[Mudwater PD] Episode 1: Last Things Last

The people aboard the colony vessel Pioneer were set adrift with a dream of a new home when it was lost to Earth. Unable to contact Earth and not knowing where they were when the vessel re-emerged, they were surrounded by unknown species and planets. They were seemingly the last of humanity in an uncharted sector of space. Built on a legacy of human ingenuity and the best and brightest of them they had to offer, the people of the Interstellar Alliance have expanded their reach and thrived. These are the tales of humanity making the best of a bad situation to overcome the dangers of the unknown without losing pieces of the best part of themselves.
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Jimmy
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[Mudwater PD] Episode 1: Last Things Last

Post by Jimmy »

The offices of Mudwaters “Paranormal” Police Department were cramped, dirty, and fighting for space with the archive shelves, a fight often won by the archives. Three too cramped chairs pressed against the one desk that could fit and the singular lit lamp that barely illuminated the cork boards on the wall. Most of which were blank for lack of cases bar some news clippings of unexplained disappearances into the piet swamps or creepy animal encounters, tourists witnessing black elk manifestations and such.

The slot in the wall for the door was only a little blocked by archive boxes and the rubbish bin as Police Sergeant Camran pushed it open and made his way uncomfortably inside, stepping around boxes and tripping on loose items as he fell into the chair at the head of the table and squeezed into the gap next to the wall with a small cough.

Camran cleared his throat and sat up, putting his hands on the desk over a folder. “Would anyone care to explain this to me.” He said, looking down at his desk and picking up the folder.

It was only a few pages thick, with the word PARANORMAL printed on the front.

“This is the fruits of the division year of work. As you can see it’s very thick.” He continued, letting the folder drop flat on the desk between his fingers.

He coughed, and straightened his neck as he gulped, and then tried again. Tilting his head some more and putting his cap at a rakish angle.

“Would anyone care to explain this to me?” He said again, sterner this time, before sitting up and nodding.

The blank wall opposite him and the two empty chairs hard against it gave no answer. He sighed and let his shoulders fall as he looked back down at the folder on the desk.

He opened his mouth for one last practice before his radio squawked to life on his chest, making him flinch in surprise, and taking a breath.

“Paranormal required at a 10-15 Traffic Accident, inexplicable activity reported. How copy?” Came a calm feminine voice loudly over the radio.

----

“Paranormal required at a 10-15 Traffic Accident, inexplicable activity reported. How copy?” Detective Ada House, Mudwater Paranormal heard the order through her radio.It was the middle of the afternoon and sun was well past its peak, dipping the town in dull orange colors.

House audibly groaned, her eyes slowly opening from her seat in the car. She loathed paranormal cases, even more so than the petty bickering between people who always threatened violence when alcohol steeled their nerves and dulled their balance. Other planets, she would openly admit having received cases on subjects and things that she absolutely could not explain without resorting to the paranormal, magical, and simply otherworldly sources.

Mudwater was not like other places. Rather than housing some paranormal occultism that brought about strange activities and events, it was simply dull, dirty, and absolutely ruined any nice and comfortable clothes she owned that she now refused to bring outside her house. It was no coincidence that she was on a first-name basis with the local dry cleaners.

“Detective House, copy. Moving to investigate.” She responded with a click of the radio, adjusting her seat to actually drive rather than just lay back. “Someone hit a damn power line, got spooked by the sparks.” She grumbled as the car hummed to life. “Guarantee it, some people are spooked by their own shadow.” Buckling herself in, she idly moved the car into drive as the sights of civilization came back into view of the lonesome cruiser.

The police cruiser was old, muddy, and while the local mechanic tried to take care of it, it was clear that this was the old faithful spare that was kept in the back of the lot. At least it was a better color than the unmarked cruiser with its ugly olive color that peeled the first layer of the eyeballs off which was the only other car available to House.

“Copy, House, responders report…” there was a pause as the dispatch officer clearly picked up a sheet of paper to quote exactly “Unknown ectoplasmic substance with suspicious qualities. Good luck, out.”

With the squeal of a slightly dodgy brake the car cruised to the side of the road at the scene. Three police cars, one unmarked other than some sirens and a police traffic control hologram blazing into the road to direct traffic around were already at the scene. The tipped over truck that had puked it’s entire slippery contents onto the road lay covered in fire suppression foam as two firetrucks worth of underutilized firefighters stood staring at the mess, a few brave individuals trying to scrape it off with shovels into a wheelbarrow.

