Inspector Cabanela stared out his office window as a chill winter rain pelted against it and ran in rivulets down the glass. He cupped his tea, finding himself in an oddly pensive mood despite the mounting tension, worry and excitement.
It was a single quiet moment—likely to be the only one this night. After five long years the final night was here. Preparations were complete. One villain to catch and one man to finally free. A smile spread across his face as he took a sip of his tea. Victory was within his grasp.
Naturally there would still be a hefty to-do list after everything was said and done: a father and daughter to be reunited, a life to help put back together; certain talks to be had—or threats as the case may be—never ever do anything like this again; a wife to visit—he promised her he wouldn't come alone next time. Five years of absence to make up for. But, nothing could be better than this.
Of course the final dance couldn't end before it started. There was a whole lot to tackle this night with plans to put into action and a manipulator to catch.
Cabanela drained the last of his tea and swung off his chair. His gaze fell on the old red fountain pen, unused, but upright in its stand on his desk and he silently made the same promise he made every night for the last time. This was it, one way or another, and only one way was conceivable.
Then with a spring in his step he scooped up his umbrella, giving it an idle twirl and started to exit when the phone's ring summoned him back to his desk.
"Inspector Cabanela heeere."
"Sir! Officer Brennan from homicide. I'm calling from that old junkyard just outside of town. We've got a big problem here."
"Not exaaactly our jurisdiction, baby. What's goin' on?" The junkyard? Cabanela stepped on a note of worry. The professor hadn't called—was that a good or bad sign?
"I know sir, but I was told to call Special Investigations and…" if the man's voice got any more nervous he'd shake himself out of the world.
"Aaand?" Cabanela prompted.
"There's been a triple homicide… We think."
"You think? A body's dead or it ain't. Spit it out, man."
A deep breath sounded over the phone.
"We've got a security tape here showing a murder, but… that's where it gets strange. The body's nowhere to be found and there's no sign of the incident. If it wasn't for the security tape we'd have no idea it happened."
Cabanela frowned. And a missing body? Curious. "I'll send some of the boooys. What's this about there being three deaths?"
"It's Detective Lynne!" Brennan wailed. "She was on the tape, sir. The missing body? She was the one who shot him, and it gets worse. She's dead too, sir, shot!"
Impossible. Cabanela jumped away from the desk and it was as if the rain's chill had seeped its way into the room to grip his bones. His umbrella hit the floor with a clatter and the phone threatened to follow.
"I'm on my way." He started to hang up and froze as the full conversation caught up to his frantic thoughts. "Wait. Wait! Who was the third victim?"
Brennan coughed. "We wanted to review the security tapes, so we went to speak with the Superintendent."
"We found him in the building's basement. He was shot as well, sir."
Cabanela's breath caught. No, no, no this wasn't right. This wasn't allowed!
Brennan continued. "It was strange sir. There was a huge mess of, of stuff. You'll want to see it yourself. …Sir?"
Cabanela regained control of his breath. "I'm on my way. Don't touch anything."
The phone slipped from his hand to dangle off the desk. They couldn't be. This couldn't be. There had to be a mistake.
He spun on his heel, flung himself out of his office and paid no heed to the startled looks thrown his way as he hurtled past to his waiting bicycle outside.
The rain petered out by the time Cabanela arrived at the junkyard. Umbrella forgotten in his haste, he was soaked, but hardly noticed as he threw himself off his bicycle, showering the waiting officer in droplets.
The officer backed up a step with an awkward salute.
"It's good to see you, Inspector. They're down below… sir…?" he trailed off as Cabanela rushed away.
Cabanela let his feet automatically carry him down the stairs. Lynne couldn't be dead. She could not have shot someone. The very idea was ludicrous. This wasn't his world. This had to be some kind of mistake and someone's head would roll over this.
"Inspector Cabanela!" a detective in blue greeted him when he reached the bottom. "Detective Lynne is in the back there, sir."
No… there she lay as if discarded amongst the rubbish. Cabanela brushed past the detective. Another in green stood by while a medical examiner went over her body. The last spark of hope died.
