Notes: many, many notes. Okay, first, major series crossover! In the Sentinel verse: Megan's on vacation at first. She's there. The outting of his diss never happened! Very important. He never had to discredit himself. He's now on year three of trying to do his diss. In CSI:NY, Monroe's there but at home. She'll help from there. After all, someone has to stay there. In CSI:Miami. Speed did not die. They got an increase in the salary so you have Ryan, but Speed was only injured, it moved two inches to the right and hit his upper arm. Borrowing Catherine Demoranth from the 'Ray' series but she never met Ray Vecchio and the wedding in Helena's life never happened. Her boys are mentioned but only that Helena's going on vacation with them. Yes, I know that was a Scribe-ish mary sue. Sorry! I wanted to play too! Not a lot of her in here, just as a background helping character. In Buffy, no Anya. She left after graduation, scared she was now mortal and could die. In Biker Mice From Mars, yeah, they're still in Chicago. Going around pissing Demoranth off and racing her since she's riding a bike now and then.
The gathered CSI and detectives from three cities all stared at their bosses, who were in front of the information they had went over. There was a traveling serial killer who hit all three cities in a pattern. They had all been called together to work to stop him before he could kill many more people. They had hopes but some of it was just...not right. One of them raised his hand.
"What's wrong, Sandburg?" his boss, Simon Banks, asked patiently.
"Okay, first, pattern's not numerical. It's dates. It's dates for solstices and moon darks. Secondly, the pattern's also wrong. It's got highly detailed spiritual overtones. Whoever did this has not a clue beyond their Baptist world." The Miami CSI team all looked at him. "I'm an anthropologist, people. Of course I've seen this stuff before. I work with Ellison and we get all the strange crap. I can start calling colleagues to see if they can figure out *what* tradition since they're obviously building to something. Because if it doesn't happen, then they could commit suicide or start all over again at a more auspicious time. These sort of things have history, guys, and they're set in stone, sometimes literally in some of the oldest of old rites."
The head of the Miami team nodded at that. "All right. If you can, it could help us track them better I suppose. Why do you have an anthropologist on staff?" Horatio Caine asked Simon. Simon was a tall African-American male that was very well built and hid it behind a sweater vest; he was also the boss in Cascade's Major Crimes Unit. Caine was a pale redhead in a suit but no tie, the top two buttons of his shirt done up in response to the cold air in Cascade.
"Ellison is helping him with his thesis," he noted blandly, giving him a look. "He works with Ellison, who has double my old clearance rate and is in the most trouble of anyone. He'd be here but he's having his last cast taken off." That got some amused looks from the New York people. "Ask them, they've been working with him now for a month."
"Guy jumped off a three-story building onto a one-story and landed wrong," Don Flack, one of the New York detectives noted dryly. "Broke his ankle and kept going for about a hundred feet."
"At least you guys missed the property damage," Blair joked. Simon moaned, holding his head. "Sorry, Simon. But hey, I'm still driving for a few more days."
"Not once he's got the cast off, Sandburg," he reminded him. "Which means I'll have to fill out more paperwork about why Ellison got a building shot up or ran his truck into it. Again. By the way, the Cyclops Oil company is getting ready to file an injunction to make you and Ellison stay at least three thousand yards away from their building at all times, even during pursuit."
"I wasn't driving," Blair said happily, holding up his hands. "Blame Jim, man." Then he grinned. "I just hold on for dear life when he does that and pray that the seatbelt won't snap this time."
"You commonly get to terrorize this building?" Danny Messer, one of the CSI from New York asked, pushing his glasses back up his nose.
"Yup. Three times now," Blair admitted. "First time into their windows. Second time Jim drove through one of the side walls and partially collapsed it. This last time he aimed just beside the windows and nearly made it into the elevators." Simon moaned again, shaking his head. "Like I said, I wasn't driving. Yell at the detective, Banks."
"I did, it didn't seem to help," he said, glaring at him. "Try to keep the other cities intact, Sandburg. All right?"
"He does that in Miami, they fill out the paperwork," Horatio assured him. "I find that works as a good deterrent."
His staff all nodded. "You haven't seen paperwork until you've filled out the stuff to replace one of our mobile crime unit hummers," Speed agreed dryly from his seat in the corner. He was Horatio's second in the labs. His dark hair was messy and he had went casual with a long-sleeved henley and jeans for the day.
"We could use hummers," Blair offered. "But they're so environmentally unfriendly. Each one's like killing a few percent of the planet."
All the Miami crew looked at him. One brave one, a dark haired guy who was grinning slightly shook his head. "We have to go into the swamps, Sandburg."
"We've got mountains and state parks to patrol. And? At least our trucks have emission control and get better than thirteen miles a gallon."
"We get that much?" Speed asked Horatio. Who nodded. "Then the one I was driving the other day needs a tuneup badly. I only got eight."
"I'll have it done when we get back," he promised. He looked at Simon. "I can understand the New York teams using suburbans. They're in the city. How do you get along without an SUV?"
"Our crime lab has a truck. The rest of us use our personal cars." He smirked at him. "Ellison drives an old '69 pickup. Sandburg there drives a Volvo that's now got a hybrid engine. After the last one blew for the third time. It was our 'get back to your desk' present from the whole of Major Crimes." His people smirked a bit. "Unfortunately Sandburg's last engine took it's final gasp as Sandburg was being chased by terrorists and some guy in a black hummer who wanted his brain."
"It's enormous," one of his guys, a well dressed white guy with dark hair, said from his seat. "Who wouldn't want it as long as they could access all the little factoids Blair carries around all day. His brain must be most of his body weight."
"Not funny, Rafe, and yay, so I'm smart. It doesn't keep them from coming after me to get to Ellison. I'd love like hell for the terrorists and other associated psychos I've met over the years to come after you guys to get to Ellison instead. Or maybe just go after Ellison."
Rafe gave him an evil look. "You know, Blair, Jim didn't have this problem until he met you."
"With why he met me, I'm not surprised. And yes he did. It was just more quiet. He never had to crash into buildings before he met me. Then people started to drive instead of run away from him. They're feeling as old as he is."
"Maybe next time you'll stay in the truck," Rafe's partner, Henry Brown, offered. His medium-dark skin was glistening with sweat. "Guys, can we turn on the A/C? It's hot."
"It is," Simon agreed. "It was either this room or outside in the smoking area and it's raining, of course."
Blair looked at the Miami crew. "If you're in town, worship and pray to the Sun so it stays out longer. Otherwise it pouts and disappears for *months* on end."
"We all worship the sun where we come from," the blonde lady that had walked in behind Speed offered happily, smiling at him. "How much rain do you guys get a year?"
"Two feet or more," Rafe told her. "It's sunny about four, five days a month in the winter and a few more in the summer, but spring and fall, forget it." The Miami crew all gave him horrified looks. He nodded, grinning. "Blair's perpetually freezing. If you see someone who looks homeless but has his hair, it's him. He's just cold."
"Excuse me for having an emphasis in tribes in the rain forest and Africa," Blair said sarcastically. "Keep it up, watch me go to Borneo on that project and *you* get to partner with Ellison for *six months*."
"Blair, you're not allowed out of the city," Simon assured him. "If you try to leave, I'm having you arrested." He grinned at him. "Then I'll tell Jim you were going to abandon him to Rafe and Brown."
"You know, my career has to come up sometimes," Sandburg said blandly, staring him down. "So either I'm going to have to go out on a dig or an expedition or I'm going to have to take Jim on one with me."
"Take Ellison with you," all the Cascade contingent said in unison.
"I believe the tribe has spoken," Speed said from his corner, smirking at Blair. "So, when are you coming down to bask in the sun, ride in our hummers, and eat dolphin?"
"Try it and I'm bringing my mother," Sandburg told him. The others in the room, but Simon, laughed at that. "My mom's FBI profile is 326 pages long. She's a well known protestor."
"Naomi's your mother?" Horatio asked flatly. Blair just grinned and nodded. "Should you have to come down, try to leave her here, Sandburg. Please. I know your mother just appears in places randomly, but please try."
"I will. Can I come down and bask in the sun without helping destroy the planet and eating endangered species?"
"If you want. We do have tofu bars."
"I'm not vegan, I appreciate the food chain, just not enough to eat something endangered. To use an Ellison-ism - steaks good, tofu evil and smells funny. Whole civilizations may have evolved and risen to great heights on the diet of tofu and rice, but I'm not my mom, man. I eat food. Real food. I just pick healthier stuff than fake fast food and other nastiness."
"There's a great steak place in town, serves this steak so tender you only need a fork," the blonde told him. "We can go when you come down."
"A bit above my salary," he admitted blandly. "But sure. If I can talk Simon into expensing it."
"I thought you guys were the highest paid in the country," Messer said, frowning at his people. "Aren't they?" They all nodded.
"No, they're," Blair said, pointing at the others, "the highest paid in the country. Jim's probably *the* highest paid if you count bonuses and rewards for some of the people he's captured. I'm doing this for my thesis so I live on my graduate assistant's stipend." They all stared in horror. He nodded.
"How?" the blonde asked weakly.
"I live with Ellison. There are days when I hear 'stay in the truck' at home." Rafe snickered at that. "Serious, Rafe, I heard it a few nights ago while he was asleep."
"He was probably having nightmares about when you *don't* follow that order," Simon said, glaring at him. "Quit worrying Ellison and you won't hear it so much."
"Need I remind you that the last time I stayed in truck I got kidnaped? Or the time before that the truck was carjacked and the guy wouldn't let me get out? Or the time before that my mother took the truck with me in it since it was so bad for the environment and of course Jim could walk back the three miles to the station; it'd be good exercise for him since he had two guys in handcuffs to pull like they were on leashes and another broken cellphone so he couldn't call for more backup?" His whole team and most of the rest of the room moaned. "Staying in the truck is more dangerous than following Jim into the field, Simon. But thank you for being so concerned; next time I'm kidnaped you can come rescue me instead of Jim." Then he smiled sweetly.
"Jim would kill me if I tried to rescue you instead of him," Simon said patiently. "We all know that, Sandburg. Ellison tackled and arrested the last person who tried to help you."
"I wonder if he's still crying in the mental ward," Henry mused.
"He's out now," Sandburg told him, giving him a look. "I testified on his behalf." He glared at Simon. "You need a tighter leash."
"*I* need a tighter leash?" he asked, looking amused. "He's your partner!"
"Not that we care, but should we worry about looking the other way when you two make out?" Stella Bonasera asked from her seat next to where Horatio was standing. She was second in command in New York, under Mac Taylor. Her dark, curly hair was very much like Blair's. A few people had given them appraising 'are they related' looks.
"We're not like that. I've got a closet-sized room in his loft," Blair told her.
"The pool's up near three grand though," Henry offered, smiling at her. "We invested it in a savings account since it's been three years now."
"They've even let people change their minds about dates if their first two guesses have went by," Rafe agreed. Blair moaned and put his head down, shaking it. "It's all right, Sandburg, we know you love him."
"I'm *so* going to murder you later," Blair promised. He glared at him. "I'm not with Jim. In case you hadn't seen the trail of leggy brunettes I've left through the last three years, I'm very straight and I prefer smart, pretty women." He looked at Stella. "I'd ask but you'd think I was being childish. Maybe in a few months?"
She smirked. "Only if you come to New York. It's too long to commute."
"True, it is," he sighed. "Pity, but that's the way my life works."
"How thick is your black book now, Sandburg? Three, four inches thick?" Henry teased.
"Man, that's nearly as bad as yours, Eric," Speed said to his smiling coworker from earlier.
"I don't keep all the numbers I get given and I'm picky about who I go out with on real dates."
"Thank you for that," Calleigh said, looking up.
"Hey!" Eric complained.
"One recently broke into your place and trashed all your clothes so she could keep you naked, Eric. That's a bad thing. You need to be more picky, not less," she said reasonably. Horatio turned so he could laugh into the wall.
Blair looked over and grinned. "You come up for at least a weekend, I'll take you where I go."
"Thanks. Same if you come down to Miami. Maybe you'll get to move somewhere warm, sunny, and away from Ellison."
"He'd follow," Simon assured him. "Blair's the reason he's such a good cop. He'd follow." He sipped his coffee. "Okay, Sandburg, now that we've had the break, anything else you can see?"
"Are we sure it's *one* person?" Blair asked. They all nodded. "Absolutely certain, right? Couldn't be a group, like a cult, couldn't be a hunting pair? Has to be one person?"
"All the descriptions match," Stella reminded him.
"No, they say white guy with dark hair, dark eyes, and fairly tall. That's how many of us in this room, except me with the fairly tall part?"
She looked around, then back at him. "Okay, that's a point to consider, but everything's too consistent. Even with a ritual, you'd have some deviation in the cutting pattern or some other way to tell it was multiple people. We've got it exactly the same each and every time."
"Okay, then the first person I'm calling is in Chicago. She's a detective over there. She's a cult and occult expert and deals with this shit fairly routinely. She's their unofficial expert." That got some smiles and a nod from Simon. "I need briefing sheets, or should I use my notes?"
"Use your notes. You'd notice things Catherine would." He looked at the other two bosses. "Catherine's a pain in the ass, but she kicks ass. They don't call her the Bitch Queen of Death for nothing."
"I've heard of her," Mac admitted. "My family's in Chicago. You know Demoranth, Sandburg?"
He grinned. "We're both anthro people. We chat all the time at the conventions." That got some smiles. "She had this really weird sex cult last month that focused on female breast removal, but the left one instead of the right in proper Amazonian tradition."
Simon held up a hand at the start of a Sandburg Tangent. "Don't. Just don't. I'll have nightmares. Tell the other geeks later, I'm a simple cop with simple ideas, Sandburg. Just pray they don't come here."
"Yes, Simon," he sighed, looking around. "Anyone wanna hear later?" A few nodded at that so he grinned. "Cool, lunch?" That got a few more nods and a grin from Danny. "We done?"
"Mostly," Mac said, looking around. "Any other questions?"
Speed raised his hand. "Where's he due to hit next?"
"Here tonight then your city," he assured him. "Then Cascade, then New York."
"Which is a very lopsided triangle, almost thirty-sixty-ninety," Danny said, pointing at the map. Everyone stared, then at him. He shrugged. "Sue me, I am a geek, people."
"That's why Mac hired you," Don Flack agreed, smirking at him. "Certainly wasn't for your hair or looks, Messer."
"Keep it up," he snorted. "Room with Stella since she snores."
"I do not!" she complained. "Besides, I'm not rooming with a guy I'm not sleeping with. The extra can have one of you two or your floor."
"I have my own room," Mac assured her. "Horatio?"
"We've got a suite. It was cheaper than individual rooms plus has better maid's service and tv." He looked at his crew. "Any other questions?"
"Yeah, victims two, six, and eight are dissimilar," Speed noted quietly. Everyone shut up. "There's hesitation marks. Any idea why, Sandburg?"
"Depending on the ritual? Maybe the time wasn't perfect, maybe he thought his God/Goddess/Higher Power/Talking Sheep/Flaming Bush was telling him to do it then instead of later. Maybe he wasn't sure about his victim's qualifications to be a victim but having it in hindsight. Do we have a victim's profile?" One was tossed down to him, letting him look it over. "Two and six are older than the norm of the group. Statistically eight doesn't fit due to race. So victims of opportunity or a point where the ritual says 'pick someone, anyone' maybe. I'll have Catherine help me go over this, see if that's part of the ritual or not."
"Thank you," Horatio agreed. "You as well, Speed." That got a nod. "Anyone else?"
"How are we keeping in touch?" Stella asked. "Email?"
"Works for us," Danny assured her. "Simon?"
"We have computers, that's fine. Sandburg?"
"I can set up a chat forum but it'd be easy to break into and eavesdrop," he offered, looking at him. "We could even use a free service like Yahoo if we had to."
"Let's stick with email," Horatio offered. "That's the base minimum we can all use."
"I'll make sure Ellison can," Sandburg agreed, getting some amused looks. "Jim's an action guy, not a guy who plays with a computer. They tend to break a lot."
"Reminds me of a guy I knew in the service," Mac joked. "He breaks computers too. Can't get along with them."
"Where is he now?" Horatio asked.
"NCIS. Fortunately this won't involve him unless it's hitting the DC Metro area. That's his playground and Gibbs wouldn't do a case like this very well."
"You know Jethro?" Sandburg asked, getting a lot of funny looks. "Mom," he explained and that said everything. His mother knew some very strange people.
"So it wasn't Ellison?" Simon joked. "He was a Ranger."
"Maybe it's in the military mindset," Danny offered. "But then again, Mac does use computers in the lab."
"He could be the exception instead of the rule," Don joked.
"Not funny, Flack. Remember, we created a bunch of the stuff you guys use, including the internet."
"Yes but there's a vital difference between Infantry and Special Forces and the geek squad units," Blair reminded him, smirking just a bit. "I wouldn't expect a commando to be technologically proficient unless it'd help him with his career after he left or it was necessary for the missions. I would expect someone in R&D to be but unable to do a Special Forces job," he pointed out.
"Plenty of us are geeks at heart, Sandburg," Mac assured him. "We're normal guys with a lot better training."
Simon looked at him. "Maybe you are, don't say that around Ellison. He won't like it."
"He said once officers and Special Forces guys could be made, but the best were bred that way and then formed and molded," Blair agreed.
"Officers certainly, that takes a very certain sort of personality and mindset," Mac agreed. "Special Forces? Possibly. I won't argue about it." He shrugged. "I'll concede that point with the clause that they can be made." He looked around. "Anything else before we break for lunch and then go over each individual case in detail afterward?" No one said anything. "All right, the three bosses will be briefing the other cities so you keep up to date. Danny will be the person who keeps track of the Cascade cases. Stella will keep track of Miami's. We'll hear about all and then switch cities but I want you two doing the majority of the file keeping, comparison charts, however." They both nodded at that. "I'd let you, Don, but with your caseload, this is going to be going on behind it for you."
"I'm doing ours," Blair offered. "Just pile it on, man. Ellison won't want to. Rafe, Brown?" They shuddered and shook their heads. "Simon?"
"Keep me updated. Your brain works in a way far different than ours."
"Thanks, really," he noted dryly. He pulled out cards and wrote out his email addresses and his classroom forum. "I've got a small chatroom for class stuff. The office has used it in the past. I'll get the admin to section off a portion of my bandwidth for this." He tossed them down the table. "That way we can switch pictures and things in real time." That got smiles and nods.
"Works for me," Horatio agreed. "Email for things that aren't immediate, the forum for more pressing matters and we can gather there at least once a week for that stuff." He looked at Mac, who shrugged and nodded. "Simon?"
"Fine with me. Sandburg will tell me everything I need to know." That got some tolerant smiles from the CSI and an understanding one from Flack. "Who am I briefing on your end, Horatio?"
"Speed, you take Cascade. Eric, you take New York's. Calleigh, you'll be our backup with Tripp since he's on for this." She nodded. "Let's break for lunch then come back here and get into the city groups to go over the cases." That got some nods and the ones who wanted to talk with Blair went with him to a nice, inexpensive place around the corner. Simon took the bosses to his favorite place. And the rest went for coffee, snack machines, and Wonderburger, which was the best local fast food place that the detectives could offer.
Catherine Demoranth, Vice cop and all around tired woman, looked up as her computer beeped. "What now?" she complained. She opened the new email, reading it slowly. "Oh, crap!" Everyone in the room looked at her. She dialed her phone. "Helena, send me the shit on your serial. Sandburg's asking on behalf of three cities that have the same thing. He thinks it's Ritual instead of serial killer ritual. Well, he is an anthro person," she noted dryly. "He would know. New York, Miami, and Cascade. Yeah, that Sandburg. Yeah, works with Cranky Boy. Thanks. Yeah, right now." She responded to the email, telling him that they had those here too, but it was related to DC and Vegas instead of his cities. He sent back one with a very simple 'shit, call me' and his number. She put her head down, typing back that they'd chat once she had Helena's files. She went to her boss, who gave her the most unamused look. "Helena's got a crossover serial case," she said plainly. "I've just been asked about a trio of cities that have similar cases. It looks like I'm going to have to butt in. Pity, but sorry." She went back to her desk, clearing up the paperwork she had left from earlier until her friend got there. She looked up as the boxes got dropped next to her. "That's it?"
"That's all of it. I've chatted with them. The Vegas guys are running into supervisor problems, not theirs but a higher power. DC is constipated from snafu cheese. It went multi-agency out there. The FBI is trying to step in. I've seen hints that it's got a few in Montreal but I can't get any cooperation. My boss said you can have it." She walked off, her ass swaying gently as she strolled, much happier now that this case wasn't going to plague her for a bit longer.
Catherine moaned and got up, looking at the boxes. "Where's our dolly?" she called.
"You need a dolly?" one of the other detectives taunted.
She picked up a book and threw it at him, hitting him on the head and making him yell. "Not that sort. I haven't needed a surrogate comfort device since I was ten. I meant the handtruck, idiot." He ducked and pointed. "Thank you. Boss, I'm taking over an interrogation room!" she yelled as she walked.
"Oh, no! You can work from home, Demoranth. I told the chief, he said so. He agreed, it's up your alley."
She looked at her boss. "Betts, we do realize this is now encompassing six cities, right? I'm not paying my own airfare." That got a moan. "With hints of stuff in Montreal." She smirked at the second moan and slight whimper at the end. "Let him know, Betts. It's going to get messy and paperworky. Who am I reporting that to?"
"Homicide. They were in the conference. He said to brief him at least weekly, comparison charts if you're doing them, however. Even if it is an email. He wants a preliminary since Helena was in Violent Crimes and caught this one." That got a nod. "Go home and work in your jammies, sister. At least until you have to head to hip, cool, and sunny, or hip, cool, and overcrowded."
