‘Yes, I’ll continue to hold,’ sighed Inspector LeGaddt stretching his forehead with thumb and index finger and closing his eyes tightly.
It had been a long night. The pursuit had gone into the small hours of the morning before the perp had given them the slip in the market area. LeGaddt was well out of his jurisdiction but an aggressive attitude towards an unsuspecting local constable had ensured he’d received the aid he needed before anyone had asked any questions. Currently, twenty or so constables from the local watch were sifting through the crowds of the Quad market. LeGaddt had supervised from the perimeter until dawn whereby, he’d decided he needed to check in.
The first public phone he’d managed to find was located in a rough and ready greasy spoon at the north corner of the market square. He’d signalled to a nearby constable and trudged off wearily to call in.
The phone had been in use when he arrived. LeGaddt had needed to flash his badge at the old lady in the blue flowery dress to force her to finish her call and surrender the phone. She was less than impressed and the fearsome look she had given him had caused him to step back momentarily.
Fatigue, thought LeGaddt his fingers winding the dial. That had been ten minutes ago. He’d been on hold ever since.
LeGaddt rested his back against the wall of the café and scanned his surroundings. To his right, a burley looking guy in black had just entered the shop and was brushing the morning rain off his jacket. Behind him, a couple of customers scattered among the booths. Over his left shoulder, slouched over the counter was a kid in a paper pirate hat. The massive guy by the hotplate, flipping eggs. Not to forget, that terrifying old woman in the blue flowery dress who was still glowering at him, less than two feet away from the corner cubicle.
‘Hello?’ came a voice on the other end of the line.
‘This is Inspector LeGaddt, I’m holding for DS Hollister?’
‘One moment please!’
‘Wait!’ LeGaddt blurted, but he was already back on hold.
Deep down, LeGaddt knew he’d acted irresponsibly. The past week hadn’t been a great one and, when the tip off had come into the office via an anonymous phone call he’d seized the opportunity and gone all out for the arrest. LeGaddt arrived at the scene only to find the perp had already made good his escape only moments earlier.
By blind chance, a traffic cop had reported a sighting which had matched the perp’s description heading south on the old Station Wagon Road down to the Quads. LeGaddt was back in the game and he’d taken off. He’d been awake for thirty-six hours and now, in the warmth of the greasy spoon with the white noise of the rain hitting the roof he was beginning to flag.
His eyes hung heavily as he went back over what he knew. Not a nice one this, he thought. Not nice at all. There was something playing on his mind. Something from the scene he’d miss-
‘Sir? You there?’
LeGaddt blinked. It took him a moment to re-orientate himself. Bloody hell, he thought, I think I’ve just fallen asleep standing up. He motioned a cup to mouth signal towards the gigantic owner of the grease pit in the international sign language of “I need coffee” before turning his attention back to the telephone receiver pressed against his ear. A small tinny voice was continuing to inquire as to his whereabouts. ‘Hollister? What we got?’
The voice on the other end of the line, Detective Sergeant Hollister, proceeded to inform his missing boss what they had. Effectively, very little. A dead male in an apartment block on Jeddon Avenue. The body badly messed up. No signs of a struggle. No eyewitnesses and no identification.
‘The forensics boys have finished though, sir. We’re cataloguing it now and- ‘
‘Just give me the gist Hollister, it’s been a long night.’
Hollister, who had also been up for nearly two days sifting through paperwork himself, was quite aware of previous night’s extreme duration. He chose not to broadcast that fact to his superior officer, recognising the likelihood of the fuse on the other end of the line being quite short. Instead, he leaned over his desk for the list of collected evidence from the crime scene. Rubbing his eyes tiredly, he focused on the paper in front of him before reeling off the list to LeGaddt.
