Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or its affiliated characters. Characters not in the series are my own.
A/N: This is the sixth story in my series, Chronicles of Las Vegas. Whilst it's not necessary to read all the previous stories to understand this one, I'd highly recommend reading Crunch Time (1x02) first of all in order to fully understand the context of this one. :)
Lights flickered around the room with a dazzling array of purples, blues, reds and many more colours, music pumped out of speakers strategically placed around the club, along it to pulsate through the bodies which lined the dance floor. The floor was packed full of party-goers, it was particularly busy for a Thursday night but that only heightened the atmosphere in the club. Whilst many were just there for the music and the dancing, many ladies danced around in their most revealing attire and the shortest skirts they could find, hoping to be taken away by a prince. Likewise, men dressed in their coolest clothes roamed the dance floor searching for their ideal lady to bed, like animals looking to court.
The lower levels of the club consisted of the bar area where those less confident on the dance floor could try and play their game, offering to buy their chosen mate a drink or by trying to play things smoothly. A small seating area surrounded the bar where groups of friends sat there drinking shots and partaking in various drinking games, whilst over to the far end of the club sat a large group of people in what could be described as the VIP circle taking part in their own drinking session, flanked by bouncers.
As the DJ changed the song, the people on the dance floor screamed with joy as one of the summer's most popular dance songs began to blast from the speakers and the pillars of neon lights which lined the club began to flash with a rainbow of bright colours.
A group of seven large Hispanic men entered the club and quickly seized an available seating booth near to the bar. The group consisted of a variety of characters, most of them muscular, intimidating and loudly boasting about the amount of drugs they'd consumed over the day and began playfully fighting each other.
One of the men got up from the table and made his way to the bar. He looked to be one of the older members of his group with large, beady brown eyes, a reasonably sized nose and he sported a thin goatee. He ordered a round of tequila for his group and sat down on a stool waiting for his order to come through. Out of the corner of his eye, he felt himself being watched and he turned his head to the left and saw there was a woman watching him from two stools down. She looked at him teasingly with her brown eyes and he noticed she was wearing a royal blue dress which didn't quite extend below the knees.
She saw him looking at her and stood up from her stool, leaving the man disappointed only to be rejoined by that same woman who sat down on the stool next to him. He took a moment to take in her elusive scent, sweet and refreshing although its components were not identifiable. She tossed back her curled, brown, shoulder length hair and smiled at him. A noticeable gap in her teeth, but it didn't detract from her beauty much; he made a mental note to himself.
"Can I get you anything?" He asked the woman.
She shrugged her shoulders, "surprise me," was all she said. He couldn't quite determine her accent, although it certainly wasn't from around these areas. He ordered another shot of tequila for his new mysterious admirer. When he turned to face again, he noticed she had taken a particular interest into his left arm.
"You like what you see?" He asked, indicating to the many tattoos which snaked up to his shoulder. She nodded eagerly. "They're just a teaser," he commented pointing to his chest, "the real stuff's all here."
"I'll show you mine, if you show me yours," she teased pulling off her left shoe to reveal a small, modest flower tattoo just above her left ankle.
He snorted to himself, this was too easy, "check out this baby," he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a large tattoo deciphering a large cross engulfed in fire, an angel soaring up from the inferno. She clearly looked impressed as she placed her hand on his chest and touched it.
"Put your shirt back on, sir," the bartender snapped at him, handing out his drinks. The man apologised and quickly buttoned up his shirt, his female admirer giggling to herself. He took her by the arm and escorted her back to his seating booth.
They were just leaving the bar when suddenly he felt somebody stumble and suddenly he felt moderately soaked as he realised he'd spilled his drinks over him. He turned around and saw a young, blonde man get a hold of his footing. He looked rather scrawny; he could easily beat him in a fight. "Hey," he called out furiously. "You gonna pay for those punk?"
He walked over and grabbed the man by the shirt, even though this guy was taller, he didn't look like the fighting type. The man looked at him apologetically, "I'm sorry sir, I'll go and get you another."
"You gonna get me a new shirt too?" He shook the man angrily.
"Yeah sure, just let me go." He felt a hand get placed on his shoulder; he saw it was his newly acquired date, pulling him away from a possible fight. She ruffled her hair and looked at him disapprovingly.
Then he felt another hand on his shoulder, this one had a much firmer grip and in an instant he was spun round and face to face with a large, black man. Suddenly he felt himself feel a little insecure and started to wriggle free. "Don't. Move," the black man said in a deep voice, "do what I say, and nobody gets hurt."
