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#9a

Heebom Tower : later the same night

A cold regular rain had began to fall. Thin drops formed a dancing curtain in streetlight’s halos. Pinelvy crossed the street back to Heebom Tower. He jumped over the gutter, mentally ranting about streets dirtiness. His polished leather shoes slipped on the side walk and almost made him fall, which certainly didn’t improve his mood. He quelled the desire to run up the potentially dangerous stair to the building. Sergeant Smith was guarding the wide glass doors at the entrance. His superior did not try to hide his exasperation:

“What do they do? Have you called them as I required?”

“Yessir!”

“Journalists and other muckrakers won’t be long to come. Damn them, they would even come with a bone freezing blizzard! We’ll need your lazy colleagues.”

“It was just twenty minutes ago sir, they won’t delay much longer.”

“I hope so. Where’s this phone?”

The sergeant pointed at the wooden counter sitting between a pair of impressive spiral stairs.

“I called directly from the switchboard, sir.”

“Thanks.”

Smith’s nostrils frowned under the heavy trail of aftershave scent floating behind the commander. Pinelvy crossed the old fashioned hall. He hated to be awaken like that in the middle of the night, but hie had to admit that his subordinates did well. So well that he was just about to mimic them and wake someone a few steps higher in the hierarchy, which he did not like to do either. The switchboard was a big mess of wires. The police commander sat in the big red velvet chair. It was uncomfortable. Secretaries obviously needed impressive furniture for the standing, but were not granted quality as well. From this position, he noticed a regular phone fixed to the left under the plank of the counter.

He mopped the water on his forehead up and meticulously refolded his red handkerchief and slid it back in his jacket’s breast pocket. He quickly brushed out the drops still sitting on his slicked black hair. Finally, he bent over the desk, grabbed the phone’s auricle and composed the number for the Central Judiciary Administration Tower. A dozen of seconds passed until a tired female voice answered.

“Central Judiciary Administration, at your service.”

“Commander Pinelvy here, from LaSalle’s Police Station. P-I-N-E-L-V-Y. I need a talk with Judge Caryotte. It is extremely urgent.”

“It’s almost midnight sir, I’m not sure if you will find him at work.”

“Never mind put me through his secretariat, there must be a basic service maintained.”

“All right sir.”

The line went silent. Pinelvy started to drum his manicured fingers on the desk. Small marks left by long nails in the varnish suggested that he wasn’t the first to do so. Another female voice finally asked sharply:

“Mr Pinelvy?”

“Indeed.”

“Mr Caryotte is absent and probably sleeping.”

“The matter is urgent enough to wake him if need be.”

“I’ll see what can be done, hold the line.”

Silence again. Pinelvy took the opportunity to detail the main hall: worn black and white marbles on the floor, waxed wooden panels and benches along the walls, ornate shining copper stands for electric light bulbs. No green plants, no sculptures, no mouldings, no mirrors.... It was definitely tasteless. He was dragged from his thoughts by a dry male voice.

“What is it Pinelvy?”

A shiver ran through his back. He nervously transferred the auricle from an ear to the other.

“Mr Peter?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, I wanted to contact Mr Caryotte…”

“No need to wake him, since I’m at work.”

Pinelvy desperately pondered the situation, but there wasn’t anything he could do to dodge.

“I’m in Heebom Tower. A murder has been committed about thirty minutes ago.”

“And?”

“Well, the victim is Mr Dass, the president of the Clean Streets, Clean Hands Party.”

“I’ll be there within fifteen minutes.”

“But…”

Only the dialling tone answered him.

Pinelvy furiously hung the auricle again, with a noise that reverberated through the hall.

“Bloody owl! Does he never sleep?”

He checked his watch: 11:34pm. Sighing, he went to the toilets and looked at his reflection in the mirror. There was nothing he could do about the rings around his eyes, but he still removed a slight deposit of mucus at the corner of his left eyelid. He took the time to relieve himself and went back to the hall.

Car doors slamming and a general mess informed him that the reinforcements had arrived. He hurried to the entrance.