The substance reported was thick, sticky, and resisted all efforts to be moved, a sole ambulance was sitting in front of Houses car, from which she could see a rather frazzled, bruised, but still, alive truck driver having a mild existential crisis over as the weight of the possible insurance claims hit him.

One the edge of the destruction House recognized two trench-coated silhouettes of Detectives Ramos and Detective White, both mustached men staring at the scene as she pulled up, turning towards her as one of them lifted a hand. Even though the sun was just a fading memory on the horizon both men still wore their reflective aviator sunglasses, despite the settling darkness.

House could feel her jaw slightly grind her teeth as she saw the two silhouettes shift towards her direction, pulling the car to the side of the road. “Of course, I’d be lucky if it was the people who were being dumb.” She mumbled, stepping out of the car, letting her face shift into a stern one as she stepped towards the two of them. “I’ll take a wild guess, stop me if I get it, some form of hyper-adhesive for construction or industrial purposes, or maybe some form of quick-drying concrete. I could list a few dozen industrial chemicals that are transported this way but I think it’d be boring for all of us.” She eyed the mess from a distance as she closed the gap.

“I’d assume that proper precautions against gaseous chemical hazards or other, similar risks have been addressed? What exactly is it?”

“Beats me, Detective. I thought Paranormal would be all over unknown substances. Manifest says Aqua-Thermal Treated Silicone Allumiante And Ceramic For Construction.” Said Ramos, pointing his phone at the car as a light zapped to the sideways number plate and brought up all the information to his screen.

Off to the side of the three detectives, a plump uniformed police officer came calmly walking around as he set up holographic emitters that when switched on create an alert perimeter and holographic caution tape. Officer Rime smiled. “Good Evening!” He said pleasantly. He then spoke up. “I went ahead and set up the perimeter that away if any commuters come passing by, they will know not to come in. Your crime scene is secure Detectives!” He said nodding his head and smiling. As he did his eyes lifted with the smile.

“Oh. I interviewed the driver. He said a local black elk jumped in the road and caused him to swerve, and creating the accident. I’ll file the report at some point for the investigation!” Rime added sounding excited at having to finally do his job.

“Unknown is not anomalous.” House chided as she eyed the scene, the waste of silicone and base construction gel weighing in her mind. “Thank you, Officer.” She spoke as she walked past the sizely man. “And it sounds to me like you knew what it was, regardless. Unknown materials aren’t a joke, and that’s largely beside the point.” She sharply turned away from the duo, walking to the front of the truck that had crashed, clinical eyes scanning the impact zones of the vehicle.

“Was the crash caused by collision with the animal, or by attempts to swerve away from it, or a mix of both, or…?” She asked those around her. “It’d be a poor idea to just leave an injured animal of that size wandering about, especially given its place in local superstitions. That kind of thing just makes bad rumors.”

Rime eyed up the other two detectives. “Uh, He said he didn’t hit the animal. Plus walking around and setting up the perimeter, I didn’t see any blood, so I reckon he was telling the truth. “I was going to do a scan of the material. But, well. The detective came on the scene and the perimeter was a bit more of a priority.”

“I called the ambulance and put him in it. He is there if you want any questions.”

“Hey, if you want to go up and get the footage from the truck be my guest, Detective.” Replied Ramos as he nodded towards the three inch deep puddle of construction gel that was slowly seeping around the cab of the truck.

Next to him White smirked and turned towards House. “Got springs in your heels there, House? Go-Go-Gadget Helicopter?” He asked with a shit-eating grin.

Both men turned to each other, congratulating themselves on their little barb before turning towards House again.

“Good work, Officer Rime, why don’t you help House with whatever she decides to do. We’ll be supervising.” Said Ramos, standing back from the edge of the gel apocalypse.

Vaguely satisfied with what she could tell from a distance, House briefly returned to her vehicle, pulling a pair of wading boots from the trunk as she hastily put them on. They were uncomfortable, but they were also cheap, and she could afford to discard them if ridding them of synthetic applicants proved to be too time or cost consuming.

