New story from the author of "Diamond."

This will be AU, there might be some slight OOCness.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own anything. Put those handcuffs away.

Chapter Warnings: Um...swearing. Gory details. Maybe some controversy. That's all for now.

Chapter Summary: Lieutenant Squall Leonhart comes upon a grisly crime scene and receives some upsetting news...

The Force

The face of death changes every day.

Squall Leonhart didn't merely walk through a crime scene. He prowled. With pursed lips and a furrowed brow, he paced as he viewed with indifferent eyes the evil that humans can inflict on their peers.

The body was spread-eagled in the middle of the floor, almost swimming in its own blood. Squall crouched by the corpse. The victim had been brutally stabbed. He counted the number of knife wounds. A slash in the throat, three stabs in the chest, two in the stomach. The fluffy white carpet was saturated with rust-colored blood.

"What do we have?" he asked Zell Dincht, a low-ranked detective in the Homicide department who had gotten there half an hour earlier.

Zell's face was pale with disgust and nausea; he was relatively new to the job. "Jason Iverson. Caucasian male, age 15. We got a 911 call from his mother. She called, he didn't answer, she got worried and came home, and found him. They took her away about 15 minutes ago." They could still hear the mother's explosive sobs through the wall of the next room.

"Any signs of B&E?" Squall said, standing up.

"A broken window. Over there. We don't have the murder weapon yet. Oh Christ," Zell said, his face turning a sick shade of green as he looked at the corpse again.

"If you're gonna hurl, do it outside," Squall said impatiently. "I can't have you contaminating the scene."

"I'm really sorry," Zell said apologetically. "I just can't stand the smell…"

"Write this down," Squall interrupted. "Victim is a fifteen-year old Caucasian male. Throat slit along with five stabs in the torso. Assailant or assailants broke a window and entered."

Squall glanced at the body. Aside from the liberal amounts of blood surrounding the corpse, the murderer had done a relatively good job of cleaning up. No bloody footprints or any other signs.

" Bag him and do a sweep," he ordered. "Hair, fingerprints, blood, DNA…I want it all. Then you can puke." He bent down to observe the victim again.

"Another one of these sick fucks killing kids," Zell muttered. "Just a kid!"

"It happens," Squall said casually. "It's one of the things that you're gonna learn. When it comes to stuff like this, no one is safe."

Jason Iverson had the face of a child. His round eyes were wide open and glassy as they stared lifelessly at the ceiling. "Wait," Squall said suddenly. The corner of a piece of paper was sticking out of Jason's breast pocket.

"A note from the killer?" Zell breathed. Squall unfolded it carefully. There was one line of cramped block letters.


"…What?" Zell said, blanching. "That's sick, that's really sick …"

"Well," Squall said quietly, staring at the note. "This is a whole different kind of game."

Squall decided to stop by the morgue to see what information Eveann Kadowaki, the chief medical examiner, could offer him. He had sent Zell on the question circuit: asking the mother if her son had any enemies and so on. He doubted that Zell would find much.

Jason Iverson's body was lying on a cold slab, skin tinged an unearthly gray. But Squall never shuddered at the sight of the dead.

"Poor kid," Dr. Kadowaki remarked, tossing her blood-soaked rubber gloves into a wastebasket. "Looks like he'd never hurt a fly."

"Murderers usually don't care if their victims would hurt a fly, Eveann," Squall answered. "Got anything?"

Dr. Kadowaki nodded. "From the looks of it, the throat wound killed him immediately. The rest was done afterwards."

"Know what kind of weapon it was?"

She shook her head. "It's impossible to find just what type of knife it was. Judging by the markings, it was a serrated blade. Can't tell you much more than that."

Squall stared at the five stab wounds on Jason's torso. "It's a clean job. Quick, brutal stabs. No passion in it. It's a big sign. It doesn't look like our killer knew his victim," he mused, with narrowed eyes.

Dr. Kadowaki could almost see the gears shifting in Squall's brain. "Jesus, we've got another Jack the Ripper on our hands, don't we?" she commented.