“Just about time! Good night gentlemen. I want two men upstairs with the single man looking after the suspects, 26th floor. Two men to guard the main door here. Sergeant Smith, take five and go secure the area around the corpse.”

“Yessir.”

“The rest of you have better securing this building and keeping journalists away. And I would do that very well and very quickly if I were you: the Judge is coming.”

The reference was sarcastic but efficient nonetheless. Several of the men had probably been pulled out of their bed but everyone ran to assigned duties. Pinelvy took a young cop apart:

“Try to see if there’s a way to provide us all some hot coffee. Looks like we’re in for a sleepless night.”

The commander was about to check his men’s positions when the switchboard’s phone rang. This caused a cacophony in the almost empty hall, especially in the relative silence of the night. He ran to the desk and took the line.

“Heebom Tower?”

“Yes, who are you?”

“Agent Miller sir.”

“Ah, all right. What do you want?”

“We have another case on our hands sir.”

“Yes?”

“A fusillade has just taken place on North Lake Shore Drive. A house is in fire.”

“Do we control the situation?”

“Yes, the fight was over even before our agents arrived, but I thought that you should be warned.”

“Excellent. Ask the higher ranked available officer to prepare a short report. I’ll call you back later with instructions.”

He rang off. Could this night become even worse?
 
Last edited:

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Time for some feedback:

Duke said:
I'm intrigued as to what this next secret shall be.
Storey said:
Now you have me wondering what he's about to reveal.
coz1 said:
So what is this dark revelation?
0020.gif


Yes, that's an evil grin. You will know what's the end of the baron's story, but it's too early in the AAR. I haven't already determined the right moment though. OTOH, there's an hint that the baron carelessly slipped in the conversation regarding his motives (or part of them).

Duke: Answer will be in the next update...
 

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I liked how the commander's police training had him looking over the detail of the room as he waited, as if by instinct.

Sounds like a long, hard night for the cops.

And did you mean LaSalle rather than Lassale? Chicago has a LaSalle Street (and LaSalle Bank and...well, etc.) but I don't think I've heard of any Lassale. Just curious where you got the name.
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
“Well, the victim is Mr Dass, the president of the Clean Streets, Clean Hands Party.”


Now that's a campaign slogan worthy of Chicago. :D Speaking of clean streets, you might not know but one mayor lost her job because she couldn’t keep the streets clear of snow during one long cold winter. :eek:
The people of Chicago take their streets seriously. :D

Joe
 

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coz1 said:
I liked how the commander's police training had him looking over the detail of the room as he waited, as if by instinct.
Thanks. Believe it or not, it wasn't even intended...

Damn, you are correct about LaSalle! You should write the AAR! :p

Storey said:
Now that's a campaign slogan worthy of Chicago.
Isn't it? :D In fact, I draw inspiration from a slogan of our national fascist party (well, "far right" is the official term). Their slogan is "Mains propres, tête haute." ie: "Clean hands, head high". The clean street, clean hands isn't fascist per se, but certainly populist.

And I did not know about this poor mayor.

A little update:
 

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#9b



Heebom Tower : later the same night


He was just coming back from a quick inspection around the building when a black car stopped in front of the main door. Pinelvy checked his watch: 11:48pm. He went on the side walk to meet Peter. The latter took his time to examine the façade. By the time he decided to notice the police officer, his glasses were dotted by rain droplets and both men were wet.

“You forgot a service back-door.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ve seen a man escaping the building through a back-door.”

Pinelvy turned livid.

“Well, I had to do with a handful of men. Now, if the culprit has fled…”

“Fear not. I would rather bet that a newspaper will boast a nice photograph.”

The Judge smiled at Pinelvy:

“Glad to see you, Commander.”

Pinelvy shivered. He stuttered:

“Where do you want to start? The corpse? The scene? The suspects?”

The judge’s face had recovered its usual stillness.

“The corpse or the scene? Should I understand that he has been defenestrated or something like that?”

“Precisely sir.”

“Let’s go for the scene then.”

They proceeded toward the lifts.

“What was the context of the crime?”

Pinelvy pushed the metallic gate of the lift away. Both of them went in and the cop pressed the ivory-like button for the 26th floor.

