"Ladies, gentlemen, and all the freaks here tonight; Welcome to the greatest show on Earth."
A lone spotlght was the only thing keeping the room from diving into pure darkness. Under spotlight was a figure that could have easily been no more than an extension of the looming blackness. He was shrouded in a cloak that left any and all physical features to the imagination. The only visible aspect that even assured the crowd that their ringmaster was even human, was a blanch and wrily left-hand that held out a small compact microphone.
"Tonight, we have a special show straight from the history books. A good old Spanish tradition," the ringmaster waved his revealed hand and allbof the lights came on, blinding everybody in the crowd. They were all circled around a massive barbed cage. Blood was stained across sections of the metallic floor. The audience gazed at the cage in awe, even if the expressions weren't visible through their masks.
"I'll give you all one last hint; the job title is the Spanish word for 'killer'! And what a killer he is."
Next to the ringmaster a hole opened in the floor. The silent whir of machines could be heard as a second cage rose from somewhere below the floor. Inside of the cage was a chained man. The man was clean shaven and appeared to take extremely precise care of his grooming. He exuded an aura of wealth and fortunate upbringing. The only noticable imperfection on his face was a scar that hooked around from above his left eye to below his left ear.
"The man before you all is an up and coming politician. He recently had a scandalous meeting with one of our 'workers', a bad decision on his part," the ringmaster chuckled at the unfortunate path the politician's date had taken. "Now, before our shows, we always have a 'meet the performer' segment. Now, mystery politician, please tell the crowd your name."
The chained man looked up at the cloaked figure, sized him up, and spat at him. The ringmaster chuckled at his arrogant attitude. He always enjoyed the 'performances' by the macho types; almost as much as he enjoyed watching the people who begged for their lives. The ringmaster turned back towards the audience and began the introduction in place of the man.
"Well, it seems the cat has our performer's tongue. In place of him, I'll give you all introductions. This is Charles Gerhard, or Charlie, as his friends call him. He is an Arizona native who is currently running for Congress. He enjoys long walks on the beach and a cigar at sunset. What a romantic guy, right? Don't worry ladies, we know exactly the kind of girls he likes. He enjoys a wholesome down-to-earth girl with a sense of humor. He prefers brunettes and slim waists. So if any-"
Charlie lost interest at this point, instead he searched the room for any defining characteristics. The blinding spotlight flickered, and with every flicker the darkness lessened and small details became visible. Between Charlie and the crowd were a series of metallic bars. These partially blocked some of the masks of the crowd. Through each flicker he checked out the masks, each appeared to be that of an animal, most unparticular in nature. One mask did call out to Charlie though, it appeared to be a wolf and the man's orange eyes were clearly visible through the mask.
"-and so tonight we gather together to witness a man return to basic instincts and fight for his life. The thrill of one man clinging to life, going against the odds. We give him a fair choice: live and go free, or die and be forgotten."
Charlie perked up at this. What was he going to have to do? The ringmaster waved his right arm and suddenly a larger and brighter light illuminated the room. Charlie's original prognosis proved accurate. As soon as his eyes adjusted to the new sorroundings, he could see that he very much was in a cage. It was a rather large one at that, large enough to house an entire army of Elephants. At one end was a massive gate that led to reinforced metal doors that were obviously capable of stopping even the most powerful of beasts. The other end possessed a much smaller door that blended in with the cage. Charlie scanned the area around the cage, checking for any exits. There was only one and it was located directly next to the audience's seating. He would have to pass whatever trial they put him through, if he wanted any chance of escape.
"Now, Charlie, do you know what you are here for? Perhaps you could tell us exactly why you might be wanted by a select group of individuals?"
Charlie shrugged his shoulders. Honestly, he had no idea what this group wanted him for. He had always been popular with the public, and not once had he gotten himself involved with a bad crew. In fact, elections were coming up and he was the favorite for Arizona by the largest percentile in history. The only real issues he had, as of late, were his scandal involving his college tuition and an argument with his wife. The scandal involved his tuition having been paid entirely by wealthy corporations who saw the promise he had as a politician. They also wired a surplus of ten million dollars to his French bank account. This wasn't a problem though, because he had expertly eliminated any trail of the transactions. The argument with his wife was over a lipstick stain on his shirt. Secretly, Charlie was having relations with his secretary, but again there was no evidence to support it.