‘TDR-141 Cell samples recovered from under the victim’s fingernails. TDR-142 Blood analysis. TDR-143 Tissue samples from the victim’s mouth…’
LeGaddt felt himself begin to drop off again as Hollister droned through the list of crime scene evidence. He turned once again to the behemoth owner and once again made the international signal for coffee in his direction. The owner was currently arguing with a rickety old lucky-lucky bob who’d moments earlier clanked and spluttered into the diner. Spindly mechanical arms waved as the bob conversed expressively with the giant man. The giant man noted LeGaddt’s signal and replied with the slightly less well-known international gesture of “Yes! I’ve bloody seen you and I will bloody well get to you in a minute!” whereby LeGaddt returned his attention to the voice on the other end of the line.
‘TDR-165 Parchment or paper from the victims left hand. TDR-166 Toxicology samples from- ‘
‘Wait a minute,’ interrupted LeGaddt. ‘Go back… Whatever it was… Paper or parchment in the victims remaining hand?’
‘Err, yes sir. Two by five centimetres. Possibly paper… but more likely parchment. Traces of blood and what looks like sepia ink…’
LeGaddt was awake suddenly. His mind raced. What was it? Maybe two months ago? An intelligence briefing of some sort? Some guy describing new narcotics which had recently hit the grid. There had been a throwaway item towards the end of the agenda. They’d summarised the item as a possible hoax because it was believed to be an Indy thing. But this whole bloody mess had started soon after. Now LeGaddt’s lizard brain was screaming at him, incomprehensibly.
‘Hollister, put a priority on 165. Full works!’
The decline had stopped civilization in its tracks. Without the foresight of the Relic Pact the two worlds could have quite easily torn themselves apart. But the treaty had ensured some control. Some calm. While civilization would never really recover and all progress and scientific breakthroughs became a thing of the past overnight, there were some positives. Some improvements.
For centuries previous, the global pharmaceutical companies had held a monopoly on treatments and medicine, across both planets. Their buisness model had been no different from any other global corporation before the decline. Profit first. With the pharmaceuticals this ideology manifested in the unspoken philosophy of ‘We’ll help keep you alive, but we won’t bloody well cure you!’
Why should we sell you one pill that makes you better, when we can sell you one pill every day for the rest of your lives to make you feel ok? Their accounts departments would prepare their five-year forecast’s and cost analysis with the figures to back up and reinforce this ideology. The blanket supression of cures for most ailments had therefore run into the centuries. Pure R&D became a taboo subject, an unnecessary drain on potential profits and the pharmaceutical giants slowly became nothing more than manufacturers of short-term solutions.
Unfortunately, for the pharmaceutical companies at least, this business model put them squarely at odds with multiple clauses of the Relic Pact. The overnight shitstorm tore through the corporate legal departments who found themselves totally unprepared and overwhelmed after decades of inactivity and avarice.
Over the following months, ORDA agents had seized control of all major pharmaceutical company offices. Entire boardrooms arrested for questioning. Rapidly frozen assets. Research papers seized en masse and delivered to government funded science teams at UltraSamp University.
During a live televised interview, the deputy director of ORDA operations had famously stated “There’s nothing left! These bastards need to stop messing around and get on with the job they should have been doing for years. Making people well instead of bleeding them dry!” The public outcry directed squarely towards the mega global corporations gathered steam quickly. The legal teams backed down in the wake of political pressure and ill feeling.
Under ORDA jurasdiction, the pharmaceutical manufacturing labs continued churning out their medicine for another year. Before the researchers at UltraSamp University succeeded in synthesising their much more efficient modern replacements and after that, the old guard of global pharmaceuticals went the same way as global banking and was forgotten by everyone.
While most of the biologists and chemists employed by the extinct pharmaceutical companies were re-employed by one of the many newly formed and government funded institutions, many of the younger less experienced staff were not so lucky. A previously unexplored and unexpected by-product of the Relic Pacts creation sprang into life. That being an increased demand for drugs of an illicit nature from the suddenly bored population and an equally sudden increase in skilled labour capable of supplying said pharmaceuticals. As a result, pharmacy labs moved from blinding white sterile labs to dingy backstreet cellars. Before long, ORDA would realise they had a whole new problem on their hands.
Inevitably, some of these individuals strayed yet further from their path.
One of them, was Henrik VanCleefe.
VanCleefe had been a junior lab technician serving his apprenticeship under Doctor Narrow at the R&D lab of MedNotDed Technologies Inc. in UltraSamp.
