that wound onto the ground, it sort of… drew the blood into it, almost as if it was absorbing it. It was too horrible… I can't… NO, YOU WON'T TAKE ME, I WON'T LET YOU!" Cory screamed at the top of his lungs, gesticulating wildly in his seat.
"Cory, calm down! Everything is all right, no one is trying to hurt you!" Kate yelled. "Bryan, we have to restrain him. Help me out here."
"What the hell is even going on? Dude was fine just a minute ago!" Bryan said to no one in particular as he wrapped himself against the now standing and violently moving witness. Digging his heels into the ground, Bryan kept himself from moving to mitigate any possible damage.
"He's probably having a mental breakdown. The mix of the drugs he's been taking and the recollection of a traumatic sight like murder must've been too much to process all at once," Kate reasoned out loud. Shoving the door open, she motioned to two officers to get help before she shouted, "I need a medic in here stat! We have a witness going into shock. Hurry up!"
O'Flannigan's Bar and Grill, 12:00 Noon
"That was, by far, the worst possible way that interrogation could've gone," Bryan said as he took a sip from the bottle of beer in his right hand.
"That would be putting it lightly. We still have no idea what the killer sounds like, much less what he looks like. Not to mention that all we really got afterwards was that the man was wearing a black and white cloak at the time," Kate replied with a sigh.
"So exactly where do we go from here?" Bryan asked. "Actually, I might know a place. Would you like to take a trip down memory lane?"
"Define 'place' and 'memory lane'."
"Joey Lee. He used to work for the Black Hawks in drug trafficking before he went clean. However, time makes fools of us all and he changed to my information broker in case in case I ever needed it."
"To memory lane we go."
Ground Zero, 12:45 PM
With a massive groan and a screech, Bryan slid open the steel door that served as the barrier to the information den. With both blades drawn into bow form, he entered slowly, each step carefully placed to ensure that a trap wouldn't go off. Following closely behind with her gun fully loaded and unholstered, Kate went step for step behind Bryan.
"Can you tell me why it is that we need to have our weapons out just to meet this guy?" Kate asked in a barely audible whisper.
"Because," Bryan began, firing an arrow into the darkness. Seconds later the sound of a nylon cord snapping in two rang out, followed by two wooden boards with razor sharp steel spikes slamming closely together like a pair of wings. "That's why."
"You have got to be fucking kidding me," Kate muttered under her breath in response. Deciding that for the time being following Bryan's lead was a better idea than anything she could come up with, she turned the flashlight mounted on the bottom of her pistol on, flooding the pitch black room with just a small amount of visible light. From what the light revealed, Kate could make out the various riggings and wires that composed multiple traps like the one from before.
Deftly moving with his usual precision and grace, Bryan disarmed another two traps while both members of the party continued to move forward. After another ten minutes of walking in the near darkness, Bryan gave the hand signal to stop, a closed fist in the air, and knelt down. After thrity seconds of searching, he found the handle to a trapdoor. Yanking it open with great force, Bryan descended down the hidden stairwell, bow still in hand with Kate following close behind.
"Shine your flashlight through my bow," Bryan instructed as they went past what was about the thirtieth step.
"What? Why?" Kate asked, before realizing that it was better to just not ask questions at this point. With a quick and simple motion, she raised her flashlight to chest level and shined the beam through the middle of the top blade of Bryan's bow.
Acting like an extremely large filter, Bryan's bow turned the light that passed through into a blueish hue that travelled all the way down the rest of the staircase. Seconds later, Kate heard an audible series of clicks that matched the sound of an assault rifle being unloaded and deconstructed.
"Was your guy pointing a fucking assault rifle at us?" Kate nearly screeched at Bryan, but instead chose to say it as a very auditory whisper dripping with disdain.
"Well yeah. I mean if you were being hunted by the gang that you left because you stole a million dollars from them before dropping dimes on half of the high command you'd take some precautions as well," Bryan replied nonchalantly.
"Half of the high command? When the hell was this?" Kate asked, confused at the timing of this revelation. She was head of gang and drug enforcement so to not be in the know about this was baffling.
"When did you get your promotion again?"
"A year and a half ago."
"So about half before then. Anyway, when and how isn't important right now because we've arrived," Bryan said as they reached an opening at the bottom of the staircase that led into a well-lit room covered in computer banks. "Joey frickin' Lee. How are you my friend?"
"Day in day out it's all the same; paranoid and free," the short man with glasses, brown hair and a light tan replied back, leaning forward in his swivel chair after placing his M4 rifle on the ground. "I assume you're here because you want some information. What do you want to know?"
"There was a man who murdered a John Doe last night. Sucked all the blood out of his body according to some junkie. We have no idea what he looks or sounds like. What we do know is that he's a hemomancer with a big ass sword. Know anybody that fits that description?" Kate asked as she holstered her glock.
