Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or its affiliated characters. Characters not in the series are my own.
A/N: This is the third story in my series, Chronicles of Las Vegas. It's not necessary to read the first two stories, in order to understand this one but if you want to go through from the beginning, A Midsummer Nightmare would be your starting point. :)
A red Dodge Viper careers along West Flamingo Road heading towards the city centre. The occupants have opened the window and are enjoying the leisurely cruise in the brilliant Nevada sunshine, rap music is blasting loudly from the speakers as the driver shows off the speed of the automobile. Although they are not driving recklessly, they are still driving well above the speed limit, inconsiderate of the volume of traffic lining the boulevards of Las Vegas.
The passenger is smoking a cigar out the window, taking advantage of their successful hauling taken from the casino the previous night. A car emerging from the freeway toots at them as they change lanes erratically to avoid the merging vehicle. The passenger in turn proceeds to curse the driver of the other vehicle, both verbally and through various gestures. As they approach the intersection with the Strip, the lights begin to change.
"Whoa dude, slow down!" the passenger screams to the driver. The driver, inexperienced with the car applies pressure to the breaks but it is not enough power to stop the formidable sports car, which slams into the back of the SUV patiently waiting at the lights, sending both cars into the path of the oncoming traffic from the strip. The usually vibrant atmosphere is broken up by the sounds of screeching tyres, metal hitting metal, blasts of car horns and screaming passengers and people passing by as a five car pile-up took place, the Viper flipping over onto its back and landing some thirty yards away from the main crash site.
The sounds of sirens fill the air as the emergency services rapidly head straight for the action. Two, no three ambulances pull up and the injured are immediately tended to. The police immediately get into action, cordoning off the intersection and setting up diversion routes around the area. Onlookers both watch with horror and capture the scene themselves, filming the both the crash and subsequent recovery on their cell phones, perhaps in a hope to earn some cash out of it.
It was clear that closing down one of Las Vegas' busiest intersections was going to have a negative effect on traffic elsewhere along the strip and Flamingo. Cars heading northbound on the strip were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, whilst those south of Harmon Avenue could bypass the crash site, however, for some a hundred or so cars, they were forced to sit out and wait for the emergency services could clear the scene or until the police allowed them to make a U-turn and head southwards.
A woman in her silver Ford Focus was specifically frustrated as she brought out her phone to explain the situation to her manager, "No, no there's nothing I can do, I am literally stuck in a sea of traffic... no, I told you I'm gonna be at least an hour, maybe two... no I've been here forty minutes and we haven't moved at all, hold on a sec..." she wound down her window and shouted to the occupants of the car to the left, "can you turn your fucking music down I can't hear a thing!" the people in the car next to her looked at her shocked but obliged to her request, she turned back to her phone, "Sorry about that... no... well if you need me in so badly you can get your fat ass down here and pick me up." She hung up the phone and growled in frustration at the fact that she was stuck in this jam.
She looked at her watch, twenty-five past seven, meaning she would already be in her office and earning money right now. Annoyed by the echoes of horns that blasted around her, she beeped her own horn, shouting to the people around her, "Oh okay, let's go beeping our horns in hopes that will get us out of here. Beep, beep, beep, oh would ya look at that, I ain't fucking moved an inch but no I'ma keep on..."
The sounds of horns were completely overruled by a far larger noise. People nearby felt the air pushing them backwards as a tremendous fireball erupted from the silver Ford Focus, emitting smoke metres in the air. Anyone in the surrounding vicinity was immediately thrown off their feet; shop windows smashed and nearby cars were thrown away effortlessly. Bodies lay on the sidewalk and on the road, clinging on to life as those who weren't seriously injured screamed for help.
The explosion was felt along the street and the clean-up crew at the Flamingo intersection crash immediately knew something was wrong. Spectators to this crash immediately turned their cell phones to the direction of the billowing smoke a couple of blocks down the strip. People flocked to it like seagulls, either to help or to see it for themselves. Thankfully, many of the ambulances from the previous crash hadn't yet departed and were available to provide quick emergency assistance to those injured in the blast.
A sergeant previously attending the crash site a couple of blocks up was the first on the scene. The wreckage of the Ford Focus was still aflame and the ground was littered with debris and to his disgust, body parts. A familiar smell wafted through his nose.
"What first?" An officer walked up to the sergeant asked.
The sergeant simply replied, "Bring me a fire truck, a shit load of ambulances and get CSI on the phone."
Sara, Nick and Greg walked into the crime lab, smiles implanted on their faces having just solved a quick and easy B&E.