"I ain't taking no orders from no negro," he spat and broke free of the firm grip.
He began running towards the front door of the club, trying to get away, but he was suddenly thrown off his feet and onto the floor as he felt someone fall on top of him. He felt his hands restrained with cold handcuffs and was suddenly aware that amongst the rife party atmosphere, things were about to get even wilder.
Lou Vartann observed the nightclub slightly from afar. Donning a baseball cap and keeping out of sight of the gang of seven he closely watched, waiting for the opportune moment. He saw Greg stumble and spill his drink on their target, followed by the target grabbing Greg by the shirt, although he couldn't make out their conversation over the noise of the music.
Sara put a hand on the target's shoulder and watched her ruffle her hair, signalling Ray to take leave his seat from the bar, who grabbed the target and began talking to him. Behind Ray he could saw Greg sort out his collar. That was his signal to descend upon the table; slowly and cautiously he headed towards the table consisting of the six men, still unaware of the situation surrounding them.
Suddenly, he saw the target had broken free of his grip and had made a beeline for the exit. Vartann quickly picked up his radio and shouted into it, "Go! Go!" He watched as Officer Mitchell dived upon the escaping suspect, taking him down to the ground and cuffing him. Like a herd of headless chickens, their assailants suddenly leapt into action as they fled their seating booth. The chase was on.
Vartann saw a suspect heading right towards him, before they could reach the emergency he pulled the suspect away, slamming him down on the table and successfully cuffing him. Two down, five to go, he thought to himself. Out of the corner of his eye he saw another suspect avoid capture by Officer Metcalf and run past Officer Mitchell still attending to the first target.
Seeing that the suspect was able to get through the double doors, Vartann picked up his radio again, "Captain, we have a four-forty escaped via Exit Alpha."
"I'm on it Lou," was Brass' reply.
Nick heard Vartann's radio call and immediately sprung into action. From his position on the dance floor he could see four of the suspects push through the crowd, people yelped as they were shoved aside, drinks went askew and the palpitating music and shimmering lights only made the situation so much more difficult to get a hold of.
Detective Vega was able to tackle one of the suspects to the ground, knocking him completely off his feet and pinning him up to the wall. Ripping off his fake moustache and wig, Nick pursued the remaining three suspects through the back rooms of the nightclub, following two more officers. One suspect dived into a room where the only escape was a two-storey drop into a dumpster whilst another made their way out through the ladies bathrooms, only to be stunned by a female officer, who had been strategically lying in wait.
This left just one more suspect for Nick to chase, darting along the narrow hallways away from the main club area. The suspect suddenly headed upstairs into areas which had been cordoned off to the public. Nick grabbed his gun, following the suspect up the stairs and continuing to chase him. Just as he was about to turn a corridor, he felt a sharp pain as a fist suddenly appeared from nowhere, making a harsh contact with his nose. Nick felt himself fall backwards and slumped against the wall, feeling the blood trickle down from his nostrils.
"Captain, we have a four-forty escaped via Exit Alpha," Brass, sat in his car heard Vartann call down the radio.
He watched the suspect turn into the side alley where he had parked his motorcycle, and where Brass sat waiting. He radioed back, "I'm on it, Lou," put on the flashing lights and the sirens and drove towards the suspect.
In a panic he saw the suspect hastily jump on the motorcycle and kick-start the vehicle. Before Brass could block the suspect's path, the motorcycle jolted forwards and began speeding onto the streets of Vegas. Brass swore to himself and floored the gas and sharply turning left onto the main road following his suspect whilst narrowly avoiding a collision with an unsuspecting blue van.
Up ahead he could see the suspect weaving in and out of the traffic which lined the streets, heading towards the centre of Las Vegas. The traffic parted for Brass as he sped up to catch the suspect. He can't get away this time, Brass thought as he executed a perfect handbrake turn after the suspect made a surprise exit to a backstreet on the right. Then to the left, and another left, and another right.
Images flashed through Brass' mind, he was chasing a red Ford Fiesta through the streets of Las Vegas, they stopped, there was a flash of light and suddenly everything went silent. Brass shook the images out of his head, realising that his target was getting away. He saw the motorcycle turn off at an intersection further up and Brass decided to head him off, taking a short cut he knew well.
He pulled out of the side street just as the motorcycle passed by, startling the rider who swerved abruptly to the right colliding with a truck which had just pulled out of a road on the right. The motorcycle slid underneath the truck, hitting the sidewalk and coming to a stop. The rider was less lucky; the force of the collision sent him catapulting into the wall of the building, hitting the ground with a sickening thud.