“There was a meeting gathering members of the Zero Tolerance Movement. According to witnesses, the tone raised between Voltshead and Dass about the attacks against you and the general recklessness of the movement lately. Dass apparently had a bad time arguing against his flamboyant second and angrily decided to retire in his own office adjoining the meeting room. About ten minutes later, the attendants heard noises of crushed glass and knocked-over furniture, then a scream. It took them several minutes to force the door. No one was to be seen. The window had been shattered. We’ve found the corpse on a terrace of the facing building, about twenty floors below.”

“The participants in the meeting?”

“Most of them are still upstairs. Three guards are with them. Some are really shocked and I…”

“Most?”

Pinelvy seemed uneasy.

“Most? Herm... ah, yes. Two of them are missing.”

He swallowed and completed:

“Including Voltshead himself.”

The Judge expression didn’t change at all as he commented:

“Interesting.”

The lift rang as they reached their destination. The ring reminded Pinelvy of those bells used by cooks in some restaurants to signal a new dish for the waiters to pick up. Except that he was himself the closest thing to roasted meat in the present case.

They stepped in a green carpeted corridor with hideous faded flower-patterned wallpapers. A cop was waiting in front of an opened double-door, hysterical voices and sobs came from another lit up room further along the corridor.

The Judge went directly to the first passage, greeting the guard standing at attention with a slight nod. Pinelvy followed him in the meeting room. A big oval table sat in the centre, covered with a mess of papers and pencils. An irregular ring of chairs surrounded it. One of them had been knocked down and was lying among other papers and a full case file. In the middle of the opposite wall was a shattered wooden double-door. Various flashy electoral posters emblazoned the smoke-tainted white walls. Peter just stopped a few seconds to look at the mess and proceeded to the next room without a word.

For what could be seen, the dark office was relatively cosy. The Clean Streets Clean Hands Party’s popularity attracted donations from both individuals and businesses, which was obviously put to good use by its leaders. Of course, the place would have been cosier if only the big desk had not been shattered into pieces, along with an armoire and several other objects that could barely be distinguished in the shadows.

“I’m sorry” Pinelvy muttered “there’s no ceiling light and both the desk lamp and the big one near the window have been crushed.”

The Judge did not seem to care the less. He casually walked around the room, looking at every details, examining papers, reading labels on folders. Pinelvy tried to follow him, but he had to fumble in the dark. Peter went to the window, his steps producing snapping sounds on the glass pane’s debris. He bent over the opening and took a look downside.

“Have you called for the forensic scientist to determine the cause of the death ?”

Pinelvy laughed:

“The cause of the death ?”

Peter didn’t seem to notice the answer and kept inspecting the room, hands deep in his pockets, looking at everything, touching nothing. Pinelvy quickly pulled himself together:

“Oh well, I’ll do it.”

The Judge looked at him, his glasses standing out as two circles of reflected light in a shadowed face.

“Good. You will prepare a preliminary report that will be on Judge Caryotte’s desk upon his arrival at height o’clock. You’re in charge of the case until then and it will be up to him to renew you or appoint someone else.”

Pinelvy vainly hoped that his amazement had gone unnoticed. They went back to the corridor. Trying to recover his countenance, the Commander proposed:

“Do you want to meet the witnesses?”

“No need, it’s your case now.”

“There is another problem sir.”

The Judge stopped and spun on his heels to face the officer.

“Which is?”

“A fusillade on North Lake Shore Drive. It should be investigated as well.”

“Indeed. But the Dass case has a higher priority in all events. You certainly have spared investigators who will be happy to get out of their bed, don’t you?”

“I’ll find that, yes.”

The Judge nodded a goodbye.

“Good night and good luck then.”

Pinelvy mentally completed : “Looks like I’ll need it…”
 

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I've managed to catch up again, from Gimnec's melancholy tale to the suspicious murder and gunfight in Chicago. Will Gimnec's revelation about Nicopolis (when it finally comes - you seem to have acquired an unhealthy habit of manipulating your audience ;)) finally tie these two strands of the story together?

A nice, rainy night in Chicago! I suspect more things far worse than the weather will happen before this night is through!
 