Approaching the cab of the truck from the shortest distance through the muck, she tried to ignore the quips of the two other detectives. “I’m just making sure that we have the accurate depiction of events. It’s far from uncommon for people to recall incorrect details. Luckily, cameras find it exceptionally difficult to lie.” She said, grimacing as she pushed through the suction of artificial paste. “I feel like the truck is a bit past its warranty regardless.” She added as she reached in to grab at the camera of the cab.

The first step slipped a few inches as she stepped into the gel before catching on the rough asphalt, as slow shaky steps brought her closer to the cab, a trail of slowly healing footsteps in the pale goo marking her progress as she reached it. The cracks across the windshield were long and a spiderweb of chipped safety glass made the first dozen inches of glass opaque. What was once the left hand door, now topside, stood open, and the damaged and scraped front grill of the truck looked mostly intact to use as a ladder.

The tedium of House’s investigation of the truck was suddenly, and loudly broken. There was a sharp loud screech, then a devastating explosion nearby. The heat and noise caused the local birds and wildlife to scatter. Officer Rime had after their exchange wandered off to the edge of the wood, and taken out his standard-issue Laser pistol and fired it at a nearby tree. The tree groaned audibly, then the wood splintered, and the large tree toppled over and crashed down deeper into the woods. “Yeeeeaaaa!” Rime exclaimed, “Don’t get to used these much around these parts!”

As tree fell there was a loud shrill animal scream and a dull thud amid the sound amid the cracks and snaps of a tree settling down on the ground, and a soft whimpering from that direction.

She nearly immediately regretting this course of action, but she was already several steps in. It was pointless to turn back, but that did little to lower the risk of falling into the synthetic goo, and she couldn’t decide if the ruined clothes or the jeers of the wonder twins would be worse. Thankfully as she made it to the truck with great effort, she began to scale the grill to try to make her way to the left side, now the top, of the truck’s cab. She almost lost her grip as she heard the telltale pulse of a pistol going off, followed by the explosive collapse of a nearby tree.

“Oh for the love of-” She groaned to herself, shaking her head. “Let’s not cause more damage, please!” She called out to the trio of humans, moving to lower herself slowly into the cab itself. “There’s enough of a mess as it is without sparking a fire!”

Ramos and White looked at each other before both of them turned slowly towards Rime and his antics as the mewling animal sound came from deeper in the forest. The entire scene had stopped to look at Rime, almost expectant looks on their face as pathetic animal sounds filtered through the trees.

“Well, Officer, go on. Take care of it.” White hissed, tipping his chin towards the tree Rime had destroyed.

Slowly, the rest of the emergency responders resumed the work of trying to remove the gel, or convince a depressed truck driver his life wasn’t over.

It seemed that all eyes were on Rime. He was smiling, and showing a mouth full of well cared for teeth. “What? It was a good shot!” He responded. Rime’s face soon turned into a frown. “Fiiiine, I’ll take care of the little bugger.” Rime said with a sigh.

Rime turned from the crime scene and advanced on the pained screams with his laser pistol at the ready.

The cab of the truck was a mess, with the contents of a coolbox smashed against the window-come-floor, and a dufflebag of personal items leaning against the back of one of the seats. With careful placement she was able to get her gel-covered boots to the bottom between the cans of energy drink, sarsaparilla, shattered chips of glass and other detritus. The front camera for the truck was located within the panels on what was once the center of the roof next to the windscreen, the black screen of the artificial rear view indicating a likely location.

The keys to the truck jingled next to Ada’s boot, the driver having emergency shut down the engine and pulled the key before evacuating. A silver skull hung from the keyring. A civilian dataport was located in the center console, normally used to power small personal devices but hooked into the central nervous system of the machines computer system for legacy reasons. It would only require power to use.

Outside meanwhile, Rime felt the effect of the forest even though the lights and noise of the workers were still in view. Broken, muffled, dampened. The loudest noise was his boots shuffling over foliage as the whimpering led him forwards.

It wasn’t far, but the lights of the cars on the road only barely flashed through the trees here. He moved up to a small furry shape on the ground, but as his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see that it was already dead, neck broken in the fall. Instead, next to it was a small furry alien creature shaking at its larger parent, baying for attention, pleading for food, for attention, for anything.

Rime furrowed his brow as his eyes continued adjusting to the fading light. He tilted his head activating the light on his PDA to get a clearer look at the critter whose parent. “Oh no…” He said softly.

