AK 22 - "Dramatis Personnae"

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AK 22 - "Dramatis Personnae"

Postby FSF Sail » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:38 pm

Sup Kryptos? Today Opposite Day? Just saved a red hat from a beatdown by 3 trans goddesses. Look how we get along! Peace! AK

A grinning Amber Kryptonite held the phone aloft, shooting downward toward herself and a chubby, middle aged man sporting a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap. He was smiling, but the alarm in his eyes was palpable as two stunning trans women planted their lips to the stubble on his cheeks. The third offered a mischievous grin as her fingers played at Amber’s mohawk.

Angela smiled as she messaged a response.

Prettiest girls he’s ever been kissed by LOL

Over the next several minutes, her phone buzzed with a steady stream of wry comments from the “Kryptos,” Amber’s growing legion of followers. She could use the distraction. Tonight was slow. Typical Monday night for the Detectives’ desk of the 23rd Precinct. Add the regular bands of thundershowers that seemed to lay into the city every other hour, and you had a recipe for quiet phones and bored cops.

She thought about coffee, then dismissed the notion. The pot in the detectives’ office was cold. Forget the squad room; the watery stuff desk Sgt. McLanahan insisted on brewing was coffee in name only. That meant the vending machine outside the male officers’ locker room…no thanks. Better to avoid any chance encounters.

Something was happening in the 2-3. At first, she dismissed the subtle change in some of her brother officers as a sense of politically induced paranoia. After all, the adage that out of 100 men could be found 10 creeps was pretty much true in every organization, Metro PD included. But over the past few months it seemed that those creeps had become just a little bit bolder in the things they’d say, and the openness of the stares that she felt upon her body. It wasn’t until Sharon McBride had asked her about it that Angela realized she wasn’t alone in her perceptions.

The quiet concern was set aside as she chuckled over Amber’s return message.

Ima get makeup tips! Woof!

The clock wound it’s ponderous way past midnight. Two o’clock would see the end of her watch, a duty shift her captain had assigned since the island raid back in December. Whether punishment or protection, she couldn’t be sure. One thing was apparent. The investigation Angela had felt so certain of was going nowhere. Amber had been right about that one, but it was still a bitter disillusionment to the young detective to think that her own department could be so cowed by…whoever was behind that shadowy organization.

So, she worked the night desk…”until further notice.” While at home, poor Alake suffered in her kennel. She wasn’t doing her dog any favors. If current circumstances were any indicator, Angela’s career in detectives wasn’t exactly on a positive track, either. She knew the alternative…stop playing with crazy vigilantes. Signal her willingness to “get with the program,” accept one of the envelopes that made their surreptitious way around the squad room once a month. Hell, the extra money would be useful. So would the reduced chances of being killed in the street. Why the hell not?

“More news from the breaking fraternity date rape scandal at Metropolitan University…” Her eyes lifted toward the squad room television. In a small picture over the news anchor’s left shoulder was Councilman Samuel Carnahan, his face somber as he gave a statement. “While it is true that I was a member of this fraternity during my time at MU, I had no knowledge of any activities in which young women were assaulted. I’ve promised my full cooperation with any official investigation that may come of these allegations. No questions at this time, please,” he said with a lift of his hand, before escorting his equally grim wife from the podium.

The camera shot returned to the anchor. “Our Action News I-Team have uncovered the fact that Councilman Carnahan was enrolled at Metro U from the fall of 2004 through spring 2007, before a transfer to Notre Dame to complete his degree. While the allegations of the organized date rape of non-white girls at an annual party called “Safari Night” have resulted in several women coming forward, thus far none of the potential victims were enrolled during the same period as the councilman.”

“Dicks and money,” Angela scowled at the television. “Can’t trust men with either one…” The dark musings evaporated with the ringing of her desk phone. “Twenty-third precinct detectives,” she said woodenly as the receiver pressed to her ear.

“Dispatch 9-1-1 routing a call for Detective Casey.”

“This is Casey,” she replied. After two electronic pops, the call connected to her phone. Angela could hear three women in urgent conversation.

“Lupe, you got a trace yet?” Amber’s voice was a strained, almost dry rasp of fear.

“Working on it,” came the response. Angela recognized Lupe, but tonight, her voice was quivering. Something had shaken her…badly.

“Detective Casey?” Carla sounded equally frightened. “Are you there?”

“I’m here,” Angela was now bolt upright in her chair. ‘What’s happening?”