"Been there on other cases," she reminded her. She found her cellphone and called Blair. "Who're you with?" she asked. He reported on that. "Taylor? Huh?" He noted who it was. "Crap. Um, ask him if he knows me. No, I was there but I didn't do much with CSI since it was a drug ring. I know Caine. Tell him we've got to conference. Helena caught the cases originally. She dumped them on me four minutes ago. We've got Vegas and DC, and it's multi-agency on their end. She also told me she got hints of Montreal. Yeah, I need to go over this stuff and compare and contrast. See if it's the same guy or someone else following the same ritual. Are you sure it's Ritual instead of serial killer ideology?" She frowned, leaning against a wall. "That sounds familiar. No, Terrance taught my college a specialist archeology and anthro series on special and dark rituals. He's some British guy who's dead now. I can dig up my notes, not an issue. Yeah, I need to do that. Give me two days to brief myself, make my charts, then we'll do it somehow, all right?" She smiled. "Thanks, man." She hung up and got the dolly, going to move the boxes down to her car. This was not going to be fun.
Blair hung up and looked at the people gathered around the table. "Helena Nichols just dropped their cases on Catherine's desk." Horatio looked confused. "Helena was their Angel of Mercy while she was undercover. She's the one that sued." He nodded, getting that now. "Catherine Demoranth you may know. She's Vice. Came down a few years ago, or so she said. Something about a salsa club with most of Vice one night?" Horatio suddenly shuddered. "That's Catherine," he agreed with a grin. He looked at Mac. "She said she didn't do much with CSI when she was up your way for a case. She said that Helena told her theirs had links to Vegas and DC, which was a pretzel due to multi-agency bickering. There's also a hint of it hitting Montreal."
"So we've got two triangles," Danny said, drawing it out on the table in front of him. "It's got two spokes but not a Star of David. That's an odd figure."
Stella drew it out with her finger too, looking at the trail. Don drew it out for everyone on the napkin. "Could we have a third triangle or is maybe one just big picture?"
"No, none of our cases have led back to those," Blair reminded her. "If it's similar, and she thinks it is, we're dealing with triangles. Which, she's right, that's sparking some memory from some prior anthro undergrad class. She said it sparked one from a dark and special rituals class she took with some British teacher named Terrance."
"I remember him," Mac admitted. "He came to sub at my high school a few times. Odd guy. He almost seemed Goth but not if that makes sense. Like he believed in magic and that stuff."
"Magic is a state of mind and an act of will," Blair told him seriously. "I've never met a culture that didn't have some magical mythology or miracles. Healers who touch heal. Shaman who see into the spirit realm. Something along those lines."
"No, this guy was talking like the New Age Wicca stuff was real. He always told us about Druids," Mac told him.
"Some of the strongest magical mysteries come from the last Druids," Blair assured him. "Not much was written and most of it was biased. I'm sure some families wrote things down. There's probably full ritual books from the last Druids passed down through the generations. If we're lucky they're still in use or known about." He sipped his water. "But this doesn't seem Druidic in any way. Nothing so far has pinged the usual Druid symbols or telltales. No trees, no Holly, no Oak, no stars that I can find except moon phase. That's too broad to be only considering Druid, but it does give me an idea. I have knowledge of someone who can probably find the rite that way." He got up and went to use his phone in the hall, explaining the figure and what he was looking for. She went suddenly quiet then asked his fax number. He gave it, then hung up, heading to get whatever she was faxing. It came across and he smiled, bringing the figure back. "The figure at least is well known. It gives us a place to start." He slid it down to the bosses. "Put that over the US. We know where two of them are."
Horatio went to find a map, Simon looking at the figure. "This one is Vegas," he noted. "But this spoke goes past it a little ways," he complained. "It's flatter."
Blair came around to look, taking measurements and putting it onto the map Horatio had found. He figured out the third triangle and grimaced. "That's Sunnydale, California. We were marveling over their homicide rate a few months back when the FBI crime stats list came out. That's New Orleans. That's... Montreal," he admitted. They all groaned. "She said she found hints of stuff in Montreal."
"Is this part of a bigger thing?" Horatio asked calmly.
Blair shrugged. "Let me do some research, I'll know within a day or so." He took the figure back and went to do a search through his books. Maybe he could find someone in Sunnydale he could talk to. Possibly not, it was supposed to be a pretty small town.
The CSI and detectives all stared at the picture. It looked odd to them but to someone it apparently meant something.
"Each one after ours is just off true 30-60-90," Danny noted, tracing the lines with his finger.
"It looks like the feathers sticking out of some old lady's hat," Eric noted. Speed gave him a look. "It does. You've seen hats with feather sprays. It looks like one."
"It kinda does," Calleigh agreed. "That's okay though. It'll hopefully allow it to make sense easier." She looked at their bosses. "If this is right, we need a major conference, Horatio."
"I know," he agreed. "We'll have to share the information around." He looked up as the door opened and Jim Ellison walked in, his hair newly trimmed and his shirt still slightly damp. "Raining again?"
He nodded. "As usual this time of year. Sandburg been getting into trouble?"
"No, he's been good," Simon promised. "He's taken over the major duties for us. So all you and the rest of us have to do is listen to him and help solve the crime."
"Good!" He sat down beside Sandburg's chair. "Megan called while I was waiting on my haircut. She'll be back in a week as planned. Apparently whatever relative she's with at the moment is taking up the 'you should settle down' chant and being a relative. It's annoying her so she called to get emotional support from our department of single people."
"Speak for yourself, I've got a girlfriend," Simon reminded him.
"Yes, she's very pretty and Daryl hates her," Jim reminded him, smirking just a bit. "I believe he called her the skanky ho slut the last time we talked."
"Why does my son talk to you?"
"Because he can't express his displeasure with her to your ex-wife, who'd just get it back to me anyway."
"Have I mentioned how odd it is that our exes talk and then my ex talks to you?" Simon grumbled.
Jim grinned and nodded. "Yup." He saw the confused looks. "Anyone ever seen an emergency life raft that was over-inflated?" A few of them nodded.
"That's her very bad boob job," Blair noted dryly, nodding a bit as he grabbed his water, what he had come back for.
"She's a nice woman if Daryl could look past that," Simon complained.
"Simon, he's a teenager, he can't look pat them," Blair reminded him. "Why he goes to *Jim* I'm not sure."
"I feed his cheeseburger habit," Jim admitted. Blair glared at him. "I can eat cheeseburgers."
"No you can't. Not with your cholesterol."
"I can have one a week."
"Jim, your cholesterol was near the quadruple digits. Either it comes down or I will force myself to eat tofu until it does." Jim shuddered at that. "Now, you can either bring it down or I can talk to the Chief about putting you on your desk for the next few months until it comes down."
"He wouldn't do that, not with his solve rate," Simon reminded him.
"He would to protect his future solve rate, Simon. A few months now to prevent the heart attack that could permanently bench him or make him retire? Yeah, he'd do it." Simon moaned at that, realizing he was right. "I can make a very convincing argument," Blair reminded his partner. "Therefore it will come down so I don't have to listen to you whine about hospital food."
"Fine, Sandburg. I'm trying."
"Not that hard. You had cheese sticks for lunch. I can smell the grease and sauce on you." Jim looked away at that. "Thought so." He rolled his eyes and went back to making notes for Catherine later. "Try harder, Jim. What would the city do if you had to retire due to a heart attack, or if you had one while chasing an idiot, or even worse, while in a high speed pursuit?"
"Point, quit nagging," he complained.
"Then do the sensible thing so no one *has* to nag," he shot back.
"Are you sure you two aren't together? Because we're probably all cool with that idea," Speed noted.
"I'd never put up with him that way," Jim assured him, smirking back. "You're which one? Eric?"
"Speedle. Eric is the lothario on my right, Calleigh's the gun expert on my left. Horatio is our redhead."
Danny smirked at him. "You're so bad."
"I'm not a lothario, thank you," Eric protested. "I enjoy my women, not just to use and toss away."
"Then why can't you ever get help moving?" Speed asked him.
Eric snorted. "Women, mess up their nails moving boxes and furniture?"
"I do," Calleigh reminded them all. "Stella?"
"I hired. I'm smarter than the average girlfriend." Danny snickered at that, nodding a bit. Don and Mac just moaned. "Besides, I always ask for the eye candy moving team. It's usually a bit extra but well worth it." Calleigh snickered at that.
"Stella," Mac complained.
Danny grinned at Jim. "I'm Danny, the guy beside me is Don Flack, our detective rep from New York. You've worked with him already and talked to me in the lab a few times. Stella's our wonderful voice of reason, and the source for the occasional swearing in Greek. And Mac's our leader. We left everyone else at home to deal with any new cases that might come up."
"I've met Monroe," Jim admitted. "Thank you." Most of the New York team snickered at that, but Mac glared. Jim looked at him. "She's a bit...pushy. We had a wacko with guns who split his time blowing up parts of this city and his home in Montana. She tried to claim the case immediately, ignored me, and told me I had no idea about guns. Just a bit pushy."
"Yeah, just a bit," Don agreed, grinning at him. "Miami left some of theirs at home and Blair found a connection between three to six more cities."
"I've got to chat with Catherine later," Blair told him. Jim moaned and shuddered. "Why don't you like Catherine?"
"She's mouthier than me, smarter than you, and makes me feel like I should go on my knees in front of her and claim all my sins. Besides, she's the rolemodel for pushy women cops."
"Good news, Jim. It had been Helena's case," Blair taunted.
"Oh, yeah, just what we need. The former undercover officer who went out as a hitman for something like three years and is now a ball breaking detective in Chicago. Any other good news, Chief? Like maybe Helena's boyfriend is involved?"
"No, haven't heard a thing linking them in. Sorry. Though we may have to deal with Montreal and Sunnydale, that town we all wondered about." Jim put his head down, shaking it. Blair patted him on the back. "Catherine and I are going over all the notes together. She thinks she's heard of the ritual. Just leave all that to me and I'll brief you all. Okay?" Jim looked at him and he smirked. "I won't even make it lecture length, just hand out notes on the stuff you'd usually claim was unimportant but usually ends up being vital. Less than lecture length."
"Thanks, Chief. Saves me paperwork."
"Uh-huh. Guys, if it does involve these other cities, should we meet with them too? Or suggest they form committees and link with ours?"
"I'd like to set up a cooperative information exchange if it's similar," Horatio noted. "If it's done in the same ritual but by a different person the information exchange can only help. If it's the same person we'll be working together, even if we have to force it."
Blair snorted. "Horatio, no offense, but Catherine can run you over and smile happily while she does it." All the Cascade people nodded at that. "She's a Vice detective in a department that's critically understaffed. As in she's training rookie detectives and doing the work of at least three others." They all winced, Jim and Don tensing up. "And that's on her *good* days. That's not the days when people are in court, they're sick, or anything else. The woman has lost the concept of backup. We might need to pull closer together."
"How is she doing that?" Danny asked quietly.
"They cut funding again this year."
"Vice is usually a major department," Stella complained. "I came up in Narco."
Jim looked at her. "Vice is Vice in her precincts and there are people who will back away when she walks into a club, even on her nights off. There's way too many people there who know she'll do something rash. When we had to work with her, it was a prostitution ring that was split between our and her cities. The owners were here. After two days of trying to work with her, we let her do it and followed. She had most of the ideas. She had most of the information. She shared, but she worked harder than we ever did." Simon nodded at that. "She's got cats. No present girlfriend. A book habit, and work." She moaned at that. "I've seen her run people over with her bike in the past when something was going on. She ran into a street gang fight and ran over one with her bike because she was without backup and they opened fire on her. That's why they call her the Bitch Queen of Death."
"So, she'll be able to hand over information?" Horatio asked calmly.
Jim nodded. "Nearly as well as Sandburg, but you'll always feel like you're at least a step behind her. She's the one that homicide and sex crimes calls about strange, occult, or cult matters. She's not a uniform person. They took her out of patrol pretty quickly and moved her to Vice. She's the sort that they gave her a quota and told her to go patrol in the clubs. She made it most nights, even with hanging with some friends on duty and in leather and heels from what I heard. She's a sixteen year veteran of their system. She nearly made *me* cry."
"Understood," Mac agreed. "I'll call my people back in New York to get an update on working with her. I vaguely remember hearing about a crossover case a few years back."
"I remember the salsa dancing incident," Horatio offered, looking at him. Simon snickered at that. "Our Vice took her into our clubs and taught her how to dance while busting the bigger cartel she was working on. They all respected her."
"So do I, but she makes a man feel inadequate," Jim noted. "So if we work together, let the ladies do it. I can't keep up. Sandburg can. The other women will get higher marks automatically from her anyway."
"She doesn't like men?" Eric asked.
"She likes them just fine but she works easier with women. She had to prove herself numerous times from what I saw."
Blair nodded. "She was part of the lawsuit that got Vice sued for a Captain suggesting the girls out on ho stroll to catch johns earn the department some muchly needed funds." They all sighed at that. They remembered that one. "She's a tough woman. She can work with men, but again, she even made me feel dumb on occasion. That and she's got this viewpoint that good breasts make criminals go dumber. Plays up to it now and then. It works, I've seen people confess to stuff they had no intention of talking about. I've seen them come in with a stunned expression, just staring while she walked backwards. She's more than capable of doing the work, but sometimes the easy way leads to less stress and more arrests."
"I do it now and then too," Stella admitted. "They do make men stupider when they stare at them." She gave Eric a look, making him look away. She looked at Blair. "She sounds nice enough."
"She is, she's a great lady," Jim agreed. "I never want to work with her again but I like her as a friend. If I get into trouble, I want her investigating it; I just can't work with the woman."
"You've driven off multiple partners," Rafe reminded him patiently. "She was just pushier than most of them, she wanted it more."
"I still liked the tequila/kisses poker game," Blair offered. "That was kinda fun."
"Ooooh, I know her!" Stella said. She smirked at her boss. "She's the one who was playing with Brass, Grissom's pet detective, that game." Don snickered at that. "He is."
"Don't let him hear you say that," Don agreed. "She's the one that lost at the strip part but won on the kisses rounds, right?" She nodded. "Woman was hot and smart. Everyone there wanted her at their back. I'll watch for the frantic activity levels and the cat dander. Thanks for the warning, Ellison."
"Not a problem. When are we talking to her?"
"Two days. She needs time to look at the stuff Helena gave her."
"Sure. Is Helena still on the case?" Blair shook his head. "Why not?"
"Too much. Catherine was mumbling about a handtruck as she hung up. She also said that Helena found a mention of Montreal. Helena also said that the DC part was in an inter-agency cooperation tarpit. I doubt Helena wanted to work with the FBI or any other agency ever again," he noted quietly. Jim nodded, accepting that. "Okay. So tonight, we eat, I set up the meeting area online. I draw up quick sheets for reference so we don't have to keep out the boxes of information we've gotten."
"Do we have victim profiles?" Jim asked.
"Yes, and there's a few atypical ones," Blair admitted. "Give me a day and I'll hand you the information sheets, Jim." He nodded at that. "After I talk to Helena, I can brief everyone else with her, so the morning three days from now good?" Everyone nodded. "Make sure I've got email addresses for everyone and I'll make sure to send you the link to get in." They all made notes on that. He stood up. "Since we're done for the night, let me go start making my charts and stuff so I can compare with her. Maybe we'll be able to figure out why between us." He left, heading out to his car with his notes and the reams of information that had been passed around.
Jim weathered the knowing looks. "It wasn't me. He's thinking. I'm guessing he's trying to figure out where he saw this before. Which means I'll go home to an unholy mess in the living room again. Dusty books that're shedding pages everywhere."
Horatio smiled. "Quite possibly, but if it gets solved sooner, dusting is fairly easy."
"Maybe for you but I'm picky," he admitted. He looked around. "What're we doing tonight if he's right?"
"Tonight, we're going to be waiting for the next one to show up," Simon admitted. "They scheduled this to be here when we found this one, then the next one is in Miami by the pattern. We'll all be going to the scene?" Everyone else nodded. "Okay. If you guys need to, our Chief said to take over our lab and kick Sam out."
"Word of advice," Ellison said quietly. "Sam is an evil woman. She's ruined careers on purpose. She's tried to get Sandburg. She's stalked Sandburg. She'll go slutty to do it. Don't get caught in her mind games. She enjoys them a bit too much. Hope you get her instead of Cassie on the other shift. Cassie's loud, mouthy, and thinks she knows everything, including how to run your investigation for you. Sam will stand there and let you stumble and fall so she can laugh."
"I'll have them driven out of the auxiliary lab," Simon decided. "All the good machines are in the other one but you can walk samples over. That way neither shift can interfere. If she bothers you, handcuff her and walk her back upstairs. Did Sandburg ever report her?" Jim shook his head. "Why not?"
"Didn't want to tank her career like she had done to others. He was being noble."
Rafe snorted. "I'd have had her fired after what she did to his last ex."
Jim looked at him. "He doesn't realize it was her."
"Ooooh," Henry sighed, shifting some. "That's bad." Jim nodded. "You going to tell him?"
"Nope. I don't need the screaming, ranting, pacing Blair or the introspective, depressed Blair hiding in his room. I especially don't want him to go from the first to the last, then back to an evil, conniving Blair who won't cook dinner." Everyone chuckled at that. "He can cook. That's why I keep him around the house since he makes such a mess."
"OCD?" Speed asked him.
"Makes sense to me," Mac agreed, smirking at him. "We talked earlier about the reputation those in Special Forces have for not being technologically capable."
Jim nodded. "I break my cellphones. Often." Simon nodded at that. "I do the violent stuff so Blair gets the computer." He looked at the clock, then at Simon. "When're we due?"
"We've probably got an hour and a half." He looked at the other bosses, then back at Ellison. "What's your suggestion? And it had better come with the papers sitting on your desk."
"Dinner. If they're at all like Cassie, they'll be there all night, Simon."
"Point. Dinner?" he suggested. That got some nods. "Anywhere in particular we can show you? We have a wonderful area of Chinatown and Koreatown here. Some of the best food."
"I could go for that," Danny agreed. Don shrugged and nodded. "How close is it to the probable drop point?"
"Drop point so far has been in a park about six blocks from the Koreatown area," Jim admitted. "The last one I was down there for lunch in advance so I got some that day." That got a knowing smirk from Don. "We had eighteen patrol guys in the park and they still missed this person dropping and arranging the body, plus drawing the symbols."
"Joy," Don said flatly.
"Into a wide-open, well populated space. With no other witnesses either," Simon assured them. "It's going to have to come out of the lab or come from luck."
"Well, we do the lab best," Horatio noted, smirking at Mac. "You guys do a lot more legwork than we do."
"Danny, when we get to the scene, I want you, Eric, and Speed doing the body. Calleigh, you, Stella, and I will be doing the surrounding area. The detectives can question all they want," Mac decided. Everyone nodded at that. "Does Sandburg go to scenes?"
"We try to keep him off them. His usual reaction is 'eww gross'," Simon offered, smirking just a bit at him.
"He was at the last two of these and he kept staring at a few diagrams but he still wasn't sure why the last time I knew," Jim admitted. He stood up. "So, Korean, Chinese?"
"Something good down that way," Stella decided. "Even those of us who don't like it can have rice and chicken or something." She stood up. "We going?"
"We're going. We can even drive," Simon promised happily. "Rafe, you'll drive Ellison's van, get the keys from him." Jim gave him an unamused look. "By the way, Jim, Cyclops Oil is filing a restraining order to keep you at least three thousand yards away from their building. Even during a pursuit. They're claiming harassment and that you're part of a militant movement against them. Have fun with that and try to obey the order."
"Cyclops Oil needs to quit killing the tribe I stayed with in Peru," he said firmly. "I take great pleasure every time I have to run into their building. They can try but I'll just put Blair in front of me and let him babble them to death with Sandburg Syndrome." He stood up. "I've seen him fell bigger adversaries and even his mother once or twice with it."
"That I'd like to see," Horatio admitted.
Calleigh frowned at him. "Do I know her?"
"Remember that protest last year, the one at the university?" Horatio sighed, looking at his team. They all nodded slowly. "Remember the redhead that nearly killed two officers by screaming at them? The one who was cited in that officer's attempted suicide note?" That got a slower nod. "That's Naomi Sandburg."
"She just appears now and then," Jim sighed, nodding a bit. "She showed me all Blair's baby pictures then made me eat tongue. She's a strict vegan but she was trying to suck up to him. Scared Simon about her poor baby being a cop and being in danger. The cop part being the worse in her mind."
Simon moaned. "Don't remind me. We should go so we've got time to eat." They all filed out after him and Jim.
Stella looked at Danny. "Have we seen her?"
Don snorted. "Yup. She was at the G-7 protests last month. The cops saw her and arrested her on sight, thinking she'd turn it less peaceful. Not that she preaches it or anything just that this stuff happens when she works up the crowd." He held a door for the ladies, smiling at Calleigh. "So, guns?"
"Guns," she agreed happily. "I like guns." He beamed back. "You?"
"Hobby. I even get to help Mac now and then." He took her arm. "We had a case recently where a guy made a club for steering wheels into a gun."
"Wow," she said, thinking it over. "Got the specs?"
"I can send you what we found," Mac called back. "Plus our testing results."
"Cool. Thank you." She pinched Don's cheek. "You're so sweet!"
"I try," he assured her. "Then again, Stella's a mean and evil woman who should have a bullwhip too. I have to be sweet around her." She giggled, hanging on his arm.
Stella gave him a look. "I have a bullwhip but I haven't had to use it on you recently." She glared at Danny.
"Sure, blame me for my brother's stupidity," he snorted. "Not my fault I have a family."
"You could've told us."
"Not like you blurt shit out," he countered. "And I'm not the sort."
"Danny, Stella," Mac said pleasantly. "Stop it."
"Someone's going to get spanked," Speed told Eric. Mac gave him a dirty look. "You did have that 'dad in the mall' voice."
"He's had worse when Danny and Monroe get into it," Don assured him.
"I'm sure if Speed's taunting gets out of hand, he can have him too," Horatio offered, looking at Speed and Eric, who just smirked back. "But we shouldn't have that problem, should we?" They shook their heads. "Good boys."
"And I thought dealing with Sandburg was insane," Jim told Rafe.
"It is. They're the lab version of what Sandburg would be as a cop. Possibly some cases are like if Sandburg and Cassie had a kid, but mostly what he'd be like as a cop."
Simon glared at him. "Don't wish that on the world, Rafe. That child would destroy it."
"No, I know explosives, Blair's too peaceful for them," Jim reminded him, smirking just a bit.
