Title – The Madness of Kings "Chapter 1 – The Wrong Kind Of Birthday Surprise"

Rating – R (violent imagery, violence)

Summary – An explosion at one of the university buildings leads Chief Robert Ironside and his team into the world of terrorism as the city of San Francisco is held to ransom. (Set Season 5).

A/N – Written for the lj comm spook_me. I've taken a couple of little liberties with the science in this one – it is supposed to be Mad Scientist, after all!

A/N II - Sorry for the delay. I intend to update on Saturdays for this one; if it goes well, I might up it to include Tuesdays.


The Madness of Kings

Chapter 1

The Wrong Kind Of Birthday Surprise

The city of San Francisco was quiet as Sergeant Ed Brown drove his black Ford Galaxie though the downtown streets towards the police Department. He took his time, driving as slowly as he could get away with without stalling the car and getting in the way of the few other cars that were out so early in the morning.

He was going to be late, even if it meant having to stop for another cup of coffee on the way in. Everybody knew what the Chief was like in the week running up to his birthday. Under the circumstances, the best thing to do was to keep out of Ironside's way. And that was the reason Ed was taking his time to get into work, and that was the also the reason he responded to the robbery call when it came through the radio, even though technically he wasn't on duty.

At first, he though that he could just stand in until the black-and-white showed up, knowing that would make it easier when the Chief complained about him being late.

He pulled up the sedan in the parking lot near the front entrance and got out to lean on the door and look around. The morning was warm for April, and there was a lingering fog in the air.

Ed stood there for a couple of minutes, knowing that the patrol was due any moment, but no one else arrived.

The building in front of him was the Kingston Building, one of a new wave of modern steel and glass structures that had been built over the past few years. Though Ed had driven past a number of times, he had never been inside. The lights were on in the foyer, but there seemed to be no one about, there was no sign of movement. That last fact made him uneasy, though it was early in the morning, there still should have been someone there, even if it was just the night watchman.

At last, Ed decided that he couldn't wait any longer. He shut the door of his car and walked quietly across to the entrance. Just outside large, glass front door, he paused looking warily from left to right. He was a trained police officer, a sergeant, and one of the best in the department; he had to be, working for Chief Ironside. But this time he couldn't quite put his finger on just what was bothering him. After waiting for a few moments, he tried the handle on the door. It was unlocked.

Ed frowned. It shouldn't have been unlocked.

There was still no sign of the black-and-white, so Ed pulled his gun out of its holster then slowly pushed the door open and went inside.

The moment he stepped through the doorway, he flinched at the strange, sickly smell that caught at the back of his nose. It smelled like something had been on fire recently, a little like charred plastic mixed with burnt cooking oil or tar. But there was no smoke, or any other indication of a fire. He coughed, trying to clear his throat of the lingering aftertaste.

Ahead, the foyer was wide but shallow, there was a deep red carpet and plain white walls, with a brightly coloured, modern art picture at the very back, behind the main reception desk. There was a long corridor off at the right side, with the reception desk just beside it. Ed noticed a couple more doors off to his left, both shut. One looked like a fire door, the other one might have been through to one of the labs.

He stood at the doorway for a few moments, debating the best course of action. The call hadn't said anything about a fire; it was a two-eleven, a robbery though not called as in-progress, and that was all. There wasn't anything he could really do, and if he went by the book, he should go back out to his car and wait for backup.

However, backup was certainly on it's way and, as first officer on the scene, he had a duty to investigate now he was here. What harm could it do to have a preliminary look around?

He let the door swing shut behind him and it closed with a crunch. Ed looked back, curious at the unusual noise, then down to the floor. Scattered around on the plush, expensive carpet were small pieces of black glass.

Intrigued, Ed bent down to pick one up, but even as his fingers came close, he could feel heat coming it and he saw the carpet underneath it was fused together, as if someone had carelessly dropped a lit match.

With a frown, he straightened up, then paused for a few moments as he looked around the room.

Ed had an excellent sense for trouble, and all of a sudden being here seemed like a very bad idea indeed, something unpleasant had happened, he was dead sure about that. He was just about to retreat and call in to the fire department when he thought he saw something odd just beside the reception desk.

He reached for his gun instinctively, and moved forward with the weapon at the ready, and peered round the corner behind the table.

In the middle of the floor, where the seats should have been, there was a very large, dark stain on the carpet. His first guess was it was blood. He knelt down to take a better look and saw a pale lump of something else underneath the table. For a second he didn't want to believe what he was seeing, but he knew it was a piece of someone's hand; there was a fragment of clothing under it and the twisted metal of a ring round a finger.

Ed swallowed the wave of sickness that hit him. In the Marines, he'd seen death and men and women who had been cut down by war. As a policeman in San Francisco, he dealt with death every second day, but he had never found pieces of a body before.

He stood up and stepped back awkwardly, bumping in to the desk, his hand over his mouth. Still holding his gun, Ed picked up the phone, thinking to call 911 and get the fire department and an ambulance, but the line was dead. He dropped the useless phone to the table.

Undecided, Ed stood there staring for a couple of seconds. He knew he should get out of there, that was the most sensible thing to do. But there might be other people still in the building. He had a duty to make sure the building was empty, and after this, he couldn't even guess what else he might find.

But the downside was that it was dangerous. He had no idea what had happened here, and he was vulnerable with no backup. He took a glance up the corridor ahead, but nothing moved. It was unlikely that there was anyone else here, but even so, Ed knew he couldn't take the chance and just walk away.

That decision probably saved his life.

Ed took a few, cautious steps away from the front desk towards the corridor. As he did so, there was another noise to his left and he glanced back over his shoulder to the foyer, thinking that backup had finally arrived.

One of the doors at the far end had opened and a young woman stood there, her straight, brown hair hanging forward over her shoulders like a hood. She was likely to be a student, judging from her floating, garish orange clothes. But her mouth was open in a soundless scream, her brown eyes wide with horror and Ed though that around her reddened face there was a tint of green.

The girl stood there for a few moments, frozen in place. Then she lifted up her arms and Ed suddenly realised the right arm below the elbow was missing.

Spinning round as fast as he could, Ed reacted by instinct, thinking to go and help her. He had only just started to step forward when there was a roar of noise and fire erupted from the room behind her in a tidal wave of red and orange.

Ed barely had time to raise his arm to protect his eyes before the initial shockwave knocked him backwards off his feet.

The last thing he remembered was the sound of a scream.