by JM Fearless.
Authors Note: All characters are the property of Francine Pascal, except for a couple of cops.
Gaia Moore and Kim Lau sat in the office of Special Agent Brian Malloy. He had called them both, informing them that they had a new case to work. He was, however, not there at the present moment, so all they really had to do was wait. Gaia looked at the clock impatiently. At 9 o' clock sharp, the door opened and Brian Malloy entered the room. He was accompanied by Special Agent Jennifer Bishop. They both sat down, looking at the two of them.
"Agent Moore, Agent Lau," Malloy said, "I'm glad you're here." His tone indicated that they could have both faced severe consequences if they had failed to show up.
"Glad to be here," Gaia said, "So what's this new case you have for us to work?"
"Yesterday morning," Malloy said, "We received a memo from our boss, regarding a case in New York. Apparently, a string of bizarre murders has been occurring."
Agent Bishop stepped forward and produced a photograph of a corpse from a file she was holding. "This is Angela Jensen," she said, "28 years old, 5'9", blond hair, brown eyes, death by asphyxiation. Look on her chest."
Kim took the photograph and looked at it, appearing to examine the chest. "It's a cross," he said, "Drawn in ink on the right side of the body." He turned the photograph to show it to Gaia.
Gaia looked at the cross for a moment, and then turned to Bishop. "Agent Malloy said there had been a string of murders," she recalled, "Who are the other victims?"
Special Agent Bishop nodded and produced two more photographs. "The first is Jamie Nelson, 19, 5' 11", black hair, blue eyes, death by exsanguination resulting from multiple stab wounds." she said, "The second is Melanie Sharpe, 35, 5'7", brown hair, green eyes. She died due to blunt force trauma." Agent Bishop paused for a moment before going on."None of these three victims appear to have anything in common except for one thing," she said, "They all have a cross drawn in ink on their right side."
"So you want us to go to New York and investigate," Gaia said, matter-of-factly.
"That's correct," Agent Bishop said, "We need you to find whoever is doing this and stop them."
Kim listened carefully and then spoke up. "In that case, I think we should be on the first flight out, while the case is still fresh." he said, "Gaia?"
Gaia nodded slowly. "I agree," she said, "We should go as soon as possible."
"Very well," Agent Malloy said, "Agent Lau, dismissed. Agent Moore, please remain for a moment." Gaia hung back as Kim left the room.
"What is it?" she asked, not sure what was going on.
Agent Malloy cleared his throat. "Agent Moore," he said, "Agent Bishop and I wonder whether you will be all right going back to New York. We know you haven't been there in 7 years."
Gaia smiled at Agent Malloy. "Don't worry," she told him, "I can handle it. I'm ready for this assignment."
Agent Malloy nodded. "Very well, Agent Moore," he said, "We're counting on you. Good luck." Gaia smiled and left the room to join Kim.
Kim looked at Gaia as they walked down the corridor leading away from Agent Malloy's office. She put on a brave face, but he was worried about her. She would be going back to New York for the first time in seven years. He knew she had dark memories of New York; every time she talked about the city where she had grown up, her body tensed up. She probably didn't even realize that it happened, but Kim could see it. He wasn't a skilled profiler for nothing. He decided to mention this to Gaia as they were walking.
"Hey Gaia," he said to her, "Are you going to be okay with this? Going back to New York I mean?"
Gaia turned to look at him, clearly reading the concern in his eyes. "Malloy and Bishop wanted to know that too," she said, "I'll tell you the same thing I told them: I can handle this." Kim could tell from her voice and her body language that she was sure of what she had just said, so he dropped it and kept walking. Gaia got on her cell phone and began booking a flight for them to New York City. When she finished, she turned to face Kim.
"Our flight leaves in an hour," she said, "You drive." Kim smiled as Gaia tossed him the car keys. They exited the hall and headed for the parking lot.