Even before the decline and ORDA’s seizure VanCleefe had been considered something of an oddball by his colleagues. On more than one occasion, VanCleefe’s ethics, methods and motivation had been questioned by both his equals and superiors. If anyone had been bothered to confront VanCleefe about their concerns they would have been put in the picture very quickly. VanCleefe was there for the money. Plain and simple. It was therefore unfortunate that the previously mentioned events had closed MedNotDed Technologies Inc. as VanCleefe appeared to show all the necessary requirements to make it to the very top of his chosen profession. In short, he was a bastard who couldn’t stand the idea of anyone else having money when he felt it blatantly obvious they should be giving it to him so he could fix their toothache, athlete’s foot or bleeding whatever.
As a result of his unpopularity within the department, his references were well below par during the following re-employment interviews and VanCleefe found himself on the scrap heap of skilled chemists and doctors who had been declared surplus to requirements by the state.
Which would have been a problem. Had VanCleefe not seen it all coming.
As the ink on the ratified Relic Pact dried and the threat of the unstoppable tide of the ORDA Inspectorate loomed VanCleefe had proceeded with his plan B. With a little leverage involving some dubious correspondence relating to illegitimate business transactions, VanCleefe was able to sway the arm of a fellow technician in the MedNotDed Technologies Inc. records and archives department. Thus, allowing him unlimited access to the company’s files. Simply reading the records for said records department would have been a lifetime’s work, but VanCleefe had known exactly what he was looking for. Thereupon, he made his way directly to the Black Cabinet.
The Black Cabinet was generally considered a myth by most employees of MedNotDed Technologies Inc. A kind of ghost story whispered among colleagues. Though no one had ever seen it, it was common knowledge that the Black Cabinet was the place where the bad research went.
VanCleefe had heard the story many years ago. He had chosen not to discredit its existence like most of his colleagues however. He reasoned that over the centuries that this company had operated there must have been plenty of other bastards working here and some of them might possibly make even his morality look scrupulous. All those research papers for drugs and medicine with questionable effects had to have been stored somewhere.
And, there he was. Standing in front of a single computer terminal. Isolated from the company’s intranet, with a box full of floppy disks in his lab coat. It had taken VanCleefe almost six days (and another six boxes of floppy disks) to download the Black Cabinets contents. Then, a further day to wipe the original files from the drive in which they had slept in for god knows how many years, before two bottles of hydrochloric acid were splashed liberally over the drive itself before VanCleefe was finally happy. He was the sole holder of the forbidden and forgotten knowledge.
Treacherous act complete, VanCleefe returned to work after depositing his ill-gotten gains at a nearby bank. Two months passed before VanCleefe was officially given his marching orders. Thereupon, MedNotDed Technologies Inc. finally ceased trading.
VanCleefe had left the building before his colleagues had even finished packing up their personal items. He made one stop to claim the contents of his safety deposit box before heading directly to the interorbital terminal of UltraSamp Airport. And then he left his old life behind him. In essence, Henrik VanCleefe ceased to exist.
‘Anything else boss?’ said Hollister, fighting back a yawn.
‘No that’ll be all,’ replied LeGaddt wearily. ‘Just get me that report as soon as possible.’
‘Right boss I’ll- ‘
‘Wait!’ interrupted LeGaddt. He was thinking about that briefing. Something that guy in the briefing had said. Something bad is happening he thought. He couldn’t connect the dots but that niggling feeling was there, hammering away at the back of his mind. That feeling you’d only really recognise if you’d been a copper for over a decade.
‘You ok boss?’
‘I’m… thinking,’ replied LeGaddt. Tiredness was creeping in and he couldn’t focus his thoughts. But, the guy in the briefing had said something about… Damn it! Why couldn’t he remember? The guy had summarised by saying it was only a rumour. Only anecdotal evidence…
‘Hollister,’ said LeGaddt the words coming out of his mouth slowly as if he was rehearsing each word prior to speaking it aloud. ‘The autopsy report from Jeddon Avenue? What’s it give as COD?’