"That was just too easy," Greg chuckled as he opened his locker and dumped his kit inside it.
"I can't believe he actually let himself get handed him with the stolen items on his possession," Sara laughed. "It's people like him which make me seriously doubt Darwin."
"It certainly provided a whole new definition of slam dunk," Nick commented to the three of them, "hey, doesn't that new DNA chick start today."
"A hundred bucks says I can get her in the sack before you do," Greg grinned sheepishly, to which Sara rolled her eyes and muttered something along the lines of 'men' to herself.
"You might as well just give me that hundred now," Nick chuckled, "going by your past record."
"Oh really?" Greg laughed, "when was the last time you got laid?"
"Oh yeah, when was the first time you got..."
"I'm outta here," Sara said flatly, getting up and leaving the two men to continue battling their egos against each other.
"Early bird catches the worm Greg," Nick said to him heading for the DNA lab. Greg childishly followed him out and tried to outrun his colleague to the DNA lab. The two of them abruptly came to a halt as the woman turned around to see what the commotion was.
"Ah, Stokes, Sanders," a voice came from behind them. It was Ecklie, "I see you haven't met our new DNA technician, gentlemen, this is Selma Montague. She's transferred over from San Diego to work in our department. Selma, this is CSI Nick Stokes and CSI Greg Sanders who will also be on the night shift with you."
Selma outstretched her hand to both of them before commenting, "corr, they don't make guys like yourselves back in San Diego!"
Nick and Greg laughed nervously as they shook her hand, muttering comments such as "nice to meet you, Selma." Selma was quite unlike the previous technicians in the DNA lab. She was a small woman with kind blue eyes and short, wispy, grey hair. She must have been in her mid-sixties or so, but it became quickly clear that the bets were off.
"Right, you two," Ecklie spoke up indicating to Nick and Greg, "I need you in Catherine's office, now."
The two of them said goodbye to Selma and as they followed Ecklie to their supervisor's office, Greg subtly whispered into Nick's ear, "she's all yours."
Once the entire grave shift had all settled into Catherine's office, Ecklie pulled out a large file and began explaining to them why they had been summoned, "the bad news is that you're not going to be able to go home, yet," Sara rolled her eyes and tutted, "we got a call regarding a car crash and then an explosion occurring on the strip, we believe the two events are not related. Half of days are in LA chasing a serial killer leaving the other half with the car crash. I need you guys to process the explosion."
"Do you reckon it was a bomb?" Catherine inquired.
"It's difficult to say but eyewitnesses claim that it was... massive," a look of concern began to take hold of the faces of the CSIs in the office at the office, "now I don't know the extent of the damage at the moment, but the mayor is pressuring me to get this done quickly..."
"But if it's a bomb we could be looking at millions of pieces lying around," Sara piped up angrily.
"Which is why I can count on you guys to do the job both quickly and effectively," Ecklie answered to which Sara held back a little, "now this is a very high profile case, everything gets absolute priority, the mayor has asked as much manpower as possible going into this investigation so... so..."
"So what, Ecklie?" Catherine smiled, having an inkling she knew where this was going.
"So," Ecklie said mournfully, "I will be placed under your leadership Catherine, and will be assisting with the investigation."
The entire team gave a mock cheer as Catherine, still grinning said, "well you better dust off your kit, Conrad, we're leaving in five."
Even before arriving at the crime scene, Catherine could tell it was a big one, the closure of the Strip between Harman and Flamingo had meant traffic had built up rapidly in the surrounding areas. Catherine couldn't remember the last time she had had to use her sirens in order to get to the crime scene.
She knew that the scene was going to take time to clear, time which the mayor and the city of Las Vegas couldn't afford to have one of its major attractions shut down for. Several thousand spectators had been ushered behind the crime tape, eager to get in with the action or get their videos on the news. She noticed that there were several cars clumped together north and south of what appeared to be the main explosion site. About half a dozen cars were lying in various positions, two of them on the wrong side of the road and one had even been thrown onto the pavement.
The coroners had already arrived at the scene, as she got out of her Denali she could see that both Al Robbins and David were wandering the scene and recording the position of blood and body parts. Within seconds, the entire team had assembled with their latex gloves and silver kits, ready to clean up the scene. Catherine spent a few moments surveying the scene once more before she delegated jobs to her team, "okay then," she called, "Greg, Ray, you two focus on this area of the scene," she indicated the area which appeared to be the main blast sight, "find out whether this was the source of the explosion and in particular that vehicle there," she pointed out the remains of a burnt Ford Focus which looked almost unrecognisable, "Nick, Sara, you two check out those vehicles which have been scattered around, we can't bring them all back to the garage so get as much as you can off them. Conrad and I will look around these areas," she indicated to the remainder of the scene "and we'll find out the owner and see if we can get any legitimate eyewitnesses."