The parent was definitely dead, there was no way a neck could go at that angle. It must have shielded its young with its own body as it fell. The pup left shaking its mother was adorably fuzzy with long fingered paws, like an alien cross between a racoon and a possum. With big eyes.

Rime’s heart dropped. He didn't think things through and in the name of good clean fun hurt an innocent critter. “Uh okay. I did this.” He looked back at the flashing lights knowing that this would not be a funny story to tell. Rime reached into the pocket of his pants and pulled out a nutrition bar. He wasn't a biologist but he knew these creatures like to eat rubbish and anything they could find. He hoped, the little pup was to the point that it wasn't nursing anymore. He bent down and opened the wrapper. He broke of a piece of the bar and threw it gently towards the animal to see if it would eat. “Come on, have a bite. It wont give you your mum back but, at least you’ll have something…”

The critter turned to look up at Rime with big eyes, and cutely hopped towards him, and hopped again. It snagged the piece of bar on the ground and picked it up, sniffing it curiously before licking it. Somehow the critters large eyes reached absurd degrees as it started hopping after Rime on its hind legs, hold the piece in its front paws coming straight for him.

House was rightly disgusted by the state of the truck, and that was more than just the unsanctified mess of a wreck. There was a lingering state to the cab that seemed to exemplify the awful condition of a trucker who didn’t keep his working space clean, despite his constant presence in the vehicle itself. Having settled into an awkward, but clean position in the cabin, she quickly scanned over the interface of the truck, recognizing the section that housed the recorded footage.

Of course, her request for the data was met with no response, as the truck held no power. She pulled her sleeve up, segments in her arm opening to expose a series of wires connected into blank ports, to which she pulled a more generic looking one to connect into the device, diverting sparks of her own power into the simple computer of the truck, followed by another request for the video.

Rime slowly backed up. “Uh. Okay enjoy your dinner mate.” He then turned and quite literally fled from the critter. He came barreling out of the woods. “Uh okay I took care of it. Uh. But there's a problem!”

House felt the larger machine greedily suckle at the trickle of power she provided to its systems, fortunately it couldn’t draw enough power to run anything major, but it’s basic systems activated enough for panels to flicker and glow at minimum power. Authenticating her as a police officer with the city computer, House felt the truck sluggishly begin compiling the entire history of itself for her. Quickly she rephrased that search, and obediently the truck compressed and transferred over the wire the last five minutes before the crash and a minute after.

The files were large from a dozen different cameras and hundreds of sensors but House could skim through them to find the part moments before the crash on a few seconds notice. Transfer complete, the truck waited for her to handshake before disconnecting.

As Rime was fleeing back out of the forest, Ramos and White turned to face him and saw the small infant critter hopping after him with intent, and burst out laughing as the officer made a fool of himself. The critter stopped, and looked around at the flashing lights and all the other humans and dropped it’s morsel, cutely hopping across the asphalt to the nearest point of cover it could find. House’s empty shoes.

Low profile, high-tech hiking boots became the new bolthole for the hopping rat as it lunged inside one and wriggled in, burying itself inside with the final wag of a bushy tail.

Once House had the video downloaded, she signed out as quickly as she could, feeling a shudder run through her spine as if she had just stuck her hand into a greasy pit. She shook her head, aptly climbing back out of the truck, trying to quickly, and safely, make her way back to her car, and her boots. “And what, might I ask, are you three gawking at?” She questioned as she slowly tread her way back.

Rime scratched the back of his head. This house detective was a very serious person. He smiled and responded. “Oh, nothing.”

As she walked, she quickly played through the overall video, trying to get a grasp as to the accuracy of the drivers statement, as well as just confirm the reason for the crash.

The files were large and cumbersome to handle for her hardware, but with a bit of tinkering she was able to skim the file down to the front camera footage and skim through the frames. The large, shaggy shape of a Black Elk did indeed appear suddenly in front of the truck, the broken sequence of frames showing it raising its head towards the truck, headlights lighting it’s star-speckled eyes, before the AI and driver took evasive action. It looked as though the truck would be fine with a controllable avoidance, but then in the space of the next three frames she skimmed it suddenly turned and went sideways around the elk. Like a failed moose test.


