Chicago Police Department: Homicide Division - Michigan Street: South
Old world Bavarian dining in a New world fast-food theme, Der Luftwaffle Haus bears 'unripe tomato' orange tones and faux wood-paneling along the furniture and walls, the floor underfoot a small square tile of a vaguely yellow hue. A row of small round tables, unable to seat more than two or three at a time, run along the window that overlooks Lake Michigan. Outside, the light of a cruelly cold dawn breaks in the southeast. The sky is clear and the southeast wind blasts snow across the landscape in gusts. Living breath fogs in the frigid air. The winter Hawk wind is concentrated in the Loop.
In the center of the room and along the door-side wall are booths that can accommodate six comfortably and eight if they're all good friends, the latter slightly more private than the former. A long self-serve dessert sauce and ice cream "bar" takes up a wall right-angle to the counter where the actual orders are placed. French toast, crepes, pancakes, waffles, and most all thicker pastries that started off flat and ended up flat are served here, fresh and piping hot. Other than the namesake, the menu also offers eggs, sausages, and at least a half dozen types of pop as well as hot cider, coffee, tea, milk (eggnog available in late autumn and winter).
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, February eighth 2011. 11:49 pm
The sky is grey-black, without moon or stars. The air is cold and wet, and there is little wind. Snow flurries fall from the southeast. It is easier to feel the flakes landing than it is to see them in the darkness. The winter Hawk wind is concentrated in the Loop. There is about 46" of snow on the ground. The average temperature is around Twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit, Negative four Centigrade.
It's nearly midnight, but that's not even midday for Eleanor Wickham. The detective is seated at her desk in the large room that houses the homicide division of the Chicago Police Department. She's hung her suit jacket over the back of her chair, and looks more dressed down than her norm in a white button down shirt and charcoal grey trousers. Her hair is pulled back in a messy bun and fastened around a #2 pencil hastily, clearly just to get it out of her way as she works. A pile of file folders, some open to reveal gory crime scene photos, are strewn across her desk. Her laptop is open and she's tapping away on the keyboard between sips from a gigantic travel cup of coffee.
There's a knock at the door, and if Eleanor were to look up, she'd see that it's none other than Rob Adder, the person whom she left a voice mail message for. Apparently, there's no such thing as too late at night for him, since he came as soon as he could. For now, he stands with his arms folded, although it seems that it's not so much impatience but something else, although what it is is anyone's guess.
"Rob, thanks for coming," Eleanor says as she rises and beckons him to her small desk in the sea of small desks. "Have a seat. Can I get you some coffee? I wasn't expecting you to come in on my hours you know." The latter is stated with a faint smile, clearly trying to throw some light humor into the mix, in contrast to the horrors on her desktop.
Rob shakes his head as he takes a seat by Eleanor. "No thanks, I just had a cup," He says with a grin. "Unlike most people, I don't sleep as much as most do, and even then coffee is just a pleasure drink for me." He slips back into serious mode. "But anyway, you wanted to talk to me about that murder that happened recently, right?"
The detective takes her seat again and pulls one of the file folders out, opening it. "Thanks for taking the time to do this. It isn't often we get someone trained on the scene in a public place before it gets contaminated by traffic." Eleanor smoothes the pages out in front of her. "Can you confirm for me what time you discovered the body?" It's not that she doesn't trust whoever took the info at the scene but…ok she doesn't. She's a triple checker when it comes to facts. It's what makes her good at her job.
"I think," Rob says, taking out his notebook and looking through it, "It was about…. Six AM." He looks up to Eleanor and nods, "Six in the morning, yeah. I know it seems weird I'd be out at that time, but I'm unusual in that way."
That confirms what is in the report and Eleanor puts a checkmark beside the information. "And it says here that you came upon a Mister Nero Scarcella with the body, putting in the 911 call at that time?" Eleanor asks. Another file is opened, this one clearly labeled with the man's name. "Can you tell me what state Mr. Scarcella was in when you found him?" She looks up from the papers, clearly wanting to hear Rob's take on things.
Rob shakes his head, biting his lip. "I can tell you right here, right now, that the guy was in a state of… actually, a state of shock would be an understatement. That guy looked like he was going to go crazy in a moment." He sighs. "I don't know if he actually witnessed the murder, but it really hit him extra hard, that's for sure."