Nil-The-Frogg

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Duke: thx. I have already planned a couple of updates where the Judge will show who he truely can be. Unfortunately, it should be something like chapters 23 and 26... But since we're in chapter 9 at the time, I might try to find something sooner... :wacko:

Stuyvesant: Yes, this revelation could be the first hint to link the strands. I've not decided when yet, but I suppose it should come in 15th chapter...

Speaking of chapters, I have noticed that they are crowded at the begining of the AAR but that the pace should tend to accelerate after that... I don't know if that's a problem. Keeping the actual pace would end with this AAR to take a decade to write anyway... ;) Oh, and I still have no idea where the story will go after, say, the 30th chapter. :eek: .

As a side note, I'll try to make the opening of the AAR more engaging. Should be edited today or tomorrow.

Here comes an update:
 

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#9c


Hitchgins' apartment : later the same night

Something was bothering him, He knew he was about to understand what it was. It was creeping toward his consciousness like a sound through thick hollow walls. A sound... Yes that was a sound. His heavy bulging eyelids progressively retracted to the point of unsticking, letting wan light reach his sleeping eyes. This ringing... Of course! It was the phone.

He did not pick up immediately. He first clumsily pushed a dirty sock away to see the luminescent hands of his alarm clock: ten past one. He had a bad time waking up. His thoughts were resisting like marshmallows adhering to his skull. He felt bad, a crisis was near. He had no choice however, but to answer the call. No one else than his colleagues would call him, and Pinelvy was the only one who would dare to do so at one o'clock in the morning. He picked up, unwillingly pushing the phone, which fell on the heap of unwashed clothes littering the ground.

“Hitchgins, r'porting.”

“You took your time to answer!”

“Just in case ya don't know, it's da middle of da night.”

“I don't care, I need your sad ass out of your bed at once. We have a handgun firing to investigate, with several deaths and a house fire.”

“I ain't investigator 'nymore, if ya remember.”

“I have nothing better right now, so you will go and you will do it now.”

Hitchgins understood that the real reason was a bit different, perhaps revolving around the pleasure of awaking a hated subaltern in the middle of the night. He sighed.

“And where would that be?”

A sudden headache blown through his head and a contraction seized his lungs causing his question to end like a beastly growl as he fell from his bed. He grabbed the auricle back. There was a silence in the phone. Then Pinelvy replied with a voice coldly boiling over with contained anger:

“Hitchgins, I do know you're closer to some kind of pork than a human being, but I did not think you'd go as far as belching while receiving your orders.”

Hitchgins tried to concentrate and fight off the growing crisis. His thoughts tended to leak, pain was intensifying both in his head and stomach. He composed his voice and almost normally asked again:

“Sorry, so where d'ya wanna me to go?”

The commander snorted.

“This is on North Lake Shore Drive. House number…”

Hitchgins rang off. The crisis was seizing him and he already had any needed information anyway. Pinelvy would be furious, but that wasn't unusual. He tried to stand up, leaning on nearby shelves. He managed to cross a few steps toward the kitchen, but a burst of dizziness threw him down with all the shelf's content, including a dictionary, various books and an old dirty three-teethed silver fork which bit his left shoulder painfully. But it was not important to him. He had a single image in his mind, an object that attracted his whole attention like a magnet. He crawled across the junk yard he used both as a living-room and a bed-room. He pushed the kitchen's door, and crept on the greasy tiling. He stumbled upon the heap of detritus that had accumulated around the run-over trash can. Colonies of cockroaches and flies fled this unusual turmoil.

He finally reached the fridge. His podgy fingers clenched the back of the heavy white metal door and he pulled it with a grunt. He frenetically foraged in the bowels of the lower compartment, sending a withered salad and an opened bottle of milk on the floor. The small unmarked flask he was looking for finally ended up in his shacking hand. He quickly unscrewed the cap and cautiously brought the bottleneck to his mouth, trying not to spill the precious amber liquid. He knew that he should rather dilute a few drops in a glass of water, but he was too deep in the crisis and fell back on putting those drops directly on his tongue. It was dangerous. Drinking too much of it could have really unpleasant effects. It burned his mouth and oesophagus. He hastily recapped the flask and fell on his back.