Everyone groaned at that. It was going to be an interesting dinner. Playful, but interesting.
"Someone get Sandburg and drag him," Stella ordered.
"Can't, he left the building," Simon told her. "He's at home or his office by now." That got a sigh. "He'll be with us later I'm sure. Or tomorrow. Whenever he finds the ritual he's looking up."
"Then you'll need to watch for the verbal hurricane of information," Henry told everyone. "Just sit down and try to get as much as you can from it. He'll go back over parts if you ask."
"How do you deal with those at home?" Rafe asked Jim.
"I don't have him explain stuff and if he goes off on a tangent I usually just sit and nod. It's interesting, he's a good teacher, but his tangents are nearly legendary."
"I've never seen anyone turn the FBI director's eyes glassy and stoned looking before, or make him beg for mercy," Simon quipped, smiling a bit. "Next time, we won't have to deal with the idiots they usually send."
"Our local FBI office is now a punishment office," Jim said proudly.
Calleigh burst out in giggles, leaning on Don's arm. "Y'all are so bad!" she laughed. "We let them have Horatio and he runs them off with a stone wall of stubbornness."
"I'm perfectly reasonable, as long as they don't try to take my case or get in my way," he reminded her. He smirked at Jim. "They send someone down from DC if we have to deal with them. The local office hands over information too easily."
"I'm shunned, they think Don's a moron, and Stella's flirted with by ours," Danny offered. "Mac walks the other way." He looked at Horatio. "Can we refer them to you from now on?"
He smirked. "If you want. It would confuse them greatly."
"Start to babble like Sandburg," Simon assured them all. "It drives them off. Even if you're giving them what they want to hear and know."
"They call to make sure he's not in on the days they show up," Jim said proudly. "We call him in the days they get annoying."
"I'll have to study the Sandburg method," Don said dryly, looking at his team. "Danny, you can do a good babble, right?"
"Good. You and me, we'll study it together, in case we need the lethal weapon."
"It's stupid people who are afraid of knowledge," Horatio reminded him, still smirking a bit. Don just smirked back.
Blair wandered into the station two days later, waving a stack of papers. "We've got it," he announced. Simon came out of his office. "Okay, this is the ritual," he said, handing out copies. "The ritual is to bring back a major God, one who would take care of humanity. We're not sure the connotation or what method of taking care of he'd use, but that's why they're doing it. There are *three* casters and they've got to finish their obligations in their triangles before they all move onto the fourth and fifth ones. The first of the fourth one is the killing of the person doing the second triangle, which is Catherine's. The good news is, we're only a third of the way through, so the bad news is that each triangle will have to kill at least another sixteen people in the ways we've seen. The third will have to kill seventeen, they've got an extra one as a pivot point, the second guy will be killed there." He flipped the page and everyone else did the same thing.
"I've listed out the *entire* ritual for your benefit. This is every step they've got to go through, including ritual preparations for themselves and their personal bodies and spaces. You may be able to track them through that, not sure yet. In here is also what they need for each victim. The hesitating ones were a 'pick anyone' moment so our killer probably wasn't sure it was the right choice before he finished. Notice the part that said they're supposed to bleed out. Our guy isn't doing it good enough. He may not like the sight of blood, I'm not sure why yet.
"Also, notice all the weapons must be made by his hand and his hand alone. He can buy the metal to make them but he's got to forge them by hand and christen them as he works, then bless them before each killing. If these guys are working, they're not getting much done or it's a job that they don't have to take home. Something simple. They could be college students - this is a fairly obscure rite from the pre-Christian era of Mesopotamia. It's got hints of multiple faiths interwoven so it appears to have been passed down through the ages of colonization and movement. That's usual, it's happened in all the other myths, legends, and faiths of the time period. Including the Christian ideology, which does borrow heavily from Babylonian tenets in places and it's fascinating how they intermixed before getting written down." He saw the glassy eyed look starting so went on.
"Also notice that his one in Miami is another 'pick anyone' deal. I've already typed out this lecture for them and sent it to both bosses so it could be read to their teams, and to Catherine's since I'm the better lecturer of the two of us. She's got her people in her triangle on the phone and agreed we're going to have to do an information exchange at the best. Her triangle is triangle two. They started with hers. Triangle three is the Sunnydale/Montreal/New Orleans one." That got some nods. "I can tell you they are male. The rite is to call a male deity and the old faith does not allow women to know anything about it. Like the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, no women allowed. Not trannies, not crossdressers, no women. They considered periods the sign of all evil and may be trying to eradicate them by bringing him back. That is one of the evils he did promise to rid the world of, that evil which infects women so much that it forces its way out of their body every moon was how it was stated in the legends that got written down.
"It was never a populous sect. Maybe had fifty members overall but like any good cult they were heavily devout. They killed and died for their God. Many of them did it with a happy and light heart. You won't catch them having remorse unless it fails. Then they will suicide and let the next group of members take over since they were apparently not worthy enough. According to what little we know, their God is trapped in a statue. The statue is hidden. It can be broken out of from a distance but to even *start* the rite, they've got to know where the statue is because the last three have to be laid at its feet and the blood anointed on it's penis, mouth, nose, and ears. Why the ears I don't know, but they were sacred to them. No deaf people were allowed or those who were impotent. There was one source that noted their God came to them at night and whispered prophecies and knowledge to them while they slept. There's another that said it came with sexual contact with their God, but that was a later source and done by some monks, who demonized everything before their time and anything sexual. That's the same thoughts that made all witches kiss the devil's butt and tongue it basically." He flipped the page again so everyone else did.
"On a slight tangent, there is a lot written about these people for being such a small cult. Usually we'd barely have a reference or a few mentions. Catherine's former teacher, Professor Terrance, left his collection on demonology and the occult to her school and she found a good lot of stuff in that. So apparently they're big in that world, and she found mentions of Sunnydale as well." That got a small moan from Jim. "By the way, they're the only non-city in the triangles, present or future. There's something about that town that's going on and I'm not sure what yet. She said she's heard of it in some of the circles she strolls through, but no one will tell her why at the moment. Each triangle has a place of power, as it translated out easiest. Sunnydale is that triangle's. Miami's ours. Catherine's is her city. It's also the weaker spot but we're not sure why yet. It's been considered that way. We do know the other triangles and Horatio offered to talk to their chiefs in case we don't catch them, get them pre-briefed and all that. He's said the FBI wanted to take this case over and he's refused. It'd go on longer if they did it instead of us doing it. Mac said the same thing, he told them on your behalf, Simon."
"We talked last night when they showed up," he agreed. "The FBI would take longer and go at it from the wrong angles. They'd go in thinking 'cult' not digging into the cult."
Blair smiled. "Exactly. They don't like to get into the minds of these people to try to stop them, they go for blunt force to stop them. The behaviorists wouldn't believe, the profilers would look too clinically." He looked at Jim. "You and me, basketball this weekend. I need a good workout." He got back to the notes. "All right. We have a minor complication. The next one to hit Cascade, which is right after Miami's, is going to have to be a pure, meaning virginal in all meanings, female. As pure as possible, not even a thought of sex if possible. She has to be counted as a full woman however, which means she's got to have started her monthly cycles."
"So, nun or very young teenager," Jim said thoughtfully. Blair nodded. "The way he'll chose her is in here?"
"No. That's left up to him. It's a mark of worthiness that he finds the right victims at the right times. It's his God's way of guiding his hand. He'll see a halo or a signal saying 'pick her' and take her. Now, with one exception, and this was noted by Catherine. If he gets this far enough in advance and can strike up a relationship with her, or already has one, there are things he can inject her with to *start* her cycle early. So if he starts to groom her as a victim early enough, he can have one as early as eight or nine she thinks. Some kids have been known to hit puberty that early but that would take work on his part and already having a good relationship with them. She thinks it'd take at least six months to build up enough of the drugs in them to start puberty off. Usually when they start that early the doctors stop it with other medicines so we may have an in there with a panicking parent.
"She also said that this cult used to have orgies with very young virgins as guests of honor. They were debauched for the God's pleasure on his altar, then passed around to everyone there. Again, conflicting entries in the demonology books she found this in; some say they were drugged, some said they went willingly if they had no chance of marriage. They were killed after everyone took of them and their bodies were gifted to the God for his pleasure in his enclosure. They went to be wraithly servants and pleasure slaves for him, the act of their death restoring their innocence for eternity, no matter how many times he had them." That got a mass of shudders.
"So, for now, we are looking for someone of their tribe. Mostly native to the area but if a faithful member was from another area, he was allowed in if he proved his worthiness and piety by serving a year's solitude at the temple and killing as they did when victims were given to him. The closer he followed to holy writ, the easier he got in. If they failed, they were killed as victims and fed to their God's brother, who ate flesh and was entombed under their main temple by his big brother, their God, for being such an asshole. It was his dying that locked their God in his statue, sealing him with his blood. That's why pure, sacred blood is the key to getting him free. The ritual is from their own hand."
"So, he could be any race, but probably Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian as a possibility?" Jim hazarded.
Blair nodded. "Most likely, but again, this isn't ancient times. If they came across this in a book somewhere it can be anyone but a female. That was very strict. That's why not many women are in the ritual. The ones who are are sexual in nature. Which means we've missed ten," he finished. He looked at Simon. "They didn't fit the same killing method. Their ways are in the packet. We've got to search them out."
"You told the others?"
"I'm briefing you last, most of them would be here we think. The ritual states they're to be killed in the dissimilar site. New York and Miami are very connected and very much alike. That means they were killed here mostly, with three exceptions. So we're looking for ten, they're looking for their missed ones."
"Okay," Simon agreed. "How many more do we have in our city?"
"Eighteen total, including the dissimilar ones. My earlier figure was the ones in the main ritual."
"Crap," Simon complained. "The others?"
"New York's is twenty-two, Miami's is twenty after the one coming up. He's already got him by now. He had to be prepared specially."
"Our next one?" Rafe asked.
"Standard. It's the prep stuff you might be able to trace," Blair told him. "That's got specific needs and not all of them can be found in the local grocery stores I shop in."
"We can find the other stuff and hopefully narrow it down," Jim agreed. "What if they're not getting it from here, but bringing it with them?"
"They have to. Some of the things are vital to be gotten only inside the city of their working. His space here would have a storage area of things, like local cemetery dirt." That got a mass shudder. "Part of the ritual. That's the dirt on their palms. The dirt of the dead that calls out to its brethren and newest inhabitant."
"Okay, we'll look there to start," Simon agreed. "Jim, Rafe, start there. Henry, find the missing bodies." That got a nod and they all got to work. Simon went back to his office to look over the information. Sandburg had been right, it was stuff they'd probably need but wouldn't remember.
Catherine looked up as she walked off an elevator in a federal building. Like most of them, there were cubicles spread in rows in front of her. She walked over to the first one that had a person. "Your boss?" He pointed and smiled. "Thank you." She looked, then she smirked. "Gibbs," she said fondly, walking over there. "You're still in the service?"
"Not quite," he said, looking up. He frowned for a moment, then smirked and leaned back. "Catherine." He looked her over. "You've gained weight since the last time I saw you."
"Yeah, well, cheating ex that I had to kick out started off depression and I nibble." She shrugged. "I heard you're part of the snafu cheese with these ritual murders. I'm here to brief you since it's your city, my city, and Vegas in our triangle." He frowned and looked clueless. She handed over the sheet she was carrying. "I've heard you've gotten two. The FBI are idiots, as I very well know, and it's you and them?"
"And JAG," the first guy noted. He stood up and smiled. "Hi, Tony DiNozzo," he said, shaking her hand.
"Catherine Demoranth. Vice, Chicago." She grinned back. "Lesbian, don't even try."
"Wasn't going to," he promised, still smiling. He looked around. "Probie!" He came up from under his desk. "Pull up the files on those ritual homicides?"
"Knifed, pretty symbols, bled out," she said simply. He nodded and pulled them up. She looked at the boss again, seeing the amused look. "It's going to get worse. We missed some."
"Why?" Tony asked.
"Some of the victims are killed in different methods by the ritual." She looked at him. "I can do the full lecture when you guys pull it together and bring whatever fucking moron you've got on your ass from the FBI. Because if I have to go over there, I'm going to bomb them on behalf of my best friend." She smiled sweetly.
"Get Fornell here," Gibbs ordered. "How is Helena?"
"It was her case originally but Sandburg called me to get information on the ritual and I recognized it. She dumped it on my lap and strolled off laughing to meet her boy in Paris for some nasty, dirty sex."
"Better her than me." He looked at the notes again. "Do we have a full lecture?"
"Yup, Sandburg and I found them all. There's three triangles. We're triangle two. He's triangle one. They're Cascade, Miami, and New York. The other is New Orleans, Sunnydale, and Montreal." He shuddered at that. "I talked to our local consulate, passing it along. She's damn upset with this. She hates it when I have to give information on anything in her ballpark." She looked over as another woman came in, followed by a thin redheaded woman. "Hi, Catherine Demoranth, Chicago Vice. The ritual cases got dumped on me because I'm our cult and occult expert."
"What ritual cases?"
"The ones with the pretty symbols you guys probably hadn't connected yet," she admitted. Gibbs handed over the information. "The sad thing is, each triangle has its own killer. When they're done, if we don't finish, they've got two more and ours is being killed as the first sacrifice of the fourth triangle. Then a fifth one. If they don't raise their God, then well, they'll die and someone else will take over who's more worthy in the God's eyes."
"Charming. Ziva David, Madam Director, Catherine. Ziva's on my team."
Catherine nodded at her. "Always nice to see a sister on the team." She looked at Gibbs again. "Who's your stooge over there?"
"Fornell. He was pushing behind the scenes to get Helena out of the way. He called it illegal and immoral. He hates her so it's a good thing it's you."
"Yay me," she said flatly. "Fortunately I have a cat sitter for a few days. Our next one is due in two days. So I'm briefing you guys, gathering intel, then heading home to deal with ours while you try to stop your next one and Vegas tries to stop theirs. By the way, Grissom's fixed his shit. His boss was trying to take over. I stomped on him and he's begging for mercy at the moment. Not like I wasn't having fun doing it, but he was annoying the piss outta me."
"Good with me," he agreed, standing up. "You need anything special for the briefing?"
"Patience. Coffee would be nice. Soda would be better. But patience is good." He smirked at that and Tony headed off. "Thank you. Long flight from Vegas."
"It is. Do we have a pattern?"
"Oh, we have *everything* now," she admitted. "One of my former professors left his demonology and occult books to my former school. It was all in there. Some of it had to be translated by the Latin department, but we got a grad assistant to terrorize to help us."
"Great," he agreed dryly. "Will I have nightmares?"
"Yup, because two from now is a virginal young woman who's reached her adulthood evilness, but has to be as pure as humanly possible." He growled at that. "So either a nun or an early teenager, but we're talking no thoughts of it."
"Nuns might be better," McGee offered quietly.
She looked at him. "This god thought that monthly cycles were the proof that women were evil. Not that I disagree with that particular point, mine are fairly evil and make me crankier, but I can't agree with how he's trying to get free." She took her soda with a smile. "Thank you, snookums. Wherever you want as soon as you get your stooge, Gibbs."
"Conference room is good," he decided. "Where is Fornell?"
"I called him, boss, he's hurrying over. It usually takes ten minutes and he hung up swearing when I told him who was here about these." He looked at her. "How does he know you?"
"My best friend ever was Helena Nichols." Tony hissed and flinched, backing away. She looked and nodded. "I'm the Bitch Queen of Death, baby." She grinned and moved closer. "Aren't we all glad they cut our Vice budget again?"
He shuddered again. "I've heard of you. I worked in Peoria." She giggled at that. He nodded. "Yeah, that was my case that brought you our way. We're very sorry about that. Especially that someone incompetent took it from me."
"Nah, I'm sorry I ended up terrorizing that judge for being such an asshole, but it felt damn good to arrest him for it. Didn't it?"
"Oh, it so did," he agreed happily. He grinned at her. "You worked with the night shift."
"I work nights, have since I joined Vice." She shrugged and looked over as someone new stomped over. "Ah, our suit hath arrived." He glared at her. "Helena dumped it on me, Kojack. Sit and shut up." He blinked and backed away. She smiled. "Yup, tis me," she agreed happily. "Briefing!" She smiled at Gibbs. "If you'll lead the way? It shouldn't take more than an hour."
"Our JAG counterpart?" McGee suggested. "I couldn't get any of the usual contacts over there, boss."
"I've got sheets Sandburg made up, you can brief them," she assured him. "Sandburg teaches anthro and I live it." She took Gibbs' arm and walked off with him, Tony on her other side. "So, cutey, how are you doing with the suits surrounding you?"
"Usually we don't have to work with them," he admitted.
"Really? I guess that's why Helena said this was snafu cheese constipation on this end."
He nodded. "Basically," he agreed happily enough. "You're very blunt."
"Long flight from Vegas and I see no reason to soften my image. Not like I do the job to make friends, Tony. I'm roundly hated and feared in Chicago and I like it that way. It means easier cooperation."
"So, how did you meet Gibbs?" Ziva asked, following behind them.
"Oh, one of my Vice busts in a club was a Sailor and he was working Shore Police at the time for a few months. I delivered the idiot back to base and we had a long chat about him and his pros and his drugs and his drunkenness. He was not amused and I could hear the yelling as I drove away. Then I took him out to dinner three days later because he sounded hoarse when I brought up the final paperwork turning him over." Gibbs chuckled at that. "How long did you yell at him again?"
"Six hours," he admitted proudly. "Without repeating myself. Then I told the CO of his company and let him have him for a bit while he was still hungover in the brig. He ended up being dishonorably discharged and went to jail for a year."
"Good. Shitbags like that deserve it." She looked back at Ziva and grinned. "He was proing his fifteen-year-old sister for beer and drug money and money to take out his lady." She growled at that. "Exactly." She opened the door and let the guys in first. "I fully believe all the pretty ones should go first." She smiled at Ziva. "Relax, I don't hit on the agents I'm working with until after the case is solved. Until then, I'll play nicely and try to be so impressive that you'll say yes."
"You're gay?" she asked, looking stunned.
"Yeah, I am. Have been for a while now," she admitted, following her into the room. "Lost my last ex when she cheated on me and got the nibbles from depression, otherwise I'd still be a size ten and prettier." She pulled off her briefcase and dropped it onto the table, digging into it. "Shit, need copies." She handed it to McGee. She knew what a probie was. He went to do that, still grinning. She heard the 'ewww' from the other room. "Ah, he read ahead. Shows promise." She looked at Gibbs. "Okay, first, I can do this without the sheets. We're looking at an ancient, meaning pre-Christian, faith. A very small cult even back then. Their God, who I can't pronounce or spell the name of, got into a wickedly evil fight with his little brother, the people eater asshole. Brother was defeated and put under his temple but his death sealed this God in his statue in his main temple. The first main point is that it a males only cult. Females are all evil to these people. That's why most of the victims are male and why the only females are used as sexual sacrifices. I can already tell you you've missed some." They all looked unhappy with that, Tony moaned and Ziva slumped some. "May or may not be in your playground, Gibbs, but it's in this city. Which means the suit there is going to have to take it from the city PD. They're not equipped to handle this. The FBI isn't equipped to handle this. It won't be solved by a clinical psychology or a violent action approach. You're going to have to get into the mind of this person and then outguess and/or find him through some lab work.
"In the stuff he's copying are the *full* preparation and *full* ritual. For all the steps. You may be able to trace some of it. He's got to have stuff that's related to each city he's working in and it doesn't cross over except in the last three to bind the triangle closed." McGee came back and she took one, then nodded so he passed the rest down the table and sat down to read his. "Okay, second major point. These people believe this God exists, will come out of his statue and will be taking care of humanity, no connotation given on how or if it's good or bad taking care of. They believe this strongly enough to give up their souls, their lives, and our guy will be giving up his life. To him women are going to be sexual objects of gratification. Back in the bad old days, this cult held orgies with virgins. Each and every member got each and every virgin and then they were killed so they could serve their God in his statue as renewed virgins for eternity. They believe this strongly enough that it could have happened in their real lives."
"Outsiders?" Ziva asked.
"They did accept some, but Sandburg pointed out something. In today's world, they would've had to come across it in a book somewhere, probably in a library. It could be of any race now, as long as they're devout, but it's got to be a male. All three presently going." That got nods around the table, even by Fornell. "Third point," she said, taking a sip of her soda. "This is going to get worse. Flip to page three. That's the schedule of victims and where they're heading. More of them are in Chicago because we're considered the power center in our triangle. The same reason Miami is getting hit more than Cascade or New York. They've set up an information exchange and have invited us all into it. The Vegas guys agreed it'd be good and the last page has their contact information and the emails of the people dealing with the first triangle, Sandburg's. We're still trying to contact all the people in New Orleans, Montreal, and Sunnydale. Which is an anomaly that I haven't figured out yet. It's the only non-city and it's their point of power. I don't know why yet."
Gibbs nodded at that. "I've heard some bad things about there however. Anyway, back to this triangle." She paced a bit. "Okay, we're due for you guys to have one tonight, it'll be dumped tomorrow. He's already snatched them." She checked her watch. "By now, they may be dead or in the final stages, which means blinded and deafened. Their God didn't allow anyone deaf, blind, or impotent into his service. Those who became that way once they were priests were sacrificed to the bratty brother under the temple. They were basically sent down as snacks, like a mid-afternoon plate of pizza bites. He eats flesh," she said at Ziva's confused look. "This guy eats souls and he needs the purest of pure blood to be released."
"This person is insane," Ziva told her.
She shrugged. "Faith is a matter of opinion. I'm sure there's people who believe Christians are deluding themselves. Personally, I'm neopagan. I've seen worse working on other occult and cult cases. I'm the person Chicago calls for anything cult or occult, especially sex crimes and homicide. I've seen a lot worse with people doing little kids as sacrifices. I had one last year that had sixteen of them before we shot him. He had the seventeenth at knifepoint after molesting her and cutting his marks into her." Ziva went pale at that. "So, no, faith is a matter that is subjective. The point is that *he* believes it this strongly. You don't have to but you'll have problems tracking him if you can't get into the proper mindset and learn how he's thinking. That's the main thing to catching anything cult or occult related. You've got to give them their due and learn that they believe it strongly enough to do shit that gives normal people nightmares, and they're happy with it. You don't have to convert, but you've got to learn to think in other directions."