The rest of the footage pretty much confirmed the story of the response after the crash until now. It could be worth pulling all the sensor data, but the cumbersome nature that data as well as its volume made it difficult for own processes to handle without some time.

Rime spoke up from behind House. “So what did you find on the footage?

House shook her head as she exited the synthetic goo, walking towards her normal boots by the cruiser. “His story checks out.” She confirmed, not thinking to give much more on the scene without transferring it to a computer that was better designed to decompile the data. “Looks like he just swerved too hard when he saw the elk, toppled over and made a mess.” She paused as she looked to the wonder twins, her brow furrowing as she digested the view of the three of them. “So tell me, what circus act did you put on for them?”

The two older detectives both looked at each other, before giving Rime very intense looks before White went off towards Rime’s cruiser and opened the door, dragging out the mans lunch bag and dumping the tupperware out into the seat.

“Welcome back, Detective. Officer Rime here has something very important to tell you…” White replied, tipping his head towards the young officer.

Ramos walked past White towards House’s boot on the ground and picked it up.

“He’s going to be a daddy, and I’m afraid you’re expectant.” Ramos finished, as he held the boot upside down over the back and shook it violently.

With a small squeak a furry brown shape flew out of the boot and landing softly in the back, there was a moment of confused ruffling before it settled down again as Ramos held the top closed.

“Yer alright, yer alright little buddy.” he said aloud until it settled down, before holding it over to Rime to take. House’s boot still in one hand.

“Take it down to the shelter in town when you get the chance. Don’t give it coffee or chocolate.” He said gruffly.

“Congratulations on being a Daddy, Rime.” Quibbed White from where the pair had stood.

Rime wrinkled his nose at the implication. “How am I the parent? I mean yea, I shot the tree that killed its mum. But it most certainly went to Detective House’s boots. Looks like House is a mum now.” Rime said shifting smile to t House

House simply stared at the trio before her eyes slowly went to her boots, feeling a growing urge to emulate the various ‘killer robot’ movies she had heard so much about that had gone through various phases of popularity. “Don’t pin it on me, I’m not taking care of the local scavengers. Take it to a bloody shelter, and don’t slap my name near it.” She directed, stepping over as she snatched her boot out of Rime’s hand, glancing inside it to make sure it hadn’t been soiled while the critter was inside it.

“Perhaps handing it off will better teach you to not randomly shoot trees. As you likely found out, animals like to live around them. There is most certainly a shooting range, and even if there is a lack of one, it doesn’t take much more than time and effort to create an amateur one, with a notable lack of such risks.” She quickly swapped her boots, tossing her messied boots into bags in the trunk of her cruiser.

“I’d hate to break us off so abruptly, but unless there’s some other goose you’d like me to chase, then I believe I’d find a better expenditure of time doing just about anything else.” The grumpy android quipped at the three.

“Paranormal, please update on that 10-15 and report your 10-20. 10-19 to precinct when able.” blared the entire groups radios as Dispatch came through.

Ramos reached for his radio and spoke into it, grinning at House at Rime.

“Ramos here, Paranormal is in a 10-16 with a 10-32, 10-52 needed for Officer Rimes dignity.” The older detective quibbed, making White snort loudly in laughter.

“Can that 10-30, Ramos. House, come in as soon as you can. Bring Rime with you.” Came a strong masculine voice from the Dispatch side, crisp and professional.

All of them recognized it as Captain Val, hard faced, no nonsense, and judging by the emphasis, not very happy with Rime.

The last of the suns rays had already eeked out of existence as the two older detectives smirked under their aviators at the fighting couple.

House stood silent for a moment as she listened to the call, before silently moving to her cruiser. “Officer Rime, please get in. Hand off the animal to these two fine gentlemen, if you would, and allow them to hand it off to the nearest animal rescue. It’s not coming in my cruiser, and more importantly…” She glared at the duo before she sank into the cruiser’s seat. “We have orders, you do not.”

With that, House reached to the cruiser’s radio, pinging a message back. “Copy, House and Rime en route.”
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Re: [Mudwater PD] Episode 1: Last Things Last

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The pair marched through the doors of the precinct, Police Sergeant Azahara sat at the desk presiding over the chaos speaking perfectly calmly over the dispatch radio. As House and Rime entered she looked up and beckoned them over with a golden tanned finger. A serene office angel in a scene of madness as a drunk was being dragged into a holding tank by his ankles by a constable and several suspects sat in questionable states waiting to be processed. Most of them were petty offences, and fortunately for House, someone else's problem.