“Sha….Shaniqua Tyler,” Carla stammered. “We’re getting a live stream…they’re gonna kill her!”

“Oh, Jesus.” For a moment, her mind was blank. Shaniqua Tyler was still alive? Fear and shame both warred for her emotional focus as she attempted to control the situation. “Okay, okay, slow down. Tell me what’s happening.”

“Amber got a private message on Twitter,” Carla rushed breathlessly. “From an account she didn’t know.”

“Is that even possible?” Angela leaned forward to begin furiously scribbling her notes.

Carla took a ragged breath. From the background came the terrified scream of a young girl. “Sh!t!” she gasped. “He just came at her…cut a button off her clothes with a knife!”

“Listen…LISTEN!” the detective shouted into her phone. “That stream. Is there a link?”

“Yes,” Lupe cut in. “I’m emailing it to you now.”

Amber’s voice broke through. “What the f#ck, Lupe? I’m just swinging in the wind out here!”

“The tracker’s running, Good news is that wherever she is, they’re using a static IP.”

Angela cycled, cycled, and cycled her email again. “C’mon,” she growled as Metro PD’s heavily spam filtered system churned with agonizing slowness. After a small eternity, it yielded a fresh message with a quiet ping. From GFuentes@radnet.com, the detective noted. Lupe Fuentes…short for Guadalupe? she asked herself as the message opened. There on the screen lay the characteristic blue underlined text of a hyperlink. Beneath it was a simple message.

Depeche-vous, mon dahlia.

What?” she asked aloud, before tapping the link. The unfolding scene permitted no more than a strangled gasp as she took it in.

The space was harshly lit, What she took to be a drab, grey wall soon revealed itself to be plastic sheeting that moved with the slightest breath of air. The bed in the foreground appeared dingy, it’s filthy sheets rumpled and gathered high about the body of the young girl who whimpered as she struggled against bindings to wrists and ankles. Tears streamed down the right side of Shaniqua’s face as she writhed on the bed.

Forcing herself beyond shock, Angela began to observe the details of the scene. Shaniqua’s arms were bare. Her body was covered by some sort of antique clothing…either a tight fitting blouse…a corset, maybe? As she watched, the child struggled in fresh terror as a person entered the scene. Shaniqua screamed and pleaded with the faceless assailant as he brought what looked to be a very old cutting tool toward her stomach. With a practiced stroke, he hooked the blade under one of the garment’s buttons. For a moment, the lurid spectacle paused. Then, with a swift jerk, he sliced cleanly, sending the button skittering off to the floor. Angela noted the gesture took place in sync with the digital countdown timer that was superimposed into the bottom right corner. Nineteen. “Listen,” she said to Lupe and Carla, “I’m putting you on hold while I get my IT and Dispatch online, okay? Don’t hang up!”

“Okay,” Carla was nearly sobbing.

“Metro PD Information Services, Hansen speaking,” the blessed answer came after only two rings.

“Detective Casey, 2-3,” Angela rushed forward. “Check your email. I’m sending you a link to a live stream. We’ve got nineteen minutes to stop a homicide.”

From the telephone handset, Angela could hear the furious tapping of keys. “Got it...holy sh!t…lemme start a recording…”

“LOCATION!” Angela roared. “Work on the location. We think it’s a fixed IP. Does that help?”

“Doesn’t hurt. Running traces now.”

She rose from the desk. “I’m going mobile. Get yourself patched into central dispatch. I’m unit thirteen.”

“Copy that.”

Angela switched lines. “Carla…CARLA! Any updates?” The girl’s crying could be heard over the phone, delayed a few seconds before the same wails emanated from her own computer. Keystrokes came in a flurry, before Carla returned.

“Yeah, we have something. Amber’s in the subway, the 6 express north to 158th.”

“The Stacks?” Angela was incredulous.

………………………………….

“Unit thirteen, dispatch.”

“Thirteen!” She swerved to avoid a jaywalker, sending the black Caprice onto the sidewalk to scatter a collection of trash cans. “Sh!t,” Angela swore as she whipped the big car back into the street. “Go for thirteen!” she shouted into the mic.

“Unit thirteen, be advised that One-L-Ninety, Three-Q-Seventeen, and Seven-J-Forty-one are standing by on EC4. Central IT is patched in, and Night Command is joining.”