He stopped close to watch the medical examiner. While he would never call himself anything even close to resembling an expert in the field of medicine, he knew busy work when he saw it. Oh, he certainly had the tools (was a stethoscope necessary? She was clearly dead) but his movements were haphazard and as far as he could tell seemed utterly useless.
And just who are you?
One problem at a time.
"Excuuuse me, gentlemen," Cabanela said. "If you would be so kind as to step aside, I need to examine the scene."
The examiner huffed through his thick mustache. "Not much to see here," he said. "Clear shot to the chest, but if you insist." And with that he shrugged and walked away with the green suit.
Cabanela dropped down beside Lynne, heart hammering a rapid beat in his chest as a chill seeped through him. Blood spread across her shirt, coat and shiny new detective's badge.
"Lyyynne," he murmured, "how could I let this happen to you?"
How did this happen? Who did this? Lynne's wide glassy eyes met his, but held no answers. Another thought he'd tried to ignore during the rushed, yet agonizingly long trip here, finally broke through: and what would he tell Him? He reached out to close Lynne's eyes with a shudder before letting his hand drop to her shoulder.
Why now, on this night of all nights?
This night… what was she doing? She had no business in this place. A glance over his shoulder told him the detectives were engaged in conversation and the examiner seemed fascinated by his stethoscope.
Cabanela slipped a hand into Lynne's coat pocket and pulled out a small pink notebook. No mistaking it. She'd used it almost as often as Jowd used his and Cabanela swallowed back those particular memories.
He flipped through it to today's date where he found three notes: 'junkyard meeting', followed by 'call him' and a scrawled note, 'tell him the good news?'. He could feel the desperate hope written into that statement.
Me too, baby, me too.
He flipped back to the start where he found the worn and dog eared page with the special prison's number as expected. He'd suspected her calls, but what led to a meeting here? What was that good news?
A flash of white on the ground caught his eye. A piece of crumpled paper lay near her pocket where it must have fallen out. He reached for it, turning it over in his hands once before smoothing it out.
Only a single note was written on it in an unfamiliar hand. "Chicken Kitchen, 10:00". Cabanela stared in shock at the most unexpected place and time he could find here. How could she possess anything with this information?
What did you get into?
He pocketed both note and book. Too much here that had no business being tied together. This was no coincidence.
He knew her interest in Jowd's case and if he hadn't been sure before, her notebook only proved it. Who did she meet? How much did she figure out? Clever woman, he should have kept a closer eye on her.
As hard as it was to just leave her here, staying wouldn't accomplish anything. Another wave of tension threatened to lock his limbs. And there was still another body to see.
He rose with a final look at her and made another silent promise.
I will find out who did this to you.
The examiner and green suit came back as he prepared to leave and he waved the detective over to speak privately.
"Keep the doctor here until I've had a chance to speak with him."
The maintenance office door filled Cabanela's vision. How many times had he passed through this door over the past year? This wasn't the first time he stood here with tension thrumming through him, but not like this, never like this.
He swallowed his rising dread and entered. He was met with the familiar, and under other circumstances, welcoming room. He should have been met with a brusque comment or a nod of acknowledgement and Lovey-Dove's chirp of greeting.
Instead an officer stood at the desk by the security monitor and snapped to attention at his entrance.
"Inspector Cabanela!" said the officer. "We've got the security tape here and the basement is untouched as requested."
"Goood, good," Cabanela replied and forced himself to remain in place except to nod toward the door at the far end. "You just hold onto that tape until I come back. So, through that door over there?"
Cabanela crossed the room, tried not to stare at the hanging coat off the cabinet door that now seemed to hold an accusing air, and froze at the sight of the empty table. Where were the professor's notes? Where were his tools and why was the wall an empty expanse? He whirled around.
"You didn't touch anything?"
The officer's face was a picture of confusion. "No sir. Is something wrong?"
A connection. Someone else knew.
"…No. I'll be back up shortly."
Another too-long stairway led to the open basement door where light spilled into the room beyond. Disaster might just have been adequate to describe the mess within.
Someone, the killer he could only assume, had dismantled the contraption. He immediately looked at the bare patch of wall where the gun should have been. Someone who knew something of the contraption's importance just as they knew of their research's importance.