Sergeant Camran, House’s immediate superior, came out and walked up to the desk before they got there. Azahara handed him an abused manilla folder without looking before swapping to another holographic screen and talking into her microphone. Camran took it gingerly and peeked inside it with a grimace before looking up at House and redundantly holding up the folder for her to see with a nod of the head.

As the pair came to the desk, Rime suddenly felt a strong hand on his shoulder and became overcome with a sense of dread as the captain stood darkly behind him. Perfectly cropped hair and greying beard over an uncompromising face and dark, narrowed eyes that stared down at Rime from all 5’7 of man.

“Officer Rime. Would you care to explain why I have a picture of an exploding tree and a giant hopping rat in my incident report?” Captain Val asked in a deep booming unamused voice.

Held in his hand on a piece of smart paper was the guncam footage from the moment Rimes had pulled the trigger at the accident scene.

“Well. We never get to shoot our weapons, and some of the lads say they stop on the road and fire off a few burst into the woods, so I figured I’d have a go. But apparently me and the Detective ended up adopting a baby out of it. But Detective House has yet to give it a suitable name. She just keeps saying “Don’t call it that….” Rime said with a cheery smile on his wide face. “I mean, I won’t do it again. I just wanted to test the accuracy on my piece.”

House had vague, distant recollections of previous times in her life where she had grown frustrated and lashed out violently, before she had really understood the ramifications of her own actions, as well as how to better control her emotions. This was emphasized in her memory by the crystal audio of a bone breaking followed by a pained cry after she threw a punch. As she glared daggers at Rime, she had to restrain her own tongue, and her actions as he continued to speak of the rodent, and its name.

She would normally feel satisfaction that the Captain was about to reem Rime, had it not been for the strange situation that clearly seemed to point towards a less than favorable outcome for herself, particularly with that blasted folder. Regardless, given the situation, she stood as the lesser of two problems for the three superiors, and she fully intended on hiding behind that. She may not have the most results, particularly for the given niche, but at least she wasn’t Rime.

She stood in a stiff-shouldered position before the desk, her arms behind her back in a proper parade-rest. “You wanted to see us, Sergeant?” She spoke clearly, blatantly ignoring the comments from Rime that made the synthetic skin around her right eye twitch.

“Are you telling me you’re unaware of the firing range in the basement or that your firearm sends an alert every time you shoot and we have to make sure you don’t need Armed Offender Team to respond?” Captain Val asked flatly, staring at Rime with an unmoving expression. “Or are you telling me my time spent writing a report why my officers are blasting trees randomly in the middle of the night surrounded by other county services is less valuable than you being able to use your firearm irresponsibly?”

The captain kept his cold gaze uncomfortably on Rime’s face as he spoke in perfect deadpan as the smart paper went back to his side.

Camran held the manilla folder against his chest and shied his slightly overweight self out of the captains immediate line of sight cast past Rime. Sidling up to House with an uncomfortable grimace before letting out a little sigh.

“Ahem, uh, yes Detective. I have a job for you, this one is as real it gets for Paranormal, I think.” Sergeant Camran replied softly, peering around House as that Captain before looking ahead again.

“Just give the Captain a moment and then we’ll talk in the office, yes…” He said softly, shrinking down a little bit.

As he spoke the captain had Rime by the scruff of the neck as was gently dragging the man into his office to continue that particular discussion. The firm closing of a door signalling to the rest of the precinct that it was safe to move once again.

Camran peered from around House and then shifted his eyes towards the entrance to his office and began walking towards it on eggshells.

“Well, now that that’s being taken care of. Let’s get to the meat of the topic.” he said, leading the two of them to his door. As he put his hand on the handle he quickly turned his head to one side then the other, making sure no one was about to come and take away the folder clutched to his chest before stepping in.

Camran side shifted awkwardly into the cramped room before landing upon the seat on his side with a sigh and looking at House with a forced smile. The chairs opposite the sergeant in the poorly lit room barely had more room, and was clearly fighting for space with the archives and not gaining the upper hand. The lighting situation wasn’t helped by much when Camran flipped the switch on the desk lamp between them, giving the room an almost conspiratorial air.