"Well, let me fill the audience in a little; Charlie here is being unfaithful to his wife AND to his mistress! I know, right? You wonder what the point of the mistress is, if he just gets another one on top. Anyways, we managed to catch him in the act. One of our fabulous clients tipped him off to a high-class prostitution business. When he came to mee the girl, he ended up meeting something. It just happened to be chloroform. Now, you may be saying to yourself 'well just being unfaithful isn't worthy of death', well it doesn't end there. Our little saint here did some things in college that nobody should he able to live with. The things he did for his corporate tuition, are sickening. So sickening in fact, that you may not believe just our punishment is enough. One night, our little friend here got drunk at a frat party and ssdly he just couldn't pass out like a regular kid. Instead, after raping twelve different women, he also killed them and the unborn baby one was carrying. Alone he wouldn't have gotten away with it, but he called on his corporate buddies to help him out and everything cleared out. Now, I hope we can all agree that this man deserves his fate."
Charlie was shocked. Not just anyone could have known this. Whoever was behind all of this was a very powerful man. He again looked at his captor, noticing that his other hand was uncovered. It was the same white pallor as his other, and it was a sickly purple color at each joint. As Charlie watched the hand, it withdrew into the sleeve of the cloak, only to resurface with a long scarlet cloth. Charlie again was overtaken as he watched his captor walk behind him and draped the cloth silently over Charlie's head. Now, blind to the world, Charlie had to gauge his sorroundings by his other instincts. He heard a the soft clink of a key entering a lock and soon felt his body freed from the chain restraints that had kept him immobile.
Immediately he scrambled to remove the red cloth from his face. He tore it from his head and immediately regained his bearings. He was still in the massive cage, but now his captor was nowhere to be found. The lights had agained dimmed over the audience, limiting his only field of vision to only the sorroundings inside of his cage. Charlie attempted to stand up, but found it increasingly difficult after his long detainment. After finally managing to remove himself from the cold tiled floor, Charlie heard a loud and ear-piercing noise. He immediately knew what it was; the large metal doors, on the other side of the cage, were opening.
Behind the door was more ominous darkness, but soon an even scarier figure emerged from it. The figure showed no signs of any humanity or restraint. It was down on all fours, deftly closing the distance between itself and Charlie. The deep glow in its eyes gave off the most predatorial aura that Charlie had ever felt. It blew a long breath out of its flared nostrils; its dark brown mane expanding and compressing as it stared straight at Charlie. Its battle-scarred horns shone in the light, made of the same metallic substance as the trio of large round studs on its forehead. The beast lowered its head and began to kick up dust behind it. Charlie knew what this meant; its three tails would soon descend on its back. That would mark the start of the fight.
Charlie quickly went through the things his son had tought him about this particular bull. He had called it a Tauros. It was one of the recent genetically adapted animals that had surfaced in the western plains of Ohio. It shared many characteristics with the common bull, but it had roughly ten fold the power of any regular creature. The one thing genetics hadn't removed, was the inability for it to change direction after it started to charge. This was Charlie's sole shot at living.
The tails came down on Tauros, and just as they connected, the bull was stampeding in a straight line at Charlie. It was faster than Charlie had imagined; in a split second, it had nearly closed the gap between itself and its prey. Charlie couldn't make up his mind. Left or right. Left or right. Left or right. Neither. Charlie leapt up, hurtling himself over the bull, barely escaping death. Charlie landed flat on his back, hitting the rock pretty hard. He shrugged it off, realizing it was a much smaller amount of damage than the Tauros would have inflicted. Remembering the Tauros, Charlie looked over to see it smash a massive dent into the iron cage wall that was once behind him. Charlie thought of what the result would have been, had he not reacted as quickly as he did. The sickly crunch of bone sent shivers down his spine.
