Welcome to the 2nd installment of Ace Enforcer! Things are gonna get pretty graphic in this fic, so be warned. There'll be more action, and more focus on Fate and Yuuno's relationship, too. Please enjoy!
Magic: the great power that fuels Mid Childan society. This over technology is capable of many great deeds, and many great evils. It can heal the sick, or it can destroy entire cities. It has allowed the universe to expand, but it also allowed conflict to intensify. Some covet this power, some revel in it. Many love it, many despise it.
Central Mid Childa stands testament to this contrast. In the center of the city, it was clean and prosperous. People happily went about their daily lives, going to work, spending free time at the mall, eating good food, seeing a movie. They turn a blind eye to what surrounds their haven.
The further you move into the outskirts, the more it becomes noticeable. Blocks upon blocks of decrepit, abandoned buildings. Happy chatter becomes desolate silence. Wars, terrorist attacks, criminal activity, and failed experiments had lay waste to the city many times. Rather than do something about the damage, the people simply moved elsewhere, leaving the crumbling husks of their homes behind. The structures were left at the mercy of the elements and time.
It was to this area of the city where Fate and her aides Shari and Teana headed on a Saturday morning. Their destination was relatively close to the populated area. That was probably the only reason why a crime was even discovered there. No one cared about the abandoned city. Aside from designated training areas, there was no reason for anyone to go there. Anyone not affiliated with the underworld, that is. No one knows what stories the empty structures could tell. There is no way of knowing how many lives had vanished in that wasteland.
But this time, they knew. Fate and her aides had been called in by the local police force. There had been a murder with suspected Lost Logia involvement. There was a specific request for an agent with many years of experience. Having eleven years on the job, Fate was a good choice.
"They didn't give us very many details." Teana noted as she reviewed the data. "No photos, either."
"We'll just have to wait until we get there to get a handle on the situation." Fate said. "Then we'll take it from there."
The scene was a white building that probably functioned as a warehouse in its glory days. It was wider than it was tall, and its only noticeable feature was the big, brown double doors that took up three quarters of the façade. There was also a smaller door for personnel next to it. The metal was rusted, and the paint chipped. The concrete had several large cracks decorating the walls. Fate parked next to a long line of police cruisers. They had barely put their feet outside on the ground when they heard a bellow.
"Oh no, I don't think so!" The large man who stalked over had his big hands clenched into fists. His stern, stubble spotted face had less colour than the last time Fate had seen him.
"Detective Ford." She greeted. "What seems to be the problem?"
"What the hell?!" He huffed. "I asked the Bureau for some hardened veterans! Not you kids!"
"Detective, you know how capable we are." Fate blinked in confusion. She had proven herself on the last case they had worked on. Why was there a problem?
"Oh no." He shook his head violently. "I don't care! I'm not letting you go near that crime scene!"
Being denied so forcefully invoked Fate's not often used stubborn streak.
"Detective, we have our orders assigning us to this case." She stated. "I have more than enough experience to handle it."
"Experience?" Ford jabbed his finger towards an adjacent building. Leaning against the wall were a dozen officers, squatting down with their heads between their legs. "See them over there? Most of them have twice the amount of experience you do! And look at them! Their breakfast is now all over the damn place!"
Fate stared in shock. Cops had to see a lot of horrible things over the course of the job. If officers who have been in the field that long were hunched over, puking their guts out… Fate couldn't even imagine what they've seen. "What happened here?"
"The less you know, the better." Ford said with narrowed eyes. "I'm not going to let girls barely older than my daughter traumatize themselves! Now go and have the Bureau send some one else!"
Fate considered it, but shook her head. She was there, and she wanted to help. "We're not leaving, Detective."
"Damn it!" Ford ruffled his short brown hair. "Damn it! Ok, fine. But only you!" He pointed at Fate. "Your aides stay here!"
"That's fine." Fate turned to her aides. "Shari, Teana, please scan the perimeter for any abnormal readings. I'll check out the building."
The two girls nodded and dispersed.
"You really won't change your mind, Ms Enforcer?" Ford almost pleaded as they approached the building. "You don't want to see this."
"I'll handle it." Fate assured him.
"I warned you…" He let out a long sigh.
"Please tell me what happened."
"Early this morning, a homeless man came to this building seeking shelter." Ford explained. "That's when he found… 'it'. After emptying his stomach, he ran back towards downtown, found the nearest public phone and called it in."
"What made you suspect Lost Logia involvement?"
"… You'll see." Ford said after a moment of silence. They stood in front of the smaller door before he spoke again. "You're going to need a Bio-Barrier."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny, rectangular device. Having no magical ability, Ford and the majority of the police force had to use such devices. It functioned like any battery powered device, only its energy source is magic cartridges. The device would drain power from the cartridges and cast the spell it was programmed with. A Bio-Barrier is a spell designed to prevent contamination of a crime scene, and protect against biological hazards. Ford flicked the device on, and his body briefly flashed a gold outline.
Fate had no need for such a device, as she had her own.
"Bardiche." She took the gold triangle from her pocket.
"Bio-Barrier." He said. Fate's body was also outlined in gold.
"This is your last chance." Ford warned again, placing his hand on the door handle. "Once I open this door, there's no going back."
"Please don't worry about me."
Ford sighed again and opened the door.
The smell hit her first.
That vile, putrid metallic smell struck her like a punch to the face. Her eyes stung and began to water. The filthy air forced its way down her lungs, causing her to cough. Her hand quickly covered her nose and mouth. Unfortunately, her vision was unprotected against the carnage that lay before her.
It was as if some one had redecorated the room for a party. The walls, floor, and even the ceiling shimmered with a fresh coat of crimson paint. Streamers were strewn all over, stretching from one end of the room to the other. Some carelessly hung from the roof reached the floor with length to spare. Ornaments hung from the wall, and pieces of confetti were littered all over the place.