It was no wonder the officer had been confused about the place, he thought as he took in the room's appearance. There would be no way to tell what it was all supposed to mean now: a toppled doll—its candle lying where it had rolled away; the cupid-containing box lay broken open while the cupid itself and its bow lay in pieces around it; the rope gone and its device knocked over. Confetti was strewn about the place over broken bottles as if to mock the scene in its cheerfulness.
Cabanela picked his way carefully over the broken glass and debris where the worst sight awaited him by the table.
"Professor…" he breathed.
How many would he be forced to see buried? How many would he fail?
He'd only known him a year. At the start he never expected the odd bond forged in their shared purpose. He couldn't have known how much he would come to trust and rely on this man.
And now this man, this knowledgeable and invaluable man, lay in a crumpled heap, blood staining his lab coat red. His friend gone on their night of victory. Gone and no one knew what they'd lost in this old junkyard superintendent.
He clenched his fists. And someone had come to this place where they worked together, shared stories of the past, traded information, this place that had been his refuge only a month ago (it felt so much longer) when he received the news of the execution order. This brilliant man murdered and their work destroyed.
A familiar soft cooing shook him out of his spiraling thoughts. He stared frantically around the room until he spotted a flash of blue caught between a shovel and fallen toolbox. He rushed over and pulled the shovel away to reveal the little pigeon.
"Lovey-Dove," he said softly.
The pigeon came out slowly, looking distinctly ruffled, but all right as far as his limited knowledge in birds could tell him.
"Heeey, glad to see you're okay, little one."
He earned an appreciative chirp before she fluttered off to land by the professor's head. She nudged at his hair with her beak once, then more insistently when there was no response.
Cabanela bowed his head. What had he missed? Theirs was a well-kept secret or so he thought, yet someone knew. Someone knew the dangers of this contraption. There was only one other who could have that knowledge, the manipulator.
They knew how dangerous the manipulator was. Was there something more he should have done to protect him? He could hear the professor's scoff at his thoughts. He hadn't been one to entertain what-ifs and should-haves.
And neither was he, and yet… Lynne and the professor…
A distraught sound from Lovey-Dove caught his attention and he immediately went to her. He knelt down, lifting one side of his scarf off his shoulder.
"Come on. It's too dangerous for you here."
Lovey-Dove flew up to settle neatly on his shoulder where he let his scarf down to drape over her. She cooed gently once in his ear.
He made a last sweep of the room and found nothing more—only the missing gun and their research. The motive was clear, but it left him little more to work with. With his search complete, Cabanela nodded to the professor, bidding him a silent farewell, as he wondered how many promises he would make this night.
When Cabanela returned upstairs the officer still stood by the security monitor.
"Is that the security tape?" Cabanela asked.
"Yes, sir! I've got it all set up for you. Here you go."
The screen flickered to life. There was Lynne entering the scene and soon after… Cabanela blinked at the all-too familiar face tucked behind a pair of sunglasses. A face he would never forget after his one mistake.
"Detective, I'm telling ya! I don't know anything about it!"
"I couldn't do the autopsy. Every cut I made healed. Then he was gone as though he walked right out the door."
After all this time.
"And thaaat's when you started investigating Temsik?"
A body that walked away to come back ten years later.
'Powers not of this world.'
The pieces fell into place. The exact hows didn't matter, not yet, but it all came down to the meteorite. Everything circled back to that cursed day at the park.
He watched the man and Lynne exchange words. Lynne appeared surprised. The man leaned back. Leaned? Or fell? And the tape continued in its wrongness as Lynne took out her gun and fired twice.
"Back it uuup, will you?"
The whole situation was blatant nonsense. Lynne wouldn't shoot someone and yet… and yet this wasn't right either. She missed the first shot. Was her apparent struggle with the second shot only hesitation? Guess agaaain.
One manipulator and one body that vanished for a second time in ten years. Oh baby, how did you get into this? She was never meant to be involved.
"No sign of the body?" he asked as if he didn't know the answer already.
"No sir, nothing. We couldn't even find traces of blood."
"I seee. I'll take custody of this tape."
The officer removed the tape and passed it to Cabanela, nearly sagging with relief. Eager to let SIU take care of it eh? Suits me just fine, boys.
"You can send in the forensics team now. I want copies of aaall reports sent to my desk."