Different things made different people nervous, House was very much aware of that. As she followed the Sergeant into the musty office, she quietly took a seat adjacent to the man as she took an almost identical position of proper, disciplined manners. “I’d take it that this is something more serious, given your response. When you say this is more real, what specifically are you referring to? What is this case?” She prodded as she peered at the folder.

“Paranormal has never had a particularly sturdy name around here, I vastly prefer the title of Anomalous, but regardless I’d hope this is something worthy of a police investigation.”

Camran opened the folder for her and pushed it towards her, dirty, mistreated pages faced her, showing her the picture of a smiling, homely man folded many times with a thumbprint smeared in one corner. Underneath the picture a brief summary of the man pictured was presented. Captain Eric O’Marley, retired, now deceased.

Image

“Captain O’Marley, a former detective of Mudwater Paranormal fifty some years ago was found yesterday in his apartment. Dead from a massive heart attack.” Sergeant Camran said as he pushed the slip of paper towards her.

“Captain Val would like us to take care of any, um, lingering artifacts from his service. You know, just things that any civilian heirs probably shouldn’t be left with. As far as we can tell there was no foul play, so this is just a clean up.”

Camran cleared his throat before continuing, sitting up in his seat.

“So yes, find and secure any of Captain O’Marley’s items unsuitable for civilian hands, service weapon, badge, any other sensitive momentos. Investigate his documents for anything that shouldn’t be public knowledge, and make sure you’re finished before the heirs arrive in two days.” Camran said, reading the second page that held a bullet point list of objectives for the investigation.

“Any questions, House?”

House slowly digested the information as she sat there, running it through in her mind as she tried to figure out all the details. She had heard of Captain O’Marley, of course, but she couldn’t recall a time where she had spoken with the man. He had retired many years before she had joined, after all, either because of his lifestyle, House’s, or a mixture of both, their paths simply never crossed.

His house was unlikely to be left open for anyone to walk in, House realized quite simply, and her mouth began to move without much further thought. “Yes, do we have the keys to his house, or some other way of entry that doesn’t require breaking anything? I’d prefer to not leave the house in some state of disarray before the heirs arrive, after all.” Aside from that, her thoughts ranged to just what they might find.

A former Paranormal officer.

Sensitive momentos? That could be many things, phrased so oddly that it felt like it could simply refer to a very large amount of things. In House's time in the department, she had regarded nothing of an anomalous note, but that meant little in regards to what could have happened years ago. “And was he privy to cases regarded to items actually categorized as anomalous, or do all such reports refer to his work as… Goose chasing?”

Camran pulled up a records search on the desk, the plain furniture reluctantly lighting up to service with only the lightest tap against the side by Camrans palm before he was able to search the precinct's records. The table pulled up a report of service history, however House immediately noticed a few holes, and the tell-tale signs of redaction.

Azahara hadn’t been understating when she’d written “Details Unavailable” on the executive summary, the system had been scrubbed of anything that suggested a more than humble but adequate career.

“Hmm, well, I guess it just wasn’t important enough to make note of. So it was probably nothing.” Camran replied, looking through it quickly for a human.

“The police station doesn’t have the keys to get in, but there’s a landlord living on site, you might also be able to ask the Municipal CP to give you access while the captain works on a warrant. Maybe you could bring a uniform’d officer with you too, to put neighbors at ease?” the Sergeant continued.

She had seen heavily redacted files before, but House had always felt uneasy looking at larger patches of redactions, simply because, with the larger patches, it was more than just places, dates, and names missing. As paragraphs vanished under black marks, it became events, days, weeks, lives and tragedies, all forgotten under the pen. “I’ll just refer to the local landlord. Worse comes to worse, I’ll just leverage the warrant for entrance.”

As for bringing a uniformed officer? She paused, forcing herself to not make a face as she thought of Rime. “Get me who you can for a second party, I’d prefer to not have to talk to Rime. I think I may burn a circuit if I have to deal with him for another car ride.”

Camran leaned over and pressed a button on his computer comm which gave two quick dull beeps in return. “Tell you what, I’ll have Calloway go with you. He’s probably bored or asleep at his desk.” The Sergeant pressed the same button again which gave its two beeps again but this time was aided with a very distant, “I’m coming damnit!” coming from one of the walls.