"Thinking outside the box," Tony agreed quietly. "Some of us are pretty good at that. McGee's a bit too technical being a geek."
"That might help. I'm not sure," she admitted. "Maybe he'll be able to track his preparation items. I do know that he had to make his weapons by hand. Sandburg included the standard four or five ways of doing that on page six." McGee looked at that page. "I also can tell you this is going to give us all nightmares. We've got a mere twenty- three victims left in this triangle to stop him before our killer is sacrificed as the turning point so they can move onto the fourth triangle. At which time the killers from triangle one and three team up. They'll finish up that one with a major sacrifice the move to the fifth one, and then the last three of that one are laid at the statue's toes. Horatio Caine in Miami is briefing the people for the fourth triangle this week. Just in case we fail."
"I don't think we will," Gibbs assured her.
"Good. This is the one time I want backup. This is too large just for me, even though most of it's in my city. My chief has said I'm working from home on this. He's paying airfare but nothing else and all he wants is briefed." Gibbs groaned at that. "He's not the sort to get the serial mindset, Gibbs. My own boss wished me a lot of fun working in my jammies with the kitties helping. I'm sure Betts would send her love if she knew you were here." He grinned at that. "Do we need to go over the ritual in detail or can you all read? I'm not the best lecturer. I can answer questions but the major lecturer and other researcher is Sandburg in Cascade." Fornell had a violent shudder at that. "You don't like Blair? I love Blair, man. He's a neat little hippie freak. You just gotta watch out for his mom when she shows up. We had her last week and I gave her a lift out of town immediately." She looked at Tony again. "Sandburg works with their Major Crimes bureau because he's doing his thesis on the police culture. He's a grad student and he's the reason they're so good. Especially Ellison, who has some serious possessive issues about him and his truck. Fair warning. Okay, go over those, let's see if anyone can come up with any intelligent questions we missed." She sat down and gulped more of her soda, then sighed in pleasure. "Ah, better."
Gibbs snorted. "When did you leave home?"
"Yesterday. Got to Vegas to brief their night shift late last night. Briefed them just as their shift was ending. Then flew out here to bug the shit outta you."
"Must you swear?" Ziva demanded.
"Yes," she said, glaring at her. "I don't soften who I am for anyone, Ziva. If you don't like it, ignore it. Plug your ears, hum, find a mental beep switch to censor it. I've earned my right to swear anytime I damn well please. Don't believe me, ask Fornell there." She looked at Gibbs again. "Anything I can go over?"
He went through the sheets, frowning at some. "Cemetery dirt?"
"To call out to the newly dead neighbors. Calls to the soul of the newly dead to send it in the right direction. It should've been on their hands and in some cases faces."
"Okay," he admitted, going on again. "We missed five or six?"
"We're at the red marked one."
He nodded, tracing it back. "Yeah, we've missed one and it's an open case," he admitted. Tony flipped to that page and read, then went to find that file. "Give him a few so we can check against it. How are they doing information exchanges?"
"The three bosses in triangle one have appointed a person to liaison with the other cities. Sandburg is doing all that for Cascade. Horatio's got one person for each city and so does Taylor." Gibbs looked up at that. "I heard he's a former Marine. He's running their felony lab."
"Wonderful." Tony came back in. "McGee, I'll let you handle any pass-over of information to the other groups. Tony, I want you to liaison with Catherine on this since you two can probably work together."
"Sure, boss." He sat down and looked over the pictures. "The symbols were faint. We found traces of blood on the ground but it had rained."
"The guy in Cascade snuck into the park past seventeen cops, into an open area, and drew everything out before leaving the body and no one saw anything," she told him. He passed down the folder. She looked and nodded. "Yeah, that's the right marks. I'm wondering if he picked an outside location to wash away the blood or not. I'll pass that onto Sandburg later."
"Are we sure it's one asshole per triangle?" Fornell asked.
"According to the CSI types that're in triangle one, yup. It was exactly the same marks, exact in all the right measurements. The ritual also calls for one soul to do each triangle. So unless we've got triplets who share a soul, it's one person."
"All right," he agreed. He looked at her. "We could take it over."
"You'd be on triangle five before you got them," she noted. "With us working, especially with the CSI power behind us all, we'll hopefully stop it this triangle or early into the fourth. Not to insult the behavioral unit, but they're not going to get into these guy's head. This is a matter of faith, not of suppressed desire, latent homosexuality, or of past abuse coming out in new and interesting ways as they relive it. This is faith. Caine and Sandburg talked to them the other day and they agreed, we'd do it faster since they're not equipped to deal with issues of faith."
"Then I'll give you whatever support I can," he assured her. "As long as you keep Helena off the case and away from me."
"Not an issue. She'd rather run you guys over."
"Thank you. I know she's a good cop but her bias against us would get in the way of the work."
"Agreed. The other reason she handed it over to me." She grinned at him. "By the way, she's in Paris with her stud at the moment."
"Good for her. I hope she gets some and comes back happier. I want nothing more than that woman to be happy and fulfilled." He looked at the papers again. "DiNozzo, did you hear about their Angel of Mercy?"
"She got out right before I got there. I got there during the suit, Fornell. That's all I know."
"You'd like Helena," she assured him with a wink and a grin. "She's very fierce and very good at her job." She looked at Gibbs, who was staring at something. "Smudgy copies?"
"Wondering if my eyesight was going. Can we get clearer pictures of the symbols?"
"Yup." She tossed down the pictures Sandburg had sent her. "From Sandburg and them. From the last crime scene. They look pretty standard to them now in the main murders. There's three variations for each triangle. They're the circled ones in the last picture. Ours are drawn on page eight."
"I don't understand how someone can believe in this," McGee said, looking at her. "It's not like you can protest that killing isn't wrong."
"Just because you, statistically speaking, believe in the Christian faith with all it's attendant rituals, including the pseudo-cannibalism ones, doesn't mean that they aren't just as devout and more to their faith. To them, your faith is a laughable thing that has no basis in their worldview."
"Ritual cannibalism?" Ziva demanded.
"Communion, Ziva," she said patiently. "This is my body and this is my blood, that stuff? That's pseudo-cannibalism. You're partaking of your God's body and blood to become right with him and be more like him. The same as baptism is a renewal of innocence ritual. It's to make you pure, whole, and holy again."
"She's Jewish," Tony offered.
Catherine shrugged. "As far as I know they do know about communion and baptism. Think about the attendant rituals in your own faith, Ziva. Their faith is just as strong as the most devout Orthodox. These people are willing to kill and die over their faith. They know they're breaking the laws of the land, but to them it's less important than their God's commands and his will. The same as some heavily Orthodox Jews will flaunt the laws if it's not in tune with their faith."
"I've known and worked with some," she admitted quietly.
"Well, these three guys are just like them. They're just as devout, only their faith comes with the rituals of bloodshed, preparation, and then marking symbols. For some, their God shed his blood, for others, they shed blood for their God. Like I said earlier, you don't have to believe like he does, just understand where he's coming from to gauge his next moves."
"This is like going undercover, Ziva," Tony told her. "You've got to get into the proper mindset to fit in. In this case, you want to get close enough that you can anticipate and trap him, but not so close as you get lost."
"She couldn't anyway, wrong plumbing," Catherine reminded him. Gibbs snorted at that. "They're serious about the no women clause, Gibbs."
"I realize that, Catherine." He looked up at her. "Get a room. We'll search for the missing cases tonight. Do we have a pattern?"
"Moon darks and solstices."
"Sure," McGee agreed. "We can get that on some calendars, right?" She nodded. "Got any idea which one?" She pulled a book out of her briefcase and handed it over. "Wow, someone tracks this stuff?"
"Wiccans depend on the phase of the moon for their works and prayers," she instructed. "I'll need that back. You can copy it or take down the ISBN number to order one." He nodded, flipping through it and taking down the order number so he could get them one. She looked at Gibbs. "Any other good points?"
"That's why I want you to stay over tonight, Catherine. We might have more tomorrow."
"Sure. Got anywhere reasonable around here?" Tony nodded and wrote down an address, sliding it down. "Thank you, snookums." He snickered at that. "Hey, I gotta get my fun in somehow since I can't bust the baby dealers who think their girls are their hos and the guys who think that ten dollar handcuffs means they can hurt their partners. You'll do for that." He smiled and got back to the file, then suddenly hopped up and came back with another folder. "Another one?"
"Yeah, but we had to pass it on. It was Air Force related." He let Gibbs see it. "The symbols we charted, boss."
He looked it over then nodded. "That's one of them. We'll chart dates by the calendar and see where we missed. Fornell?"
"I'll call the local PD and see if their Homicide department has handed it over yet. If not...."
"If not, ask for the person they go to for strange shit. Anyone with a clue about this stuff would get called with this many symbols," she advised. "The same as I get called out of bed at the first one, they would be too."
"Agreed," he said, standing up. "Tomorrow when?" he asked Gibbs.
"Ten good?" She shrugged. Fornell nodded. "Good, go do that. Catherine, you rest. Are you all right? You look shaky."
"They're telling me my blood sugar is starting to react funny. That and I'm too old to be going out on calls and chasing idiots down." She shrugged. "It happens after being on the job for sixteen years." She gathered up everything, smiling at them. "See you guys at ten. Have fun searching. Maybe a records search?" she suggested, letting Fornell walk out with her. "I really don't like your agency."
"Neither would I with what they put her through," he agreed quietly, walking beside her down the stairs. "Can I drop you off, Detective Demoranth?"
"Sure. Saves me cab fare and one less thing for my Chief to refuse to reimburse me for." She grimaced. "He's claiming the budget is tight again."
Fornell snorted. "It's always tight but there's discretionary funds for this. If not, I'll try to get you reimbursed since you're doing our job. Or maybe we'll come bother you in your city."
"Sure. Just give me some warning so I can clean my apartment a bit." He nodded, pushing the button on the elevator. She smiled at the older man walking toward them. "Hello."
"Oh, hello. Ah, Agent Fornell. Where might Jethro be this time?"
"We just left him in the conference room. I'm Detective Catherine Demoranth, Vice, Chicago. We're working on the cult things together," she offered, shaking his hand.
"Doctor Ducky Mallard. Very nice to meet you, Catherine. Are you feeling all right?"
"Jet lag. I was in Vegas this morning briefing the other city involved in our triangle." She dug out a briefing sheet. "Here, just in case you run across any others." He smiled and nodded, walking off with it. She looked at him, getting into the elevator with him. "Do I look that bad?"
"You look a bit wrung out and pale," he admitted, hitting the correct button. He smirked at her. "Don't hit on David."
"Not anymore. She's very uptight."
"Yeah, just a bit," he admitted with a small grin. "Don't try for the director either, she's hooked on Gibbs."
"If I had a man like him, I might not have turned to women," she admitted dryly, smirking at his laughter. "Instead, my last guy was a pushy bastard who didn't want me to have independent thoughts. Now he's a DA." They got off. "Which way?"
"This way," he offered, leading her to his car. "Which one did DiNozzo recommend?" She showed it to him. "Not too bad and just up the street," he offered, letting her in. "No luggage?"
"I've got spare clothes in my briefcase. I learned this trick on past trips for crossover cases in New York and Miami."
"You know their Vice squads?" he asked as he walked around to get in.
"Yup, they're the ones I learned how to do the whole 'lurking in the club and having fun while making arrests' thing from." He looked stunned and she smirked. "I learned how to salsa dance from the guys in Miami."
"You guys get to be so much looser than we are." He started the car and backed out, heading to her hotel. He dropped her off, getting a smile and a polite nod of thanks, watching as she walked inside. She was definitely needing a nap. He waited until he saw her take the key from the clerk, then headed back to his office to start the tedious work of finding the missing cases. Because this was going to keep him up most of the night.
Catherine pulled out her phone book and her phone card, dialing a number in it. "Vin, my big, studly one. I need information. Yes, dear, I think you can. I know you can actually. I need to know what's so special about Sunnydale and I need to know who to talk to out there about these homicides." She snorted at his protesting. "You've got contacts, I've got contacts. Mine are scared shitless as soon as I mention the name but I'm working on a massive crossover serial case. Therefore I need contacts out there and to know what's so special about that town. Because Sandburg and I need to know, man. Please?" She grinned. "Sure, I'll even race you when I get back into town, okay?" She yawned. "No, I'm stoned with exhaustion. I'm going to collapse into bed now. Sure, ride safe." She hung up and put everything back then got comfortable, letting herself drift off now. Even if her sidearm was under her pillow. She was never that comfortable these days.
Horatio Caine looked at his newest murder, sighing in frustration. "Is tonight the moon dark or solstice?" he called.
"Summer solstice," Eric called back. "Moon dark was the one in Cascade, H." He looked at him. He worked his part of the circle, watching Speed work his. "Anything unusual?"
"Not yet," Speed admitted bitterly. He looked up at the loud noise, looking around. "Gunshot?"
"Yes," Horatio said, gun in his hand. He waved at the two patrol officers. "Stay here. I'm taking them to investigate."
"Stay safe," Eric ordered, getting back to work. They had a patrol officer still with them. He heard his phone ring so he grabbed it out of his case. "What?" He listened, then stood up. "Speed, is tonight a double one?"
Speed pulled out the list and sighed, nodding. "Yeah, twins." He looked at him. "Which one got called?"
"Wolfe. He's with the other one. Wolfe, stay there. We'll be done here in another twenty or so. Take all the pictures you can. Note anything odd that wasn't in the briefing sheets." He hung up and called Horatio. "Me. Wolfe caught the other of the twins." He hung up on the growl. "He's not happy."
"I'm not happy," Speed said blandly. He looked at their patrol guy. "We need to confiscate the cameras in and out of the park tonight. Can you get someone to do that?" He nodded, radioing that in. "Thank you." He got back to work. "Horsehair whip," he noted, bagging it once he had pictures of it. "Just like they said."
"Shows they know their stuff," Eric agreed, hating this. "Where's the next one?"
"Next two are in Cascade, then New York, then us," he said quietly, swabbing one of the symbols. "It's still fresh."
"Blood?" Eric asked.
Speed moved off to the side to test it, nodding. "Human. Might be the vic's. Ours is better than Chicago's about bleeding them out." The patrol guy shuddered. "There's three triangles of cities going with these assholes," he warned. "Chicago is the main point in one, then there's another that goes up into Canada. Feel lucky. We're in the lower count city." He got back to work, taking another swab from another symbol. "Eric, is that a wallet?"
Eric looked where he was pointing, nodding at him as he stepped carefully over to take pictures then grab it. He opened it. "Myron Flanders. New York. Brooklyn." He looked at him. "I'm hoping the other one is local." He called Wolfe. "Do you have any ID on the guy? No, we've got a wallet. Myron Flanders." He paused, frowning. "That's not the same name. Got a picture phone? Take a picture of yours and send it over." He hung up and waited. "Speed, they're not twins."
Speed looked then pulled out his briefing sheets. "It says twins of the same soul."
"That might not mean twins," the officer noted. "It could refer back to the old Greek belief that all souls were split into two parts. Hence the soul-mates mythology." He looked at them. "Or possibly not. It was my minor," he offered sheepishly.
"No, it's a good idea," Eric said, smiling at him. "Thank you." He looked at Speed, then shrugged. "It's as good as I've got."
"How would you tell?"
"Personality tests? Dating sites?" the officer offered. "Most of the dating sites these days have personality tests. Maybe some sort of psych test back in college or something?"
Speed looked at him, then smirked. "You want our job, kid?"
"No, sir, I'd like one that has sane hours and less body parts, especially the smelly and bug- ridden ones. But I wouldn't mind going up to detective, as long as I wasn't homicide."
Eric snickered. "We'll make sure Horatio knows you were helping." They nodded and got back to work. Horatio came back and he was without the officers. "Catch 'em?"
"Yes. Stupid little boys who were dueling each other for their woman's love," he said grimly. "The remaining one is on his way to jail and the barely alive one was complaining he didn't realize it'd hurt."
Speed snickered. "Our guard there had an idea, H." Horatio looked at him. "Tonight was the twin's one but it said twins of the same soul. He thought it might relate back to the soulmate idea from the Greeks."
Horatio looked at the officer. "I'll pass that back, officer. Any good in chemistry?"
"No, sir, and I'd like a higher position without bugs, decomp, or parts. Preferably one with better, sane hours. Anywhere but homicide really." Horatio cracked a smile at that. "I've radioed another officer to confiscate the traffic tapes for them at their request, sir."
"That's fine. Thank you." He looked at his nametag. Then he smirked at him. "I'll make sure your help is mentioned." That got a shy smile and a nod. "Good luck."
"Thank you, Lieutenant." He shifted away from the ME's crew coming in. "Ma'am."
"Hello, Teddy. On again tonight?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am." He shook his head. "Finals killed my hours." He helped her over the images then stepped back out of the way.
"Wolfe's got the other one," Eric offered.
"I heard," Alexx sighed, shaking her head. She looked at the body, shaking her head. "Bled out." She moved to look at his ankles. "He was hung up to bleed out fully." She moved back to his head, then nodded. "Here and here," she noted, touching the stitched spots. "He sewed them back up after doing that." She opened his mouth. "In here too." She opened her bag and took out the liver thermometer, inserting it so she could take a reading. She looked at the readout then at Horatio. "90.2. So nearly six to eight hours ago."
"Thank you, Alexx." He helped her back up and watched as his crew got their last pictures before the body haulers messed up anything. "We should go help Mr. Wolfe."
"We should. He's alone." She smiled at him. "Have a better night, Teddy."
"Oh, I'll try, ma'am. I hope you have less bodies too."
"People always die when I'm in the mood for a long, hot bath," she joked, making him crack a smile. She walked off with him, going to the other scene. By the time they got there, Ryan Wolfe had managed to document the whole area, including fingerprints since there were doorhandles into the warehouse he was in. She smiled at him. "Sorry."
"No, that one was found first, that's how we usually precedent things." He pointed at the body. "This is Bart Sheers. Local guy from down in South Beach." He scratched the back of his neck. "The blood is dried, it tested as human. I've taken multiple samples of it." She nodded, moving over to check the body. "Boss, I noticed his mouth and ears were sewn shut. Does it fit with the serial?" He got a nod. "In a bad way?"
"No, I expected this," he admitted. He walked over to look it over. "Mr. Wolfe, the symbols are backwards."
"Okay," he agreed, walking over. "Like mirror image?" He nodded. "I've filmed it all and took stills." He handed over his cameras. "What about the other one?"
"No, they were the right way," he admitted, looking over the body. He considered back. "It's also pointed in a different direction. This one's head is pointing west, the other was pointing south."
"It's so old they probably couldn't find all the littlest details of the cult," Alexx offered, glancing at him. She read the liver temp and sighed. "90.2. He died at the same time." She stood up. "I'll give you more once I get them back there, Horatio."
"Thank you, Alexx." He waited while they left then looked at Ryan. "Did you go over the sheets?"
"Yes, sir, and I also asked the local college's library if they had anything on this or had anyone check out anything on this subject recently. They're citing privacy but I did tell them it was about a homicide done in this style. Nothing specific enough for them to tip someone off. The head librarian will be calling you tomorrow to talk about the request. I left you a message in your email, Horatio."
"Thank you, Mr. Wolfe." Ryan nodded. "Anything else on tracing the preparatory materials?"
"Not yet. Speed was doing most of that. Calleigh was helping with a few she recognized but my part of the list was mostly common things. I compiled a list of where you can get them and all the variations in one case, but that'll mostly be cross-referencing probably. My part of the list had things like pumice. You can find the stones and various gels with some in it at any good bath shop or any of the chain body lotion places."
"That's all right. It's going to be the little things that lead to this person." He looked at the symbol again. "Get some more long distance shots and we'll go back to the lab." That got a nod and Ryan took his cameras back to do that. Horatio headed back to his hummer, thinking the whole way back. Either their researchers had missed some information or their killer was improvising somehow. He could feel it but he wasn't sure why. He called Cascade. "Ellison, tell Sandburg we've got the twins and they're not. Yeah, we'll be sending information up as soon as we've processed everything, probably by tomorrow. No, something was off on the second twin. The symbols were backward. Mirror image." He nodded slowly as Blair babbled in the background about the significance of that. "That wasn't included," he noted patiently. Ellison advised that was probably something considered 'standard knowledge' and he sighed. "Okay. Should we get one down here he can brief so someone can tell us these things?" Ellison asked that and Blair said he'd ship him the books he'd need. "Just a list would be fine. We do have a number of libraries we can search through," he offered. "Thank you, Jim." He hung up and wanted to hit his head on the steering wheel. They were being too shallow on the meanings. They were taking things at face value, like the twins of the same soul idea. Well, they'd get that straightened out later tonight. Or possibly tomorrow since it was getting late.
Catherine came off the elevator and stopped at the hotel's desk. "Any messages?" Two were found and given over. "Thank you." She slid over her card key. "I need a receipt for the bosses please," she said with a faint smile. "You know how penny pinching they are." That got an understanding look from the young man behind the desk and he printed one up, letting her pay the fee for the phone use. She tucked it into her carrying case and headed out, finding Gibbs waiting on her. "Wow, I rate this?"
"You do," he admitted, smirking at her. "I'm out for coffee officially."
"You're the man! I'll buy." He chuckled and let her into his car, taking her to his usual coffee shop. "Anything come in overnight?"
"Word from Vegas that Miami had their twins, but they weren't exactly twins?"
"Twins of the soul. Could mean the old soulmate ideology from the Greeks," she offered. "Traditionally to the cult it would've meant identical twins. But hey, these guys are improvising now and then. We've found other spots they did it on. We'll have to see if ours are more literal."
"I'll let you email Sandburg."
"Gee, thanks. I'm sure he's already up and pacing while Horatio is yelling at him because he got blindsided."
"Possibly. How is the little peacenik? I haven't seen him since his mom dragged him to a protest when he was sixteen."