More notes are taken on the copy of the report as Eleanor nods slowly. "Sergeant Lee was next on scene, according to the report? Followed by two other women, one of who was a Miss," she looks back to her original report and scans a few lines, "Luna Bruja who consults for the Chicago Police Department?" She pauses. "Can you tell me of the interaction between Mr. Scarcella and those three women? Did they seem to have prior knowledge of one another?" She's working off a tip from a fellow officer, but she doesn't want to lead Rob with the question, so she stays purposely vague.
Rob folds his arms and thinks for a moment. "Not really, no. All I know is that Sergeant Lee was one of the first officers to arrive, and she confronted Mr. Scarcella. I tried to explain that he was just a bystander who encountered the corpse, but she thought he was the murderer."
"All right," Eleanor notes, jotting something down. "It says here that a Miss Erin Altice, a wolf-strain lycanthrope, confirmed via scent that there was the involvement of a wolf-strain lycanthrope in the attack, but avowed that it was not a member of the local group of lukoi? And that Miss Bruja confirmed that there was someone with either psychic or magic ability with them?" She asks the questions like all of the others, as if she is simply getting a witness confirmation.
Rob shakes his head. "I didn't hear anything from either of those people. Once the other officers arrived on the scene, I didn't want to get too involved since the police where there."
"Do you recall if Mr. Scarcella and Miss Bruja seemed to know one another? And whether or not they departed the scene together?" Eleanor asks Rob with a bit more of an interest reflected in her eyes. She taps her pen lightly to the side of her jaw as she watches him for his answer.
A pause and a breath as Rob thinks intently to himself. "I want to say no, they didn't seem to show any signs of formal acquaintance. Then again, in a situation like that, I'm not sure things like that would be easy to spot."
That makes Eleanor frown slightly. "I'm afraid I've heard things to the contrary in that regard. And I'm also not sure Mr. Scarcella is not either a participant in this act, or a supporter of whomever did it. We have a file on him dating back a ways. He has connections with the group Humans First. Do you understand why I would be extremely curious over his reported distress over the death of a known leopard-strain shifter? And more importantly, his possible romantic association with a consultant to the police force who might have access to case information or, more distressingly, information on registered shifters," she adds.
"Is that so? Well, I didn't know anything about the relationships bit. I mean, I was more focused on the current situation at hand, which was why I most likely didn't notice." A pause, then, "I can definitely understand the distress to some extent." Another pause as he takes out his water bottle from his pocket and takes a drink. "Humans First, I've heard bits and pieces of them before, but other than that, I didn't know anything about the relationship bits."
"Humans First is a pretty scary group. Even scarier than Human's Against Vampires. They believe that Vampires and Lycanthropes all need to be exterminated or put on reservations, no exceptions," Eleanor explains in a troubled tone of voice. "Right now the presence of a lycanthrope among the group of attackers and the fact Miss Altice swears that Nero Scarcella didn't smell of having had sex with the victim are the only things that keep me from marking this immediately as an HF attack. I can't picture them working with a werewolf. But something still isn't right here."
"There are several possibilities," Rob says after he finishes listening and thinking for a moment. "For one, well…" He pauses, then says, "Maybe the lycanthrope attacked before the HF did, or vice versa? Or maybe the Humans First group attacked them first, and then maybe the lycanthrope attacked their corpse for some reason or other?" Another pause. "I agree, though, something isn't right."
Eleanor nods. "It was close enough to the full moon that if a newly made shifter came upon the body they might unwillingly shift and try to feed from it," she agrees. "And unfortunately the scene is too contaminated now for me to get someone down there to try and determine if the shifter's prints were just overlaid or just underlaid with the other attackers’ prints." She grimaces. "If I hadn't been on leave I would have been on the scene."
Rob sighs and shakes his head. "Unfortunately, I can't say I know much either. I admit preternatural things like this are my specialty, but even then there's only so much I can do." He takes another drink of water.
"I might need to go to the scene myself. Sometimes the clairvoyance has a hit on something at crime scenes, especially violent ones," Eleanor says quietly. "And maybe Hadley will pick up on something the mundane detectives missed as well. But keep your ear to the ground for me, Rob? If you hear more about Scarcella or even Bruja's relations with him, you let me know?"
Rob nods. "I will, definitely. I'm sorry I couldn't be much more help though." He shakes his head. "I can't believe I didn't remember as much as I hoped I would…"
"In this case, getting confirmation of the facts in the report is a big help, Rob. I wasn't at the scene myself, so I'm going in here half blind. But I'm good at what I do, so I'll make it work." Eleanor sips her coffee and tosses the file folder on the desktop. "Hopefully we'll find a better lead than some rogue wolf running around the city and a mob of possible Humans First members before someone else winds up dead."