Camran turned to House with an awkward smile. “He’s coming.”

A minute later a man in a distinctly made duster with a shining metal star on his left breast came and stood in the doorway. He looked like a Marine and a Cowboy had been smashed together and he was the result. He spoke with a slightly western, yet slightly not drawl and had two cybernetic eyes which were currently glowing a shade of bright blue.

“You rang, Sarn’t?” was his only words for the moment.

The careless swing of the door hit the side of House’s chair with a loud bang of wood on metal, as the large man barged into the dark room. The small desk and furniture were hard against the walls in the space left between the walls and the archives. Sergeant Camran stood up, being careful not to hit his knees against the table between himself and House.

“Ah, yes, Marshal. We have a small job here if you might be interested. House, meet Marshall Calloway. Marshal, Detective House.” Camrain said with a smile, as he tried awkwardly to maneuver back around the desk. But the sheer lack of space meant he was forced to stand with his legs hard pressed against the desk and the wall.

“Pleasure to work with you if you’re keen.” The slightly heavy man said with a smile and stretching a hand around to the door to shake.

House considered the man before her for a moment, briefly staring at his eyes before taking in the rest of him. Strange cybernetics, she noted, even hers were more organic in appearance, but perhaps he wasn’t one for that natural aesthetic. She stood up, ignoring the odd bang of the door in the cramped room as she turned to Marshal with a polite nod, shaking his hand firmly. “Of course, the pleasure is mine.” After all, he already seemed better than three of the people she’d interacted with today.

“We’ll be entering the house of a prior Paranormal detective who recently passed away. Make sure he didn’t leave anything of critical notice. Don’t need his inheritors finding his desk full of crime scene photos, that kind of thing.” Though she knew what they were looking for, the word ‘occult’ stood out in her mind in regards to the items they were searching for. Nothing paranormal had occurred in her time here, but it seemed wrong to simply throw the idea out, particularly with those blank spaces in the man's history. “I suppose we could get a move on, the faster we get in, the faster we can be out of the landlords hair.”

"That would be beneficial. Do we have a ride right now or should I get a car?" The Marshal's eyes flashed text across them before moving to be a ring of blue mimicking an iris before they looked down at House. They adjusted like camera lenses, it was all too obvious now that he was looking her over. "Is there anything I should know about this officer, Detective?"

“We have a vehicle.” House responded as she shifted awkwardly in the small office. “Just parked outside, best if we handle this as quickly as possible. We have a few days to handle the situation, but a time limit is still a time limit. Best to be earlier rather than late.” She spoke, shifting to move out of the office, documents in hand.

“Good luck, detectives.” Camran farewelled with a nod. “I’ll be here working on the precinct's social media profile if you need me. I need to go and find an animal mascot for the teams page.” The big man shuffling out from behind the desk gingerly.

"Alright Detective, I'll follow your lead." The marshal stood up from his chair, turning to follow House out of the room. Being polite, he closed the door behind him without saying another word.

There was a small bump from inside as Camran collided with the back of the door that closed in his face.

“Ow! Don’t worry about me, I’m alright.” Came Camrans muffled voice from inside.

House moved deftly and with sudden purpose. Her movements, despite the synthetic motors than ran silently under her flesh, came with an organic motion and bend that gave a certain enthusiastic spring to her step. A woman usually idle brought to motion, House’s motivated step guided them quickly out of the station, past the passing greetings of other late duty officers, and to the car that she had arrived in.

She cursed under her breath, remembering the likely dried boots that now sat practically glued to the upholstery of the trunk. She glided to the driver's seat anyway, unlocking the doors and booting up the engine. Muscle-memory fingers glided over the A/C and radio controls, putting a quiet, but constant tempo of orchestral jazz through the quickly cooling vehicle.

A quick glance at her phone for any missed messages, and she was ready to go, glancing over to Marshal with a passive look. “You ready? I didn’t want to say it in front of Sergeant Camran, but I’ve got a feeling that his house might have a bit more than just some police memorabilia.”

Calloway looked over his left shoulder and raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean by more? If you are concerned about some sort of automated defenses, I can assure you that I am more than capable." He leaned back in his seat looking forward again.

"Lets go. If we get finished at a reasonable time we can stop and get something to eat. I've found this nice diner on Header Street that might be nice."
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