Cabanela stopped noticing the junk piles during his many visits, but now he was outside again and they seemed to loom over him. Oppressive, dangerous, any familiarity in this place stripped away. The anger swelled.
That man here on this night. Another disappearing act. Their research gone. One deal with a foreign country. They linked the manipulator with the meteorite and now their missing man was here as Lynne committed an act she would never commit?
He only had to find him and there was still time for that. Their plans centred on that exact goal.
And he wasn't without all clues, was he? What of the so-called doctor? He was a fake, no doubt about that and appeared to be from that country. What was he doing here? What did he know?
Cabanela returned to the lower level and swept past the detectives, rage propelling each step. The doctor still stood near Lynne's body, his eyes narrowed and arms crossed over his chest, one finger tapping impatiently.
"Am I allowed to go now?" he grumbled.
He had no time to protest as Cabanela surged forward, gripped the collar of his shirt and forced him back against a broken couch.
Cabanela ignored the shocked protests from the detectives—"Inspector Cabanela!"—and Lovey-Dove gave an alarmed coo and flew away to land near an old red lamp.
"Who sent you?" Cabanela hissed.
The doctor spluttered. "I don't know what you're talking about. You people called me in. I am a doctor."
"You're a bad liar and an even worse fake." Cabanela gripped his shirt harder. "Who are you? Were you involved in their deaths?"
Cabanela slammed his fist by the doctor's head. "No lies! Tell me everything!"
The doctor tried to shrink back. "I didn't kill them!" he gasped. "There was a plan. I was only meant to be on clean up duty, but it didn't happen. I don't know anything!"
"The body, I was supposed to smuggle away his body. That's it! Just a simple job for easy money. But, they changed the plan and killed the detective and told me to monitor things here."
"I only know his name, Sissel. The top brass, they have some kind of deal with him. That's all I know."
Sissel, that was the wrong name, but the deal could only mean one thing.
"Where did they go?" Cabanela growled.
The doctor cringed. "I don't know. I swear I don't know!" he quickly added when Cabanela's face darkened.
"Inspector Cabanela!" the detective in green hurried over. "We just got a call. The Chief wants you back at his office immediately."
Cabanela snarled and released the doctor who fell back against the couch.
"Arrest this man."
"On what charges?" the doctor demanded, his bravery increasing now that he was released. He struggled to regain his balance, but quailed under Cabanela's fierce glare.
"Impersonating a medical practitioner and obstructing a crime scene," Cabanela snapped. "If you don't submit I can come up with a whooole host of other things to make your life a living hell."
He rounded on the detectives. "Send all reports of this incident to Special Investigations," he barked.
With a snap of her wings in the direction of the doctor that caused another wince from the shaken man, Lovey-Dove returned to Cabanela's shoulder before he stormed away. By the time they reached his bicycle some of his rage had dissipated into tension of a different sort.
Too much time lost here already. The final hour was approaching rapidly. What did the Chief want now?
The few officers left at the police station looked up at Cabanela's entrance. Curious looks were given the bird on his shoulder, but one look at the Inspector's face prevented any comment. Cabanela swept wordlessly past into the Chief's office.
The Chief looked up gravely from his desk at Cabanela's entrance.
"So it's true," he said heavily with one look at Cabanela's tight expression. "Detective Lynne is dead then."
"I've also received reports that she shot a man. What's going on, Inspector?"
Cabanela tossed the security tape onto his desk. "According to this, but we don't have a body. I have every reason to believe the man in that tape is our target."
The Chief's eyes widened. "I'll review the tape shortly. However," he hesitated and fidgeted in his chair before clearing his throat. "There is another matter I needed to speak with you about. Lynne was looking after a young girl, Jowd's daughter, Kamila, correct?"
Gods yes. He hadn't thought that far yet, the poor girl.
"She was. I'll make arrangements for her," Cabanela said softly. He'd figure out something, take her himself if he had to. It would only be temporary and no doubt she'd need a familiar face. It wouldn't be long after all. Her father would be returned to her shortly.
The Chief shook his head and heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid that won't be necessary. There is no easy way to say this… We received a call from a neighbour reporting gunshots. Lynne's apartment was broken into. Kamila was shot. She… didn't make it."