The horrible reality was that the there was no fresh paint. All sides of the room were covered in blood. Large drops rained from the ceiling and gathered on the floor. There were no streamers, just small and large intestines tossed about. The ornaments were arms, legs, shattered bones, and faces, embedded into the wall by some great force. The stump of a limb still dripped the liquid of life onto the ground, adding more to the soup of broken fingers, ears, noses, eyeballs, marrow, lungs, livers, kidneys, hearts, and shredded clothing. The ghastly display was illuminated by the daylight that poured in through a large hole in the ceiling.
Fate had no words. Even if she did, she couldn't spare the strength to say them. It was all focused on keeping her stomach contents from expelling out her mouth. It was too much. Fate knew the terrible things humans could do to each other, but she had never seen anything so… horrific. To render another person to mere pieces of meat… how could a human be capable of such a thing?
"There is no way in hell a normal person did this." Ford growled. Even he had vomited earlier at the sight. His digestive system was empty, but his face was still tinted green. "You'd need a group of people to do this much. But there's no way that's the case. No way could they have cleaned themselves up after committing… this massacre. They would have carried something outside, but the perimeter is clean. Hell, I don't even think a familiar could pull this off! That's why my money's on some sort of Lost Logia involvement."
"… How many victims?" Fate managed weakly. "There's no way all this came from one person."
Ford shook his head. "We have no idea. But I count at least four livers floating around. Who knows how many more were mashed up into something unrecognisable."
"Four?" Fate forced herself to look. Forced herself to take it in. At least four people had been reduced to this. Four people had their lives ended in the worse way possible. She vowed on the spot to find who, or what, did this to them. She would get them justice.
It was then that she noticed the figures in full on white HazMat suits rather than barriers sifting through the slush. They held cameras and took pictures as they moved along, occasionally picking up body parts and placing them into bags.
"The best in the business." Ford explained. "They must have nerves of titanium. Sorry, but I couldn't wait for you before I had them start processing the scene. It… it will take a long time to get everything…"
"I understand, Detective." Shakily, Fate stepped into the warehouse. Colour further drained from her face at the all too audible splash as her shoe met fluid. The barrier would ensure that her shoes wouldn't be ruined, but that was the least of her concerns. Wading through what used to be a person was what unsettled her. "Bardiche…"
"Scanning." The intelligent device replied. "No abnormal residual magical readings of the Mid Childan or Belka type. Unknown reading detected. Unable to identify."
"A type of magic that isn't Mid Childan or Belka?" Fate asked.
"Negative, sir. Unknown reading is not identified as a system of magic."
"Then what the hell could we be dealing with?" Ford pondered.
'Teana, Shari, are you picking up any strange readings?' Fate mentally contacted her subordinates.
'Nope, nothing weird here, Fate-san." Answered Shari.
'Same here.' Replied Teana.
"Shari and Teana haven't picked up anything outside… So the reading is just in here…" Fate told Ford.
"So whatever did this didn't come just walking on in, and didn't leave out the front door…" Ford looked up. "I think we know our point of entry and exit." He indicated the hole in the ceiling.
"Flight capable…" Fate murmured. "But doesn't use magic…" She stopped when she heard a clinking noise at her foot. She looked down, only to see the carpet of blood. Swallowing hard, she bent down and reached into the red. The barrier didn't prevent her hand from feeling the warm, wet sensation of the blood on her skin. She grasped blindly in the muck until she touched something hard. She gripped it and pulled her hand up. From her grasp dangled a chain. Gravity caused the wet blood to run down, revealing a gold colour. Attached to the chain were the letters B and S. The top hook of the S was threaded through the bottom hoop of the B.
"Looks like a necklace." Ford observed. "Might help us identify the owner." He held out an evidence bag and Fate dropped the necklace in.
Unable to continue keeping herself distracted with her thoughts, Fate made long strides towards the door before the nausea took over. Ford followed wordlessly and closed the door behind him after they exited. Fate took a deep, long breath of the comparatively clear air. The barrier had prevented the stench from clinging to her uniform, but her nostrils still remembered. The images were still fresh in her mind.
"You ok?" Ford asked.
"I'm fine." She said, even though it was a lie. Her stomach was in turmoil and her face was whiter than Nanoha's barrier jacket.
"I know it's bad." Ford started. "I think you should…"
"Detective!" Some one shouted. "We've secured a suspicious individual!"
"What?" Ford shouted back as he and Fate ran to the source of the commotion.
"Let go of me, yo!" Came another voice. "I didn't do nothing!"
"For the love of…" Ford sighed when he arrived. Being pinned to the ground by a cop was a scrawny white teenager. He wore a white wife beater and silver shorts worn low enough to show the top part of his plaid boxers. Curly blond hair was covered by a red do-rag. His brown eyes were hot with defiance, glaring at anyone within his range of vision. "What are you doing out here, kid?"
"I don't gotta answer to no cop, ya dig?" The boy spat. "Don't need a reason to hang in my crib. You cops got no right being here! Me and my buds ain't done nothin!"
Ford put his palm over his face. "Double negatives, son, do you know them? If you 'ain't done nothin', that means you did something… Wait, you and your buds?"
"That's right! Me and my posse, we hang at this warehouse!" The teen gloated. "Had a rockin party last night! I had to leave early, but I bet it got even crazier after I left!"
Ford and Fate both froze. "How old are you, son?" Ford asked.
"I ain't your son, pops! And I be sixteen! What's it to you?"
"Your buddies… are they the same age as you?"
"Yeah. So what?"
Fate and Ford exchanged uneasy glances before looking back at the warehouse.
They now knew that the horror held within was all that remained of a bunch of kids.