The team replied with a "yes boss" and proceeded to process the scene as they had been assigned to. Before beginning her job, Catherine noticed homicide detective Jim Brass strolling to her, presumably to update her on the current situation.
"Okay, eyewitnesses were walking away from the crash site further up the street and say they were suddenly thrown off their feet by the explosion, and then they can't remember what happened after that," Brass rolled his eyes as he flipped through his notepad, "right, we have at least one DB, well, fragments of a DB, at least a dozen injured, four seriously, I got my units taking all kinds of cells, gadgets and gizmos off anyone who captured the explosion. I've also had that camera's surveillance sent back to the lab," he pointed to a CCTV camera mounted on the side of one of those stores, "judging by the size of the explosion, I'd say we got a bomb on our hands."
"Okay thanks Jim," Catherine replied, "do you have an ID on our DB?"
"No, we tried analysing car plates but they were destroyed in the explosion, but I've been told that identifying our vic is a priority."
"Bombs are usually generally personal, Jim, so I'm gonna need you to dig deep into the victim's personal life once we've identified them."
"No problem Catherine," he said and walked off to sort out an issue regarding some of the crowds who had swarmed over towards the crime scene. "Whoa, whoa, move the crime scene tape back another block."
Seeing that Brass had now left, Catherine could begin working. She started by documenting various shrapnel and fragments, possibly from the suspected bomb and began taking photos and bagging the larger parts she could pick up. The work was tiring and particularly exhausting having already conducted and eight hour shift and it wasn't helped by the fact that it was another hot and sticky morning. She hoped they could identify the source of the explosion quickly, she knew she wasn't going to find an awful lot in her own search area and she had a horrible feeling in the back of her mind that the bomber, if it was a bomber, would strike again.
Greg and Ray had spent the past half an hour combing through what they had identified as the source of the explosion. It was pretty obvious given the crater which had appeared in the middle of the road and the fact that everything in close proximity to the burnt out car had been blown outwards. It made sense after all, there was heavy congestion on the road so the cars would have been compacted together and thus would have felt the brunt of the explosion.
"It's a miracle that we only had one fatality," Ray commented to Greg, who was lifting away parts of the Ford Focus.
"Yeah, but we still gotta count on the others making it through, from the sounds of things this was a pretty sizeable explosion," Greg said, shifting another part of the car out of the way, "oh lovely, we got a finger here."
"Doc!" Ray called out, "we need you to take a look at this."
Al Robbins came hobbling over to where they were and bent down to further examine the finger. "Well it looks like this was left in pretty good condition," he commented, "apart from being detached from the body of course."
"Do you reckon we can get anything from it?" Ray asked.
"I'd say there's a good chance you can," Doc Robbins replied, "I can tell you that the victim was probably female, judging by the fake nails. I'd say she was also of African-American descent as well but other than that I can't give you anything else."
"Okay, I'll bag it and take it back to DNA later."
"Whoa, biohazard bags Ray!" Greg reminded him, just as Ray was about to bag it with the other evidence.
"You know, I think I'll take that back with me now," Doc Robbins offered, "I'm heading back now and it looks like there isn't a lot for me to do out here."
"Cheers Doc," Ray said, handing him the finger.
"I got an end cap!" Greg called out, picking up a large fragment, "this is pretty hefty, and I mean, way bigger than the ones I used."
Ray looked at Greg, perplexed, "What do you mean, bigger than the ones I used?"
"Oh, I used to make bombs," Greg chuckled, Ray looked at him with a look of horror, "little bombs," Greg held out up his finger and thumb, emphasising 'little'. "Well, I'd say we're definitely looking at a bomb of some sorts. Pipe bomb most likely."
"I think I got another cap here," Ray had picked up another large fragment, almost identical to the one which Greg had found only this one was slightly more deformed.
"Well one of those caps must have made contact with the explosive material; hopefully Hodges can find something from it. Explosive material or prints will give us a good idea what we're looking at."
The two of them began combing the scene once more; looking for more evidence to suggest that there was a bomb in this car. Within an hour and a half they had managed to find plenty of bomb fragments as well as several frayed wires, what looked to be the remnants of a digital clock and another device, shaped a little like a battery.
