Last night's fiasco was in all the newsfaxes-- dubbing it the ‘St. Valentine's Day Inferno.' In the aftermath, since there was no one else around, the Knight Errant and the Feds were blamed.
According to the papers if they hadn't stayed all ‘grouped together' then ‘Jimmy the Barracuda' and his team wouldn't have come after them.
The man is a known hitman with mafia ties-- a consummate professional. But no-- the attack was the good guys fault. They should have all been hiding in caves to protect the general masses from such horrors. Only problem was: the general populous was starting to agree with them.
Next thing you know there's going to be some knee jerk legislation on the way saying that law enforcement officers cannot gather in groups of more than three unless it is at a designated ‘police friendly' facility.
Case heard me muttering something to that effect and chuckled.
"Don't laugh too hard," I chided. "Its just the sort of thing that could happen."
He looked at me and shook his head. "I'm just glad you're all right."
I nodded solemnly. "I am too. The thing that bothers me is that– after killing Worthington-Hyde-Smythe and trying to make it look like a accident, why he'd go after me in such a grandiose manner?"
His answer was not all that comforting.
According to Case, Jimmy and his people knew that if he was indicted it would only be a matter of time until his ‘professional confidentiality' was compromised. In his world he was better off dead at the hands of the police then his-- employers.
I thought about that a moment and then nodded. It meant-- in theory-- I was out of trouble. I should be so lucky.
He tried to convince me that it ended last night with Jimmy's death, but something told me it wasn't over. He had the gun... but he was not the mage.
Case asked me how I knew and I just shook my head. I can't explain it-- I just know. That knowledge didn't make either one of us feel much better.
Neither did the call we got from Knight Errant.
We ended up at their headquarters answering a lot of questions about last night and what happened. They separated us-- standard procedure, and began interrogations to find out exactly what we remembered. Only then were Case and I allowed to see each other.
Then it was a guided tour of the morgue and a private viewing of "Jimmy the Barracuda."
The only bright part of the trip was Dr. Chen. I loved the surprised look I got out of a few of the Knights present when Dr. Chen greeted me like a long lost friend. I do like keeping them guessing-- even if we are on the same side.
Dr. Chen tried to make me at home-- and the Knights as uncomfortable as possible by making sure they got a good view of the body.
Only problem was-- the dead body wasn't "Jimmy the Barracuda."
The man on the slab was the same general build of the man I saw... the same man I saw them shoot-- but it was not the same man.
Illusions... it’s the only thing I can think of and I think for once everybody was on the same page. If I saw "Jimmy" die-- there was no reason to continue the investigation-- they had their man and any criminal ties and information we could have gotten had died with him.
It probably would have worked too-- If I hadn't been spending so much time in the morgue... identifying people.
Case took me back to his place last night. I could tell he was worried about the turn of events.
To me the path was clear. Indict the hitman– make it known that he is alive and get it all out in the open. He kept urging me to think it through– but I had.
The only reason to do what he had done was to draw the heat off of him. To die in a very public setting so that word of what had happened would never reach the press. There was no guarantee that he wouldn’t use his death to strike out at me– get rid of the one witness to the murder.
As a matter of fact it made a lot more sense to take me out– lull everyone into a false sense of security and then one unexpected accident later he emerges scot-free.
There was more to it than that, but for my part it pretty much summed things up. Case finally relented, realizing that I didn’t needed to be protected from the reality of what was happening, just from the dangers involved.
Our course set– all we had to do was see about rescheduling my deposition. Knight Errant was in agreement.
The hard part became convincing the grand jury that we weren’t beating a dead horse and wasting the tax payer’s money to do it. It made for a boring if tense afternoon. We had to stay ‘protected’ and ready should they have enough time during the day. If they didn’t it would mean the soonest they could see me would be Monday, when I’m supposed to be at work.
Funny– everybody else’s worrying about the dangers and pitfalls of getting me there and getting my testimony officially recorded– I’m worried about being able to do my job.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t worried about Jimmy and his crew– I was, but there wasn’t all that much I could do about them– that was Case and Knights Errant’s job. Mine was to present as small a target as possible and tell the jury what I’d seen and heard that fateful day.