‘Report isn’t back yet boss. You want me to chase it up?’
‘No!’ said LeGaddt. ‘Put me through to the coroner.’
VanCleefe had arrived at Tycho Crater and immediately begun the process of making himself disappear. He located a small rental basement before beginning the laborious process of reviewing the data he’d stolen almost a year ago.
VanCleefe had no idea what he was looking for, only that he would know when he found it.
The weeks turned to months and the months turned to years and VanCleefe continued to sift through the black cabinet. Every illicit drug he came across had either already made it onto the streets in a slightly altered form or was too easily manufactured from the crap the average person would have under their sink.
Inevitably, VanCleefe found his first possible product. A basic compound easily synthesised by someone with the adequate knowledge and skillset. The research indicated a small dose of the formula would affect the brains neurological pathways and effectively turn the brain on and off in a rapid frequency causing the individual to experience a strobe like effect in their vision for up to half an hour after the dosage. VanCleefe could not imagine for one moment why anyone would want to partake in such an experience, but it was different enough and, most importantly, addictive enough to make it stand out against the other narcotics on the streets. He’d therefore added it to his maybe pile thus, warranting further investigation.
And still VanCleefe searched. All the time the small amount of compensation he’d received upon his contract’s termination dwindled. VanCleefe eventually decided that he must proceed with his maybe, which he’d unimaginatively named Strobe. Single-midedly he began to frequent the local dive bars in search of contacts who could finance his route to market.
In the melting pot of the South Tycho Quads underworld it wasn’t long before he’d established a contact..
VanCleefe and The AsaNui crime syndicate ‘The Long Hong’ shared a mutual interest in making themselves rich without giving a damn about the repercussions to their customers. Purely as a means to fund his further research VanCleefe had agreed to supply the Long Hong with enough strobe that they could distribute the new drug as a free sample amongst the dead beats of the Quads. Thus, enabling the Long Hong to quickly establish a core of new addicts.
And so, with a firm handshake and, on the part of the Long Hong the subtle implication that should anything go awry with the deal a large portion of mindless violence would be heading VanCleefe’s way, the newly formed partnership went about their business. VanCleefe to begin the synthetization of his product and the Long Hong to be absolute bastards to anyone who wore the wrong colours and tried to muscle in on their turf.
VanCleefe spent his days with the chemistry and his evenings buried in research. If he had just used his evenings to relax instead of trawling through gigabytes of data things would probably have ended up better for him. Albeit, much worse for the hundreds of poor bastards he would have snared with the free samples of his nightmarish product.
Then, he found it.
Finally, hidden among the files he’d previously disregarded as junk. VanCleefe found what he’d been looking for. He squinted as he read the file extension of the folder:
Instead of the pages of chemical diagrams and formulas he’d spent almost five years flicking through, this folder contained only image files. Each image appeared to show a single grainy black and white photograph of a hand-written manuscript. Over a thousand pages in total. VanCleefe scrolled back the file named DMN.0001 and read aloud the first line.
‘Journal: Appendix A,’ he said. ‘Father Vennus Cordoba.’
Behind him, the free sample slowly bubbled out of existence.
‘Yes, I’ll continue to hold,’ sighed LeGaddt. Ten more minutes of being on hold. Evidently, the coroner was equally as busy as his detectives. LeGaddt had a bad feeling growing inside him, way down in his gut. He suspected things were about to take a nosedive and he already considered himself to be knee deep in shit.
The times prior to the great wars were known as the late pre-history period. A time of fear, paranoia, dark technologies and conquest. For centuries the two great continents of Kokoni had been locked in a state of almost perpetual war. To and fro swung the pendulum as each great state fought for supremacy of their small blue planet. UltraSamps great machine of industry matched squarely against the dark supernatural war engines of AsaNui.
Very few complete written accounts remain from this Dark Age, but there is always considered enough to piece together enough fragments to glean a basic understanding of the events of the time. One of the few complete documents hailing from the period were the journals of Father Vennus Cordoba.