"He started college that year. He's okay. Ellison's life is getting to him. Ellison apparently draws serial killers and the like who like to use Blair as bait to draw him." He hissed. "Yeah, so he's went from anthropologist to captive many times, plus all his work at the station." He nodded, accepting that. "Anything else?" She looked at the messages. "Yup, one from Blair. One from Caine." She rolled her eyes. "I'm going to need about five to type out a message about individual interpretations of Godly laws."
"That's fine. Think it'll help?"
"Each one's going to be slightly different. Ours may have true twins. Ours may have cojoined twins. Ours may do what theirs did or ours may do something else entirely. I'm hoping we catch him before then but yeah. Not appearing to happen at this time since it's only three bodies from now."
"You don't think we'll catch them in time?"
"I think we'll have stupendous luck to catch one before the triangles are complete, two if we've been really good this incarnation. All three? Probably not until after ours is dead. And I'm saying this gently. All the big brains are in triangle one. They've got two world- class CSI units and the Ellison/Sandburg team. You guys have got me. And I'm one tired bitch most days anymore."
"The blood sugar thing?"
"Possibly. Who knows. Sixteen years, that's the real cause." She sipped her coffee as they pulled into the parking garage. "I put a call out last night to find out anything I could on Sunnydale so we can hopefully find someone there to brief since I'm not so sure Montreal will cooperate. I know New Orleans won't. They'll go cowboy on it." He grunted at that. "They will, or their branch of the FBI will take it over. Not sure which yet."
"I sent out a bulletin to the local NCIS down there. That way they could brief their people if it hit the local base."
"Good thinking, Jethro. Did you give them mine and Sandburg's numbers?"
"Along with the copies McGee input of the briefing sheets. I'm sure they're cursing greatly at me," he said with a fond smirk. "You ready for another day of Fornell?"
"It won't be all day, Jethro. Remember, I've got to be back in time to handle my next one tomorrow night." She sighed as she got out, grabbing her bag and carting it after him. "So, any good news on your end?"
"Between us we found all the other homicides but one."
"One of the female ones. It was solved and the local PD is being obstinate."
"We can do that. It looks bad on us when we put the wrong person away." He nodded, accepting that. "Let Fornell run them over with proof. Tell them if it's not her, to find which one it was and then brief them so they know who to call for the next one that shows up in six weeks."
"Yay us," he said blandly, getting on. "I thought you said solstices and moon darks."
"For the major, on target, scripted rituals. Not for the 'pick anyone' ones and not for the female ones. Also, again, he could be doing females in the old style in his non-religious life."
"Fantastic, so we could be dealing with two signatures or one, with one person."
"Yup, raised to the third power." She sipped her coffee again, sharing a look with him. "I'm planning on asking Helena's boys if I can use one of their vacation houses. You wanna come?" she asked as the elevator landed.
"After this, I'll be getting paid time off and all that or else," he assured her, leading her up to the conference room. "I've already told her we found all but one," he said as he walked in.
She looked at Fornell. "Go breathe down their neck saying if this isn't ours, find her, and brief them so they know who to call for the next one in six weeks."
"I've done that this morning. That's why I'm already tired."
She smirked. "Get their strange stuff person?"
"Yes, and she was covered in cat fur and talking to her stuffed turtle."
"Margret?" He grimaced and nodded. "She's doing it to make you go away. She does it now and then with me when I have to consult wider. Ignore the stuffed turtle. It's her worry stone." She looked around. "Okay, stun me with questions. I've had some caffeine and a night's sleep for a change."
Tony raised his hand. "Okay, about the twins last night?"
She nodded, holding up a finger and dialing, making it a conference call.
"Morning, guys. I'm here at NCIS with the Feeb they're working with, Fornell. Twins, traditionally speaking, would have meant identical twins. So either your guy is not going literal or he's stuck." She frowned. "That Greek idea of soulmates could work but that's outside the tradition and *later* than the original cult. Which points to someone with an okay background in classics and some imagination. Remember, they got this stuff the same place we did. From the books. They might've found a few sources we didn't, but it's all from the books."
"So, ours is taking a slightly different interpretation," Sandburg said quietly. "Okay. Any idea on yours?"
"We're three from that point, sparky. I've got my next one tomorrow night, then the twin's one right after that. Remember, each triangle moves slightly off the others. You're the true triangle and ours are the mimics. But that doesn't mean the killers are going to think alike if they're separate people."
"Okay, so he could have not found a set of twins?" Horatio asked.
"One explanation. Another is that he believes in the Greek idea of soulmates. Perhaps he works with them. It's the little tweaks that each one puts in that gives us the edge to capturing them. Did you guys find the rest?"
"Yup, and we had one with a confession," Sandburg admitted.
"We had one of those," Fornell offered. "The third female sacrifice was done here in DC and we had a mental patient confessing to it. I've already talked with them and they're stalling while they go back over the case."
"We're just going back over the case," Blair admitted. "That could be a quirk of the killers."
"No, if they wanted someone to take the blame for one of them, I'd have picked the fifth overall," Gibbs noted.
"Jethro," Blair said fondly. "How are you?"
"Extra tired. Ellison snored all night. I'm staying with him right now." Tony snickered at that. "Your team?"
"Oh, yeah. Do you guys need our victim profiles to compare?"
"Could help," Blair admitted. "Catherine?"
"I've got yours and ours. I'm still trying to get a word on Sunnydale to talk to them and New Orleans might not cooperate. I'm having the feeling that Montreal won't either."
"Probably true," Caine sighed. "It could help us with the killer's profile?"
"Go back over it. Look literally. The God's laws were *always* written literally once you got past the stage of acceptance into the mysteries. Once you got the decoder ring, you were in and it was all literal, with six exceptions throughout the world and all those were more philosophically based anyway. Go over it literally, Horatio, and see where they diverted. Also, I'd have someone do an online trace of the twins victims, see where they went in common that he found them. That could also lead to it."
"I've got someone working on that but it's slow going. The one from New York's wife won't let us have their home computer. Mac's working on her."
"Best of luck to him," she said dryly. "Subpoena it."
"Is it a case of marital issues?" Gibbs asked.
"Mac thinks so," he admitted. "She apparently ranted at him about being glad he was dead."
"Remind her others will too."
"She laughed," Horatio said flatly.
"Oh, joy. Can you get her in a mental health warrant?" Catherine asked. "I've had to do that in the past."
"He's trying that too," he admitted, sounding like he was in a slightly better mood. "How about on your end?"
"Briefed Vegas and these guys yesterday. I'm answering final questions today then going home so I can pet my kitty cats before my next one shows up tomorrow afternoon."
"Do we have your number?" Gibbs asked. She dug in her case and handed over cards with a smile. "Your cell?"
"Don't remind me, please. It's broken. I ran it over last month. That's my home phone and my desk phone was forwarded."
"Not now it isn't," Sandburg offered. "I called there first and some guy answered."
"I'll yell at Betts later," she promised. "Anything else, you two?" She got negative noises. "Then happy hunting. Call me if you need me." She hung up and looked at them. "Okay, next question," she offered, smirking at Tony. "You look like you've got a lot, studly."
"Oh, I do," he admitted, leaning back and putting his arms behind his head. "I drew out the figures. You said yourself that each triangle is just off the first one. Slightly warped mirror images. Why?"
"Not sure. None of the books mentioned why. If I had to guess, they believed that his body shattered and it's like looking at a mirror as it shatters in 3-D, or like if you see one sucked into a vacuum maybe?" He nodded at that. "None of the books mentioned the significance of why triangles or why the first ones were pure and the others aren't. I'm surprised we found as much as we did really. A cult that old and that small, we'd only usually find a mention and maybe something about an attempt at the rite before now."
"Sure," he agreed. "So how did we get this much detailed information? Could the killers be part of that group?"
She considered it, then looked at him. "You know I deal in the strange shit of the universe, right?" Everyone nodded. "Okay, well part of the strange shit I deal in is those who study the strange shit and find ways to defeat it. In this case, the majority of the books I found information in came from those people. Now, the teacher who donated the books taught at my former university. There's apparently a whole group of them in England somewhere by Stonehenge." That got a small smirk from McGee. "I know, how Druid of them," she sighed, then she sat down and put her feet up. "Not my call, they've been there for centuries doing the same thing. Vampire myths, dragon myths, demon myths, cult myths. I've found a lot of stuff in his books over the years since he died and donated them. I've even written them about this asking for more information. I figure Professor Terrance only had a bit of information and they've probably got to have the bigger library. If they answer I'd be amazed. Most of these people scoff at the normal people who do this stuff."
"So it could be someone from their organization or someone who went to another school that had books from it?" Tony suggested.
"Could be. My alma mater is a good choice for that. Especially for ours. There's a good chance that they're tied to their triangles somehow. It didn't outright say that but I got the feeling in a few passages that they could have something to do with the triangle's cities, that's why they're chosen for their triangle. I know that he's definitely living in it now, he's got to with as much traffic as he's got going."
"What's the name of the organization?" McGee asked, opening his laptop.
"The Watchers. Or The Watcher's Council in some notes." He nodded, typing that in. "They're on the web?"
"Nope, but they're notated in some fairly paranoid people's websites." He clicked on the first one. "Yup, information source, they train the hunter, well female hunter, who deals with these things. They're prone to covert op activity now and then. Lots and lots of mentions of vampires and demons," he said, browsing through that page.
"That's about what I've heard on the grapevine too," she admitted. "Nothing that can be found definitively or substantiated." She finished her coffee and tossed out the cup. "If you get anywhere with them, let me know."
"Sure," he agreed, going back to his searching. "Can we maybe cross-reference people who've been part of their organization and the key cities?"
"You could, but again, some libraries have collections. I know New York has some. I had to write to get some of it sent to me on inter-library loan a few years back," she cautioned. "According to the person I managed to talk to over there the one time I got contacted back, Terrance's collection never went to my school, it was back there. They're in snafu constipation themselves."
Tony nodded slowly at that. "But it is a way to possibly weed out the greater majority of residents," he offered. "Do we have any sort of description?"
"No, and the last one in Cascade snuck past about forty cops in the park to lay down the symbols, the body, and all that." They all moaned. "You can't tell me they were all dirty or napping or off their posts. I'm sorry but you can't since ten of them were in that clearing." She looked around the table. "I don't know how. I have no idea."
"Well, we know where they're dumping here so maybe we can set up better surveillance than humans," Fornell offered.
Gibbs nodded. "McGee, you and Abby work on that."
"Yes, boss." He typed in something and got a nod. "She's been listening and she's got a few ideas. Anything else we can do?"
"Personally, I'd start by tracing the things that have to come from this city. See if any of it can narrow down a store or a target that he's got to visit." She stood up. "That's the best I can do at the moment. I've already got a call out through my people in Chicago. As long as he didn't buy ahead and stock up, that's probably my best bet."
"We started that last night," Tony assured her, giving her a gentle smile. "Going to go home?"
"Yeah, my cats will have peed all over the house by now in anger for me getting them a sitter. They hate it when I'm gone." She shrugged. "Any other notes or questions?" They shook their heads. "We sure?" They all nodded and Gibbs made a shooing motion. "Okay, then call me if you need me. I'm usually a night person so please no calls at dawn or eight." That got a small laugh from Fornell. "Hey, I work Vice. My stuff happens at night. I'm getting to bed at dawn or eight." She picked up her bag and checked inside, then waved and walked out, heading for the elevator. She smiled at the director. "I'm done for now. I may be back in a few weeks when you guys get your next one."
"You don't sound hopeful that we'll capture this person soon," she said grimly.
"I'm not," she said honestly, looking at her. "We didn't catch on that he was a serial killer until body twelve." She looked disappointed in that. "At least they've got some leads." The elevator came and she headed down to the lobby, smiling at the guards. "What's the fastest way to get a cab here?"
"I can call you one, ma'am. Did you sign in?"
"Fornell brought me."
"Oh, he didn't sign in either. Where might he be?"
"Conference room with Gibbs and his whole team."
"The elevator?" another one asked, dialing the phone.
"No, the real conference room. Is he using the elevator as one?" They both nodded and she smiled. "Cute idea. It's gotta be more private than some spots in this building." They smiled and nodded. "Thank you, boys. Hopefully Gibbs can catch the guy so I don't have to come back and have more evil in my city." A cab pulled up and she smiled, heading out there. "Here for me?" He nodded so she got in and handed over a ten. "Airport. I don't care which one." He nodded, heading off. She'd let him have the rest of that for a tip if it was under it, or tip him a few extra dollars and pay the rest if it was over it. She yawned and stretched, then got comfortable. She could go home and collapse in her own bed tonight. She never slept well in hotels.
Sandburg came off the elevator, smiling as he read something. "Blair!" someone shouted, making him look up and smile at Eric. "Sorry, I got sent to come to the next scene."
"Always happy to have the help, man." He smiled at him. "I'm doing student essays."
"How do you manage to teach and help Ellison?"
"I'm very hyper," he said seriously, getting a grin. "Come on. Coffee is this way. Anything going on in the lab?"
"No and you're right, Sam is a scary woman." He followed him into the bullpen. "Hi, Simon."
"Eric. Horatio said he was sending you. You've got the graphics and things from your last scene?" He handed the CD over to Blair, who sat at Ellison's desk to run it and integrate the other files. "Did Catherine send over the files from her triangle?"
"Yup, already in there to be cross-referenced. I've already sent the three symbols to someone in the Anthro department who deals in pictographic languages, hoping she can come up with a base language for it for us. No luck yet. Did Horatio have any luck with New Orleans when he tried, Eric?"
"Nope," he said, sitting down to watch Blair work. "You're weeding out extras?"
"I uploaded them into this program that'll run it as a slide show. The rest are still on the CD. I started by downloading it first. That way we can go from one body to the next to check for any inconsistencies."
"Sure," he agreed. "Has it helped?"
"Yup, our guy took a non-literal interpretation of one of the female victims too," he said, finishing it up and saving it. Then he ran the program, letting him see.
"Can you slow it down?" Blair got into that function and slowed it down by half. Then he got out of the way. Eric sat in that seat, watching it flip. He paused one, staring at it. "Something's different about this one."
Blair looked over. "Different brushes on the symbols we thought."
Eric stared then flipped back one, studying that one, then let it flip forward, pausing it again. "No, it's more than that. Can I send this down?"
"Sure," Blair agreed, getting into his email. "Click it as save as and make sure the images saved as well."
"Thanks." He got to work on the unfamiliar program, smiling when it saved to a few formats, including one they had. He sent it to Horatio, then called. "It's me. Blair uploaded the scene photos into a slide viewing program. I just sent the file to you, hopefully with pictures. I'm noticing a difference between six and seven so far. He thinks it was different brushes. I'm not so sure. Thanks, H." He hung up. "He'll have someone get into his email and see since he's out on a normal case."
"Yeah, unfortunately they don't stop." Blair sat down. "Flip it back." He did that, then let it go forward. "See, I thought the symbols were thicker and that just meant a different brush. Six and seven, by the list were both here."
"Sometimes you've got to put things in a different perspective. Should we send this to Catherine?"
"We probably should but she's either on a plane or asleep by now. She works Vice and went from Vegas to DC yesterday." He shuddered at that. "Have we checked the airline, train, and bus rosters to see if anyone's used them a lot recently?"
"We have and they're being balky."
"They're from a small islands and used to be sheepherders?" Eric gave him an odd look. "Sorry, not enough caffeine yet."
"Have more, Sandburg," he ordered with a grin. "If it were that sort, it'd be more helpful."
"True. We'd already have the answers and have a new story too."
"No more stories," Simon ordered firmly. "Please, Sandburg, no more stories."
"Yes, Simon. We love you, you know that, right?" He got a groan and his boss walking off. "Is it my fault I've done a lot in my short life? Blame my mother. She's the one who passed on the hyperactivity."
"I already blame your mother for many things, I can add to the list," Simon assured him, closing his office door.
Eric snickered. "At least you know he likes you anyway."
"Hey, Hairboy!" Henry called. "Can you make some more coffee?"
"Do I look like I'm wearing a skirt today?" he called back. "You said I made bad coffee the last time."
"You did but I was hoping for the good stuff you made the time before that."
"Don't look at me, I make bad coffee too," Eric offered with a grin as the other detective walked in. He got back to the slideshow, making notes where he found other things that twinged his senses.
Ellison came in and looked over their shoulders. "Go back two." Eric did that. "Now let it go." He frowned, watching it. "Width of the letters changed. Body position changed slightly. Two ago had faint bruises on the neck if I remember right, but not this one."
"You're good," Eric said, grinning at him. "Art major?"
"I'm very observant," he retorted, then grinned. "It's Sandburg's fault."
"Sure, blame me for making you a better cop, Jim," he noted dryly. "Not my fault that happened." He went back to the slide show, letting it move forward. "See, major change between the last one and this one." Eric went back to see for himself.
Eric walked into the bullpen after dealing with the scant evidence they had been left at the scene, including faxing home copies of all the reports and taking a lot of pictures of everything. "Hey, I'm done."
"You want dinner?" Blair asked. "I'm cooking."
"Yeah, I'm staying overnight. H said to. Just in case they didn't get something." He sat across from him with a yawn. "It was pretty standard but we had the addition of charcoal on nearly everything."
"Like brickettes or like burnt wood?" Jim asked.
"Burnt timber." He dug out that report and handed it over. "I'm hoping you guys can use that to find a site."
"Maybe," Jim admitted. He read it over a second time, more carefully. "Could he be switching areas, Chief?"
"Yeah, if he's got the time to do the prep work, but that should've included cleaning." He checked his fact sheets. "This one had to have wood with it. Could be another loose interpretation." He looked at him. "Go get the sample, Eric. Let's see if Jim recognizes the type of tree." Eric nodded and took out his small sample, they had split some off for the lab in Miami since New York was handling a different track of investigation at the moment.
Jim sniffed it, then took a second one. "It's not pine. It almost smells like olives." He sniffed again. "Resin too." He capped it and winced, waving a hand in front of his nose. "I see Cassie helped." He handed it back then wiped off his eyes. "She's still transferring perfume onto things."
Eric sniffed the container. "How did you smell that?"
"I've got a good nose," Ellison offered, grinning. "Come on, let's go. I think I may know where this could be." He walked them out, taking them to the truck. Eric got into his car behind them. He looked at Blair. "That was dangerous."
"Not really. They've got people with sensitive senses down there too. That's probably why Horatio always wears his sunglasses." He got comfortable. "Olives and resin?"
"Yeah, and sawdust. I'm thinking the old piano factory. It's got that olive store right up the street." He started the truck and headed that way. "Could he still be there?"
"Not a clue, man," Blair admitted. "The next one's got to have silver attached to the body."
"So either piercings or silver shards?"
"It shavings," Blair sighed, leaning his head against the window. "I'm tired, Jim."
"You can sleep after dinner." He drove them right to the place he wanted, but it wasn't quite right. He walked up the street and found it, nodding Eric closer. "Here. Smell the wood." He did that then their sample, but Jim could tell they were the same. It was an abandoned house that had burnt a few years back but hadn't been torn down. He led the way inside, gun drawn, letting Sandburg get between them. There was no use telling him to stay in the truck this time. He found the crime scene and nodded Eric forward, turning up his hearing. No other heartbeats. "I don't hear anyone," he admitted, lowering his gun.
Eric nodded. "That works for me, stay on guard please?" He grinned and found the scene, calling Horatio. "Ellison found a kill scene, H. Yeah, burned out building. Yeah, the wood was charcoal." He grinned. "Of course. Blair, can you get my camera from the rental?" He nodded and headed that way. "H, this is really neat. He cleaned up after himself but he left another set of symbols in here." Blair came back with the camera and came forward to help. "No offense, Blair, but I'm trained to do this."
"Sure. Jim, come help." He nodded, coming over to put on gloves and help, Blair grinning at him. "He helps ours find some tiny stuff too."
"Sure." He hung up on the wise words and got to work taping it fully first, then taking stills before he did anything else. "We should probably call Cassie and them."
"Once you're done," Blair assured him. That got a small smirk. "Our labs aren't on the same level as yours. Once you're done and ready to have them here."
"There's some green stuff here," Jim offered, pointing at it. "Looks like trampled grass. Maybe off a shoe?" Eric came over to look, nodding and taking pictures before he gathered it.
Blair stood back and watched as Jim found where he should be working. His enhanced senses wold do wonderfully in that sort of setting. "Hey, Jim, think we could move to Miami? It'd be nice and warm. Far away from your ex. Simon could retire since he keeps swearing he's about to."
Jim gave him the most evil, dirty look. "No, Sandburg. And I heard that crack about Borneo too."
"I've got a career too, Jim. It's gotta come up sometime. I'm going to have to go on something so unless you wanna come with me...."
"No thanks. I'd hate the lack of bathing." He got back to work at Eric's chuckle. "They don't! I can still smell some of his stuff from his last summer trip in the loft. Full of sweat and dirt."
"It's not like they have indoor plumbing in the jungle, Jim. Or don't you remember that?" he asked bitterly. "But hey, if you don't want to go to Borneo, you can come with me on the one to Palau. Or the one to Guinea." Jim gave him dirty looks. "I'm going to go on something soon, Jim. Either get over it or sign up to come since you've got some jungle experience and security experience."
"You can't and you know it," he said quietly.
"And I repeat, I do have a career too," he said firmly, staring at him. "Sorry, but we both know I have one of those. It looks bad and I'm the one who used to go on nearly every expedition the department sponsored." He walked out, going to wait in the truck.
"Are you sure you two aren't together?" Eric asked after a few minute's silence. He looked at Jim. "We wouldn't care if you were, but that sounded a lot like a lover's spat."
"It's not my fault he's got things that tie him here."
"Not saying it is, Jim, but even ties have to be loosened sometimes. They're keeping him from what he loves to do. People go into the humanities for the love of the work. Not for the prestige and money. If this were a historical killer, he'd probably be all over that."
"Maybe," Jim admitted. "It still doesn't matter, he's got to be here. His ties are going to keep him here."
"He said you could go."
"I did years in the jungle. That's more than enough." He got back to work with him. Blair would be in a better humor by the time they got to dinner.
Eric trudged back into his unit with his box of evidence, nodding at the receptionist. "Sign me in please?" She nodded. "Thanks. Anyone here?"