Ecstatic water's effects were not long to trigger. Within seconds, Hitchgins was seized head to toe by a burning heat. It was borderline painful. But the more important effects were in his mind. He felt like he was awakening from a long sleep, his dizziness went away, his senses recovered their supernatural sharpness. He was able to count each insect egg on the unlit kitchen's chipped plinths. He even had the impression of feeling things physically move in his brain, like metal gears reorganizing to their optimal layout. Within a couple of minutes, Hitchgins was as healthy and well as he had ever could be, saving a remaining ache in the stomach. Even that would disappear after a coffee and a sandwich. He examined the flask and had a strike of anxiety seeing how low was the level in it. He would have to severely restrain his consumption during coming weeks, and it was necessary to find some supply too. He put the small bottle back in the fridge and closed it.

He stood and found that his underwear were gluing to his skin because of the sweat. A little shower would certainly be a good thing before the summary breakfast. After that, well, he would have to go and wake Matt. Cursing after the puddle of milk, he decided that he would have to clean it as soon as he would be back home.
 

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I agree with Coskun on one point at least: if you keep your soldiers in hand and don't allow them to terrorize the citizenry you'll not only have an easier time keeping the citizens in had you'll have better soldiers, too.

I'm not quite sure what to make of your Chicago: a gun going off wouldn't be much cause for alarm in the Chicago I know ( :p ). But a fire on Lake SHore Drive, now, that would get a response! ;)

'Ecstatic water' is an unusual term and the liquid obviously has powerful effects; is that a direct translation? What would that be in French?
 

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Director said:
'Ecstatic water' is an unusual term and the liquid obviously has powerful effects; is that a direct translation? What would that be in French?
No, no translation. Doesn't mean more in french than in english. Consider it a home-made liquor :cool: .
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
No, no translation. Doesn't mean more in french than in english. Consider it a home-made liquor :cool: .
Moonshine? :eek: I had some of that once...once. ;)

Nil - I regret that I have fallen behind reading this, but this is just a note to say I hope to be caught up over the coming weekend. :)
 

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Hitchgins appears to be quite an alcoholic. And his "miracle water" sounds pretty nasty (even nastier than Hitchgins' apartment, actually - quite a feat).

Good to see he can still achieve something resembling a workable state of mind. :)

I particularly liked this description:
He had a bad time waking up. His thoughts were resisting like marshmallows adhering to his skull.
 

Nil-The-Frogg

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Quite the handy little liquid that stuff.
And his "miracle water" sounds pretty nasty
Indeed and indeed too.

To all. If you wonder about this "ecstatic water", try to report to post #76 and to a lesser extend to post #90. I sometimes forget that's not like reading a book, since the hints and explanations are 4 months old...
spamafote.gif
 

Storey

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Man it doesn't look like anyone likes their job! I really liked these lines.

"Colonies of cockroaches and flies fled this unusual turmoil."

"He was able to count each insect egg on the unlit kitchen's chipped plinths."


And.

"A little shower would certainly be a good thing before the summary breakfast."

Now there's an understatement if I ever saw one. :D

Joe
 

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Storey said:
Man it doesn't look like anyone likes their job!
The Judge does.
02.gif


I really liked these lines.
For some weird reasons, my favourite is the one refering to how he opens his eyes...
 
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#9d



357, North Lake Shore Drive, later the same night


Matt parked the car on the road side right behind a firefighter's truck. Hitchgings had rang at his door half an hour ago and simply told him they were on duty. Emily had not appreciated, but the sergeant had bowed in front of her saying “I'm sorry ma'am, but there's no nights'n dayz for brave men who serve public interest”. He was so histrionic that she hesitated between laugher and anger and had not yet decided by the time they leaved. Hitchgins had smiled afterwards and commented: “A sweet gal ya've founda here, eh?” Matt did not answer, but he wasn't too happy either.

