the body of a crime
Disclaimer: Would this be called fanfiction otherwise?
A/N: This story isn't directly connected with my other Mansion and PostMansion ones, though it is still part of the series. Please enjoy your read, and drop your opinion in a review, if you want to take the time for it!
"What's up for today?" Chris asked as he waited for the coffee machine to fill the cup with the steaming liquid.
Jill took a sip of her own drink, enjoying the warmth spreading through her body. Even though the heating was on in the RPD, every look outside the window let her freeze innerly. It was February, the middle of winter and like every year Raccoon City had disappeared under a thick layer of snow.
"If there's no emergency calls, only paperwork," she said, smiling at Chris. "And for once in my life I'm glad that Bravo's got that recent mission and can spend their day trotting through Arklay Mountains."
The coffee machine beeped when it finished and Chris took hold of the cup.
"I don't know," he said, motioning for her to follow him back to the STARS office. "They get to have all the fun."
Jill rolled her eyes. "And the frostbite."
"We're stuck with the paperwork. I'd trade that for a real mission any time!"
"Who wouldn't?" Jill said, lifting an eyebrow. "I'm just trying to be optimistic here. Besides; the sooner we finish, the earlier we can go home."
They opened the door with the bold letters STARS written on it. Of the five desks in the room, two were currently occupied. Chris nodded a greeting to Barry Burton. The other occupant of the room was Brad Vickers, pilot of Alpha team. Currently he was engrossed in the crossword of 'Raccoon Today'. Judging by the mostly empty page he hadn't come far yet.
"What's up Barry?" Jill asked, setting the coffee down on her own table. She put it on top of a thick stack of folders. It was a reminder of how much she still had to go through today.
"Not much. Checking the guns, but they're already in an impeccable condition."
"No wonder," Chris said. "After all the times you cleaned them since last mission, I bet they are!"
Jill let her gaze wander to the window. From here she had a good view of the RPD parking lot. Usually, at least. All cars were coated with a thin – or thicker - of snow by now. She searched for her old green Ford among them. She'd arrived not an hour ago and if it hadn't been standing on one of the reserved places for officers, she probably couldn't have distinguished it from the others. All cars were white.
"Hey, Brad. What does the weather report say?"
There was a short shuffling of pages, then Brad said, "No changes. They say snowing's going to pick up by the afternoon. Might turn into an actual storm by night. Tomorrow and the day after look about the same."
"Sweet," Jill said.
"I bet Bravo's got a lot of fun down there," Chris suggested.
"Not as much fun as us," Jill said with a grin and held up a report.
Chris snorted. "Any time. I'd swap with them any time." A short pause. "Where's the Captain?"
"Rendezvousing Irons," Barry said.
"About time." When Wesker went to Irons it could mean two things. A, getting something approved or signed, the bureaucratic stuff. That happened about 20 of the time. The other 80 were B: Discussing possible missions for the STARS teams.
While Irons was the Chief of Police – he always stressed the fact that he was the one with the last say – Wesker had a way of making Irons do whatever he wanted. Be it an additional member to the team, a change in equipment, or, what Jill favored the most, new tasks.
The majority of operation Jill had been on in her time with STARS were unique. Some more dangerous than others, challenging both physically and mentally, but always rewarding. She guessed it had to do something with the fact of how their moves were coordinated, and who received what task. Everyone got their piece of action and that mostly correlated with the way the Captain divided them.
In the beginning, especially Chris had had problems with Wesker's commands – she had to admit that they weren't always easy to see through at first – but after a few run-ins between the two and Chris' realization that he was wrong most of the time, the team had grown to something Barry liked to call 'a hell of a troop'.
The door to the office swung open. Captain Wesker walked in, a folder in his hand. He gave a curt nod into their direction, before moving to his own desk. The team had fallen silent, following him with their eyes.
Something had happened. Jill could feel it. She saw it by the way the Captain strode across the room and by the slight trace of satisfaction visible on his face. It was a sign that he had accomplished what he wanted.
Wesker leant against his desk and tipped a finger against the closed folder. Then he looked at them (it always sent a chill down Jill's spine when those reflecting glasses turned into her direction) and a smirk settled on his lips.
"Bravo Team requests assistance."
From the corner of her eye she saw Chris murmur a silent 'Yes!', Brad abandoning the crossword and Barry looking up from the guns. Jill breathed out slowly. The news that the Bravos weren't coping with the situation wasn't smashing, but Jill was eager to get in motion and help them.
"What's their problem exactly, sir?" Chris asked.
"The weather, mostly." Wesker made a sweeping motion toward the window. The snow had picked up. Small flakes started to deposit on the window.
"You are all familiar with the case, yes?" Wesker asked.
One by one, they nodded. Three weeks ago the first corpses had been found. One clean headshot and an accurately cut throat, probably by some bad-ass knife. The bullet belonged to a modern hunting rifle. Jill had forgotten the exact brand, but that was just a minor detail.