“Roger that, dispatch,” Angela replied as she rocketed north on 2nd Avenue. “Expect a 911 call from either Carla or Lupe with “Team Amber.” Patch them in.” Ahead of her, the traffic was attempting to part. She slowed to a crawl, nudging the unmarked Caprice through the narrow gaps as it’s siren and dashboard light cried for space. When the slightest opening appeared, she floored the pedal, hurtling toward the next open piece of street ahead. By the time she switched to Emergency Channel Four, the night commander was already taking charge.

“…code 3, south Stacks. IT, any updates?”

“Dialing him in. This is a straight shot connection. No obfuscating servers. It’s like this guy wants to be found.”

“Detective Unit Thirteen has joined,” she announced as the car raced north.

“Thirteen, this is Captain Fitzpatrick, night command. IT has updated me. I have the stream on my screen. Countdown is approaching six minutes. I’ve called Metro Air for support.”

“Thanks, sir,” Casey replied. Six minutes…and she was still fifteen blocks away from the 158th st. rail station. Where was Amber now? “IT, status?” she asked. “IT?”

Hansen’s voice belied his own stress level. “Dead end. Zombie.”

“What does that mean?”

“He’s passing through a web connected computer…registered machine. Happy Falafel, corner 159th and Kelly Ironworks Lane.”

“I heard that!” Lupe’s voice blurted into the channel before Dispatch could announce her arrival. “You checking for cellular sampling on the inbound stream?”

“I am now,” Hansen replied.

Angela cut in. “Unit Thirteen…I’m three minutes out. Lupe, where’s Amber?”

“Lost her in the subway. She hasn’t reconnected yet.” The channel fell quiet, before three voices exclaimed at once, “what the hell?”

“Status!” Angela barked.

“Fitzpatrick here. Text message just appeared on the screen. “I’m going to K-I-L her in 5 minutes.”

Carla spoke. “All caps. With periods. K.I.L.”

“Cellular,” Lupe said. “Definitely a cellular uplink. I’m tracing.”

“Copy that,” Hansen agreed. “Also tracing.”

“K-I-L,” Angela muttered as she barreled through an intersection. Car horns blared, as all around her brakes squealed. “K-I-L…. Kelly…?” Suddenly, she could hear Amber’s voice over the line shared by Carla and Lupe.

“The iron works!” the punk shouted. “He’s got her in the Kelly Ironworks!”

“Are you sure?” Angela asked. “Carla, ask her how she’s certain?”

When the answer came, it required no repetition. “F#cker painted signs to guide me!”

“It’s a trap,” the detective retorted. “Lupe…Carla…tell Amber to wait for backup. We’re just a minute out.”

“Too late. She’s already jumped the fence.”

……………………………………..

Kelly Ironworks was a casualty of war. In the post Vietnam era, government spending cuts and overseas competition eventually forced the gigantic plant to close it’s gates. The helicopter searchlight revealed decades of rust and collapse as it swept the decaying buildings and discarded heaps of twisted metal. The pilot keyed his helmet mic. “Metro night command, Air Two.”

“Night commander,” Capt. Fitzpatrick responded.

“Negative visual search,” the pilot reported. “Switching to IR.”

“Two minutes,” Hansen reported as he watched another button sliced from the girl’s outfit. Shaniqua had gone quiet, her body wracked with sobs as the clock wound down to the final minutes of her life.

“Amber’s in,” Carla found the breath to report.

Then, the first welcome news arrived. “Air Two…we’re tracking two heat blooms on the north end of the long building. One’s a person, moving. The other’s a lot hotter…could be work lights.”

“Can you make out people near those lights?” Fitzpatrick asked.

“Negative…negative. They’re too hot. Couldn’t confirm anything within about a twelve foot radius of those heat blooms.”

Casey slammed the accelerator, flooring the big Caprice as it smashed through the rusted gate. “Thirteen onsite,” she keyed the mic as she directed the car toward the blackened husk of the once mighty smelting and molding facility.

Blue lights flashed from behind. A black and white was on her rear bumper. “Three-Q-Seventeen. We’re with you, detective.”

Deakins. Of course he’d be in the middle of this.

Both cars swerved to a halt at the structure’s northernmost edge. Angela threw on her vest, keyed the shoulder mic as the two uniforms rushed to join her. “Air Two, Unit Thirteen. We’re going in, now. You’re our eyes.”

“Copy, Thirteen,” came the response from the circling chopper.

The muscular LeVonn Deakins wielded the hand ram, smashing the door into brittle fragments with two blows. Angela drew her weapon, leading the way as the trio entered the darkened workfloor. “Time,” she demanded.