They didn’t get to our case until 17:30. When I was finally called and sworn in, I could tell they were tired– that none of them wanted to be there, but it was easier to play along than to tell us to come back Monday.
As I was taking my seat– I could feel someone starting to weave some sort of spell. I looked around, ready for almost anything. The jury began asking questions and as I looked up at them, I realized what Jimmy’s friends were trying to pull.
One of the Jurors now looked like Jimmy– another like Worthington-Hyde-Smythe... or an approximation of what he’d look like by now.
I took a deep breath and answered their questions. Its amazing what you can ignore when you know you either can’t do anything about it– or that its all illusion. After I finished my testimony however, I let Case and his friends from Knight Errant know that the mage was nearby and playing mind tricks.
They looked at each other and I knew something was up. Turns out the only mage allowed in the actual room was one belonging to security. That meant the game wasn’t over yet, not by a long shot.
Case decided the best thing to do was to take me someplace he deemed ‘safe.’ I started to object but he gave me a look and I nodded. I could see the concern in his eyes– and a look that said that anybody trying to get to me, would have to go through him to do it.
Fortunately his idea of someplace safe was Council Island. Guess I get to watch Saturday morning trid with Michael.
It was nice to spend time with the Walkers– I just hate the fact that lately the only time I see them is when I'm in trouble. Michael didn't care– I was there and we watched some of the world's worst trids and played video games together. Maybe that's all that really matters.
Case spent the better part of the morning on the phone trying to track things down. By lunchtime, I was starting to get fidgety-- by dinner time I was just about to bounce out of my skin.
Mrs Walker called me into the kitchen and put me to work chopping veggies. It was probably a good thing, giving me something to do with my hands-- although occupying them with something sharp may not have been the best option.
I know the Walker's place is probably one of the safest places in the world– but I still can't help feeling like I'm endangering family.
Mrs. Walker just smiled at me and told me to chop the onions a little finer.
After dinner Case had some news for me– turns out that “Jimmy the Barracuda” and his band work strictly for the Mafia, and Worthington-Hyde-Smythe was leading one of the families into Tacoma. That he was stopped by someone working within his own organization means he had either been very very naughty– or there was some serious dissension in the ranks.
It didn’t stop there either: a triad boss had been killed less than a week ago– seemingly by one of his own men.
I stiffened slightly and let my breath out slowly. Either the families of organized crime were cleaning house– or someone was cleaning for them. Up until now we’d assumed that the illusionist was working with Jimmy– that they hadn’t counted on my stubbornness... maybe they had...
Not that it really mattered anymore. Jimmy– the real one, had been found in a warehouse– one low caliber shot to the back of his head.
Case and I spent the better part of the morning walking through some of the park areas, just spending time together. I could tell he was nervous about me going back to work after this latest bit of weirdness, but he understands that its not just my job...
Knight Errant shut down the security mage’s operation. They had no idea how many testimonies she’d influenced or discredited but they did find a nice fat bank account and a lot of suspicious phone calls.
I’d like to think its all over– but there are still too many questions and there’s still the matter of who paid her. Not that I think those questions will be answered. No. These people are too cagey for that. I have a feeling no matter what anybody does– our young mage is going to need to talk soon, and very fast or never again.
We ended up sitting on a rise overlooking Lake Washington. It was nice to see birds skimming the water– although I noticed they stayed a lot closer to the island than anything else. Guess they feel safer here too.
Case turned to me and smiled. He seemed at peace as well.
Both of us sat there, knowing it couldn’t last– that both of us had jobs to do and we couldn’t just stay here no matter how much we wanted to. Case took my hand and we sat there a few more minutes, trying to take it all in. He squeezed my hand slightly then sighed.
“We better get back,” I suggested.
He nodded, but I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
“There’s always next week,” I offered with a wink.
He nodded, but he still seemed preoccupied.
I guess sometimes too much peace makes things look worse– I don’t know. At least we had the morning together.