"Most everyone. No new calls today."
"Wonderful. Page H to the AV lab so we can go over the tapes first." She nodded and he trudged that way with a yawn. He found Speed in there waiting on him. "Hey. H?"
"Coming. Anything good? He said you guys found a kill site."
"We sure did," he admitted dryly, putting the box down. "Our samples from the scenes and the tapes of both." He slit the tape and handed him the tapes, yawning again. "I was up most of the night doing that scene. Then we released it to the locals. Ellison said I got it first," he defended at Horatio's odd look when he walked in. "He said we're better than Cassie or Sam. I shared what I could and let them make copies of the tapes and pictures." He flopped down and waved a hand. "His interpretation of wood was charcoal this time. Abandoned house that had been partially burnt." Speed put in the tape and ran it backwards, making Eric hiss at the low quality picture. "They took the original." He called up there. "Sandburg, me. She took the original." He listened, then looked in his backpack, smiling. "Thanks, man." He hung up and handed over the new tape. "Here, the original. The other reason not to let Sam or Cassie have things."
Horatio patted him on the shoulder. "You can sleep once we've gone over everything. I'll even let you have the lumpy couch in my office."
"Thanks, H. You're all heart." He pointed at the scene. "I went back and filmed the entrance later on. That's why the body was covered in charcoal. Did you get the reports I faxed?"
"All but the autopsy one. That one managed to disappear," Speed offered. Eric dug it out and handed the stack over. "Why is their lab not cooperating?"
"Because Sam wants the prestige and Cassie wants to do it for us," Eric said firmly. "Did the slideshow work?" Horatio nodded. "I sent the differences, right?"
"You did," he assured him. "Relax for now. We'll wake you if we've got questions, Eric." He got given a grateful smile and the younger man fell asleep right there. He moved closer to the screen. "Can we zoom in on that one?" he asked their tech, Tyler.
"I can try. At least he was using a digital video camera." He zoomed in then cleaned up the image. "Is that a charm?" Speed nodded slowly. "Check the box?" He smirked and dug into the box, coming up with it. "Is it part of the rite or part of the killer?"
Speed found it and looked at the envelope. "It's part of the rite. Sandburg wrote on here that it was the representation of their God." He handed that one to Horatio, who dug into the box himself. Eric had brought them back many goodies. "I'll send the autopsy report down to Alexx. Take this to Trace?" he suggested.
"Please. Copy the tape and forward a good copy back to Sandburg and one to New York, plus one to Catherine in Chicago." That got a nod and he got to work on that while they went over the evidence. They could come back to the pictures. Understanding the rite in this case wouldn't make them understand the killer better since it was predetermined. Their only chance was to find something of the killer in the evidence Eric had collected. They left Eric napping in there. He'd be safe enough.
Tyler looked over at the first snore, giving him a gentle nudge. "Head to the office, Eric." That got a sleepy mumble and the man walked that way, eyes barely open. He ran into a railing but he didn't seem to care, just bounced off and headed up once he was going in the right direction again. Tyler smiled once he heard the door slam, getting back to work. The ME came in a while later so he set one of the copies running for her viewing displeasure. She patted him on the back, moving to stare at it. "They're all moving counter-clockwise this time."
"Toward the sun or away?" she asked.
"Hmm. That would depend on which way was north," he admitted. He called Horatio. "Do we have any direction indicators? Alexx wanted to know if they were moving toward the sun or away." He looked back at her. "Away. The spot with the charm and the tool marks in the grit are where the point of west would be if that helps."
"I'm not sure. I know that a lot of the pre-Christian religions had things about the sun though." She shrugged. "Maybe it has some relevance."
"I'll make note of that and have him ask Sandburg or Catherine." He got back to work on the copies, checking them to make sure they were all right. He called the number in Chicago, getting a sleepy woman and a meow. "Hi, Detective Demoranth? This is Tyler, the AV tech in Miami. They found the site of the last killing in Cascade and I'm making copies. What format would you need it in?" He heard the unhappy grunt about her computer. "You don't have one at home?" She conceded she did but it was ancient. "Okay, well, I'll call back later, after you've had time to arrange something, how about that?" He smiled. "Yes, detective. Thank you, ma'am." He hung up. "Their tech department isn't going to let her have a new laptop."
Alexx looked at him. "They're going to hamper her that much?" He nodded. "Can she kick their asses?"
"I don't know, Alexx. That's why I said I'd call back later." She smiled at that. "If I have to, I can transfer it up to one of their techs and she can watch in their labs." He got back to work. "Anything else strike you?"
"Yeah, that's a really dirty crime scene."
"Eric said it was a semi-burnt building. He's napping in Horatio's office. Came in yawning and nearly there."
"Must've been up all night processing."
"More light fighting over evidence. They tried to send us the crappy copies but Sandburg slipped them into his backpack." She smiled at that. "Calleigh told me she was warned that the techs were hogs and gloryhounds. I think they called one evil."
"Wonderful. How do they solve so many things?"
"Sandburg and Ellison," he said plainly. She rolled her eyes and left, making him smile. He sent off the copies, getting various 'thanks' from the people it went to. He got an email from someone in NCIS asking for a copy and forwarded it to them too. Catherine had noted through Horatio that they were working with a branch in DC. He sent in a note about the format it had originally been recorded in and noted that they had samples and stills if they needed them. She sent back a 'thanks' and a smiley face. He grinned, he could like a happy tech.
In DC, the NCIS tech, Abby, who was a very Goth girl, let out a squeal worthy of Barbie finding a Ken that was anatomically correct. "Someone found a kill site," she called when people came running. "They found one at the last scene in Cascade."
"Pull up the pictures," Gibbs ordered, standing right in front of the screen. Tony handed him his glasses, getting a glare back. "I don't need them."
"You do, boss. Ooh, video?" She nodded, getting to work showing it in the best possible way. He held up a hand. "Pause it?" She paused it and he pulled out his briefing sheets. "Yeah, there's the marks that're different from ours. So those are the city marks. Abby, can you run any of the symbols online and find out if they've got meanings?"
"Sure." She isolated those three and did that in the background. "Can I go on?" He nodded and she unpaused, letting it play while she watched. "The foot path seems to be counter-clockwise," she offered. "Also, is that blood?"
"No, not in this case. Blood would've soaked into the charcoal," Gibbs noted, staring at it. He grimaced. "What's that?" She froze it and zoomed in on the spot of light that had caught his attention. "A charm?"
"The guy in Miami said they had evidence and stills down there. I can send an email to ask."
"Start one and send it when we're done. That way it can all go together," McGee offered, sitting next to her so he could watch on her screen. "Go ahead." She hit play again and watched the rest of it pan out, then the entry into the building. "Is this standard?"
"No, Cascade should've been to the one with wood. So I'm guessing this was that killer's interpretation," Tony offered, looking back at him. "Can you replay it, Abby?" She nodded, doing that. "It's not disturbed. So someone very good did this scene."
"Miami's crew probably. I've heard bad things about Cascade's." She grimaced. "We're talking one of them makes Gibbs look like a girl scout in the bastard department." Gibbs shot her a grimace for that but she grinned. "I've heard it's her duty to find anyone too pretty, date them, then screw them with the department."
"I heard things about Cascade in Philly," Tony admitted. "It's said that their little anthro geek Sandburg is the reason why Major Crimes is so good, especially why Ellison is so good. His solve rate is phenomenal. Nearing ninety percent, which is unheard of."
"Ours is only eighty," Gibbs agreed, and they were considered the top team in NCIS for that reason alone. "How is he doing it?"
"Not a clue, boss. It's said that whatever Sandburg brought to Ellison that made him bring him into the unit, that's why. No one's got any idea what it is." He looked at him. "I'm not surprised they gave this to him with his solve rate."
"When's our next one here?"
McGee looked at his sheets. "Two from now, boss. Catherine's got one tonight, one in two days, then ours is in six weeks. We're just behind triangle one's so we're just off the moon dark." He pulled it up. "Our next moon dark is tomorrow. Hence the one the next night."
"Why six weeks?" Abby asked.
"They're missing one and the next one is off-ritual," McGee told her. "Then the one after that one goes back to moon dark. Anything off-ritual is basically a 'pick one female and do it appropriately' sort of rite."
"Very," he agreed, patting her on the hand. "Anything else come over that we should ask about?" he offered. "I can start the email."
"Ask about the charm, if there's some significance to the counterclockwise thing, and tell them we want reports," Gibbs ordered. He nodded, doing that from Abby's inbox. He got one back a minute later. "They're fast."
"Their AV tech is the one who she got the copy from. He said the charm was a representation of their God. He's getting us stills to send up. The counter-clockwise movement was noted by their ME as well and they're going to ask Catherine when she wakes up. He'll ask Caine about getting us copies of the reports." He looked up. "They're going over the evidence their guy collected. He said Delko went up."
"That's fine," Gibbs agreed. "Their whole lab is top notch, nearly as good as Abby is." She preened at that. "Any word on how long?"
"Probably not long, boss." He looked down at the beep. "He said to call them. He gave me Caine's cell number." He dialed it and put it on speaker for him.
"This is Gibbs, NCIS."
"I heard you were involved. What did you need?"
"Anything you can give us. We're coming into this fairly late and we're working with the FBI liaison. Any significance found in the ritual for the counter-clockwise?"
"Not yet. I haven't heard back from Sandburg but our ME thinks it had something to do with sun position. Did you get a copy of the tape?"
"I did," Abby called. "I've been monitoring Catherine's email in case one of the other cities comes up with a question since she probably won't be seeing us for a few days."
Horatio laughed. "Understandable really. She's still got regular cases to solve."
"No, they told her to go home and work from there in her pajamas," Tony told him.
"Our tech said he called to check what format she wanted the video in and her cat meowed at him," Horatio offered.
"She's Vice, she works nights," Gibbs noted. "So you're willing to share?"
"Anything we can share to stop these people is good with us, Gibbs. As long as you do the same."
"Not an issue," Abby promised. "What about Cascade?"
"That's why I sent Eric." They heard a quiet snort from that end. "Speed said he's going to go up next time, possibly with Wolfe."
"Sure," she agreed. "The email I gave your AV tech is mine here at work. You can forward everything to me. I'm Abby, the lab gremlin." He chuckled at that and she smiled. "How about New York? Should I ask them for anything?"
"They're tracking down the local objects angle at the moment while we do this part. We've got the more updated tech gear and better processors."
"Sure," she agreed. "If I can help, let me know."
"Thank you, Abby."
"Not a problem, Lieutenant." She smiled. "Have a better day."
"You too." He hung up. She looked at Gibbs once she hung up their phone. "He seems very nice and helpful."
"He does. Email New York for any information they've got. Fornell is coming over tonight, I'd like to be able to brief him on this whole scene."
"Sure thing, Gibbs." She smiled at him and he left, going back to his desk. Tony stayed to look at her. "What?"
"I'm wondering if we're going to have to do the same thing with Chicago's labs."
"No, probably not. I've talked to the guys in Vegas and they said they're sending someone up to Chicago to work it on her end with her and to coordinate with their own labs. They said he's already horrified." He grinned at that and went to report that. She wrote a note to Catherine then to New York's labs, getting one back fairly quickly from one of the techs assigned. "Hello, Danny," she said, reading it, smiling at the rundown of where they were. She copied it off and brought it up to Gibbs. "What they've found that's doable for tracing things," she offered, handing it to Tony, he'd get it anyway. He nodded, getting to work against their massive lists. "New York is going to send up a fully updated file tonight. The guy from Vegas has been complaining about Chicago's labs. They sent a guy there to work with Catherine as a liaison. I sent a message to Catherine for when she wakes up again. Now all I'm doing is waiting so I'm off to get a caf-pow." He smirked and nodded. "Get you a coffee, Gibbs?"
"I've got some," he promised. "Thank you, Abby."
"Not a problem, Gibbs." She walked out, going to think while she got her soda. This case was stressing her out. Being goth was one thing but the evil these guys showed was far outside her normal mindset and she couldn't understand how people got that evil.
Back at the office, Tony suddenly sat up and started an internet search. "They found two of the things you can't find locally," he offered. "Part of the standard, non-local components."
"It's a place to start," Gibbs agreed. "How many places can you get it, DiNozzo?"
"Ten in the US, one in Montreal." He smirked at him. "One in Cascade, one in Sunnydale. Two in New York. One in Miami. One in New Orleans. Two in cities in Texas, one in Las Vegas, and the last in Los Angeles."
"Good. Track it down, DiNozzo. See if we can figure out who bought what where."
"Working on it, boss. Writing the guy in New York too." He got into Abby's email, finding that address. He wrote back to him that the soap used wasn't available in their city, that it was the best lead they had so far. An email list of purchases came through. "They're on the ball, boss. They sent us back a list of who bought it in the last six months." He cross-referenced it against the list of the other item that wasn't available locally, finding ten names in common. Plus one mailing address. "Hey, boss. Come look." He came over. "Either these guys are using this stuff in other rituals, or we've got one mailing address and ten people."
"Cross them with the other lists," he ordered quietly. Nine of them carried over onto the majority of the other lists. "Are they female?"
"In female names," he admitted, frowning some. "Could this be something Wiccans or someone in that community would use?"
"I have no clue. Who would know other than Catherine? I know she's not practicing."
"I know a small palm reading shop that sells Wiccan candles and herbs," McGee offered. "We can go ask her. If she doesn't know, she might know who to ask."
"Do that," Gibbs ordered. He and Tony jumped up to do that. "Find David while you're out."
"She's working on that Mossad case, boss," Tony reminded him. "She's with Fornell today otherwise."
"Better there than here. I doubt she'd be respectful of these others," McGee offered as he got onto the elevator.
"So, you go to a palm reader?"
"No! One of my ex girlfriends did," he said, grimacing at him. "She drug me twice if you must know."
"Uh-huh," Tony said, smirking at him. "You're going to stick with that answer?" He nodded. "We'll see."
"No, we won't. It's not pertinent to the case."
"It could be. We have no idea if he's picking those who're of a certain belief system." He called his boss. "Boss, have them check the victims. Are they all in one faith? Or maybe neopagan like Catherine is?" He hung up on the unhappy grunt. "I hadn't considered that yet, thanks, Probie. You jumpstart my mind nearly as good as weak coffee does."
McGee looked at him. "Keep it up and I'm driving."
"Fat chance." They came off the elevator, nodding politely at the director. "We've got a small lead."
"Good. Keep me informed. Jethro?"
"At his desk asking some pertinent questions about faith."
"Faith?" she asked, watching as they walked off together, still play-arguing. She rolled her eyes but went to butt in. Again.
Catherine looked over as her helper walked onto her scene, waving him on. "C'mere. Patrol guys stomped on it and I've already smacked 'em for you. They're huddled against their cars." He looked and nodded at them, giving them a look. They shrunk down further. "So, Warrick. Cute 'do today with the hair."
"I woke up funny," he said, grimacing at the weak joke. His hair was fine, even if it was standing up in a few directions. "You should see Sanders' hair."
"I liked Greg's hair. His hair was like his personality. Fun and cute. Which is another good reason for me to date girls."
Warrick smirked at her. "Some day you'll find a guy who's as nice as a girl," he taunted.
"I've found many of them but they didn't believe in oral sex enough." She smirked at his horrified look. "Yeah, I'm like this all the time." She looked at the body. "Our poor dear here is a pro. I know her from a few ho strolls."
"Got a name?"
"Usually she goes by Baby on the street. Sometimes Baby Blue since there's more than one Baby in this city."
"Okay. Do we have real name?"
"Not that I can remember off the top of my head. I can tell you she specialized in anal sex and being just as good for the gay guys who were trying to look straight. I can tell you she worked exclusively out of three clubs for the last few years. I can tell you two of them have membership lists that're damn hard to get. It's the sort of place the high rollers go to to show off for their clients. The third is scummier and anything goes. It pays better because they can do anything there and the other places have rules."
"Okay," he admitted, getting down to start with the pictures. "Did they run up to check her?"
"Yup. Which is why they're huddled against their car until their boss gets here."
"Even better." He grimaced and took another picture. "He left us the brush?"
"Possibly. They're too scared of me for me to get them to make sense. I didn't eve have to do more than yell about disturbing the scene that way before one burst into tears." He looked at her. "Hey, I like my rep most of the time."
He snorted and shook his head, getting back to work. "I'll talk to them in a few."
"Sure. I'll go check with some of my contacts, see if they know who Baby was with last night." She walked off. "Guys, you sensible yet?" she called. They cowered more. "Never mind. Stay there until Warrick gets to talk to you. Okay?" They both nodded. "Good kids." She walked across the street, finding the pros watching from there. "I know, he's a fine bit of dark meat, honeys, but he's gotta work Baby Blue's case. So hit on him after he's done tonight, okay?" They all looked at her and she grinned. "Yeah, they handed it to me. Any idea which one she was at last night or with who?"
"She had a high roller client, bragged he came in a few times," one of the girls offered. "You gonna bust us?"
"Girls' gotta make a living, ladies. I may be Vice, but I'd rather take the pimps than you ladies." She looked at that one. "Taking the pimps means that less of you work in the long run but arresting you for having a crappy life is unfair to you." That got a small smile. "I've worked Vice a *long* time. Including doing ho strolls. I'm Catherine if you had any doubts."
"You're the Bitch Queen of Death?" one girl asked, looking her over. "You used ta be hotter."
"Yeah, well, it usta be that my girl didn't cheat on me and make me kick her skanky slut ass out," she shot back with a grimace. "It gave me the munchies."
"You need a new one, girl," another one noted, then looked her over. "I'd do you."
"Yeah, but my boss would hate it if I did," she noted, grinning at her. "Not that you're not cute." That got another grin. "So, any idea of the client?"
"No, uh-huh. She didn't share. She was worried about poaching," the one offered. "It go rough on her?"
"You know that serial case? She's now part of it," she sighed, looking at her. "Which club did she pick him up at?"
"Alexandria or Lex's Pleasure Palace?"
"Alexandria," the first girl offered. "She even broke the usual for him." Catherine nodded, taking that down. "You'll find him?"
"Hell yes, I want his ass stretched on a rack with ball weights," she promised, frowning at them. "I don't care if you are pros, your deaths still deserve to be investigated. Someone on high don't like it? I'm a good domme and I'm very good with my whips and heels." That got a few smiles. "Anything else you can tell me, like her pad?"
"She was crashing on West Racine," one of the girls in the back offered. "She was also taking a few day classes at that small business school. They paid her to go so it was all good to her. She said she was getting too old a few years back."
"Yeah, most of you ladies don't last past your thirties if you're lucky," she sighed, looking at her. "I'm sure you guys know the groups that help, right?" They all nodded. "If you need help getting away from pimps and boyfriends, you come to me. I'll help you there too." That got another nod. "Good. Can we think of anything else?"
"Her client, he drives a Caddy, one of the new ones," the first girl offered, smirking at her. "It ain't much but it's home, sweetie."
"I understand. I feel that way about the department some days," she sighed, getting nods of understanding. "Got a color or a license plate?"
"Green. Like mint green with a darker green top."
"Thank you. You've been very helpful, ladies. Try to distract any press guys, okay?" That got a smirk, the press always were easily distracted. She walked back. "She's got a new higher end client. Drives a new caddy, mint green with darker green top. She met him at Alexandria. Which is a very nice sex club uptown by the golden sands of the Million Dollar Mile. She was taking a few classes at one of the local business schools and she was crashing up on West Racine."
"That's a long street. Can we get more precise?"
"Yeah, once we're there I can ask. That's a poor neighborhood. You've got those who watch it all." He nodded, bagging her hands. "Did you yell at our techs?"
"Sure did. I heard Miami's crew yelled at Cascade's too."
"Oh, yeah. Trying to claim evidence and tried to switch the tapes so they got the worst copy." He groaned. "They're not the best up there and they know it. They try really hard though."
"Yeah to take the credit and do our jobs for us." He got finished and nodded at the paramedics, who he noted took the same path he did. "Thanks, boys."
"We were better trained," one assured him. "Unless there's a life currently in jeopardy." He grinned at that. "By the way, the big boss put out an all points to have you call him, Detective."
She groaned and called. "What!" she demanded. She listened. Then she snorted. "Yay me. Well, not like I can use the one at work since it's crappy too. Well, you either buy me a new one, let me use one that works, which that other one didn't, or you're paying me back for it, boss. Not like I'm not going to be claiming overtime too. You knew I wasn't nice when you were at the academy with me." She hung up and looked at him. "I need a computer upgrade."
"Most of your lab needs a computer upgrade," he assured her. "Even Grissom complained that they used more high-tech stuff back in the day."
She snickered. "Back in the days of fuming with little tin pans in the open?" He nodded, cracking a smile. "I agree, but I'm a footwork girl. Most of my stuff won't be solved in the labs. In the clubs, but not in the labs."
"I can't believe you bust in the clubs," he said, shaking his head sadly.
"Hey, it gets me what I need and want. Plus I get to have some fun," she offered with a manic grin. He smirked back. "In the old days, I used to go out in leather, invite my buddies, and we'd party while I arrested people. Now all my friends are out of the city so I can't invite them, but it's still soothing. Now if only I could fit into my old leathers. I looked *good*." He smiled and went back to work once the body was gone.
Speed walked into Major Crimes. "I'm here, no cheering, please," he ordered blandly. Jim smirked at him. "I'm here because Horatio is pissed. Where might your evil bitches of the lab be?"
"Hopefully in the lab and not out bothering the simple people," Jim offered, standing up. "I can take you down there."
"Please. You might wanna get Simon too." He nodded, calling him. "He out?"
"Meeting with the Mayor," he admitted with a grimace. "About this and the expenses we're going through. These cases are costly."
"Tell me about it. I got warned to find somewhere cheap to live while I'm here since I'm here for the duration of this case." Jim groaned. "They tried to screw with the evidence again and keep some of it from us. Horatio is *pissed*. I've never seen him that pissed."
"No wonder you got sent," Rafe said with a grin. "Want some coffee?"
"Nah, I'm good, man. Thanks anyway. I'll make some down there later, once I've set down the law." He smiled at Simon as he came in, followed by a white, fat, balding guy. "Horatio sent me after a long swearing session."