The rain had strengthened but several cops and firemen still were in the garden around the smoking house. Matt and Hitchgins had just crossed the open gate when the higher ranked officer, who had noticed their arrival, came to greet them. Lieutenant Geantymeck wasn't fond of the sergeant, but he was an old timer in LaSalle station and still thought that Hitchgins' abusive degradation by Pinelvy had deprived the police from a worthy Captain. The fat crabbing cop often grated on him, but he couldn't resolve to sit him on.

“Good night gentlemen.”

“Good night Lieutenant. How art'ya?”

“Fine, thanks. You'll be happy Hitch, the corpses have not been removed yet...”

The sergeant showed a faint smile.

“Ah, that's a good thing. Don't tell me ya were 'bout to r'move them again b'fore I could 'vestigate da scene?”

“No, no, of course not.”

Hitchgins was looking at the ground, a displeased expression painted on his jowls.

“What a mess! An elephants pack must have passed by here. Have ya molded survivin' footsteps?”

“Footsteps? Well, under the rain...”

“Okay, that's a no, I guess. Would you please step back?”

Geantymeck obeyed. Nothing could surprise him from the old cop anymore.

“Thanks. I guess you're the only one in casual clothes, eh?”

“Yes.”

“Great, let's see a fireman then.”

He went to the nearest group of firefighters. Matt followed him. Still looking at the ground, Hitchgins addressed the first man he stumbled upon:

“Good night sir. Would ya be so kind as to take a step away?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“And I beg ya to taka step away.”

Matt thought that would be the perfect moment to step in the discussion:

“Good night sir, we are Sergeant Hitchgins and agent Bredin, in charge of the investigations.”

The fireman nodded and obeyed to Hitchgins request. The later seemed satisfied, he put his head right and shouted:

“Now please everyone stand still a bunch o'minutes!”

Without taking time to determine if his order had any effect, he began to wander in the garden, looking at the ground, furiously masticating his wet cigarette butt. Matt followed him. After a while, the sergeant grunted for himself:

“Okay, let's take a look in da house now.”

Matt translated for the others:

“That's okay, thank you for your cooperation! You can move now...”

A fireman with a big gray moustache intercepted them on the threshold:

“That's a bad idea gentlemen. Even though the fire has been extinguished quickly, some parts of the house might have been weakened and could collapse.”

The sergeant raised an eyebrow:

“Don't worry, we're on official duty.”

Incredulity painted on the fireman's face as he watched them pass by him to get into the house. To tell the truth, the fire had essentially destroyed the second floor. The first had rather been devastated by the fights between men first, then against the fire. Furnitures were broken and everything was more or the less stained with mud and ashes. There were two corpses in the lounge, both riddled with bullets, both dry and wearing indoor outfits. One of them was the man who greeted them at the gate when they came two days before. None of them had drawn a weapon. Hitchgins did not bother touching them as the bulges on their chests were clearly telling they were armed. Another one was in the restroom. He had obviously hurried to put his pants back, but had not finished to fasten his belt when a submachine gun's burst had killed him through the door.

Hitchgins headed to the garage. He had to lit up his flash light because electricity had been switched off in the house. Two cars could be parked here, but there was none to be seen. The place was rather clean, saving for oil stains on the floor and dust thinly layering toolboxes stored on shelves against one of the walls. Once again, the Sergent ferreted the ground.

“Matt, could ya please open da door to let sum light flowin?”

Matt diligently did as required, stumbling on some kind of metal bowl and a chain as he went. The metal curtain rolled up with loud gratings. Hitchgins crawled on all fours and almost dug his big nose in a particular oil stain. He looked satisfied when he stood up.

“So, Matt, vat d'ya conclude 'bout all o'this?”

“Surely the Kamilet has decided to square up with Kallistos.”

Hitchgins sighed and shook his head in resigned denial.

“Matt... Could ya tell me vat led ya to this conclusion, pretty please ?”

“Well, we know that this gang was after him, so this fight in his house is probably their ill doing.”

“Matt, ya must learna watch da evidences under yar nose and found yar conclusions based on them. Ya should learn that truth often lies in plain sight if ya bother lookin'. We'll have to check, but for me, I woulda bet that we won't find Kallistos corpse in this house.”
 
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