Clearly the world had gone wrong this night because sounds weren't making sense anymore either. The words settled slowly, growing more nonsensical each passing second. This couldn't be. Not again, not her too.
"How?" Cabanela choked out. "When?"
"I called for you as soon as we confirmed the situation."
"Unknown. The investigation is underway. Do you have any ideas, Inspector?"
Two deaths on this night of all nights and now her too? On this night. But why? Why there? There wasn't anything. Could it have only been a common break-in, unrelated? She had no part in… this…
The world seemed to go fuzzy at the edges and the clock ticked loudly in his ears. But that wasn't true, was it? Their contraption destroyed and their research taken. The contraption that she originally built, ye gods.
Cabanela's voice sounded hollow in his own ears. "This night. The manipulator is at the centre of everything. We'll get our answers tonight, Chief."
The Chief's frown deepened. "So you still plan to go to Point X? After everything that's happened I'd advise standing this one down. Oversee, take in the reports. The Unit should have things well in hand."
Cabanela stiffened. "No. There's some place else I have to be."
"You don't have to be there. After all of this why put yourself through that as well?"
"I have a responsibility. I have to do this because of everything that's happened." He wouldn't fail him. Not again. "Besides, it's not over yet."
"You're right about that. There's no stopping you, eh?"
Cabanela gave him a tight lipped smile closer to a grimace. "You knooow me Chief."
The Chief nodded. "Do what you must then, but be careful Inspector. There's more going on than we know. I don't want another murder case on my desk."
Cabanela turned away and made it to the door when Lovey-Dove brushed against him. Despite her weight he'd almost forgotten her presence in light of everything happening. He was running out of time, cutting it too close as was, but he couldn't risk her too.
He looked back at the Chief. "I have a smaaall favour," he said, giving Lovey-Dove a pat. "I'm droppin' this little one off in my office. If you don't hear from me by morning can you check in on her?"
The Chief's mouth twitched. "I can only assume you have your reasons, but may I ask why…?"
"No tiiime, Chief."
"All right. I'll take care of her myself. Don't make it necessary."
Cabanela pushed his office door closed behind him. He lifted Lovey-Dove off his shoulder and set her on his desk before reaching down to retrieve the fallen phone receiver and put it back in its place. His eyes drifted over the fountain pen and something else seemed to take over.
He circled around his desk automatically and slid open one drawer. He rummaged through the odd knick-knacks collected over the years, past the silly chicken ornament he'd found, two years ago now? Jowd would appreciate it. Past the pen he'd borrowed the day before it all went wrong, past the empty notebook he could never be bothered with, past old papers and there tucked safely in the back the small photo.
Alma and Jowd stared out at him, beaming, with baby Kamila in Jowd's arms. Cabanela could still see, could still clearly remember the bemusement mixed in Jowd's eyes as if he couldn't quite believe the little girl in his arms was his.
'Neither can I, baby. She's too pretty! Are you suuure she's yours?'
'I certainly hope so!' Alma had laughed.
'Poor girl,' Jowd chuckled even as his hold tightened and his grin grew broader when Kamila reached out a chubby hand to grab at his beard.
Cabanela swallowed. Gods, Kamila. A terrible fate for a girl so young, shot down in her own home. She, of all people, should have been safe! The picture slipped from his hands onto his desk. He should have done more to protect her, kept them all safe!
He knew without Alma, life could never be as it was, but he'd been determined to bring things back to whatever normality he could pull together for them. They'd be a family again. Now this—student lost, old friend lost, daughter… lost…
He scraped a hand over his face and blinked back the stinging prickle in his eyes. His hand stopped at his mouth, covering it as if to block every emotion threatening to escape. Not yet. Later, when this was finished. When Jowd was freed and they could face this together. This was not the future he dreamed of, but they would survive, they would have each other. They'd keep going, somehow, in some way, for them. He would see to it.
I'll take care of everything my old friend.
Lovey-Dove hopped across his desk and cooed at him, pulling him away from his thoughts. Time was passing. He failed Jowd three times this night. A fourth would not happen. He had to go.
He stroked Lovey-Dove's head. "I'll be back later, lady bird."
She rustled her wings and the disgruntlement in her answering coo was clear.