"What happened?" the balding guy asked.
"That's our mayor; Mayor Pritchard, this is Detective Timothy Speedle, from Miami's crime lab."
"Hey," he said, shaking his hand. "They withheld evidence and screwed with others." He winced at that. "Yeah. So I'm now assigned up here for this case. That way there's no more jealousy issues. Shall we?" Simon and Jim both nodded, leading him down there. "Any idea where I can get a cheap place with cable?"
"There's a cheap but decent motel down on fifth," Jim offered. "Not the best but some college students live there. It's also near some of the clubs and the park where our guy dumps."
"Wonderful. That'll work." They got off on the lab's floor and he walked into the lab. "Yo, listen up!" he called. Cassie and Sam both stared at him. "Horatio actually *swore* about you guys messing with the evidence." He pulled something out of his pocket and slapped it on the table. "The FBI is suspending you or they're taking all the federal funds from this department for the rest of your natural lives." They both went pale. "Anything on this serial is now *mine* and I'm going to be here every single damn day. So get used ta it."
"Let me see that please?" Simon requested. He handed it over with a smile. "Who in the FBI is working with us?"
"Triangle two has NCIS and FBI liaison officers. Their FBI liaison is a deputy director, Fornell?" Jim shuddered at that and turned away. "Catherine said he was decent and she said she's not seen many of them that could claim that. Said he was polite and even gave her a ride to her hotel that first night."
Simon handed it to his boss. "That's more than a threat, sir, they're under indictment."
"They'll have to be suspended then. Let me get the Chief of Police down here, Simon." He moved over to the phone to call him quietly. He glanced at Jim. "Can you handle this case?"
"I'm doing it so far anyway," he noted. "Sandburg's one of our major information sources. I'm more worried they'll come after him or Demoranth for that."
"Warrick's with her," Speed offered with a smirk. "He's from the lab is Las Vegas and he's very protective when need be, Ellison. He also said their lab was even behind this one. He was saying something about dinosaurs and lacking brakes." Simon snickered at that. "Yeah, they still have some typewriters in use."
"That poor city," Simon sighed. "I know Catherine had some problems getting computer gear that worked."
"Yeah, and then she went and bought it and they're going to reimburse her or else she's blackmailing their chief. She went to the academy with him and knows all his bad points." They shared a look and Speed smirked at the ladies. Then the Mayor came back and nodded at Simon. "We good?"
"We're good. He'll be right here." He looked at them. "Sit, ladies. It's going to be a few."
Ellison walked Speed off to the side. "What's your housing allowance?"
"Motel, cheap. Under eighty a night if possible." He nodded at that. "Where is this place?"
"It's better than some of the more midrange ones. It's also got some efficiencies. I'll drop you there on the way out to lunch. If they don't, there's two others in that range that don't have bugs. I wouldn't stay there but Blair said he has in the past."
"Blair's very adventurous. I'd prefer somewhere clean."
"Me too. That place is run by a family. A very old Chinese family. Former farmers. They're good to cops too. They call us whenever any little thing happens and stand there and clap."
"Then I'd like that," Speed agreed happily. "Anywhere good to get rentals?"
"You can sign one out," Simon assured him. "Save you guys some money too. I'm sure your boss is getting his butt chewed for his expenses too."
"No, they like Horatio. Horatio gets a lot of cases solved quickly and well. They tolerate his tech requests and beg to bend over and take it on expenses for cases like this. We're a tourist city and people don't visit with serial killers around." Simon smirked and nodded at that, understanding that mentality. "Which is why two of our labs now have monitor- less laser monitors."
"Laser projection monitors?" the redheaded Cassie asked. "Man, I'd kill for those."
"You can try to take out Horatio but I doubt you'd make it past Alexx," he offered. "Our ME is fiercer than most mothers guarding their cubs." Jim snickered at that. "Got one of those?"
"Sandburg's got a few on his case now and then about his diet."
"Yeah, but you got him," Speed snorted. Jim groaned and nodded. "Our next one is tomorrow?"
"Unfortunately," he sighed. "Moon dark." He looked over as the door slammed open, wincing at the sound of cracking glass. "Sir. This is Detective Timothy Speedle from Miami's crime lab."
Speed handed over the order. "They tampered with evidence, they withheld evidence. My boss went on a rip. He sent me up and the FBI sent me with that."
He read it over, then glared at the two heads of his lab. "You're suspended as of eight this morning. Simon, have them escorted. Detective Speedle, since you're here anyway, can you run this lab?"
"If I have to."
"Good. Do so." He handed it back. "I want *nothing* to stop us finding this sicko as soon as humanly possible." He glared at Ellison.
"I found a kill site for the last one," he reminded him. "We're already ahead because of that, boss."
"Good. Keep it up. Or else I'll suspend your ass too and make Sandburg work with Vice."
"No, you won't. He'll walk away first," Ellison assured him.
"You know, sir, Sandburg takes very good care of Ellison, but he's been nagging him about the quality of food in the snack machines that he has for lunch," Speed offered. "Apparently Detective Ellison is on some sort of diety thing and Sandburg is a nag."
"They'll be fixed too," he agreed, stomping out again. "Fix this, Simon. I don't want to have to come back to this room again!" The door slammed closed and some of the glass broke for real this time.
"Oooh, he's not happy," Simon said, shaking his head. The mayor shuddered and left. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Least I could do since I'll probably be living out of it too. Ladies?" Simon found Jim's handcuffs on his belt and took them to handcuff them, then drag them upstairs so someone could gather their things.
Speed looked at the other scared people. "I'm not that mean. I trained in Miami. I am a God of Forensics, just like Eric was, only I don't have that sweet and puppyish nature he does."
"Depressed, sulky, and pouty works for us," one of them offered. "Can you get us updated?"
"I'll try. You guys can do what you're good at, within reason, and I'm going to be working on the serial case. Anything paperworky hand me right before I go home. Anything else?"
"I'll call our missing people, sir, tell them to come back," that one offered.
"Good, but call me sir again and I'm sticking my foot up your ass. Speedle, Speed, hey you. It's all good." They nodded and smiled, going to call their cohorts back in and he got to work at his new station. He called Horatio. "I'm in charge. The Chief up here broke the door when I handed him the papers Fornell forwarded." He hung up and settled in to look over what they had so far.
"I'll come back for lunch," Jim promised. "Drop you off there."
"Thanks, man. I left my bags at reception."
"That's fine." He walked out, heading back to his desk. By now the whole station would know what had happened and those two evil wenches would never both him again!
Grissom looked up as his computer beeped, opening that email. "Someone come tell me what this is!" he called. He knew he wasn't the most technologically advanced. Greg Sanders, former DNA tech and now field tech, came in and looked. "What is that?"
"That's a movie, that's a verbal report, and you've got attachments that're copies of lab reports," he offered, opening everything where it should go and printing the reports. He looked at him. "How is Warrick liking Chicago?"
"He said the pizza's good and Catherine's a trip to work with," he admitted, watching the movie. "Did they change it?"
"Let me forward this to Archie," he offered, doing that. Then he called. "I forwarded the stuff Warrick sent from Chicago to you. Gris's screen is blurry. Thanks." He hung up. "By the time we get there, he'll have it up and running." He nodded, getting up to do that. Greg paused to gather the reports and hand them over. "Nick, verbal message from Warrick on Gris's computer," he called when he walked past that lab. "We're doing the video now."
"Thanks, Greggo." He went to listen to it then he'd watch the video later.
He followed Grissom into the AV lab, looking at the frozen picture. "Is it still fuzzy?"
"No, it got blurred at the front from the responding officers," he offered, playing it for them. Grissom got very close to the screen, letting him see everything. "I can zoom on anything you want, Grissom."
"No, for now I want the wider view. Greg, is that the same as the last one?"
"Looks nearly like it. Small difference in where some of the symbols are on the circle," he offered thoughtfully, grimacing some. "See, that one at the top was on the side before. By her right hand if I remember right. Archie, can you pull up the video of our last one?" That got a nod and he pulled it up on a different screen. "See, there it is, her right hand."
"So they shifted or did the body shift?" Grissom asked. He looked around the circle, comparing it. "It's the same circle."
"So the body shifted by some means," Greg agreed. "Okay, well, Catherine said that we were working with really ancient book knowledge. It could have shifted due to sun position or some obscure part of the ritual. Also, she's not posed." Grissom frowned and that part was replayed. The body was in a natural 'just dropped down' pose instead of posed like normal. "Could the patrol guys who messed up the scene have scared him off?"
"It's a possibility," Grissom admitted, looking over as Nick came back. "What was on the audio message?"
"They got a small description from the patrol guys. Not a great one. Gray hoodie, hunched over while he worked with the body. Sweat pants."
"He'd have to be skyclad to do the ritual," Greg reminded them. They looked clueless. "Naked, guys. He probably threw on something comfortable that he didn't have to worry about throwing out if it didn't come clean afterward." They still looked clueless. "Like tossing on sweats when the pizza delivery guy comes and you're changing clothes." They nodded at that. He rolled his eyes. "Anything else you can see, Archie?"
"Just one thing, Greg. Warrick's stills show a brush." He zoomed in on it then put it on the bigger screen. "No idea what that is yet."
"He said he might be sending stuff back for us to analyze," Grissom offered. "He called their labs stoneaged."
"He said more than that," Nick snorted. "The audio message said it was beaver." He looked at Greg, who shrugged. "Nothing that you remember from the briefings?"
"No, but I'm wondering if they had beavers in ancient Mesopotamia." Nick frowned. "Desert mostly, Nick. Would they have beavers? If not, could this be the interpretation that's distinguishing him from the others? Catherine emailed me and said that Miami's isn't being literal at times. That's his deviation on the ritual."
"Like how?" Grissom asked.
"His twins weren't twins, like identical or fraternal. But more like soul mates. She thinks if they looked, they'd find some sort of site in common that had personality profiles where they scored the same."
"Like the old Greek ideal?" Archie asked. "Where each soul was split in two and everyone was looking for their other half?"
"Yup," Greg agreed. "They're looking for the sites but they're having problems with one spouse. She said something about his wife being glad he was dead and stalling them."
"I hate spouses like that," Nick agreed. "Anything else?"
"Cascade found a kill site, their one with wood he went for a burned out building so the body had charcoal on it."
"Can we get tape of that?" Nick asked.
"Miami's got it," Greg told him. Nick grinned and went to call them. "Call Abby too, she might have a copy for us already," he called after him.
Greg looked at Grissom. "Any more edicts from on high?"
"Not yet. When is our next one?"
"Right after DC's. We've got eleven weeks before our next hit." That got a nod and Grissom went back to studying things. "I'll go write Catherine see if they've got anything new and ask that question about beavers." He went to do that, then got to work on his present case. Crime did not stop just because there was some nutjob with a knife out there.
Catherine looked at her email, then at Warrick since he was beside her on her couch. "Greg got everything and got Grissom into it. Nick listened to the audio." He smirked at that. "He wanted to know about the beaver hair brush. He thinks it could be our deviation. Would they have beavers back then?"
"I don't know." He considered it. "I'll look around." He ate another bite of noodles. "Thank you for putting me up."
"The department would've stuck you somewhere depressing and small, Warrick. You can get along with my cats so you're good with me. I'll even remember not to run around naked while you're here." He snickered and nodded his thanks. She wrote back to Greg, getting an 'okay'. "You know, we've seen some other deviations," she admitted, looking at him.
"The one with the crap?" he asked. She nodded. "You don't think he's making his touch tasteless jokes, do you?" She nodded. "Well...." He considered it. "I can't rule that out," he decided. He took the laptop and wrote to Abby, getting one back fairly quickly about their deviation being possible. That Tony had seen the same things. "You may be right. She said Tony caught the same vibe."
"I checked into his background from Peoria since he worked there. He was a frat brother and he probably had a guy like that in his frat," she offered, sipping her coffee. "Ask Greg. I'm sure he knows guys like that."
"Sometimes Greg is that guy," he admitted, writing that to him. He got back a snicker and an 'I hadn't wanted to suggest that but ...' from him. "He listed them all for us." She leaned over to look, resting her head on his shoulder. "I think you're right."
"Go me." They shared a smile. "I've got to go threaten an information source for stuff on Sunnydale," she offered, getting up and heading into her bedroom.
"No, I think you'd freak out."
"Why?" he asked.
"He's six and a half feet and he's furry. Really, really furry."
"Like a bear?"
"No, more like an albino mouse," she admitted. She came out in jeans, a t-shirt, boots, and her leather jacket. "I'll be back. Pet the kitties and keep Chocolate off my bed if you can." She grabbed her bike's keys and headed off. It was a nice night for a ride and the garage wasn't that far away. She pulled up outside it, listening to the music, shaking her head. She parked and got off her bike, heading in there. "I should arrest you punks for violating the noise ordinances," she yelled. The three big, huge, hairy mice men all gave her horrified looks. She took off her helmet and looked at them. "Who else comes here?" she demanded, turning down the stereo.
"Thank you," drifted down from upstairs.
"Welcome, Charley, it's me."
"Make Vinnie go away."
"Sure. Vinnie, I asked nicely," she prompted.
He swallowed. "No one wants to talk about that town, Catherine." He gave her a sheepish look then grinned. "Besides, it's more interesting here."
"Yeah, but the serial case I'm stuck with is there too." He grimaced. "And I'm thinking they've got more information over there since it's such a small town and Terrance used to say something about it then stop himself." She walked in further, putting her helmet on the work bench. "I need to know, Vinnie. You've got contacts that aren't hiding presently. Mine are all hiding from this guy."
"Are they targeting your kind?" the brown one with shades on asked.
"No clue, Throttle. Not a clue. You got any ideas about Sunnydale?"
"One. We've got a half-mouse there." She perked up at that. "No idea who. His father got stranded down here a few decades back. All he said about the mother was that earth liquor was evil."
"Often," she agreed, smiling some. "He have any idea about you guys?"
"He said he turned out just like his momma, mostly human," he said with a shrug. "I have no idea who he is."
"Pity." She looked at Vinnie again. "Please? It'll make sure we catch all three guys."
"Ahh, babe!" he complained. She tweaked his ear, making him shiver. "You know better."
"Yeah, and you know Charley's more my type than you, whitey." He grimaced, slugging her on the arm. "Ow, careful! I'm still fragile and sore." He shrugged and gave her another sheepish grin. "Please? I need this, Vinnie. We've got three serial killers working in three triangles and that one's filled with people who don't want to work together or catch him."
"Would he give up if the others were caught?" Throttle suggested.
"Probably not. Besides, I figure this is a smaller town. Just over fifteen hundred people listed by the census. It's got to be better known there than it is here."
"I wouldn't be too sure," Modo offered from his spot working on his arm. He grinned at her. "All I've heard is that it's a strange spot. Bad things happen there often."
"Of course they do, that's why they've got a thirty percent homicide rate." He looked stunned. She nodded. "Yeah, they do. I'm expecting the bad to be something occult, that's not an issue. But for my contacts to be so scared they can't piss? That's bad."
"I'll ask again, babe," Vinnie offered, wrapping his tail around her so he could give her a hug. "Now what's this I hear you've got a *boy*friend?"
"Warrick? He's the CSI on loan from Las Vegas for this case. It saved him being in some little hole of a motel room." He grimaced at that. "Besides, even Chocolate likes him now. He gives good ear scratches. Maybe you should ask, fluffy." He shook his head, letting her go. She hit him on the arm, making him yelp. "Poor baby, won't the pros do it for you anymore?" she taunted. "Are you sleeping with your exhaust pipe again?"
Throttle and Modo both snickered at that, backing away.
"Meany," Vinnie pouted.
She nodded. "Me, mean? Who'd have thought?" She smirked. He tried to pounce her but she dodged and landed on his back in finest cop fashion, pinning him down. "Awww, did the baby mouse go boom?" Vinnie's bike beeped at him. "Oh, relax, I'm playing with him." She gave his head a nudge into the concrete floor. "If you were a better boy like your momma always wanted, you'd get more play." She got off him and grabbed her helmet. "Call me, I'm working from home. Have fun with your lady, Vinnie," she said with a wink and a wave.
"Hey!" he complained.
"She *so* burned you, bro," Throttle joked. Vinnie growled and pounced him, soothing his macho ego by beating up on his bros so they'd quit laughing.
Don Flack looked up at the quiet cough, nodding at Calleigh. "So they sent us the pretty and overly competent ones?"
"Sure did. Speed's in Cascade until this is solved. They tried to keep evidence back a second time and Horatio ripped them a new one," she said fondly, grinning at him. "Their mayor and the FBI got into it thanks to the guy in DC, so they're both suspended and Speed's running that lab at the moment." She set her case and bag down. "So, I'm here," she sighed. "I have a housing allowance and no idea where I'm staying. I thought maybe you guys would know of a good spot."
"I'd offer my couch but you'd think I was hitting on you," he teased.
"Probably true but it wouldn't be the first time it's happened." He laughed at that. "Where's the others? I know it's today."
"They're pacing and restless in the lab. I can bring you that way." He grabbed her bag, she would be possessive of her scene kit, and led the way to the lab, smiling at the officers who stared at her. "She's a gun tech," he called finally. "She can shoot you and laugh." They quit staring at her ass. "Sorry, some guys, ya know?"
"Oh, I know," she assured him. "Even in the land of tans and fake boobs, I still get play." He grinned at that, holding open the door for her. "Ah, no more lab withdrawal," she offered, smiling at Mac and the other guy with him. "Hi, Calleigh Duquesne, Miami. Up for the scene today. Hi, Mac." She gave him a hug. "Speed's taken over Cascade's lab and their evil brats are now suspended."
"I heard," he agreed fondly. "You can drop your bag in my office. No one would dare touch it." She nodded, taking it and following him. "By the way, this is Sheldon Hawkes, our newest CSI level one." He waved and smiled.
"Got a speciality?" she asked.
"I'm a former ME."
"Man, Alexx would be yelling," she offered, making him laugh. "How are you finding it?"
"Interesting. I heard Don say you were a ballistics tech?" She laughed and nodded.
"I was being nice and shooing off the leaches we work with who were starin' at her ass," he complained from behind them.
"They can stare all they want, it's touching I mind," she assured him, punching him on the arm. "You're nearly as protective as Eric is of me."
"Some men are like that," Mac offered, opening his office door. Danny and Stella jumped up and the other team member just looked up from her reading. "Horatio sent Calleigh. Speed's taken over Cascade."
"Good," Danny agreed. "I heard what the evil bitches there did with the evidence." He shook her hand. "We're waiting."
"It sucks, I know," she agreed. She handed over some information. "From NCIS and Catherine. Grissom sent Warrick with her since their labs weren't up to their standards. Or ours."
"Chicago's labs are kinda behind," Mac agreed grimly. "Which one is Warrick?"
"That big, tall, hunk of dark chocolate who can play the piano like a god," she told him. He nodded, accepting that. "That's how he described himself to us," she told Sheldon, who snickered at that. "He said he's at her place playing with her cats." She squealed. "They found their deviation. It's on the disk from NCIS. He's got a frat boy humor thing going. Their last was a prostitute for one of the female ones and he left a beaver brush. She said they've found excrement at a few others and things. So that's their deviation."
"Better than our guy who's got a passing familiarity with Greek myths and culture so he's subbing that way," Stella offered, waving at her. "I'd hug you but Danny's in the way."
"That's okay. We can have dinner when we're done." Stella nodded, liking that idea. "Who's your little corner mushroom?"
"Lindsey Monroe. Newly transferred in," Danny offered. "Monroe, this is Calleigh from Miami." She waved. Calleigh waved back. "Anything good on here?"
"Did you get the stuff from Cascade's kill site?" They all nodded. "Good. Eric wouldn't say how Ellison found it from the wood sample but he did. Something about olives was all he muttered."
The phone rang and they all tensed as Mac answered it. "Taylor." He listened and noted the address. "Thank you. Don't touch a thing." He hung up. "He switched parks." They followed him out, taking their scene kits. "How's Horatio doing?"
"He's frustrated by the pseudo-Greek things. It's like anything you can get from Tidbits on Greek Culture. Like they got the Greek for Dummies book and they're highlighting the parts that made them hot." She glanced back at Stella, who shrugged. She was Greek but some of that was very ancient knowledge. "Speed thinks he got so interested in Greek culture because he's gay. I don't know where he got that though."
"Could be," Stella admitted. "It's fairly shallow knowledge." She looked at Don as he jogged ahead. "We've got vehicles checked out."
"Yeah, and I'm driving one," he called back. "Or else I'd have to let you drive."
"No fair," Danny called. "It's my turn, Flack."
"Yeah, bite me," he called back.
"Kids," Calleigh called. "Not now. Fight later. And no choruses of 'he's looking at me' or 'he's touching me' or 'he's kicking my seat' please." They all laughed at that. "Eric's family all came to see him and they piled out of the car with that. Horatio and I both ran for cover." She got into the back of one of the SUV's, sliding over and buckling up. She smiled at Monroe. "So, do you have a speciality yet?"
"Not yet. Right now I'm staying general but I like non-firing weapons. We've had a case with a bow and with swords."
"Swords are cool," Calleigh agreed happily. "We've had a few of those. Last year, we had knights, in chainmail, jousting in the park for a play practice and some guys came up and knocked one down, took his sword, got him then the other guy. His armor was too heavy for him to run far. He said they were dishonoring the blades by using them without knowledge. Needless to say, we laughed at him as we locked the doors on his psych cell." Lindsey cracked a smile at that. "We get *tons* of stupid people in Miami. They come for the sun and stay for the killings."
"That's always encouraging," Mac agreed. He started his SUV and headed off, letting Don and the rest of the team follow in their truck. "We're going to Queens. I hope no one needs a bathroom break either."
"No, we're big girls, we can hold it, Mac," Calleigh promised, grinning at him. He grinned back and took the right corner to head off.
Calleigh walked back into her unit with a nice sized box, handing it to Horatio. Danny followed and handed over his. "We found our own kill site. It was really close by. He was being lazy." He smiled at that, carrying the boxes gladly to the labs. "Danny's down for our next one. Then he's heading to Cascade for theirs."