“One minute, five seconds,” Fitzpatrick replied. “Backup is on the scene.”

“Air Two update. Heat blooms have converged. Your individual’s inside the space…can no longer discern her signature.”

Casey ran along a handrail, eyes sweeping every shadow, gun following. The lower level still contained some of the heavy equipment, the giant smelting pots and heat elements whose sheer size made removal impractical. The clatter of their feet striking the walkway grate echoed in the lifeless darkness.

From behind her, Deakins shouted. “There! Down there! Light under that door!”

“One minute.”

“Amber!” Angela cried. “Amber!” During her later debrief, Angela would agree that she and the two uniforms descended a spiral staircase to the lower production floor, but her conscious mind held no recollection. There was only that door, and the narrow dagger of light slicing out beneath it. She ran, for all that she was worth, dodging rubble and the lifeless heart of a once powerful industrial organism, eyes fixated upon that light…that final hope.

Suddenly, the door burst open. Three weapons focused upon a silhouette. “Freeze!” Deakins roared from behind her. As her eyes adjusted to the brilliant wash of light, the figure began to sprout details…shoulder spikes on the leather jacket…a mohawk…

Angela squinted down the barrel of her service revolver. “Amber? Amber?”

“Yeah, it’s her,” Deakins confirmed. As they rushed to meet her, Amber Kryptonite stepped through the glowing doorway, hung her head, and vomited.

Detective Casey led the way into the room. Years ago, the space might’ve been a foreman’s office, or possibly storage for spare parts. Now, but for a few scraps of yellowed paper on the floor, the room was empty. Ancient mint green paint peeled from the walls in great, brittle chunks. Like the ironworks itself, this room had died and been eviscerated long, long ago, it’s empty shell remaining to lie in state.

The recent activity in it’s center was a rude interruption of that repose. Sheets of thick plastic hung from the ceiling to brush at the floor. They moved listlessly in the breeze generated by the cops’ passage. Within the enclosed space, a bank of work lights blazed, their heat felt even from outside by the detective. The gun’s muzzle peeked through, pushing a corner of the hanging sheet aside for her to assess the risk.

It was moments such as these that Angela found herself thankful for her training, and the icy composure that was expected of a metro PD detective when faced with the horrors of such sheer inhumanity. “Oh, sh!t,” Deakins muttered from behind her, as his partner gasped.

There, tied by wrists and ankles to a filthy metal framed bed, lay the body of a young girl. Though nearly devoid of it’s rich hues, the face of the victim was definitely that of Shaniqua Tyler. The buttonless garment had been laid neatly open, to reveal the depravity she’d undergone. The girl’s torso and chest had been incised, her skin and underlying tissue folded over her sides. Internal organs were pulled, in some cases cut free of their moorings, to lie in macabre display around the body cavity. Clothed as she was in what appeared to be Victorian underwear, any obvious signs of genital or extremity damage wasn’t available to the detective’s eye. Yet, for all the mutilation the child’s body had undergone, Angela saw no blood. “Not a drop,” she whispered as the pistol found it’s holster.

A quiet cry of terror caught her ear. There, next to the car battery that powered the blazing lights, a cell phone glowed with an image of the girl, now screaming as she fought her bindings to avoid the dark figure who loomed above her. As the antique blade settled onto Shaniqua’s throat, the screen went black. “Secure the scene,” Angela ordered the uniforms, before keying her mic. “Night commander, Thirteen.”

“Night commander,” Fitzpatrick answered. “Status.”

“The stream,” she began, “is prerecorded. Cell phone at the scene,” Angela said of the device. She gave the report, her voice smooth and practiced as she stared into the obscenity before her. “We’re 10-84 at Kelly Ironworks, north end of the large building, lower level room just off the work floor. Victim appears to be Shaniqua Tyler, African American female, thirteen years of age. Possible homicide. We need the medical examiner and a full investigative team. Three-Q-Seventeen is securing the scene.”

“Night Command copies. You run it from there, Detective.”

“Copy,” she replied, before withdrawing from the sight of the murdered child. “Where’s Amber?” she asked Deakins.

“Just outside,” he offered. “Not good.”

“I’ll take her statement.” The detective strode through the doorway, into the darkness of the lower floor. There, she found Amber. The vigilante leaned into a wall, her face cradled against her right forearm. Her shoulders shook with the violence of the sobs that threatened to choke her breathing. “Hey,” Angela offered, laying a gentle hand upon a heaving shoulder. In an instant, Amber was in her arms, her tears coursing hot down her friend’s neck as she wept.