"You survived once already tonight. I'm not riskin' you a second time. Stay safe for me."
The clouds had parted and the moon hung large in the sky. The prison courtyard was bathed in its silvery glow, but it did nothing for the ugly and looming presence of the Special Prison.
It was time. Five years later, in the final hour, he was going to meet with Jowd and… and his thoughts faltered. And what? Stall certainly, unless the expected calls and reports from Point X came soon. But, when it came down to it, when he faced him again, what then? Not the triumphant and happy meeting he planned.
The images of Lynne and the professor's bodies swam in his mind's eye. What would he tell him? 'Kamila was shot.' What was he to tell him? How? He would have to cross that bridge when he came to it.
When he entered the building the tension in the air was palpable. The officer at the desk jumped at his entrance and snapped off a sharp salute. Widened eyes, fingers fidgeting against his legs and Cabanela thought he heard the blaring of an alarm at the edge of his hearing. Something was wrong.
"Inspector Cabanela!" the officer's voice was close to a yelp. "We tried to contact you."
"What's going on?"
Definite anxiety in the officer as he shifted and his fidgeting hands clenched. "There was an accident when the electric chair was tested. As far as we can gather there was an explosion. The power is out in the cell block."
Cabanela tensed even as a small bubble of hope dared to rise. Had something finally gone right on this nightmare of a night? What better stall tactic could he ask for in an execution than an unusable chair?
If the officer stiffened anymore he'd snap. "He was caught in the explosion and killed. I guess in the end it all amounts to the same… erp." He swallowed at the look on Cabanela's face.
Killed. In the Chief's office the world had gone fuzzy. Now it was painful to look at, all bright false edges. Killed. Only one thought blazed across his mind, the force that drove him all night.
"I need to see him."
The officer gaped. "You can't! It's a disaster down there. We've got guards patrolling for the prisoners. With the cell doors open they could easily escape. It's too dangerous!"
Cabanela stepped forward. "Dangerous? Do you know what this place is? They are your last concern."
The guard stepped back, shaking his head rapidly as Cabanela bore down on him.
"I-I'm sorry Inspector. We can't let you through. Regulations. For your own safety please."
"I'll be fine! Let me through!"
The guard backed against the door. "I can't do that. I'm sorry sir."
"If you value your job, you will move!"
The guard swallowed. "I'm sorry sir, this is my job. Please, you can't go down there."
Cabanela raised his hand with every intention of pushing the idiot aside. He would go down there and he would… he would… he met the guard's pale, but determined face. He would do what exactly? He was right. Gods damn it all he was right.
He stepped back. He would only be in the way down there and for what? Another dead body? The final failure? A tremor passed through him and he took a deep breath.
"Call the station once it's clear," he said through a suddenly tight throat.
He exited before the officer could respond.
Outside the cold air did nothing to pierce through the static filling Cabanela's mind. His gaze drifted aimlessly through the dim lighting until stopping to rest on the phone booth and he moved to it mindlessly. Reports, check-ins—wasn't there something he still had to do?
What did it matter? Their time limit no longer existed and the night crashed in around him. His knees hit the pavement. Was this it? Five years of work for this? For this, for this cheap end? An accident, a gods-damned accident!
One by one they fell. One by one and he was powerless to stop it. And now, Jowd was gone too.
There was so often something to keep him busy until there wasn't. He was no stranger to lulls. Waits were part of the game and he was able to occupy himself. Until he couldn't, until he found himself in the grey hours of the night staring unseeing at the TV that spewed nonsense over a half empty cup of tea, unable to sleep, but unable to think past frayed edges of exhaustion.
Promises kept him buoyed. At those worst times they were enough to keep his head above water until day dawned and he moved automatically through his tasks. The world would grow less grey and there was always time to move onward and forward.
Now the longest wait was over, cut short in the last minutes. There was nowhere to move forward to. Stone blurred under tear filled eyes. Nothing more to hold onto as threads of promises snapped one by one and he sunk.
It was a wonder the pavement didn't steam as tears left hot trails down his face, ending in darkened spots on the ground as he trembled and seethed.
"What a sorry sight."
Cabanela jerked and in one motion jumped to his feet, whirled around and backed up a step.