"Well I have heard rumblings about some sadist running around with a giant sword at night, but this would be the first time I've actually heard him kill someone. That being said, people have been hearing him speak in an accent that makes him not from here. It was Sylvanian, if memory serves correctly. Not to mention that this guy was a big time serial killer back there," Joey said in a very matter of fact tone.
"The killer is from Sylvania? Then it shouldn't be that hard to find out who he is then. Just cross reference all the flights that came in from there against anyone that with a prior history of criminal offenses. Once we have that we bring them in for questioning and then boom, we've got our guy."
"Well, that might not be as easy as you think. If it wasn't obvious already, this guy definitely came in illegally. In fact, if I were to put my money on it, he's probably working as a hi-" Joey began before a rumble reverberated throughout the building, causing some of the dust and dirt caked on the ceiling to fall to the ground. Seconds later the sound of debris crashing to the ground in addition to the springing of various traps.
"What the hell was that?" Bryan asked, jerking his head towards the stairs, bow back in hand.
"Someone's discovered this place. Were you two being followed? Oh holy shit, he's still going through the traps. How is he not dead yet?" Joey exclaimed with a tone of surprise. With a mix of panic and urgency, he moved over to his keyboard and typed in a sequence of keys. Seconds later, a beeping sound could be heard in addition to small explosions. The distinct smell of burning began wafting in the air as well, like a very expensive and valuable campfire.
"We have got to go," Joey said as he opened a small hatch imbedded in the left most wall immediately after picking up and reloading his weapon. Taking point, Kate crouched down and entered first, both because she held the only source of light and because it was an undeniable fact that between the three of them she held the quickest trigger finger. Joey filed in soon after while Bryan went in last to cover their flank. As the trio kept moving, the shaking and rumbling of the small building continued, almost as if it was on a timer. After about ten minutes of moving another metallic door came into view, likely the way to the outside. With a forceful kick Kate swung it open and led the three of them outside.
Looking back at the brick building, Bryan was blown away by how badly the building had deteriorated in the past ten minute. Small chunks of wall were missing from the outside, and the only thing that could be seen in the openings were yellow and orange glows. Even though it wasn't apparently obvious to others yet, that building was burning down.
"Jesus Christ almighty, who in the fuck could've survived that? And to that note, who the fuck even knows I'm here?" Joey yelled at no one in particular.
"Pertinent as it seems right now, that's not the main concern. We need to get you to a safe house right now. You can tell us what you know over there," Kate replied, still breathing heavily.
"Right, that seems like a good idea," Joey began before he was cut off by a terrifying sight.
Appearing out of nowhere, a transparent, blood red wall appeared out of the ground, stretched the entire width of the alleyway in such a way that it cut Joey off from Bryan and Kate. Seconds later a towering figure, standing about six foot six, leapt off the fire escape and landed in front of all three of them. In his hand was a large sword, easily the size of a two handed sword. Even though the man didn't have extraordinary muscle size, the definition of what he had and most definitely the strength in them was all the way there. With a smirk, he cracked the joints in his neck, revealing green eyes and just the faintest bit of snow white hair under his hood, which was connected to the black cloak he was wearing.
"Glasses, secret lair, unassuming. You are most definitely the target I have been looking for. Your death comes now," the man said with a sick sense of happiness.
Without even giving Joey a chance to say anything in return, he brought his sword down in a downwards slash, killing him instantly. Kate and Bryan closed their eyes at the point of the act for just a second, partly out of shock and partly out of disgust. Blood began spilling from the open wound rapidly, like an uncontrollable waterfall, but before any of it could hit the ground the sword drew the blood into it, almost like a drainage sink. Moments later an unmarked, black sedan pulled up in front of the alley and stopped before swinging open its back door.
"Who the hell are you?!" Bryan yelled as he swung at the barrier. To his surprise, his sword had no effect as the wall held strong.
"Who I am is not important. We'll be seeing a lot of each other. And don't pretend you don't already know who I work for," the man arrogantly in the same foreign accent that Joey had mentioned earlier. Immediately after speaking, he began running at a breakneck pace towards the open car door as the barrier began to rapidly break apart. Within seconds he was inside, safe from Bryan's arrows and Kate's bullets.
Kate and Bryan both reacted as fast as they possibly could to the situation, but there was no way they would've caught up to the moving car at this point. However, this didn't stop them from trying to immobilize it as Kate unloaded an entire clip at the car while Bryan fired four arrows. To Kate's surprise, one bullet imbedded itself in the back left tire, but instead of puncturing the tire completely, the car just continued to speed off as if nothing had happened.