I’m happy to say there have been no almonds, no shell casings and no odd occurrences in the bathroom. We had a few oddball cases– mostly chemically induced, but nothing major. Tacoma seemed to be living up to its reputation.
As I was riding to one call I realized how easily an illusion could ruin my whole day and nobody would be the wiser– a rather sobering thought after everything that’s happened. One I really wish I hadn’t had.
I got to the point where I was jumping at shadows and second guessing everything I saw. I tried to tell myself it was over but I knew better. The mage had worked security– the people who’d threatened me were cops. But were they dirty or did they just have their own agenda?
I was definitely beginning to consider a slight vacation. Baltimore, one of the Caribbean states... anything that didn’t involve being here. I couldn’t tell if something was brewing and I just wanted to get away– or if it was all in my head. Either way, getting away from it all was starting to sound really good.
I started paying more attention to the news– what they were saying and what they weren’t saying. They were talking about how one of the city’s fathers had been killed in a random act of violence... how Worthington-Hyde-Smythe had died of an acute allergic reaction to the strawberries in his waffles. Anything but the truth.
I started to wonder if there had been others that just hadn’t been found yet– or if there would be more. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer– the news cut to the accidental drowning of a prominent local businessman. It seems he had been drinking and fallen asleep in the Jacuzzi. I stared at the picture of the man and took a deep breath: Tiaka, the Yakuza boss I supposedly worked for.
The Bahamas are starting to look really good.
The day started off normally enough, but by evening... Let's just say I really should have noticed the full moon and leave it at that.
I guess I hadn't really paid attention to the phases of the moon since I've been here. Seems I've either been too busy to notice, or the skies were too clouded to matter-- not tonight.
I'm not sure who has it worse on nights like these– the police or the medics. After getting clobbered by one patient who insisted I was trying to take over her mind... I'm betting on the medics.
Lets see... there was the sniper who said God told him to do it. God never told me anything like that. Love my fellow man, protect them– heal them, sure... but to shoot them... nope...guy must not have heard Him correctly.
By the end of the night, we'd had four psychiatric cases and another three or four that should have been. Of course half of them were causing the trouble so the police dealt with them.
On top of that we had more 'shadow activity' tonight: odd reports from private security that were subsequently squelched; reports of shootings with no victims; calls involving creatures of earth, fire and water fighting– the whole gamut.
Of course it just could be I was more aware of things. I'm beginning to think every night is a full moon in Seattle.
Things seem to have calmed down massively. This morning and afternoon were smooth, straightforward: a few text book cases nothing really complicated-- just the way I like it. In fact, the simulator was hardest thing I did all day.
The training class is really coming along. Its amazing what a few weeks on the bike can do for your confidence. Even Smythe has loosened up and is challenging himself on the sim settings. PC seems very happy with the way things are going, so am I.
Ray is in seventh heaven. The life is back in his eyes and it’s wonderful. I asked him how things were going with Gwen– big mistake... or not, depending on how you look at it.
They’re no longer together. Seems she thinks he’d rather get himself killed than spend time with her. She’s got it all wrong– but how do you explain that to someone who isn’t a medic? Case understands, but he’s fighting his own battles just like the rest of us. Sometimes its hard to figure out who’s worse... him or me, but at least we understand each other.
Gwen just doesn’t understand. She told Ray that if he really loved her he’d give it up– I say if she really loved him– she’d at least try to understand. Still it’s never easy.
Ray asked me how Case and I were doing and I had to laugh.
“Well,” I told him. “He hasn’t run away screaming yet,”
Ray chuckled. “Serious?”
I chuckled. “Well, he got shot protecting me...and he hasn’t given me the old ‘I think of you as a sister’ speech.”
Ray nodded. “Sounds like he’s a keeper.”
I thought about that for a moment and nodded. “Yeah, I guess he is.”
I could tell by Ray’s expression he meant it. I have to admit, I’ve been thinking more and more of Case lately. I’m finding myself hoping he’ll decide to stay.
When I got home there was a ton of bills waiting for me. I left them on the counter– figure I’ll deal with them tomorrow... right now I’m going to get some shut eye and just relax for a change.