"No," Squall replied without meeting her eyes.

"Well, why not? Seemingly random victims, a fatal throat wound, and severe wounds afterward," she said indignantly.

"The Ripper only worked with hookers and there would have been more mutilation," he pointed out. "Don't quit your day job."

Dr. Kadowaki smirked. "Looks like you know your serial killers. You need a better hobby. Like golf or something."

Squall headed for the door. "Sorry. Psychos to catch. You know how it is," he said, leaving Eveann alone in the cold room with only a corpse to keep her company.

"Did the mother tell you anything worthwhile?"

Zell shook his head. "No. Neither did the sister, the girlfriend, or the father. The victim's like a goddamn Boy Scout. Nobody that they know would want to kill a kid like that."

"Alright," Squall sighed. "Jason Iverson is a random victim. We'll ask more of his friends tomorrow, try to trace the note, and see what the sweepers got from the scene. Go home, Zell. It's 3 in the morning."

Zell unsuccessfully tried to stifle a yawn. "Then what are you gonna do?"

"Don't worry about it. Get some sleep before you pass out."

Zell mumbled a reply and left. He knew that it would be at least another two hours before Squall left the station. Hey, if he wants to live for his job, it's not my problem.

After Zell left, Squall got himself a cup of coffee. Like many before him, he had become a genuine caffeine addict. The silence was a blessing. The only sound that could be heard was the Chief of Police, Quistis Trepe, still busily typing in her office.

He turned the note over in his hands. Suffer little children to come unto me. He thought hard. If he was on the right track, the murderer would kill again and the victims would be children. He chewed on one of his pens, as he did when he was thinking.

He was lost in thought when Chief Quistis came out of her office, coat slung over her shoulder, ready to leave for the night. "You still here, Lieutenant?"

"Mmhmm," he said, without lifting his eyes from the note.

She looked at the pen in his mouth disdainfully. "Don't do that unless you want a blue lip. Did you get a new case?"

"Fifteen-year old kid with a slit throat and multiple knife wounds. No motive, no suspect. Just this note," he said succinctly, handing it to her. "What do you think?"

She studied the note. "That's a biblical phrase. One of the parables of Jesus."

"That's nice," Squall said impatiently. "What does it mean?"

"Jeez, I dunno. I'm not what you'd call religious. It's basically Jesus's promise to protect the little children. Though I don't think that stabbing them repeatedly falls under that category. Looks like you've got a first-class weirdo on your hands, Leonhart."

Squall snorted. "I'd say."

Quistis handed the note back to him. "Definitely interesting. Speaking of which, I'm assigning you an aide tomorrow."

"Wait, what? No way. I've got way too much to do. Quistis, I mean, Chief, this is a huge case…"

"Which is exactly what you need an aide for. It's already done, anyway. She's fresh out of Police Academy, and she's applied for the Detective's Exam. You're going to be her…mentor. Do me a favor, and don't send her running home screaming, OK?"

"She's just out of Academy? You can't be serious," Squall said, shocked. He was forced to be a uniformed officer for four years before they would even consider letting him take the exam…

"We're understaffed ever since Xu and Nida quit, and this city's murder rate has tripled. If you teach her, I know she can pull it off."

"I've got to deal with Zell and this girl?" Zell wasn't his aide, but he was troublesome enough on his own.

Quistis shook her head. "Nope. I reassigned Zell. He's with Seifer now."

"You're joking. You realize that they hate each other, right?"

Quistis shrugged. "Despite his other…undesirable qualities, Seifer Almasy has proven to be a first-rate teacher. And Zell needs that, believe me." Quistis shifted into "Badass Police Chief" mode. "What's done is done, and don't you dare mess it up. If you do, I'll know. Now, go home, Lieutenant. That's an order."

She turned on her heel and walked out the door. Squall sighed and picked up his car keys, wondering how he had managed to get himself into this.

That's all for now. Read and review, and so on, and so forth. I'll introduce more characters in the next chapter.