"That's fine," he agreed. "Welcome to Miami, Danny. Be sure to wear sunscreen."
"Oh, I put some on before I got off the plane," he promised, grinning at him. "I wonder if Speed's got them all into grunge gear up there yet."
"They were probably already there," Calleigh offered. She signed them both in. "This is Detective Messer from New York's lab. He's going to be in and out." That got a nod and she led him back. She took his arm. "Eric, Danny's in and I brought you presents."
"Can I dive for any of it?"
"No, sorry. Maybe next time since our next one is leading back to water."
"Yeah, maybe," he agreed, joining them in the lab with her lab coat and a spare. "Hey, Danny."
"Hey, Eric." They shook hands and grinned. "You wouldn't believe it but she made Mac laugh on the way to the site."
"They were all lurking in his office and pacing," she complained. "You gotta loosen up some, Danny."
"New York is all about the tension," he reminded her with a grin and a wink. "Miami is where we come when we snap and can't take it anymore." Horatio laughed at that. "So, we have one from the scene, that's your half and reports. We've got one from the kill site, that's your half and reports. We faxed everything we had to Speed and samples where we could and he wanted to compare something. We also sent everyone on the contact list video of both sites. She's right, he got lazy. We could see this kill site from the dump site."
"I like it when they're lazy," Eric admitted, cracking open the box marked 'kill site' and pulling out the video. "Want this one first, H?"
"Go ahead, Eric. There's bound to be more variation there." He looked at the two blonds. "Anything spectacular at the dump?"
"Yes," she agreed, smiling at him. "A hair sample that matches *nothing*." He smirked at that. "And I do mean nothing. We searched in every database available, even the Interpol one. Nothing and no one."
"Color?" Eric asked as he keyed the video.
"Blond dyed red," Danny said, making them stare. "And get this, they're breaking the God's laws."
"It's female on male hormones by analysis," Calleigh offered.
"So that means they either didn't get the heavy proscriptions that's every other page or she thinks she's man enough?" Eric asked, looking at them. They nodded. "Or it's not related."
"Either's possible," Danny agreed. "The kill site was used as a flop house for a while. It's possible it came from there."
"But he's supposed to clean and prepare the area for the kill," Horatio offered, knowing where he was going. "Did you call Catherine?"
"Yes, and I haven't heard swearing like that *ever*. Not even with the gang kids in my high school did I hear swearing like that. Even Warrick got stunned and told her to calm down, handing her one of her cats so he could take the phone from her. Her cat was meowing pitifully at the mommy."
Horatio smirked brighter. "Interesting. He's in Chicago?"
"Substandard lab," Calleigh told him. "Warrick and I talked last night. He called it Flintstone era. They might have animals inside the machines to take tastes and things but he's scared to look." He laughed at that and Eric giggled. "So he's there and sending stuff back to Vegas when need be. Did you get the memo that they've found their deviation?" Eric shook his head.
"Frat boy humor," Danny said smugly. "He left a beaver hair brush at the last female killing."
"Some crap at others," she added. He burst out in new giggles. "They've got a clue at least."
"Yeah, their guy Tony at NCIS found the link we needed to start seriously tracing the elements they're using. Stella's been doing most of that for anyone in the city. I've got a few down here I need ta question too."
"Of course, Danny. Borrow one of our guys," he ordered. Danny nodded at that. "No luck so far?"
"Stella's had no luck, most of them have been of the crystal pyramid wearing variety. She did say a few scared her but they all claimed they were into Crowley?"
"Take hardcore S&M, emphasis on sadism side, and add magic," Calleigh told him. He shuddered at that. "That's Crowley."
"Good ta know it was a good reason ta spook her." He stretched. "Go ahead and play it, Eric. We've seen it." He nodded, hitting the play command. They watched it go past. "All heading to where the sun would've been at the time of the kill," Danny noted, pointing at the path of the footsteps with the laser pointer. "All the instruments had been laid at that meeting point too."
"So, Alexx was right," Horatio said, tipping his head slightly. "Is that another charm?"
"Same one, different day," Calleigh said. "Since we've got the last one, Mac's keeping this new one."
"I've tried to track it down here, no luck yet," Eric offered. "I sent Speed a high resolution photo of it and he's asking around up there with Ellison and Sandburg. Apparently it's become their case and only their case now."
"Their crime didn't stop either, Eric," Horatio said quietly.
"I know, but they're counting heavily on them now," Eric countered. "They're only doing this one. All his other open cases got farmed out." Calleigh looked at him. "I asked."
"That does say a lot to me," Calleigh agreed. "Okay, what can this help us with?"
Horatio replayed it, watching it again. "His deviation," he said, pointing at something. There was a Greek symbol in the ancient ones. A 'beta'.
Warrick got up with a groan to answer the door, watching all but one of the cats run and hide. He gave the biker on the other side a polite look. He couldn't be anything but. Leather gloves, leather jacket, t-shirt, jeans, his helmet was still on. "Yeah?"
"Is Catherine up?"
"She's in the tub, she's not feeling well. Can I give her a message?"
"Nah, I need ta talk to her. Can you tell her it's Vinnie?"
"You wanna come in?"
"Nope. Her cats don't like me."
Warrick stared at him. He knew they hated people but they had good taste in who they did like. "Why don't they like you?"
"She said my natural scent confuses them."
"Oh. Okay. Stay there." He closed the screen and went to the bathroom, tapping on the door. "Catherine, it's some guy named Vinnie?"
"Tell him to get his tail in here, I'll be out in a minute."
"Sure." He walked back that way. "She said to get your tail in here, that's a quote."
He chuckled. "She likes my tail, most girls do." He walked in but still kept his helmet on. The one cat that had been trying to be friendly ran off. "Told ya so." He sat down, waiting patiently.
"You could take off the helmet and jacket."
"No I can't."
"Take it off, Vinnie. He won't freak. He's a crime scene guy. He's probably seen odder than you."
"Babe, we're supposed to be hiding," he reminded her. She came out in pajamas. "Are you all right? You look like crap, babe."
She took his helmet off him, looking down at him. "It's the lack of sleep."
He sniffed her. "You sure? You smell off too. Maybe you should see someone." She swatted him. "Ow! Handle the merchandise gently, sweetheart!"
"Oh, quit," she sighed, sitting down next to him but facing him. "What's going on?"
"First, what is he?" Warrick asked. "Marsupial?"
"Mouse," he said with a faint grin. "Which is what confuses her cats. With a studly bod like mine on a mouse, they're not happy cats. They can't pounce." His tail flicked and one did grab it, making him look down. "Figured you were close to protect the mommy, Nessa." He looked at her again. "Found you a source in Sunnydale and it's your sort."
"Oooh, gimme." He handed over the paper. "What's he into?"
"Strange crap, just like you."
"Like.... what?" Warrick asked, sitting down before he fell over. It was not every day a boy like him, from the ghettos in Las Vegas, saw a six and a half foot talking white mouse. "When she said furry, I thought biker bear guy. The type you see in clubs."
"I told you he was a mouse." She looked at the paper, then at him. "Which part of the spectrum is he in?"
"Vampires. The town's full of them," he said flatly, staring at her. "If you go, we're not going with you. That is one road trip that even Modo won't go on, babe."
She shrugged. "I can stake with the best of them."
"Are you sure you're all right?"
"It's lack of sleep, Vinnie. He likes to dump bodies in the early morning and you know my body doesn't like to cooperate."
"Uh-huh and the fact that you smell like sickening fruit gum?"
"That's her blood sugar," Warrick admitted. "I'm dragging her to see someone tonight at the ER." She glared at him. "I can't have you collapsing, Catherine. Tough. Suck it up. If you collapse, we're all lost."
"Fine," she complained. "The doctor said it's fluctuating. I'm doing okay with my diet."
"What diet? You haven't eaten yet today!" he complained, getting up to fix that problem now. "Go ahead, Vinnie, I can still hear you."
"Sure." He pointed at the kitchen.
"That's Warrick, from the Vegas crime lab. I told you about him."
"You told him I was a mouse?"
"You've seen the bear clubs." He nodded, smirking at that. "He asked if you were like that when I didn't bring him to the last time I showed up. I told him no, you were more like an albino mouse. It wasn't a lie."
"Good point." He shook his head. "We're still supposed to be keeping a low profile."
"Not like he'll say anything. No one back home would believe him."
"Except Greg and maybe Hodges," Warrick called. "Every now and then Hodges comes out with something that no one else would believe."
"Greg...." Vinnie called.
"Oh, yeah, Greggy poo. Yeah, he knows Throttle." Warrick came out of the kitchen, staring at him. "Long story and not mine to tell, man. I wasn't there, only heard it second hand, but it had a lot of fingercombing his fur to make sure it was real." Warrick moaned and headed back into the kitchen. He grinned at Catherine. "That's one of the best reactions yet."
"Yeah. I bet." She tweaked his cheek. "So, any link back to the Watchers?"
"That Rupert guy is one of them."
"Yes!" she said, getting up to hop around. He grinned and enjoyed the view. "Quit watching the tits bounce, pervert," she ordered, swatting him again. She beamed. "Warrick, we're off for a few days, right?"
"Yup. You're still seeing someone tonight, or else I'm calling Gibbs."
"Ooh, a new girlfriend?" Vinnie teased.
"No!" She snorted. "The guy in NCIS we're working with. He's a Marine."
"Ah. Okay." He got up and hugged her. "That's the best I could do, sweetheart."
"Better than I had before. Mentioning this town is the only time I've ever seen a born and bred Wiccan cross herself." He grinned at that. "Want lunch?"
"Nah, no hotdogs, no rootbeer. It's not good for studly mice like me." He winked and grabbed his helmet, walking off again. "Once you're right again, come back to the garage and ride with us, babe. We miss you."
"I miss you big goofballs too." She locked the door behind him. "The big fuzzy mouse is gone, guys. You can come out now." She headed into the kitchen. "You don't have to..."
He picked her up and put her back on the couch. "Sit there." He went back into the kitchen, finishing up the simple salad, and came back to make sure she ate it. "Eat!"
"Fine," she complained, digging in. "No dressing?" He sighed and went to get her some, handing over the bottle. "Thank you, Warrick."
"If it's your blood sugar you've got to take care of that, Catherine. You know that." She nodded, eating another bite of the heavily ranch dressing'd lettuce. He went to call Grissom to see if he could ask their ME for a recommendation of where he should take her. Apparently her doctor was too permissive.
Catherine got out of the cab and looked at the modest building in front of her. "Thank you,"she offered, tipping him and heading to the door with her briefcase in hand. She found the right one, tapping quietly on it. A middle aged man opened it, giving her a surprised look. "I'm Detective Catherine Demoranth, Chicago. We've got a case that's coming out here and your agency's books have led us to the clues so far. May I?" He got out of the way and she walked in, smiling at him. "I'm a Vice cop, way too much sunlight out here for me." She dug out the briefing packet and handed it to him. "I know you guys have one here. You're the tip of the third triangle, their power point. I don't know why, no one would tell me that, but you are." She sat down, letting him read it. At one point he gave her a horrified look. "I studied under a Professor Terrance and he left most of his books to my college. That's where we found that information so far. I'm hoping you guys have more to clear up some issues we've had and you know who you can brief out here so New Orleans and Montreal have some support on this end. By the way, do the Watchers never answer their mail for help?"
"Hardly ever," he admitted, sitting down across from her. "How did you come to know about us?"
"I'm Chicago's occult and cult expert, Mr. Giles. It took me *weeks* to find your name." He smiled at that. "I still don't know why this town is the only non-city on the pattern or what's so special about it. I'm willing to learn though."
"Yes, well, rather not my secret to tell," he offered.
"Not good enough," she assured him then she smirked. "I scare the piss out of drug dealers, pimps, and most of the FBI in this country. You're gonna have to do better than that."
He nodded. "I figured I might. Ever run across mention of Hellmouthes?"
"I have. This is?" He nodded. "That explains all I need to know. You're the guy assigned here?"
"Formerly," he admitted with a small smirk. "You really are rather blunt. I must say it's a nice change from the teenagers around me."
"I'm this way because I deal with drunk teenagers all the time, Mr. Giles."
"Rupert, please. I do have some on this subject but not a lot." He got up to search through some boxes, bringing out the books. She got up to look and moved three of them out of the way. "He had those?"
"Oh, yeah. Spent a whole night reading through them with a TA from the Latin department." He smiled at that. "Not my area. I'm neopagan without a tradition to follow." She sat down and took one she hadn't seen, smiling at the information. "This one may prove the most helpful yet. It says something about the sun angles we've found."
"We?" he asked.
She looked up at him. "My city is the power point in triangle two. Triangle one is Miami, Cascade, and New York. Cascade is their power point. Mine's also got DC and Vegas. Yours has New Orleans and Montreal."
"Ah. I see." He nodded, accepting that. "Not thrilling."
"No, but I'm one of the two main researchers on this matter. The other being Sandburg."
"Blair or Naomi?"
"Blair. His mother's somewhere in Brazil trying to keep them from cutting down the rainforest."
"Ah, wonderful. How did you find me?" he asked, heading into the kitchen to put on some water. "Would you like some tea?"
"No thanks. I had a soda on the plane." She yawned and looked at him. "Sorry, I work nights." He smiled at that and she pulled out a pen and notepad to start making notes. Including the name, title, and copyright date of the book. He came out with a few more books, making her smile. "I've written them in the past to help with other occult matters. You haven't lived until you've played 'how do you kill the ten foot sludge monster' with two really scared patrol officers who've just shit themselves."
"Swords. I find that and wood are the most common," he offered.
She looked at him. "I know that, now." He chuckled. "I found you through a friend in Chicago named Vincent VanWham."
"Who would be.... Is he a practioner?"
"No, a mouse."
"He's one of those bloody Martians!" he demanded. She smirked and nodded. "How did they know me?"
"One of them crashed back here years ago and left an offspring who's looking fully human as of this point. All he said to them was earth alcohol was evil. Apparently they've been searching for the kid or he's got some contacts down in one of the vampire bars. It figures they'd have to go to one of the upper class demon bars so they wouldn't get attacked for being Martian."
"Good point," he admitted, blinking hard. He pulled off his glasses to clean them. "Any idea who the offspring is?" She handed over the envelope Throttle had put on her bike before she left. He opened it and read, then blanched. "Oh, I dare say I know him. That does explain so much about that boy." He folded it and put it away. She smirked at him. "They want to meet him."
"Sure. They're in Chicago at the Last Chance Garage most of the time. Have him sent to me and I'll find 'em if they're out playing and give him over. He in trouble?"
"Now and then," he admitted blandly. "We, the Watchers, have documented them crashing before. I'll have to see if we knew about his father." He got up to call England. "Patricia, Rupert, love. No, but I've had a detective come up to me. No, the Verunth rituals are going on and Sunnydale's part of triangle three. Buffy had reported a few bodies that way...."
"They're usually dumped during the day in the other cities."
"Yes, well, with our luck it's a vampire doing ours," he admitted.
"That's okay, New York found a hair from a transexual female taking hormones to change over," she offered, getting back to work.
He listened to the voice on the phone. "No, a Detective Demoranth. She's Chicago's cult and occult expert, Patricia. Yes, she had written before and was quite peeved no one answered. Thank you, dear. No, she's one of their information sources and came to me for some more. No, apparently we were wrong and Terrance did give that college he taught at his books." She nodded, smirking at him. "Also, I need the Martian notes from around the late seventies and early eighties. No, but I think I've found mention of an offspring in her city." He smirked. "Tonight if possible since she's here. Yes, they had a lot of information but not some of the odd things, like the sun pointing and that stuff." He looked over the sheets. "They're each deviating?" She nodded. "Do you know why?"
"They found it in books and don't know the true power behind absolute faith I'd suppose. I can tell you they're not shielding magically. I had someone check at our last one."
"That's good at least," he admitted. He looked at her. "Yes, that's her." He smirked. "I doubt she considers that a *bad* thing, Patricia. Please, love. I need it now. We're the third point and New Orleans and Montreal probably aren't cooperating yet."
"Montreal is doing theirs but New Orleans isn't looking outside their city at the moment. With a town this size, it'll be easier to catch him." She looked over. "Your next one should be in three days."
"I'll have my girl on alert." He listened to the voice on the other end. "No, she's copying information. Because they're still killing normal people, Patricia. The police are involved in stopping this."
"And the FBI and NCIS," she said blandly. "One point of mine is DC. They had snafu constipation until the two bastards out there took it over and made everyone go pout in the corners." He snickered at that. "Gibbs is."
"You know Jethro?"
She smirked. "Yup, I even brought someone back so he could yell at them before."
"Wonderful. Do tell him I said hello and to write me out here." She pointed at the sheet and he found his email address. "Ah, those computer things."
"Have your kids get onto their site and find his physical address at work, Rupert."
"You can do that?"
"Yup, works well."
He smiled and nodded. "I can do that." He smiled at the assertion. "Thank you, Patricia." He hung up. "You're seen as a thorn in their side."
"Go me. Another point for the good guys," she said sarcastically, making him chuckle and go to get his tea. Someone slammed open the door and she reached for her gun on instinct. "You are?"
"I should ask the same question," the boy said, staring her down.
"It's him, isn't it?" Giles nodded. She looked at him. "I'm Detective Demoranth. From Chicago. I know one of your relatives."
"A good one?"
"Your natural father's people. Come look at something, tell me where he's dropping them." He came over and looked at the sheets. "You're one of our points."
He frowned. "The main park. Out by the pond," he said, handing it back. "We've had a few and the local cops are confused."
"They should be. It's a serial killer." He groaned. "A normal human one even." Giles came back. "Should I brief them?"
"Please. They won't believe me." He sat down, looking at the pictures. "If we're triangle three, these three marks are dissimilar." She nodded, looking at him. He wrote out their marks. "Those are our triangles'." She smiled at that and made note of that, then got back to work copying from the book. "I could let you borrow them."
"They'd end up in Sandburg's office or mine, Rupert."
"Well, if you do bring Xander with you to meet his relatives, he could bring them back in a week or so," he offered. Xander gave him an odd look. "It's a very strong family on that side."
She looked at him. "What color is your fur? The only guys I know are white, tan, and gunmetal gray." He backed off, eyes wide. "But hey, you don't have the tail. Or ears I guess. Or the antenna. I'm shocked at that."
"They're hidden," he squeaked. "That and my tail. How did you know?" She pulled out a picture and put it in front of him. He looked and blinked then stared at her. "I'm related to them?"
"The tan one's got a good friend who came down here and got really drunk. All he ever told them was 'earth liquor is evil' and left it there. If you've got family, they'd know."
"Okay," he said slowly, sitting down to look more carefully at the pictures. "My antenna aren't that long."
She looked at him. "It's not like dick size, kid. Get over it. Vinnie'll brag about tail size now and then so apparently that compares, but you'll do. They know you're half human." He blushed. "I'm a Vice cop. I'm blunt. I deal with drunks your age who're doing bad things." He nodded, still blushing. She looked at Rupert. "You're sure?"
"Quite. Once you've briefed the local town." She smirked and shook her head. "No?"
"Nah, I'm letting Fornell earn his daily bread." She called him on her cell. "It's me, put down the coffee. I'm in Sunnydale." He spluttered. "I told you to put it down, Fornell. They're ignoring it as just another strange thing that happens here. You get to come brief while I look over some new reference sources I found out here and take some kid back to his relatives." She winked at Xander. "Well, I wouldn't come in at night," she offered. "At night it's really dangerous. Sure, if you bring Helena and she's got stakes." She smirked at his laughter. "Guns won't work, Fornell. Plan on coming in and flying out again. Nope, local sources say they're dumping them by the duck pond. If you faxed it they'd probably ignore it again. I know I did fax it and I haven't heard back."
"Could be the cop got eaten," Xander offered dryly. He shrugged at her look. "It happened recently." He looked at Giles. "You'll need me to help hunt him down, Giles."
"If he's a normal, Xander, it wouldn't do more than get in the way of the officers if they decide to do something about it. If not, then we will." Xander nodded. He took the picture to look at. "I've never seen fur on you."
"I shave it weekly."
She laughed. "Thanks, Fornell. I'll be updating information within a week." She hung up and dialed a number, handing him the phone. "Ask for Throttle."
"Um, hi, is Throttle there please?" He smiled at the pleasant voice. "I know but this insane and very blunt cop lady said to talk to him, ma'am."
"Charley, put him on. This is his friend's kid," she called.
He smiled at the new voice that took the phone. "Are you Throttle?" He grimaced. "He's out, Catherine."
"Cool. Tell motor mouth there that I'm bringing you with me for a vacation, yes, they're putting you up."
"She said she's dragging me kicking and screaming back there whether or not this shakes my world up and you're putting up with me." He grinned at the assertion they could do that. "She said I shouldn't be jealous that my antenna are shorter. Is she right?" He chuckled and nodded. "Thanks. When are we coming back?"
"She said tomorrow morning. No, she's copying from Giles' books. Apparently she's going to risk her life here tonight. Sure, I'll keep track of her for you."
"I'm fine, Vincent. I can stake a vampire if necessary." She groaned and shook her head, getting back to work. "Worrywarts with fur," she muttered.
He laughed and nodded, hanging up. "He said I'm to make sure you eat properly because your blood sugar is still probably high and Warrick's worried that you took off and only left a note with him and the cats."
"I left a note. Besides, my cats like him." She shook her head. "I'm fine, kid. I just need to eat better."
"Sure, we can make sure you do that, can't we, Giles?"
"Of course. I wouldn't plan on staying at the motel. It's infested at the moment."
She smirked at him. "Wouldn't be the first one I staked, Rupert. It'll be fine. Though I'll probably collapse over the books." He smiled at that. "Thanks. Kid, go pack." He nodded, going to do that, leaving the picture there. "Huh, I'd have taken it to ask his mother."
"They don't live together," he assured her. "She's not exactly a rolemodel we appreciate."
"Better and better." She yawned again and got back to work, going a bit faster now.
He got up to get her some coffee, realizing what that look meant. She had been up all night and was into her sleep time now. She smiled at him and he patted her on the back. "The others should be here relatively soon. Copy whatever you need, my dear." He went back to searching and reading.
To part 2: