Author's Note: So, first chapter of a multi-chapter fic, set twenty years after the end of Numb3rs. Don't worry, despite this chapter, familiar characters are on the way! Please review!
Philliberto Martele shuddered imperceptibly in the darkness.
The boys were finishing up, wiping the black soil off their hands and grabbing their discarded shovels. Phil wondered idly what they thought of this particular assignment, if they even found it repulsive anymore. Maybe they had committed so many crimes for his family by now that nothing could effect them.
But this...This was so different than anything they'd ever done.
He stepped from the shadow of the trees and into the white moonlight, beckoning to the men. They crossed the open, semi-circle shaped glade back to the sidewalk, and the two waiting cars parked next to it. The others climbed into one car, and Phil into the second, the nicer of the two vehicles.
Sterling Martele, biting on the end of cigar, told the driver to go ahead.
"All squared away?" he asked his younger brother.
"Yep," Phil affirmed. He squirmed uncomfortably for a moment, it becoming obvious that Sterling was still not giving up any information. "Um...if you don't mind me asking-"
Phil looked at him cautiously. "I just wanna know why."
Sterling's head turned very slowly, until their eyes met. He said nothing for a long time. The brothers had the same ginger hair, the same blue eyes, though Sterling was nine years older and considerably more heavyset.
"Why do you wanna know?"
Phil's eyes flashed. "Because I think I'm entitled to! I'm not just your second in command, man. We've been in this together for twenty years. Maybe even since we were kids together. And now you've got us running around doing all this crazy shit, with no explanation whatsoever, and you expect me to just go along with it?! The cops are going to be onto us again, and we barely made it out last time!"
Instead of escalating the argument, Sterling just chuckled gently. "Don't worry, brother. This is just the beginning. I'll tell you everything when the time is right," he squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.
Phil did not relax at the touch, but he said no more.
m m m
Later, Gwen thought about how if she had just decided to look down at her iPod a second earlier, she wouldn't have seen anything. Would have just run right past the little half circle clearing, like always, and never seen a thing. And everything would have been so much simpler.
But that's not what happened.
It was the same morning jog she'd been taking for three years. She could have run the route with her eyes closed, and still have caught all the crosswalks and all the neighborly waves.
The clearing was in a rare undeveloped area of Los Angeles, just a two acre strip of road with a few tree clusterings. This time of year the grass had turned yellow, the trees mostly bare. She was dressed for the late November weather, in two jackets and a pair of gloves, earbuds crammed in her ears. She looked down to change the song, half a second, and then glanced back up. She saw it then, and certainly couldn't unsee it now.
Just a little mound of dirt in the clearing to her right, barely visible above the long grass. She knew that that had definitely not been there before. Even then, she could have just dismissed it as the work of an animal, but something made her stop. It had her stepping off the sidewalk, onto the lumpy ground, and approaching the little pile of dark brown soil. She trudged toward it, and it took her a moment to realize what it made her think of.
A rectangle of disturbed earth, approximately three feet in length, one foot in width. No full grown human would fit in a hole that size, and no natural process make the ground look like that. She sucked in a cold breath.
Turning her head, she caught sight of an identical patch of ground, and then two more diagonal to her, and three more to her left. Her heart began to pound, her panic had her frozen in place.
What the hell was this?
She finally pulled her phone from her back pocket, and called 911.