Cordoba was an emissary of sorts. An UltraSamp citizen who had travelled the globe in the search for knowledge. His writings had apparently preceded him and he had been welcomed by the royal court of AsaNui and allowed unprecedented access to the mysterious continent’s customs and technologies. For almost five years, Cordoba had travelled AsaNui documenting his journey in minute detail, recording every possible snippet of geography, botany and religion.
Of particular interest to Cordoba, was the AsaNui tradition of Demun. Cordoba wrote hundreds of pages of text relating to the AsaNui belief in a further plain of reality. A place where the ancient energies of ancestral spirits made their home, a place known as Aether.
The high priests of the AsaNui townships were able to call on these spirits in times of hardship and bind them to their will. For a short period of time the priest could use the energy, or Demun as it was known, to possess an individual and bend it’s will to the hosts own. All achievable with a simple ceremony and the fore knowledge of the Demun’s true name. Only the wisest of Priests would entertain the summoning of the more powerful entities who’s names could stretch to thousands of syllables. However, the smaller Demun, known to the AsaNui as Imps would have names consisting of only a few syllables and could be summoned with relative ease.
Cordoba noted and documented how these Imps could be bound to the AsaNui soldiers, giving them vastly improved strength and reflexes. He noted how the AsaNui had repelled an UltraSamp fleet at the battle of Shon-Kea using, what the fleets war shaman had described as possessed projectiles. And he noted how the priests would summon Imps during victory celebrations to create sensations of great euphoria in the victorious troops.
Years after his death, a copy of Cordoba’s journals had somehow made their way to UltraSamp where, the scholars and military leaders of the time, argued their virtue as documents containing valuable intelligence on the nation of AsaNui and its military strength. Despite anecdotal evidence confirming the strange reports of dark arts and supernatural weaponry the journals were discredited and passed on to intelligence agencies for archiving.
In truth, they never made it that far. The Deputy Director of UltraSamps Mardi Gras had secretly intercepted the journals before quietly deleting all other copies from existence.
Eventually, the Mardi Gras files were passed on to a small clandestine department operating out of UltraSamp University and that is the last that anyone would ever hear of them.
That is, until VanCleefe had found an excerpt of the journals in an old file from a deceased companies classified archives.
VanCleefe had sat back in his chair and realised two things.
Firstly, that he’d stumbled on something truly amazing.
The document he had spent the night studying was linked to a feasibility study carried out by MedNotDed Technologies Inc. in conjunction with an UltraSamp U department named Project Wanderlust. Their findings seemed to show the distinct possibility of ancient AsaNui Demun technology being utilised to perform non-invasive lifesaving surgery without any need for drugs or anaesthesia. Simply, by knowing the basic ritual and the Demun’s full name a surgeon could allow the brief possession of his patient and command the summoned entity to proceed with fixing the patients maladies before returning to the Aether.
Cordoba’s journal gave explicit details of the ritual and, most importantly, an itemised list of almost nine hundred Demun names which he claimed would be good for one use before the Imp was unable to manifest in this dimension of reality and therefore had to return whence it had come for one year and a day. Numerous reports within the document suggested multiple test subjects had been observed by Project Wanderlust and all findings seemed positive.
What put the cherry on the proverbial cake for VanCleefe however was a final memo distributed by the secretary for the Director of Mardi Gras overseas desk to the CEO of MedNotDed Technologies Inc. explicitly detailing other functions for the technology which would not put further research at odds with MedNotDed’s cash not cures business model.
Namely the strictly classified use of the technology in the field of advanced interrogation techniques. Specifically, the possession by even a low-level imp could have the very real benefit of the treatment acting as a powerful truth serum. Rendering a potential enemy of the state completely incapable of subterfuge under interview. Failing that, the technology could almost certainly be used to create feeling of intense dread or, if more beneficial, extreme euphoria in the recipient. To force the subject into collusion.
It was the “intense euphoria” statement which caused VanCleefe to sit back in his chair. Here it was then. The perfect product. No manufacture required. No traceability. VanCleefe had sat until dawn with his mind racing with the possibilities.