“F#ck,” was all that Amber could manage between deep, wracking sobs. “F#ck…”

……………………………………..

“I need a shot,” Angela stopped the gurney. “Just the face. For her parents to ID.” She held her phone above the body, closing the distance to display Shaniqua’s face and as little of the surrounding bag as possible. As if that makes this any less cruel, she thought as she snapped three shots. Her hand was gentle as she lifted the bag’s zipper, consigning the child’s face to darkness.

After waving the med tech back to his job, the detective glanced across the foundry floor. The dusty space’s years of neglect was now on stark display from portable lighting set by the Crime Scene Investigations unit. Folded placards lay in odd assortment, their numbers calling for the attentions of the photographer who was still busy in the space now known as “the Kill Room.” Outside, plaster casts were being collected. The tread marks from a truck had been isolated, along with a number of bootprints. Amber Kryptonite’s Doc Martens were soon identified and catalogued, to go with fingerprints that corroborated her point of entry. A second unit was photographing a number of symbols spray painted onto “the K-I-L,” Kelly Ironworks Lane. One of the shots, detailing the same modified “anarchy” symbol from Amber’s jacket, had been emailed to her. Angela studied the image, noting the attachment of a diagonal arrow that pointed toward the iron works. “Mars,” she muttered beneath her breath. “Somebody’s really set this thing up…”

Amber was a wreck. After collecting her statement, and those of her assistants Carla and Lupe, she’d ordered Deakins to get the punkette off the scene. “Take care of her,” had been her final instruction. Knowing the officer’s emotional attachment for Amber, she knew that he’d be faithful to the order and not leave her side. With her friend’s well being thus resolved, she could focus.

What did she know? Angela pondered the details as uniformed and plainclothes cops worked all around the scene. This whole production was built to target Amber. That much was a no-brainer, considering the video stream and the spray painted directions. But, to what end? she asked herself. Why tease her with a countdown video, only to have her find the body? The shadowy figure known only as “the Trainer” had to be behind this. Shaniqua Tyler’s name had never made the news in relation to Amber’s search. And of course, Amber’s testimony after December’s island raid included the statement that she’d shouted the young girl’s name several times prior to being shot. The only other adults in the room had been the Trainer, and his “doctor,” Uta Kleinschmidt.

Uta Kleinschmidt, who somehow escaped from an isolation cell on Walker’s Island, she thought.

“Detective? Detective.” The crime scene investigator beckoned from the kill room’s doorway. “We found something you should see.” Grasping her notepad, Angela picked her careful way through the evidence markers toward the door. For a moment, she could almost smile. Someone had thought to assign an exhibit number to the congealing puddle of Amber’s vomit.

“What have you got?” she asked as the tech led her inside.

In response, the man handed her a portable UV blacklight. “I wanted to check for any bodily fluids we could isolate,” he said. “Sheets were clean. There are chemical traces I’m gonna run in the lab..”

“Chemicals?” She raised an eyebrow. “What chemicals?”

He shook his head. “Nothing I can ascertain in the field,” he said, but…I hope this doesn’t sound creepy…”

“Look around,” she urged. “We’re way past that.”

He nodded, then lowered his voice. “I was in here…when the ME’s were bagging the vic. I caught a whiff of something. Later, I…put my nose down to the sheets,” he blushed.

“And?”

“Formaldehyde,” he blurted. “I thought I smelled formaldehyde.”

Angela gestured with the blacklight. “So what’s this for?”

“Benny, kill the worklights.” As the room went black, the tech continued. “Thought I’d check the perimeter for traces of the perp. Saliva..maybe sweat. Those lights are hot as hell. Turn on your light, detective.” The fluorescent hand torches both kicked on at once. “This is it,” the tech offered. “They’re everywhere.”

Angela’s light played first upon the bed, the plastic sheeting, and then swept the walls, the floor, and the ceiling of the kill room. Her lips parted as she drew a quiet breath. Everywhere that she directed the blacklight’s beam, the room blossomed with glowing “AK” circular anarchy symbols. There were hundreds, covering the walls, the floor, the ceiling.

“World class psycho,” she observed in a hushed voice.

“And he’s not finished,” the tech replied. “Check this out.” Following his own light, Angela directed hers onto the dingy mattress. The sheets had been taken, stuffed into evidence bags for further lab analysis. But the message lurking beneath forced the detective to stifle a gasp.

The curtain rises
FSF Sail (Just Dan)
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