Nick eyed the mangled body lying on the concrete slab at the base of the parking garage. The victim he recognized as a small-time thief from the area named Carter. With fresh ink done on his left hand of a crescent moon tattoo, a clear symbol he moved up in the world. Carter had graduated from a petty street criminal to a new member of The Ninth Street Furies gang.
The man’s badly battered face clearly showed recent signs of a fight. However, the cause of death Nick assumed had been because of the fall. He would still have to wait for the autopsy report to rule anything else out.
A dozen or so people stood behind the cordoned off area. Held back along with the reporters by the yellow tape and a few officers ensuring no one entered the crime scene. In the early evening twilight, he glimpsed a shadow beginning to fall over where he stood beside the body. It grew in length as the soft footsteps got slightly louder, alerting Nick someone was stepping up beside him.
“Man, looks like he took a header from up there!” his new partner, Officer Matthew Bryans said. Nick glanced at him with a raised eyebrow as the younger man squatted down to take a better view.
“Really?” he stated dryly. He didn’t like having a partner, and this new kid was fresh from the academy. Almost half his own age and with a face making him appear even younger than that. He shouldn’t have been placed in the field with a detective. He needed to work his way up, but his uncle was the police commissioner and now here Nick was stuck with the kid.
“So tell me Holmes, why did he take a header from up there?” he asked, and caught two other uniformed officers trying not to snicker. It was no secret why Nick was stuck with the kid, and they were enjoying his discomfort with the situation.
“Suicide, pushed maybe.” Matt answered peering up from the body.
“So can you explain the bruising on his knuckles, chin and the black eye?” Nick continued; he was supposed to be helping the kid learn the ropes of detective work.
“Impact damage?” Matt asked more than stated.
Nick crouched down beside him and stared at him. “See the grey matter there by your foot?”
“That’s brains, he hit the back of his head on impact, not his face.” he explained in a low tone so the others didn’t hear.
“Ah, so pushed.” he said and Nick almost felt bad for the kid. It seemed clear enough. The younger man reminded him of the type that only wanted to impress those in command.
“Yeah pushed or he fell over accidentally during a scuffle.” he explained as he stood again.
“Detective Richards, the other body is upstairs on the second floor, overlooking this spot.” One of the other officers informed him.
“Come on kid.” he said, and they followed the other officer into the parking garage.
As they walked, Nick took in the surroundings, the place but one of the many new construction sites in the area. At the front of the building sat a small security outbuilding, and all the entrances were blocked with concrete barricades to prevent people from using it. The security guard had been the one to call it in but having already questioned him. Nick found out the young man had not actually heard or seen anything. Little wonder as the kid had a set of earphones dangling from his neck, and the techno music blasting from them was audible to Nick.
The massive ten story high parking facility was supposed to help with the congestion in the area. They walked along on the empty building’s concrete floors. Their footsteps echoed, even with the pale blue booties covering their footwear. Not due to open for another week and now with a possible double homicide, that would mean a possible delay in it being accessible to traffic. The city’ mayor would be in a fit, but the murder investigation would still have to be done no matter how badly she wanted the parking space open.
On the second floor, the body of the second man; lay there on his back staring blankly up at the ceiling. Nora McLeod knelt down beside the body, and she glanced up at them as they approached.
“Hey Nick.” she said as she removed her blue latex gloves and put them into an evidence bag.
“What do you have for me?” he asked as she stood.
A stray long brown hair fell into her face as it escaped her ponytail, and she wiped it away. Having known Nora for the last six years he knew she’d tell him her initial thoughts and findings.
Nora glanced from him to Matt, and a grin played on her lips.
“There was no ID on him just like the other one. He wasn’t shot or stabbed, and no outward signs of trauma. His liver temp puts time of death within the last hour or so.” she explained.
“No fight?” Matt asked.
“None that I could discern yet, I’ll have to get him open to learn more,” She told him while she eyed Matt over with an assessing appraisal.
“What about abrasions to his knuckles?” Nick inquired.
“No, not any visible ones, he may have micro abrasions. However, there is a tattoo of a crescent moon on his left hand, why do you ask?”
“Another one of The Ninth Street Furies gang. The other guy took a beating and if this guy wasn’t the one to do it then we can rule him out as the one that put the knuckles to dive boy.”
“But not the one that might have pushed him?” Matt asked.
“Well, let’s see there is a good thirty feet from him to the edge, unless he pushed him and then walked over here to drop dead....” he didn’t bother to finish the statement.