The second thing VanCleefe then realised was that he’d allowed the entirety of the Long Hong’s free samples to burn away while he had been distracted.
Despite tiredness VanCleefe knew he had to do something.
Or he was a dead man.
‘Dr. Mannus?’ spoke a tinny voice into LeGaddt’s ear. The hold music had been mesmerizingly jolly. Like someone had actually gone out of their way to find the most inappropriate soundtrack for the city morgue.
‘Doctor? This is Inspector LeGaddt. I’m chasing a COD for the Jeddon-
‘Ah yes!’ interrupted the Doctor. ‘I was expecting someone to call! Bloody unusual one this. Quite fascinating really!’
‘In what way?’
‘One of the most bizarre suicides I’ve ever come across! And I’ve been doing-
‘Suicide?’ interrupted LeGaddt. ‘What the hell you mean suicide? The guy looked like he’d been through a thresher of something!’
VanCleefe had avoided panicking by focussing his attention on the imminent and massive increase to his income. He had two months until the Long Hong would be expecting delivery. A time period which VanCleefe viewed as ample enough to begin and complete his research before terminally skipping town. Just in time to avoid his deadline.
For the next month, VanCleefe didn’t leave his tiny apartment. Working feverishly in his research, skipping all mention of risk or threat to life he catalogued and researched.
Unfortunately for VanCleefe, his time had run out.
Upon the seizure of MedNotDed Technologies archives, ORDA agents had realised very quickly that large amounts of information were missing. Subsequently, their investigations led them to the filing room of the defunct chemist. Furthermore, the discovery of an acid sabotaged computer system only served to prove to ORDA’s fanatical agents that further investigation was warranted.
Staff manifests and employment histories were scrutinised before multiple technicians, scientists and ex-employees were hunted down and interrogated relentlessly. It was not long until a junior IT technician from the MedNotDed files department was, quite literally, under the ORDA spotlight. ORDA’s advanced interrogation techniques were unrequired. The technician had quite gladly let spill the identity of his would-be black mailer. Only holding out long enough to ensure some measure of immunity would be guaranteed to the technician in the event of any prosecution before he spilt the beans.
And so, with statement secured, the ORDA inspectorate had begun the process of finding Henrik VanCleefe. Profiles, timelines and word of mouth had finally bought the ORDA hit team to a knackered old apartment in the Quads whereupon, they had spent two months staking out the property and noting that their suspect very rarely left. Unfortunately for ORDA they had no knowledge of VanCleefe’s association with the Long Hong.
At around the same time, said maniac gangsters and wannabe drug barons had also begun to lose faith in their prize asset chemist. The positive progress reports from the previous six months had slowed and it was Lord Hong’s perception that perhaps the chemist required a little more motivation. Or his fingers breaking. And so it was the gang of AsaNui hard nuts had made their way to VanCleefe’s premises with the intent of motivating by breaking bones.
VanCleefe had spent his final hours of life backing his information up onto floppy disks. As far as he was concerned, his research was complete and all he needed to do now was take the product to market. His illicit contract with the Long Hong was an obstacle which he still needed to address. For this reason VanCleefe had decided it was time to disappear again.
With some minor amendments to his chemistry equipment and the mixing of certain chemicals to achieve a frankly volatile state he was about to blow the apartment to kingdom come and provide the Long Hong with plenty of evidence suggesting that their asset chemist had gone along with it.
Barely able to hold back a cackle, he’d lit the burner, picked up his leather satchel and headed for the door.
The very door which the Long Hong had just kicked off its hinges. VanCleefe was not a sturdily built man and the sheer amount of threat which had just performed impromptu carpentry on his apartment door caused him to squeal loudly before dropping to his knees.
The chief knucklehead of this Long Hong gang had not even registered that VanCleefe was packed and ready to leave, when the ORDA fire team had burst thru the fire escape. Responding to the girlish scream they had just registered from their observation post below. Whereby VanCleefe squealed one final time in the realisation his past had just run into his future while he was sat in the middle. Significantly while he was less than six feet away from a highly explosive concoction of chemicals which was well on its way to going critical.