The man in red stepped out from the darkness. His hands rested casually in his pockets as if they happened to bump into each other in the street.
"In the flesh." Yomiel's mouth twisted into a grin. "For now."
He was here, the one man he needed to find.
"It was you all along."
"Finally figured it out, huh?"
Heat coursed through him, burning away the static as his vision filled with the man, the cause of everything.
"They're dead because of you," Cabanela snarled.
Yomiel's face contorted in anger. "No, Inspector," he spat. "Because of you."
There wasn't time to think, there wasn't time to act. Yomiel lunged forward, slamming Cabanela back into the phone booth and pinning him there.
"You murdered me. All of you! If Detective Jowd hadn't chased me, if that girl hadn't gotten in my way."
"Self-centered garbage. Lynne had nothing to do with it."
"I never would have taken her if she hadn't been there. I wouldn't have had the gun if you hadn't left it. If you believed me. You created me!"
"I know my mistakes," Cabanela said flatly. "You can't pin yours on us."
The anger drained from Yomiel's face leaving an expressionless mask. "It doesn't matter now. You're the only one left," he said calmly.
"You know," he continued, "I thought you'd be at that restaurant but you never showed. I should've known. Detective Jowd was the only other person who knew what you did. You just had to see that last blot on your spotless record wiped clean, didn't you? Your crowning achievement," he sneered before shaking his head with a shrug. "Too bad for you there's one stain left. I'm still stuck on this gods-forsaken world."
Two men locked together. One dead and one who lost everything. It was almost funny really. Five years chasing a dead man who instead found him. Here where he needed him but late, too late. He could imagine Jowd laughing at the irony of the situation. Cabanela could have joined in that laugh if the weight in his chest wasn't so heavy. He lost.
He lost, but it wasn't over; he wouldn't give in. One final gambit remained.
No hesitation. He whipped out his gun and fired. Yomiel staggered back and hit the ground. Was there time to grab him now before he recovered or retreat and rely on the tracker? Plan a trap. The decision was stripped from him as his limbs locked.
He couldn't move. To his horror words that weren't his came from his mouth.
"Fine. After all, who better to reveal your true colours? Red stains on that spotless white coat?"
His hand moved. He felt the barrel of his gun against his chest. He should have seen this coming. The manipulator. His finger locked to the trigger.
End it all.
He would be found. He had the device. Would someone figure it out? For the first time he cursed his secrecy.
His legs buckled. A force pulled at him, threatening to bring him to his knees. He braced himself against the phone booth, shaking with the effort. He would not submit.
He was frozen, locked in a battle with his own body. A battle he couldn't truly win.
A blinding pain. A flash of red.
The moon shone down creating a silver tableau. One man stood, unfolding himself to stare down at the crumpled form at his feet. The dance was over. The coat gleamed in the dark creating a stark contrast between white and red.
Last one down. Yomiel turned on his heel with a half wave and disappeared into the darkness.
Console lights flickered and gleamed off the metallic surfaces of the small interior of the vessel speeding through the ocean. It was nothing compared to the comfortable opulence of the room Commander Sith so recently vacated, but it would have to do until his triumphant return home.
He turned the canister around in his hands, studying the shard within. What a thing of beauty and now Temsik was in his grasp at last.
There was a beep and the communication screen came to life. The view was dim, but his servant was clear.
"My report, sir," the robot intoned.
"Yes, yes my good man. Go on."
"We've received the last reports, sir. The Inspector's death has been confirmed as well. With that, all those involved with Temsik have been taken care of."
"Good work that man. Almost a pity." The slumped shape behind Sith's servant caught his eye. "And what of Sissel? Has he caused any further trouble?"
"No sir. He has appeared to have given up for now."
"See to it he remains that way." Not that he expected much trouble anymore. He smiled at the canister. What could a ghost do at the bottom of the ocean after all?
"Yes sir. Good luck sir."
The communication screen went dark and Sith leaned comfortably back in his seat. Nothing more to do now but travel on to a glorious future.
In another place and another time a little flame watched on as the pointy haired man ran into the park. He watched the large man with the big beard give chase. He saw the running man grab the little girl who was to be his future mistress. He saw the flash of blinding light.
Again and again.
His wait began.