The Furies usually didn’t kill each other, and this was starting to look like a gang fight. Nick eyed the yellow evidence marks on the ground near the ledge. Forensics was still working up here, and the place was teeming with techs dusting and collecting evidence. They were guided through by Nora, being the forensic lead here. Following her to the small cement wall, he eyed the blood spots. A fight had occurred here, and he surmised it’s what caused the first guy to fall to his death.
Peeking over the ledge, he surveyed the area below, and the body of the other victim, it wasn’t that far of a drop. Yet, the guy had hit his head hard enough on the concrete that part of his brain was expelled from his broken skull. He had to of gone over at a greater speed then just a simple fall in order for that to happen. But a vehicle wouldn’t make it inside because of the barrier and that ruled out him being nailed by a car up here.
Still waiting for the security camera’s surveillance, he hoped it had caught what happened. The devices were set up to ensure full capacity coverage, as this part of the city had a higher than average criminal presents. It should make this case simple he imagined, but they had to find someone to have it released. Until then, he would piece things together and find out how close his theories came to what actually happened here.
Earlier That Evening:
The sickly crunch of breaking bones reverberated through her leg as her foot connected with the side of his face. He flew over the edge of the second-story garage parking lot, landing on the cement below with a stomach-turning thud. Wheeling around to square off with the other two men who were rapidly moving towards her, she snarled. He made the mistake of sending the weaker human members of his gang and not actual tribe members, and it was a mistake his men would pay for.
Rushing to meet them head on she twisted and thrust her foot out sideways. The spinning side kick lifted one of the men right off his feet and sent him rolling across the concrete floor. The air in his lungs had expelled with a loud ‘umph’. The other man paused, seeming to reconsider his attack. She shot out with a palm strike into his solar plexus. The small bone gave way to her blow, and he fell as dead as dead could be. The growing fear flooded her and thankfully, the adrenaline high she was riding gave her more energy; others would be coming.
Racing to the other end of the compound, fully aware Aries would send more of his men to try and retrieve her. Aurora had no intentions of letting that happen. Freedom felt too damn good, and she never wanted to be trapped inside of a cage again as long as she lived. With a cautious step, she ventured out of the parking complex and made her way down the street. Her eyes shifted from one direction to the next as she carefully scanned the area. The city had changed a lot in the ten years since she last seen it. The busy streets flowed with heavy traffic, and the fresh cold evening air chilled her skin. The people walking by her gave her peculiar glances, but she ignored them as she made her way as far from this spot as she could.
Walking almost aimlessly Aurora finally found an old looking building that had most likely seen its last tenants a decade or more ago. It would have to do; she needed to get out of the frigid wind that was now blowing. Still wearing the clothes she escaped in proved a little too scant for these frigid temperatures. Aries didn’t want them overly dressed as he made it a habit of pulling females from their cages to keep him entertained.
Aurora one of the few spared that humiliation, not because he didn’t want to, because he feared her. Being intimate with her would mean being alone with her and that posed too great a risk for him. Now, however, that may change if he got his hands on her again, it was not something she had any intentions of letting happen. After she got some rest, she would find some clothes, steal some cash and get the hell away from this city.
Making her way into a small apartment inside the abandoned place, she realized she could only afford a couple of hours sleep. Anymore then that increased her likelihood of recapture. A pile of old cardboard boxes beside a haphazard pile of broken boards would have to do, she slumped down into, attempting to get comfortable. It was better than her cage had been, with no bed or privacy, only metal bars and a toilet.
Letting her mind drift to earlier tonight, she wondered how long it would take Chloe to come around. The other woman had taken a hard hit in the fight, and although Chloe would live from their battle. She had hoped that she would have been able to save her as well. Regret, however, was not something she could afford right now. Aurora was lucky to have gotten herself out in one piece let alone the older woman. Still the pang of guilt lay there in her. Chloe had trained her, and even though they were forced to battle each other for the pleasure of the spectators, they were friends.
As the exhaustion took overpowered her, she let her eyes close, two hours she told herself. Then she needed to find something to take this damn collar off and someone willing to do it. Aurora couldn’t wait to be free of the infernal thing, ten years it sat around her neck, only coming off during the fights with the other shifters. The key to the heavy padlock was held by Ricardo; he was the Pit Master and although not a cruel man he also did as he was told.
The band only one of the ways Aries controlled them. If they shifted with it on if kill them as their necks were bigger in their beast forms. The metal cut into the flesh strangling them at the same time it slowly sliced into the jugular. Crude but effective, she huffed to herself. She figured Aries would be in an uproar by now; she was his favorite fighter. The sounds of sirens caught her attention briefly before she forced herself to stop thinking and go to sleep.