This second squeal caused one of the Long Hong thugs to react by levelling his pistol and firing wildly in the direction of the fire escape. Fortunately for the ORDA agent he’d aimed at, his shot went wildly wide of the mark.
Unfortunately, for everyone in the immediate vicinity, the chemical concoction responded extremely badly to the small arms fire and the entire building was levelled in a cloud of smoke and green tinged fire.
The subsequent crater was enough to convince ORDA that their agents had died in the line of duty apprehending a serious criminal who had himself been killed in the blast. Furthermore, the sheer scale of destruction had thoroughly convinced the Long Hong that whatever their dead scientist guy had been cooking up… it had been pretty bloody potent. Shame he was dead!
And with that, Henrik VanCleefe truly disappeared from existence and history.
His legacy would have been truly forgotten had it not been for his floppy disks turning up centuries later in an old forgotten PO Box one day when the new owner of VanCleefe’s former residence had started the process of gutting the building to renovate it as the Perfect Crime Nightclub. An establishment set to be a legitimate cover for the newest and possibly deadliest criminal syndicate the Quads would ever see.
Consequently, in an awful twist of fate, VanCleefe’s research had ended up in the furry mechanical paws of The Bear.
LeGaddt’s mind was swimming again. A mangled body in a hotel room and a suspect he’d chased for nearly two days solid and now this bloody doctor was telling him it was suicide. LeGaddt was about to snap at the unfortunate coroner but something was holding him back. Something in his gut told him something bad was happening and he needed to find out what it was.
‘Slow down, Doc!’ he said. ‘Start again. Tell me about the toxicology.’
‘Nothing out of the ordinary,’ replied the Doctor ‘Small trace of alcohol, caffeine, nothing suspicious.’
That was it though, wasn’t it? At the briefing the guy had said whatever this thing was (if it even was a thing!) it wasn’t chemical. LeGaddt made a mental note to track down the guy who held the briefing and give him a serious talking to about his flippant nature.
‘Ok then, tell me about the COD?’
‘This is the thing,’ replied Dr. Mannus excitedly. ‘You said the guy was pretty beaten up! All the wounds appear to be self-inflicted.’
‘Self-inflicted? The guy was missing a hand and most of his left leg! That must rule out suicide. If he did that to himself where the hell did the parts go?’
‘Slow down inspector. Let me explain.’
‘I think you’d better!’ said LeGaddt. He turned to see a local constable step into the diner. The young policeman shook the rain from his poncho and scanned the patrons before spotting the bedraggled Inspector. Pre-empting the constables interuption, LeGaddt raised a finger to indicate he needed a second and the officer diligently stood to attention. LeGaddt returned his attention to the coroner on the other end of the line.
‘As you suggested earlier Inspector, the victim’s appearance was that of a severely mauled person. The wounds around the arm and knee appear to be consistent with a severe bite- ‘
‘A bite? Don’t tell me a dog did that!’
‘No inspector, I am not going to tell you a dog is responsible for our victim’s wounds!’
‘So, what the hell bit him then?’
‘Please inspector, allow me to continue uninterrupted.’
Behind the inspector the young constable coughed politely trying to gain LeGaddt’s attention. Iritably, LeGaddt glanced over his shoulder and the constable started to talk, only to be returned to silence by a shake of LeGaddt’s head.
‘The wounds are the result of severe lacerations, probably carried out over the course of an hour maybe? We have managed to make a cast of the dental pattern around a less damaged area just above the wrist…’
‘Go on,’ said LeGaddt. His stomach churning. This was going to be it. He turned to face the constable, his face pallid his eyes wide in disbelief.
‘The dental moulding is an exact match for the victim sir. Coupled with the contents of his stomach it appears that our man decided to sit down and…’
LeGaddt had dropped the phone. He hadn’t needed to hear. Something bad was on the streets and the bastard who’d put it there was somewhere in this market. He glared at the constable, who took a step back before gathering his words.
‘We’ve got him sir! Cornered him in the old pool hall on Dakeway Avenue!’
LeGaddt left the diner like a scalded cat.
This was too important.
He had to get this bastard.