Brass screeched to a halt and hopped out the car, ignoring the truck driver's panic that he'd hit someone. Pulling out his gun, Brass stepped out behind the lorry where he saw the motorcycle lying on its side, considerably damaged. Some twenty metres away he saw the body of his target lying slumped against the wall in a pool of blood. Motionless.
"Nick... Nick! Are you alright?"
Nick blinked, realising that Catherine's voice was coming from his radio. He quickly looked around, seeing he was slumped up against the wall and heavily breathing. He realised he must have been momentarily winded and his finger was pressing transmit on his radio. He quickly responded back, "yeah, I'm fine."
Hearing footsteps move quickly above him he sprung to his feet and followed the corridor round until he reached another staircase. Ensuring he wouldn't be caught unaware again he jumped up the stairs three at a time and paused a moment before turning the corner. He saw the suspect a little way ahead, having erroneously thought that he'd gotten away from Nick. Upon seeing Nick, he quickly took off again, heading to a door which led outside. Nick followed him and realised they'd used the fire escape.
He saw the suspect climb up the stairs towards the top of the building, fortunately for Nick, the suspect seemed pretty stupid. Nick followed him upwards, gun raised. After climbing three storeys he had finally came face to face with the suspect, who now stood cornered between Nick and the railings preceding a five storey drop. The suspect took one look at Nick and put his left foot onto the railings, readying himself to jump.
"On your knees," Nick barked at him. Hesitating whether to jump or comply, the suspect slowly dropped to his knees where Nick promptly cuffed him. The suspect suddenly lashed out with his foot but not before Nick could whip him around the head with his pistol. "You see that's why you don't run from cops, jackass."
Nick hauled the suspect to his feet but not before he noticed a foul stench which even managed to infiltrate through his nostrils despite the blood. He heard a faint buzzing, one which he recognised. Nick quickly looked around and saw nothing. He dragged the suspect down the first flight of stairs where he found the source of the smell and the source of the blowflies. He dragged his suspect over to one side, cuffing him to a railing and pulled out his radio.
"Control, I'm on the fire escape on the fifth floor... I'm gonna need a coroner."
Brass returned to the side alley where he had began his pursuit of the motorcycle suspect, walking alongside Catherine towards the back of a van, which had been used during the stake-out as a control centre. "Okay, we have five of our suspects in custody; one's been taken for Desert Palms with minor injuries."
"How did that occur?" Catherine asked, concerned that any sign of police brutality could lose a conviction with their case.
"Jumped out a window, missed the dumpster, let's just say his inability to reproduce will do the world a huge favour," Brass said without a care in his voice, "finally we've got one deceased. The motorcyclist collided with a truck. Paramedics pronounced twenty minutes ago."
"You'll be fine, don't worry," Catherine sensed the anxiety in Brass' voice as he had a partial responsibility to the biker's death.
"Yeah. Oh and now we have the added complication of a four-nineteen out the back of the venue, although it seems unrelated to our boys here."
"What makes you think that?"
"According to Nick, the signatures are similar to an unsolved case from about four weeks ago, not related to Los Ángeles de la Muerte."
"Alright, I'll speak to Conrad; get another one of my guys on the case."
"We can't afford to let these guys slip away again. Knowing them, they'd have got good lawyers, this case is a priority."
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours?" Ray teased Sara as the two of them walked down the back alley of the nightclub towards where they would be debriefed by Ecklie and Catherine.
"Well, it worked," Sara pointed out, "that was too easy, I can't believe we've been chasing these morons for so long. Hey Greggo, how are you shaping up?"
"Fine," Greg responded merrily, joining his colleagues as they walked towards the black van which Catherine and Ecklie had used as control, "I thought for a second you were gonna let that guy beat me to a pulp."
"Oh it was tempting," Sara said with jest as they stopped by the doors of the van. Ecklie emerged from the van, stopping his conversation with Catherine.
"Okay guys," he addressed the three of them, "good work tonight, but we've got a bit of a situation here. Another four-nineteen was called in, the body's on the premises, Stokes is currently processing it as well and I'd like someone else with him."
As expected, the three CSIs were not keen on working on a new case, particularly as they had all been chasing this gang down all week. Seeing that nobody was volunteering, Greg sighed and raised his hand, "I'll do it," his voice sounded rather unenthusiastically.
"Thanks Sanders," Ecklie replied, he handed Greg his own collection kit, "take this, Officer Mitchell will escort you to the scene." The three watched as Greg was led away from the scene to go and join Nick, Ecklie turned back to the two remaining CSIs and quickly gave them a word of warning. "Just a warning, these guys are tough, they'll have good lawyers and now they know you work for us they won't go easy on you. Remember, they're very familiar with the law and Vegas' cops, that's why we brought you guys in tonight."