(Ed's POV, New York City)
Ed Fargo walked through Washington Square Park, taking a deep breath of fresh air. Man, he loved walking! It had been seven years since he had gotten out of the wheelchair, but he still walked every day. He liked Washington Square Park: It reminded him of Gaia. Specifically, it reminded him of the first time he had seen what Gaia was capable of. She had been ambushed by some of those stupid skinheads that favored this park and Ed, wheelchair and all, had rushed in to try and save her. To his surprise, Gaia had easily defeated the thugs. Ed smiled at the memory. He knew from talking to Gaia that she was now a member of the FBI. He thought that made sense, given her strength and skill. Thinking of the FBI made him think of the murders that he had read about in the papers. He wondered if the FBI would come down to investigate. He felt bad for the people who had died, but at the same time, he wondered if this would give him a chance to see Gaia. At the same time, he felt stupid and selfish for thinking that. He stopped walking for a moment and looked up at the sky. It was a nice, sunny day, the kind of day that Ed would only equate with death when three people had been killed already. He felt his cell phone vibrate and picked it up. When he saw the number, he frowned. He had hoped it would be Gaia, but it had turned out to be his sister, Victoria, no doubt needing something done that she was too lazy to do herself. Ed sighed and picked up the phone. "Hey sis," he said, "What's up?" He listened carefully to the other end. When Victoria was finished, Ed let out an exasperated sigh. "Yes Victoria," he said, "I'll remember to go get your car from the shop." He hung up and began walking along a familiar route to the local auto shop. No sooner had he started walking than his phone vibrated again. He took it out, expecting to see Victoria's number again, but this time it was Gaia. He picked it up excitedly.
"Hey Shred," Gaia said, using Ed's old nickname, "I wanted to tell you that I'm on my way to New York."
"Really?" he asked, "Business or pleasure?"
"Business, unfortunately," she said, "The Bureau heard about those three murders up there and they want me and Agent Lau to check it out."
Ed nodded, despite the fact that Gaia could not see him over the phone. Gaia had told him about her partner, Kim Lau. He had worked with her on her first case and they had worked together ever since. Even though she was investigating the murders, Ed still hoped he would get to see her. He remembered that he was still on the phone. "Well, if you and Agent Lau need a place to stay while you're in town, you can always use my place. Better than a hotel and I don't charge for it." He laughed at this.
Gaia laughed as well. "Thanks Ed," she said, "I might just have to take you up on that offer." She paused for a minute before speaking again. "Listen, I've got to go for now. The flight is about to take off. I'll see you around, Ed."
Ed smiled after she said this. "All right," he said, "I'll see you later." He hung up the phone and grinned, happy despite the circumstances under which Gaia was coming.
(The Killer's POV, a hotel in Midtown.)
The killer stretched out on the hotel bed. People who thought that this killing business was easy needed to try it at least once. Every single kill had to be planned perfectly. He had to ensure that he was not caught before he had accomplished his ultimate goal. Seven years he had spent in that accursed prison, being mocked and jeered by the other inmates. He had gotten out recently and he was determined to make the bastard who had put him there pay. But simply killing him wouldn't do. No, he wanted to torture the bastard the same way that he had been tortured. All he had to do was wait just a little longer. Soon, all of the pieces would be on the board. Then it would be checkmate.
(Gaia's POV, on the plane)
Gaia felt like falling asleep. The flight had been mostly uneventful since her call to Ed. He had seemed excited to learn that she was coming. She was glad for that, because she was excited to see him too. Her eyes were about to close when Kim spoke to her.
"Gaia," he said, "Something is bothering me about the victims."
Gaia arched an eyebrow at him. "Other than the fact that they're dead?" she asked him. Seeing the serious look on his face, she lowered her eyebrow. "Sorry," she said, "What is it?"
Kim looked at her. "The victims had nothing in common. Different ages, different eye colors, different hair colors, all killed using different methods." he said, "Everything about these victims was different except that they were all marked with the cross, presumably by the killer after they completed each murder.
Gaia didn't see what he was getting at. "Yeah," she said, trying to understand, "What's your point?"
Kim took a deep breath and spoke again. "Without that cross mark, these incidents probably would have been considered unrelated. The police would be looking for different people in each case and the FBI never would have been involved."
Gaia was beginning to understand where Kim was going with this. She nodded slowly. "It doesn't make any sense," she said, "The killer had to know it would draw a connection between the victims, which would spark the interest of the FBI. So why do it?"
Kim nodded at her, acknowledging that she had grasped his point. "The killer also would have to spend at least an hour with the body after death to draw that cross with such detail," he said, "They went out of their way to establish the fact that these victims were all killed by the same person, despite the extra attention it would draw. I think this person may have wanted the murders to be recognized as the work of a serial killer."
At these words, Gaia's eyes widened and she looked intensely at Kim. "Oh no," she said, "You don't think this person murdered three people just to draw the attention of the FBI?" Kim nodded slowly and Gaia looked down. If Kim's theory was right, then they weren't dealing with a garden-variety killer. Whoever it was could be counted on to have no scruples, whatsoever. These were Gaia's thoughts as the plane came in for a landing. When they had come to a complete stop, Gaia and Kim filed off the plane with the rest of the passengers. As soon as they were off, they made way for a rental car agency that Gaia had remembered from her teenage years. She had never used this agency, but they had a pretty solid reputation. They rented a black Nissan Altima and drove off in the direction of the local morgue, hoping that the County Medical Examiner was still there.