"Fuck!" Kate screamed as she threw her head up at the sky in a mix of exhaustion and frustration. "We were so fucking close, and now all we've got to show for it is another dead body and just the slightest bit of information to go off of. I'll call it in. CSU has to process the place and the fire department needs to put out that building."
"We did learn one thing. That dude is definitely not form around here. That accent is definitely from Sylvania; I'd recognize it anywhere. So while we might not know anything about this guy, we most definitely know someone that probably does," Bryan reasoned with a pissed off look on his face.
"You can't be serious," Kate replied with another look of exasperation.
"I am. How many vacation days you got saved up?"
Order Headquarters, 10:00 P.M
"Well done Escher. Your work was exemplary as usual. I am especially surprised that you were able to take out the target even though the boy and the cop were right next to him. Still, it is a shame that they knew him. Unfortunate coincidence I suppose," Odiom said in his normal tone. He and Escher were sat across from each other, separated by a table that contained various fruits and two plates of dinner.
"Thank you, sir. Those two seem like a minimal threat," Escher replied with the same smile from before.
"I can see how you would believe that. However, it would not be wise to underestimate them. Both Viktor and Justise fell in battle to their friends, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if you and Siren would fall in hard fought battle with them."
"I will keep that in mind sir."
"Very good. I want you to switch over to our main project for the time being. All those murders have drawn quite a bit of attention to you. For now, you'll oversee the building of the gates."
"Do not question me lieutenant. I have my reasons for doing things, and it would be smart for you not to question them," Odiom stated with a subtle amount of venom, but enough to make Escher fall immediately into line.
"Yes sir," Escher stated back without question.
December 6th, Flight SA273, 9:30 A.M
Bryan and Kate were both seated in economy class in a commercial jet, headed to Sylvania to visit their friend for answers. Halfway into their flight, both Bryan and Kate had run out of things to talk about and were either reading books or watching the inflight entertainment to pass the next two hours.
"So what are we gonna-" Kate began asking Bryan suddenly before he cut her off.
"I don't know."
"We're just going to gloss over the issue and hope he doesn't notice then?"
"Because that's a good idea if I've ever heard one."
Upon hearing this, Bryan just responded by sliding forward in his seat a bit and closed his eyes to go to sleep.
Tenos, capital city of the Kingdom of Sylvania, city outskirts, 2:00 P.M
After thirty seconds of waiting, the gate separating the large manse from the outside world began to part, revealing the simplistic, yet opulent, architecture of the house of the chief of police. Kate gave a low whistle at the sight as the taxi both she and Bryan were seated in pulled into the semi-circular driveway before stopping at the front door. With a pale, outstretched hand the driver held open his palm to signal for the fare. Bryan put the money in his hand in addition to a generous tip as both he and Kate left the car. With no words being exchanged, the taxi drove off to find another fare.
"This country is still a fucking mess," Kate said as they both walked up to the front door. "Not really surprising though, considering that the government is led by a tyrannical dictator. You saw the same shambled huts and messed up buildings I did right?"
"Yeah. It's a real shame; this place is so beautiful too. All we can hope is that Giel fixes the place as best he can," Bryan replied. Seconds later, the doors to the manor opened up revealing opulent staircases and tiled floors. Standing on one of these tiles about a yard away was their friend and chief of police of the country of Sylvania, Giel.
"If it isn't my friends from Saiba City! Kate, Bryan, it is so nice to see you again! Please, come in," Giel said with a smile and a handshake. After all the formalities were went through, he led them up a flight of stairs and through an open door into a well-furnished study. Giel took a seat behind his large mahogany desk as Bryan and Kate sat down in slightly less, but still, opulent chairs.
"It's been a long time Giel. It's a welcome sight for sure," Kate said with a soft laugh. "I realize that the phone call I gave might not have been enough information."
"It was a bit lacking in information, yes. However, that is why you are here now and if there is a way that I can help I am more than willing to do so. Now with that being said, a rundown of your mystery murderer would excellent," Giel replied in his thick accent.
"White hair, green eyes strong but not overly muscular, Caucasian. He carried a large sword that was able to absorb the blood of whoever he killed."
"Did you- did you say absorb blood?" Giel said in a tone of surprise, as a frown started to appear on his face. "I feared that something like this would happen. Is he working for a higher entity or is he operating alone?"
"We aren't totally sure but we suspect he is working for the Order," Bryan replied.
Looking through the files that lined the shelf on the right side of the room, Giel found the manila folder he was looking for and pulled it out. Emblazoned on the front in red ink was the word 'top clearance' in Sylvanian Cyrillic. Placing it down on the desk, Giel exhaled a large breath before sitting back down.
"As they say in your language, you two should 'strap yourselves in'," Giel stated before flipping open the folder and resting his palms on the table.
"We have much to discuss."