Two days after the corpses were found – accidentally by other hikers – signs were put up advising not to venture into that part of the woods. Rangers searched for the culprit, but couldn't find anyone. That didn't mean that he didn't find them. He did. And left an arrow spiked in one of the rangers' backs.
At that point STARS were instructed to handle the case. Both teams had done early investigations, but Irons decided to assign only the Bravos to the mission on-site. That had been Monday. It was Friday now.
"The weather makes it hard to track him down," Wesker said. "They have to split up to cover enough ground before the snow cloaks the suspect's traces. Marini just reported the first hostile encounter."
Jill furrowed a brow "They found him after all?"
"No. He showed himself. Joseph Frost sustained a graze shot on his arm. Luckily, they were able to avoid further confrontation. However, in consideration of the worsening weather Marini has cancelled today's search." He tapped his finger against the folder. "Which will give us enough time to make it there before sundown."
From the corner of her eye she saw the slightest grin spread across Chris' lips. Secretly, Jill was excited about this new turn of events too. Either Enrico just wanted to be on the safe side by calling for aid, or the situation really required it. In which case they would have to be very careful. A psychopath offing innocents without reason was dangerous enough, but if the psychopath tried killing fully trained STARS officers dangerous wasn't suitable anymore.
Wesker came to each of their desks and gave them a copy of the files.
"These are the latest happenings. Read them, we'll have the main briefing once we reach the camp. Chris, you and Barry will go and gather the equipment. Pack kevlar and ammo, I don't want to have any surprises once we arrive. Brad, transportation. Jill, Marini faxed a list of things they still need, please organize them."
He studied his watch for a moment, then said, "We leave in half an hour. I would also advise you to dress up properly – the Arklay Mountains are a cold place and we'll spend most of the time outside."
They were ready twenty minutes later. Chris and Barry had packed two duffel bags of equipment and were currently loading it into the van. Brad checked the car a last time then they got in. Brad and Barry in the front and Wesker, Chris and herself in the back. The van was divided into two closed compartments, so that the only means of communication between the two sections was an old radio device.
Since the Bravos had taken the STARS car (Irons refused to invest into a second one), they now had to resort to one of the normal RPD vehicles, usually used for criminal transportation.
'All right, children,' Barry's voice crackled over the radio. 'Buckle up, we're leaving.'
The van sat into motion and Jill looked out of the back window, where Raccoon's police department slowly transformed into one of those little snow domes. Opposite of her, Wesker and Chris were studying a map of the Arklay Mountains.
She pulled her shawl up with a shudder. The heating hadn't warmed the back of the van yet and it was nearly as cold as outside. She wished she had taken a cap with her. Or at least her beloved beret. But there hadn't been the time and she wasn't one to let the team wait.
Ten minutes later they passed the city limits and with that, they let the paved street behind them. Asphalt turned into earthy forest road. Ever so often the car's rear swerved off the planned way, sliding on the ice layer on top of the ground. Sitting in the back, Jill felt it the most. Brad managed to control it quite well, even though he had to slow down distinctively.
'It'll be a …it of…ro...d'
She could pick out Barry's voice from in between the static, but not what he spoke.
"What did he say?"
Chris shrugged in response. Wesker pushed the button that allowed transmission from their side of the car.
"Barry, can you hear me?" Wesker repeated.
Apparently, he couldn't. Barry kept silent and the three of them eyed the device installed in the front of their compartment closely. The little lamp shone red.
"It's stuck," Chris said. "The light should blink."
"It doesn't seem to like such low temperatures, does it?" Jill questioned, smiling slightly. She didn't, either. Jill was more of a summer person. She felt uncomfortable if she had to wear a dozen coats of clothing to battle the cold and she couldn't remember a winter where she hadn't been sick. It usually started with a runny nose, then progressively evolved into a big time flu, fever included. This of course, tended to happen around Christmas or New Years Eve.
"It would just need a thorough examination," Chris suggested.
"Until then, we'll have to solve the problem otherwise," Wesker said and unbuckled his seatbelt. Standing up he moved over to the device and gently knocked his finger against it twice, then, once more, harder.
They caught the end of Barry's sentence.
But there was no more time to answer. There was an impact, throwing Chris and Jill against their seatbelts and Wesker off his feet. The van swayed, got off the road, the brakes squeaking in protest. Brad tried to adjust their direction, Jill held on to the nearest thing – one of the bags – and then they did the first flip.
Her head collided against something hard, she heard Wesker moan and saw a flash of Chris's stunned face as the car turned the second time.
On the third turn all lights went out. Even the little red one on the radio device.
Welcome back, fellow readers!
I hope you enjoyed the last story 'dum fortuna fuit' and will be just as pleased with 'corpus delicti'. Timeframe-wise, we're pretty early in the STARS career. You see, Joseph Frost is still in Bravo and there is no mention of Rebecca yet (there won't be in this story, but she will have her moments of glory).
Prepare for a tale full of surprises, mysteries and very bad weather. Jill's description of 'sweet' doesn't really fit it, but she will only find that out later...
Enjoy, and keep your eyes open for Chapter 2!