Tauros wasn't one to sit still long, it quickly turned back around and transfixed itself on Charlie. It was now at point blank and wouldn't hesitate to attack again. Charlie realized his predicament and quickly distanced himself from Tauros, while continuously moving diagonally so Tauros couldn't get a lock. He must have to conquer this Tauros to secure his escape. That was the unlikely way this predicament was going to close. Tauros charged again, but this time Charlie already had momentum and was easily able to side-step the frontal charge.
Charlie quickly gained the upperhand over the bull. It seems knowledge really was the best weapon. He heard the same crash of steel on iron. Again, a dent was clearly visible in the structure of the cage. This got Charlie to thinking, what if one spot was repeatedly struck? Could that open an exit? He would still have to deal with his captor and audience, but that wouldn't be as difficult as facing this genetic powerhouse.
Soon, Charlie was yanked out of his train of thought by the interruption of the same deep voice from earlier, "You seem to have figured out this creature's weakness. The question is: can you figure out how to escape before you get too worn out?" The voice laughed hysterically, wondering if his prey had found another way to escape or if he was just too clueless to notice the open gate that the Tauros came through.
As Charlie dodged another charge, he noticed the scarlet cloth from earlier was hanging from his pocket. This struck a chord in Charlie's mind, reminding him of the comment the ringmaster had made. The Spanish word for killer is matador. That was his escape! The tools had been provided, and he was ready to use them. Now the question was: what could he do? Using the Tauros' force against the already damaged bars was a given, but Charlie would have to defy all odds and dodge the speeding bull. He quickly maneuvered to the exact spot he first stood opposing the speeding train that was this Tauros.
Charlie rose his crimson cape. He fluttered it, baiting on the only variable capable of changing in this climactic battle with fate. If the cape in his hands was anything other than a piece of cloth, Tauros did not show it. Tauros and Charlie were in a deadlock, and their eyes magnified the battle, never seperating from the other's. Tauros made the first move, renacting the exact leg motions it had in their preliminary engagement. Charlie adjusted his legs, ready to bail out and let destiny take its place as the judge of this skirmish. Tauros reared up its tails as Charlie took in a deep breath. In a split second, everything fell into play. Tauros was charging and Charlie was leaping. His over-the-top approach had won him the first round, but this time Tauros was ready. Tauros mirrored Charlie's leap of faith and plucked him out of the air with his steel horns, cementing its victory with the spine-shattering crunch of Charlie's torso and arms.
Charlie barely held on to his consciousness, becoming completely submerged in waves of pain. Everything fell silent except for a constant monotone ringing somewhere off in the distance. His vision began to blur, and he could only barely make out the slow approach of a dark shadow. It was the ringmaster, coming to check on his vitals. An eerie smile spread across his face as he motioned his arms and proclaimed something inaudible to the crowd. The ringing slowly began to get louder, making Charlie's mind break with every ring. The cloaked figure slowly revealed his hand; he was holding a fire arm of some sort. As Charlie literally felt the curtain closing on his life, he became mesmerized by one tiny detail and used all of his energy to focus on it. He had seen the ringmaster's ring somewhere before; the familiar aquamarine gryphon crest, where had he seen it before? As realization dawned on him, so did the end. A simple deaf flash marked the end of Charles Gerhard's life.
Soon the cloaked figure emerged back out of the cage. His grin was that of pure exuberance. He happily questioned the crowd as he pulled a stopwatch out of his pocket, "So, who's prediction was closest to thirty four minutes and twenty six seconds?" The ringmaster laughed as the crowd frantically checked their predictions.
A hand shot up into the air. A man with a wolf mask on was the owner of the hand. His bright orange eyes sparkled as e simply stated his one word answer, "Exact."
The ringmaster began clapping, and was soon joined by the rest of the crowd. He happily congratulated the man and announced his prize, "You, sir, are the proud winner of roughly three million dollars. And for being lucky enough to get an exact time, you get to choose our next competitor."
"Fuck! That's the third one this month!" exclaimed a furious man, as he violently crashed his phone down onto its receiver. His outburst resonated throughout the small building, silencing all of the workers in the middle of their daily evidence gathering and checking.