Sara seemed unphased by Ecklie's comments, declaring proudly, "let's bring them down."
Nick felt a peculiar sense of déjà vu overpower him as he looked at the body. Like one he had seen four weeks previously, the abdomen had been sliced open with a Y-incision, the flaps of skin opening up and revealing the internal organs inside. Just like with the case of Joseph Huyt, there was very little blood surrounding him which immediately suggested that he had been killed somewhere else and dumped.
However there were distinct differences within this case, whereas Joseph Huyt was Caucasian, this victim was black, probably African American. Unlike Joseph Huyt, who was wearing jogging clothes when he was killed, this victim was wearing a business suit and the shirt had been ripped off. The final noticeable difference was that whilst the body looked to have undergone an autopsy just as in the previous case, this time, Nick noticed that the victim's rib cage looked as if it had been ripped open, completely exposing the chest cavity to the elements.
"I'm afraid I can't give you an accurate time of death," David said sadly, "liver temperature will be compromised due to exposure and it looks like this body has been dumped so lividity will be no use. I can tell you the body is not in rigor mortis which suggests he's been dead a while, at least twelve hours. That's all I can give you, sorry."
"Don't worry about it David," Nick commented, observing the blowflies, "I don't see any larvae infesting the body, I don't think he's been dead any more than twenty four hours anyway."
"There's some sort of adhesive residue on his wrists," David noted, "just like with Joseph Huyt. There's some on this guy's ankles as well."
"He looks like a pretty tough guy, obviously needed some more restraint."
David rummaged through the pockets in the victim's suit and pants, pulling out a wallet and handing it to Nick, "wallet found in the victim's pants, just like the other victim."
"I have credit cards here," Nick commented, flicking through the wallet. "Cash, receipts, no signs of robbery, this is just like the other case. Our victim's name is Matthew Ellis, forty-one years old and a resident of Las Vegas."
"Oh good, so we're not gonna be chasing up people in Victorville this time." David zipped up the corpse into a body bag, taking extra care not to move the ribs at all. Wheeling the gurney down the flight of stairs, he told Nick cheerfully, "scene's all yours now. Don't forget to come and pay us a visit."
"Thanks David," Nick called out. As David descended the staircase, another figure could be seen climbing it, passing the gurney as he arrived at the scene. "Hey Greg," Nick called out to his colleague.
"Aww, I missed the body didn't I," Greg said, sounding disappointed.
"Yep, it was pretty gruesome," Nick replied, "you know what, you can go down to autopsy later, I've seen enough guts today."
"Fair enough," Greg smirked. "You found anything so far?"
"Well, we suspect it's a body dump, there's not a single drop in sight which wasn't contained to the body."
"So what are we looking for, a gun? A knife?"
"A knife, or, possibly a boxcutter," Nick recalled that Doc Robbins had said that the wound was caused by something precise and shallow, he had even specified a boxcutter as possible weapon then. "This guy was hacked open."
"Lovely," Greg replied sarcastically, spraying luminal around the balcony area. No apparent reaction had taken place. "How depressing, not even a droplet of blood."
"I'm thinking that the killer must have accessed the scene using the escape staircases round the back of the club. Dumping a body is pretty noticeable, the killer wouldn't have risked being caught going through the nightclub, even in the daytime."
"I guess that leaves us with a big problem then."
"The only way to access these stairs from the main road is to go round the side alley... which is where half the cops in Vegas are currently standing around. I don't think we're going to get any shoe impressions, tire treads etcetera."
Nick suddenly recalled the evening's events and felt his stomach tie itself in a knot. "I chased a suspect up these staircases earlier. Greg, I even went past the body, my nose was bleeding, I think our entire scene is pretty much compromised!"
"So, does that mean our investigation depends entirely on what we get from the body?" Greg asked, looking ever more concerned.
"It looks like it," Nick said regretfully. "Go and see whether there's a security camera on the main road adjacent to the back alley. Maybe we'll be in luck and they've seen something we haven't."
"Brilliant," Greg laughed, "our entire investigation is dependent on a security camera. Archie's gonna have a field day."
A/N: Los Ángeles de la Muerte is the name of the gang which LVPD were pursuing. It's Spanish for "The Angels of Death."
As you can probably tell, a lot of this chapter was inspired by the Season 10 episode, The Panty Sniffer.
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! :)