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Welcome to the world of Syn City, where magic is a thing, a host of races walk the streets, and the hardworking detectives of the SCPD are tasked with keeping the peace in a city where, on occasion, shoplifting means lifting an actual shop.
Looking for the beginning of the story? Click HERE.
A flash of light, followed hard by a splat of sound, had Kai jumping from his bed.
His chest heaved, sweat iced over his skin. His heart beat a quick tattoo while the roar of flames echoed in his ears. His mouth was cotton dry and he could still feel the dry rasp of scales moving under his skin.
Then his eyes slid from the remembered nightmare to the waking now to see he was in his own place, standing next to his own rumpled bed.
“Shit,” he said, the silence of his apartment broken by the frantic thud of his heart, the rasp of his breath, and the the occasional creak of the radiator.
Unable to think, he crouched on the floor, cradling his head in his hands as he tried to excise the phantasm of the dream from the reality that had inspired it.
Still crouching, Kai forced his breath to slow as he recalled the events of the prior shift—the comm from Dispatch, the ruin of the Commulet Emporium—the sleet falling as Kai raced down Mercy Street.
The heart-stopping shock when the suspect, seeing Kai on his tail, had thrown that airen into the street.
Eyes closed, Kai saw it happen again. Again heard the surprised shouts, the screech of brakes, the thud of of the taxi’s buffer charm bouncing against flesh.
He recalled now how the anger had sparked, pushing him into the alley after that dryk.
But unlike the dream, when the dryk’s cantrip knocked over that stack of crates, Kai had twisted to avoid the tumbling mass, then continued the pivot to approach the suspect from the side. From there he’d loosed the dart rope with a hissing whip, binding the wizard’s arms mid-spell and pulling him off his feet, causing the cantrip to backfire.
Kai had waited for the spell to fizzle out before stepping over to the twitching suspect to cuff him and deliver the standard Mithra rights.
Not that the dryk heard, as he’d been raving about strings and brains and— possibly—the end of the world.
In other words, no dragon… no fire… no death.
Last Kai had seen of the man eventually identified as Dr. Ashlan Delaven, he’d been under guard in the warded section of University Hospital, where he would remain until the docs released him for booking.
Remembering the hospital, and the dull pallor of the dryk’s skin as he was hooked up to an IV, Kai sat back on his haunches, the movement reminding him he was A) Naked and B) crouching on his bedroom floor in the middle of the night.
Kai knew for a fact that Alex could, and often did, cop a squat for hours at a time on a stakeout, but since he didn’t share her lycan genes, he took a deep breath and rose, slowly easing up to his full height before glancing at his bedside clock, which was blinking continuously on 04:21.
The blinking clock reminded him of the electric snap that had woken him, the kind that came from a power outage.
Or, another power outage, given there had been several interruptions in the Syn City grid over the past few weeks.
Syn City Thaumic & Electric claimed it was a case of aging infrastructure, the Thaumic Electric Union said it was due to cutbacks.
All Kai knew was, the outages were becoming more frequent.
With a grimace, he scrubbed his face with his hands and strode to his bedroom window. Lifting the curtain, he discovered that the day’s sharp sleet had transformed to a whispering fall of snow which filled the air, blanketed the road, and gleamed in the light of the street lamps, so the entire street glowed like a pearl.
He stood another moment, taking in the view.
A handful of brownstones, broken up by another handful of businesses that catered to the neighborhood; the grocery, the charm store, the coffee shop where Kai habitually grabbed his morning cup on the way to the precinct, and the pub where he sometimes grabbed a beer after his shift.
But now, at this quiet hour, they were all closed, windows shuttered and locks glowing with security spells.
The stoops and eaves of the buildings were already covered with snow and, in front of one of the residences was an abandoned tricycle, slowly disappearing under the steady fall.
Beyond the street the rest of Syn City glowed quietly in the snow, a bit brighter around the nocturne district, midtown, and looking for all the worlds like the snow globes the tourist places sold.
It seemed quiet but Kai knew, somewhere in that peaceful expanse, crime was happening.
Even as he thought this, his service commulet sparked to life, the bright glow accompanied by the Dispatch tri-tone.
“You have got to be shitting me,” Kai said aloud.
The commulet chimed again and, resigned, he crossed to the bedside table, flipped on the table lamp and tapped the comm. “Chance, here,” he said, dropping to the mattress as he grabbed his notebook and pencil.
<Dispatch, DI Chance, report to 1818 Mercy near University Square.>
Kai’s hand jerked at the sound of the address, breaking the lead. “Sorry, Dispatch, can you repeat that address?”
<1818 Mercy… we have a code six-six-three.>
Six-six-three was a suspicious death.
<Chance, Dispatch, do you copy?>
“Yeah—yes. Sorry, Max. Copy that. Have you contacted SI Capek?”
<Chance, Dispatch, negative that. SI Capek is on personal time… family illness.>
“Shit.” Kai straightened, clutched the broken pencil as he recalled Alex telling him about Bobby’s headaches. “Why didn’t she call me?”
<Chance, Dispatch, how the shel would I know?>
“Dispatch, Chance, again, sorry. I’ll handle it. Chance out.”
He clicked off the commulet even as Max called out, <But—>
Once the comm was closed, he sat a moment longer, staring at the partial address he’d scribbled.
Burning nightmares, a suspicious death at the scene of yesterday’s arrest, and his partner was stuck at home dealing with—well, whatever she was dealing with.
Could the night get any worse?
At which point he rose from the mattress and, out of habit drilled in by his mothers, turned to make the bed, which was when saw the sheets had been singed, as if left under an iron for too long.
And the discoloration matched the shape of his body.
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