"Relax, Luce. This guy is good, but he is bound to have made a mistake somewhere," reassured the man next to him. He placed a hand on Luce's shoulder and reassured him, the way only someone who had spent years living under the same roof could.
"Thanks, Nero," Luce let out a sigh, "The thing is, the State Police Force have been riding my ass about this for the past two months, and this will just give them more to yell at me about."
"True, but they need you. You are the best investigator in the entire state of Arizona. Without you, the Henry boys would still be out there killing innocent kids. You just need to lighten up."
"You know, just as well as I do, that you are the one here that deserves credit for catching those two. You pulled some real heroic shit leaping out of that window like that."
"Well, you have to do what you have to do. You did find the place, though. That was the only thing that let us catch their asses."
"True, but without your genius idea of searching the local butcher's shop for murder weapons, we never would have been able to find the knives they used to kill or get their fingerprints."
"Lucky guess," Nero shrugged his shoulders, "I guess we are both the best detectives in Arizona. The unstoppable LeNare brothers!"
"Damn straight. I mean-"
"AHHHH! TOO MUCH EGO!" interrupted the poor soul who had the misfortune of being in the office of the LeNare brothers during one of their modesty flares. The new police force recruit had been given the assignment of checking in with the brother's progress on the murder case of Charles Gerhard and seven other well off Arizona citizens. He always seemed to get stuck with the unfortunate jobs, but this was certainly one of the worst.
"Well, excuse us, officer. Sorry two brothers can't compliment each other without getting on your nerves," remarked Nero quite snarkily.
"Nero, don't worry, I'll have a nice little chat with the small fry here. You just go out and get some lunch for both of us. I'll be out soon enough," reassured Luce, keeping his death glare firmly on the officer.
"Fine. I assume you want the usual?"
"Yeah, and make sure she is Cuban this time. I don't want to hear excuses about how the Bahamas are really close to Cuba, ever again."
"That was one time, give me a break," Nero mumbled insults as he left the room, leaving Luce alone with the officer.
"Sorry about the earlier banter, you see, my brother and I are both very proud people. We come from a rich ancestry and are happy to live up to our family's great expectations. I hope you can understand, officer..." Luce trailed off, waiting for the officer to properly insert his name into the conversation.
"Lein. Officer Sigrit Lein," completed Sigrit.
"You see, Officer Lein, me and my brother are pursuing this case feverishly. The thing that frustrates us the most, is that this killer leaves no traces of ever having even met the victim. We've tried checking for everything. No witnesses, no fingerprints, no clues, no nothing."
"And that is why I am here. One, or both, of you two are to take me to the crime scene so I can find the unseen clues. You see, I just have a knack for these sorts of things."
"Do I have to stay there with you? I'm sure you hear the conversation me and my brother had. We are both expecting... *Company, if you will."
"Errr... No, I suppose not. I just need a copy of all of your information so far. After that, we should be good."
"Sure thing. It's printing now. I'll quick run and get it," Luce smiled and left Sigrit alone in his office. As the door closed, the officer finally took his surroundings into perspective. The room was rather small, but it had a quaint feeling to it. Lining the walls were several file cabinets, all filled with what Sigrit assumed to be case files. There were several moderately sized windows behind Luce's main desk which filled the room with enough light to keep even the stingiest person happy. In the corner closest to windows, there was a large armchair accompanied by a small bookcase with a great variation of interesting books. They varied from the works of Shakespeare, to encyclopedias chronicling historical pass times.
As Sigrit took in the final details of the office, the only door opened once again. As Sigrit turned around to greet Luce, he was greeted by a mysterious form. A completely cloaked man had entered the room. Sigrit quickly reached for his holster, withdrawing his standard issue revolver only to have it swatted away by a monstrous force. Who, or whatever, this hooded figure was, wasn't playing around. The figure swiftly closed the gap between itself and Sigrit, making no noise at all. *Soon Sigrit was in a deadlock with this creature, still not entirely sure who or what it was. As Sigrit began to lose the grapple with the shrouded being, he dove towards his handgun.
As his finger grazed the handle of the gun, a dark shroud covered him and he was lifted off the ground. He was now in the grasps if the mysterious person. As Sigrit tried to struggle his shrouded opponent held him tighter and tighter; slowly draining all of the air from his body. Just as his vision began to match the same darkness that sorrounded the man in front of him, a familiar figure burst through the door and tackled the shadow. It was Luce, he was pulling the same heroics he had bragged about. A punch was thrown here, and a kick there; soon the battle became heated. Luce noticed Sigrit's gun and dover fo it, after a successful leg sweep. Luce grabbed the gun and pointed it straight at the creature. Just as the battle came to its climax, Sigrit's whole world went black.
"Welcome, once again, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight we are here granting a very special request from one of your fellow patrons. This particular challenge involves a good amount of smoke and mirrors. Literally. We couldn't set it up directly in front of you all, but we have screens set up for all of you to watch from every gruesome angle. Now would our guest care to introduce his prey?" the ringmaster sung out in the most melodical way possible. He was covered in the same cloak that he wore during the first 'show', except this time his hood was nowhere to be found. His face now free to be witnessed by his entire crowd. His dark and commanding voice was completely unfitting of his jovial exterior.
The malevolent 'man' who had been more than capable of playing with the lives of others, appeared to be nothing more than a handsome teenager. His skin was flawless, carrying no imperfections what so ever; albeit having a sickly white pallor. Brilliant red eyes mirrored the blissfulness of a youth whose Christmas wish had just been fulfilled. And to complete the set, his smooth brown hair flowed perfectly with every slight movement, leaving a small trail of blue if one were to watch it.
Even without being very old, he gave off the same frightening aura only possessed by the most grizzled and battle-hardened soldiers. This aura perfectly clashed with the fox masked man who came down from the stands to receive the microphone. Instead of a fierce and scary aura, this man gave off the feeling of a very regal and educated man. A gleam of something dark appeared in the eyes of the fox masked man as he began:
"Ladies and Gentlemen. You all came here tonight expecting a game of survival played by those of the 'new money' age. Now, my choice tonight isn't a corrupt politician, or even a businessman who climbed the ladder of success through less than ideal connections; no, tonight we are here to watch as a simple watch repairman fights to survive using his working man traits. Now, you may all feel guilty because this man is filled with such simplicity. That does not exempt him from the traditional evils that the rest of the contestants has had. This man bears false title. He claims to repair watches, but if a rich customer comes around, he gets sticky fingered and he purposefully sabotages each watch they bring in so that they must always return and spend obscene amounts of money just to have each part replaced until simply investing in a new watch is a better financial option. This is the kind of low key swindling that deserves punishment the most. The kind the police won't investigate. The kind that can easily be denied. The kind that is run by the devil himself," this was obviously a very personal topic for the watch afficionado. The crowd murmured to themselves about how strange it was that the man resented this watch repairman enough to have him killed, but it did seem dastardly enough to merit the man's hate.
As the crowd began to talk amongst themselves of what they would do had they been granted the same opportunity as fox mask. A bookmaker came around taking bets and placing down odds on times of survival. Soon enough, everyone had settled down and they intently watched their young host as he returned himself to his position in front of them all. His eyes flickered as he felt the intensity of the crowds interest and wonderment in the proceedings of the night. A wide grin spread across the ringmaster's face.
"Now its time for our little watchmaker to prove his worth. Will divine judgment be passed, or will the power of the proletariat too strong? Tune into channel four on any television around the room and watch as the power of the working class fights off one of the newly chosen messengers of God; the scythe of justice." With an open side sweeping motion of his arms, the ringmaster greeted the crowd with the simultaneous light up of several dozens of large televisions around the room.
On each television screen, there was a different bird's eye view of the trial's setting. Sorrounding the unconscious figure in the center, were rows upon rows of winding mirrors. It was a labyrinth of sorts, just with the increased difficulty of not knowing which path was an actual escape in place of a mirrored dead end. Soon the figure began to show signs of life. The man slowly raised himself off the floor *as he looked around dazed and confused. Soon his confusion became almost tangible as his many reflections *mirrored his every movement. He slowly felt his way around and began to find his path towards his exit. A collective disinterest was evident in the watching crowd.
The ringmaster picked up on the lack of excitement in the crowd, and stared amazed at how quickly this simple watchmaker had figured out what was happening and how he could find his way out. Soon the ringmaster decided to things needed to get a little more interesting. He quickly pulled a small remote from his pocket and pressed the only button present. Immediately the television screens changed from a regular camera feed, to that of a thermal scanner. The heat signature of the repairman was the only outstanding visual on the screen. That is, until the real challenge showed up.
The room had begun to fill with fog, and now the man could barely see in front of his face, not to mention the pain That was caused by his constant struggle with the misleading mirrors. Soon, though, there was an audible sound from the other side of the room. It sounded as if a door had just been opened. Soon the man felt another presence in the room and the crowd could see a new heat signature on the screen. This one, that of an unfamiliar preying mantis creature.
Screams could be heard resonating through the chamber as the single heat source converged on the other. Just as quickly as the preying mantis had closed itself on the watch repairman, it was gone. It left the man injured, bleeding, and paranoid. Through the confusion of the fog and mirrors, the man questioned his every move. If he moved too quickly, he found his eyes darting towards his own reflection, half expecting it to come out and kill him. He was still unsure of what was happening, but he knew he wasn't alone in the mist.
The crowd watched with joy as the figure once again descended on the repairman. This time another scream was heard as the man was again slashed by the creature. After the damage was done, the flying reaper vanished into the fog again. This time the repairman wasn't simply going to follow the maze.
The crowd cheered as they watched the man punch his fist through a nearby mirror. Blood dripped off his hands as it became a visible puddle of diminishing heat beneath his feet. One again the crowd clapped and cheered as the predator shape swiftly maneuvered its way towards the repairman, once again. Their heat signatures met and formed one large glob of heat, showing signs of a struggle. This was the real fight. The crowd was going crazy and the ringmaster smirked. Soon one of the heat signatures collapsed to the floor as it slowly changed to the color of its sorroundings, becoming cold. The crowd all gasped when they witnessed the result. Dead on the floor was a large preying mantis-like animal that had scythes for arms. Standing proudly over his kill, the watch repairman clutched a sharp shard of mirror that misted up in the fog, blood drippind down the mirror off of his hand.
The crowd began to boo as he reached the exit. This was not planned. If he escaped, would they all be revealed? The ringmaster simply put up a hand and let the crowd grow silent before laughing and explaining the situation, the man would soon be nothing to worry about. The ringmaster was right, the man didn't make it very far.
As the repairman escaped out on foot, a dark night sky loomed overhead. The stars provided the only light at this forsaken hour of the night. Stretched out in front of the man was a large orchard filled with an endless number of trees. The cool air of winter was slowly succumbing to the changes of season. Miniscule signs of the upcoming springtime bloom were apparent on each branch of every tree. The man finally felt at peace
Soon though, clouds began to cover the sky. The stars dwindled and dimmed as the clouds created a wool-like cover over the watchful eye of the moon. The moonlight vanished and the sky was obscured, the entiree orchard was blind to the events that transpired under their cover.
As the repairman stumbled through the darkness, two small red eyes glinted in the distance. Without sound, the eyes vanished. The moonlight returned, a blood red color, and all that could be seen was a body strewn throughout several trees, torn to pieces. A pair of hands were lying on the ground, being sniffed by a small deer creature, its antlers slowly forming, and its fur showing signs of changing from a brown color to a light pink. Its eyes glinted with that appeared to be confusion as it sniffed the hands, it knew what had happened, just didn't understand why.
Sigrit slowly regained consciousness, taking in his harsh sorroundings. His claustrophobia began to kick in from the tightness of his quarters. The bars confined him to only several inches of movement in each direction. Sigrit started to get light headed, and attempted to take refuge from his quarters by looking out past the bars.
However worse things could have gotten, they did. Outside of the cage was a seemingly endless dark abyss. The nondescript black stretched out forever, including downwards. This certainly did not help Sigrit's fear of heights, causing him even more nausea. The poor soul was fighting off his urge to faint, while racking his brains for details on the lead up to his incarceration.
Sigrit remembered a fight. A struggle he had lost against a mysterious figure; taken over by the cocky detective who seemed to have won. Then everything went black, nothing about a cage...
Realizationed dawned on the ailling prisoner. He had experienced feelings like this before; in fact, he had been trained for it. Every police officer had to undergo training for hypnosis and dream manipulation. It wasn't an easy task, but with the recent surge in the use of Pokemon as mind weapons, it was extremely neccessary.*
Sigrit dove deep into his subconscious, harnessing his mental imagery. He focused long and hard on creating his personal 'clue'. He couldn't help but remeber his instructors remarks about how important a clue was; without, you could never really tell the real from unreal. As he opened his eyes, he saw it resting in his hands. The scarf his sister had given him when she left.
He was now certain he was under some kind of trance. Now came the hard part; remembering how to escape. Sigrit had truly hated this section of the training. They had been forced to seperate themselves from the outside world for three straight months. During each week they were subject to several days of straight hypnosis; only being allowed to leave if they broke free.
One such case he was under for roughly eleven days. Teetering on the edge of completely breaking down and just letting the intruder take control. It was during this particularly rough encounter, that Sigrit found his niche method of escaping his dreams. He found that flooding these manipulated dreams with his own memories overloaded them and helped him escape. Sigrit continued to remember his days in the academy, thinking over the many bonds he had formed and the people he met.
Suddenly, a brilliant white light shone around Sigrit's cage. The light pierced and dissolved the bindings and removed the sorrounding cage. Sigrit just floated in the light, searching for its cause. His eyes focused on a small deer like creature who's newly flourished leaves emitted strands of light that all converged on one particular location. As the reached a combined halt, the light formed into a door and the deer slowly passed through it. Sigrit decided that his best course of action was to follow this beacon of light out of the never ending darkness. He floated over to the door of light and let his fingers grasp the brilliantly glowing doorknob; it was smooth and reassuring to the touch. He opened the door and passed through.
Light danced around Sigrit's vision, slowly joining together in a seductive motion, forming shadows and colors; slowly, but surely, changing into strangely familiar shapes and objects. It was as if he had seen them before, just something was different. Everything seemed to be... out of place.
As if finally struck to his senses, Sigrit was overwhelmed with sound, taste, sight, smell, and feeling. His nerves began to overload and his body lashed out violently in response. This outburst was quickly felled by the imprint of a boot onto his chest. Staring down at Sigrit was a very unhappy looking private detective. Given some hindsight, Sigrit would have indeed have classified it as a vindictive glare.
Around him was the LeNare brother's office, and above him was one of said brothers. The door soon bursted open and police officers filed in. They sorrounded and handcuffed the darker haired brother. Sigrit was quickly pulled from the ground only to hear the most shocking statement he had ever heard.
"Nero, you're under arrest for fratricide," announced the man Sigrit recognized as the head state police chief.
Nero didn't struggle in any manner; he merely stared at the floor. Following his vision, Sigrit saw the valiant man from earlier. Luce was sprawled across the floor, covered in his own blood. Several noticable bullet wounds were scattered across his torso and abdomen. This seemed very unsettling to Sigrit, because his last conscious memory had been of Luce in command of the battle with the cloaked intruder.
Sigrit thought about the events, but none of it added up. How had the battle turned from gun being fired at cloaked stranger, to Luce dead on the floor with his brother being sent to jail for his murder? Sigrit tried to speak up, but when he opened his mouth, an animalistic sound came out.
This startled him even further. Sigrit couldn't believe that came out of his mouth; he was certain it was a mistake. Unfortunately for him, somebody else had heard him. Nero's eyes shifted from the body on the ground and focused onto Sigrit. The new shock in his eyes soon transformed into a glare as his pupils constricted into dark purple spheres of pure rage.
Staring into back into the anger filled eyes of a now only child seemed to inflict severe physical and mental distress onto Sigrit. He collapsed to the ground again, overwhelmed by the rush of the sensations around him. Suddenly his senses developed extreme sensitivity and everything became too much to handle.
His vision became pristine, locking in on the wounds of the deceased corpse on the floor. He could now make out alight burn marks on the inner workings of the bullet holes; this was confirmed by the extremely light singed scent that processed through Sigrit's new and improved nasal abilities. Around him, he heard police sirens and a slight wind distortion that carried in through an opened window. His touch was overwhelmed as well; it appeared as though the carpet had trace amounts of fur nestled deep inside of it.
These sudden changes burned themselves into Sigrit's head as memories flooded his thoughts. He remembered the fight; his last moments of consciousness. The windows had been closed. Thinking it over, he realized that the windows had been open when he regained consciousness. This meant, to him, that somewhere in between his loss of consciousness and the entry of Nero, Luce had died and someone had opened the window for some reason. For what exactly, remained a mystery.
Sigrit, now in control of his hyperactive nerves, returned to his feet. Despite his increased perception of his sorroundings, he had become to overwhelmed in detail and had completely missed the exit of the entire police force. Now alone in the room, it was time for some snooping.
Sigrit began observing the room, making mental notes of every single part of the room that had changed from during the battle between Luce and the cloaked figure. The bookcase had been moved to the opposite room, and several books on the shelf were now in a different order. Said books all pertained to a common topic: the state history of Arizona. On top of the moved bookcase and its contents, the desk had also been turned slightly and shifted roughly a foot to the left.
Again, these were all interesting clues, but they had very little relevance to any aspect of the case at hand. Sigrit decided to investigate the desk and soon found that there was a note inside of it. The note read:
I worry about the business we are getting ourselves into this time. This isn't some simple case. These death threats are getting more and more personal. Sometimes, I really wonder if they will stay only as threats... We need to talk; I want to get off of this case.
Sigrit put the note back down and searched in and around the desk. He found many files for cases, but none specifically linked to any of the recent murders. This struck him as odd, being that both of these private investigators had been following this case for several weeks now.
Sigrit searches further and further, but to no avail. It made no logical sense for there to not even be stand in papers to make it appear as if they were doing work. Sigrit wanted answers, and it was clear he wasn't going to get them here. He grabbed a small black notebook he had stumbled upon earlier and skimmed through it once more, expecting to find some clue he had missed the first time. Bingo. The most recent note was a street adress and a listing of names; Sigrit now had a basis for investigation.
"Wind. Too much fucking wind," mumbled Nero to himself as another chill crawled down his spine. He was encircled by another powerful gale of wind, catching and lifting the edges of his dark brown jacket. His once cherished investigator's cap pulled down over his face, masking it from the intrusive wind. His dark hair peeked out from under his hat, falling down over his eyes.
He passed by glowing signs, crowds of drunken youth, and several desolate shops well past their closing hours. This wasn't the same city he remembered. This couldn't be it. The town he remembered was filled with color and life; this was just a series of concrete blocks that looked like the city he loved. This place had no character.
Nero stopped by a street lamp, using the light it cast out as a sort of shield from the trouble that passed him in every direction. He clumsily pulled a carton of cigarettes out of his pocket and withdrew one. He placed the carton back in his pocket, replacing the now empty spot in his hand with a lighter. He tried to light the cigarette in his mouth, but his hand just couldn't remain steady. Nerves had gotten the best of him.
It took a long while before Neor began to move again. He left the unlit cigarette in his mouth, hoping it would keep his teeth from chattering. He thought over the rash decisions he had been making since the death of his brother. He wondered if retribution was truly the path Luce would have wanted him to take. Either way, he was too far in now to go back. He made his decision those few weeks ago when he saw his brother's dead body.
Finally confident in his objective, Nero slowly shuffled his way towards a very secluded alleyway. It was under a thick cloud of darkness, leaving the end of the alleyway completely unknown from even the sharpest eyesight. His hands trembled as he pulled then from his pickets and mumbled a quick prayer. Nero entered the darkness, shivering.
A gunshot echoed throughout the nearby cityscape.