"Okay Mr bomb expert," Ray spoke to Greg, "what's this?" He held up the battery-shaped device for Greg to see.
Greg studied it for a moment before shrugging his shoulders, bagging the device and telling him, "I have no idea but that doesn't look like something which belongs in a car."
"Okay, I'm going to hazard a guess here," Ray spoke in his usual calm tone, "we're looking at a high explosive bomb, probably built into the hood of the car. I'm willing to bet a time bomb judging by the clock remains we've found."
"Which narrows our suspect list down to, anyone in Vegas."
"I knew this thing would eventually be worth the two hundred or so dollars," Nick said as he wiped the surface of one of the wrecked cars with what looked like to be a small piece of sandpaper.
"You paid two hundred dollars for that?" Sara asked in disbelief, "you know you could try getting it through the lab for about a quarter of that price."
"Sara, the lab can't even afford another level one, let alone paying for the entire days, swing and night shift for an advanced explosive kit, so I thought I might up my game."
"The reason we're not supplied with these because we get like, one explosion case a year? It's just not worth the hassle."
"Au contraire," Nick replied smugly as he got out a bottle of a liquid similar to the hydrogen peroxide they used to test for blood, "let's see, we had that funeral bombing last May, then that pesky McCann brat tried to bomb my house earlier this year, then there was the warehouse bomb and the one at the deaf colle..."
"Okay, okay, I get it; just show me how it works." Nick smiled whilst Sara folded her arms sceptically, not entirely convinced by Nick's new gadget.
"Just a couple of drops and..." he applied two drops onto the paper. Nothing happened.
"Err, Houston, we have a problem," Sara had a look of smug satisfaction planted on her face to which Nick lapped up; he was not finished with his new toy.
"You see Sara," he put the first tube of liquid back into his case and took out a new one, "that's just told me that our explosives weren't Class A explosives, you know, like TNT, Tetryl, TNB etc. Now when I apply this," he poured two drops of the second liquid onto the paper, this time the paper rapidly changed to a pink colour, "it tells me that the explosives used in this bombing were class B explosives."
Sara tried her best not to look impressed, "okay, so what explosives were used then."
Nick grimaced slightly before spewing, "Either, dynamite, nitoglycerin, RDX, PETN, Nitrocellulose or SEMTEX."
"Well," Sara stood up, and saying sarcastically, "that narrows things down, doesn't it."
"What have you got Archie?"
Catherine had decided that her search areas had not produced any significant results and that she would be better off going back to the lab. After all, she'd given most of the field work to Greg and Ray, who were analysing the source of the explosion. Upon arriving at the lab she immediately got a page from Archie who had identified the mystery victim.
"Hey, I got your explosion on the surveillance footage here," he fast-forwarded the footage to seven twenty-five and forty three seconds and played it for Catherine. It clearly showed the silver Ford Focus being the source of the explosion. The footage shocked Catherine, not because of the content but of the sheer size of the explosion.
"That's a lot bigger than I was expecting," she stuttered. "An explosion that big, it looked like the bomb was designed to take a lot of lives, and it's a miracle only one person was killed."
"I'm afraid we better make that two," Jim Brass walked in sadly, "Patrick McConnors, wrong place at the wrong time."
"So now we've got a double murderer on our hands. So you were saying you've identified our mystery vic?"
"Yeah, I couldn't pull plates off the surveillance but traffic cameras picked up our same Silver Ford Focus crossing Harmon forty-two minutes beforehand." He opened a file entitled '6/30/11' and advanced to six forty-three that morning. "Now this is just moments after that crash on Flamingo, there she goes," he pointed out the Ford Focus crossing the intersection. "I ran plates and identified our victim as Marie Freybould."
A picture of a middle-aged African American woman was put up on the screen enlisting her personal details such as her telephone contacts, home address and work address. "Coroners found a finger from an African American woman at the scene; I'd safely say it was her. I'll go and take Lo- I mean Detective Vartann for a little road trip to the victim's house."
"So I'm stuck with Conrad huh?" Brass chuckled, holding out his hands with a hint of annoyance, "I'll go and find out what her employer at, NevadaTelecom," he read off the screen. "I'll see what they have to say about her.
"Jim," Catherine spoke to Brass as they both left the AV lab to head for their destinations, "I don't know why but I have a bad feeling about this case."
"I don't know, I've just got a horrible feeling that our bomber isn't quite finished yet."
A/N: That is the end of Part 1 of the story, the second part will be up sometime tomorrow. Feel free to tell me what you thought of it and I hope you enjoyed the story and stay tuned for the rest of it! :)