Detective Kanaya Maryam ran a hand through her well-kept black hair, letting out a frustrated sigh. Her first case in a long time...and it was an impossible one. The Capricorn Killer; a psychopath who had a gruesome - yet strange - signature to his kills.
Every victim had been beaten brutally to death. Broken and battered, each body was usually mauled so it was nearly impossible to identify them. Usually, the victims had their faces smashed in, and every one of their fingers were broken in disgusting angles. What gave the killer his name - however - was the mark he drew on the victims: the Capricorn insignia drawn in the victim's blood. In other words, he was one sick bastard.
Kanaya groaned and rubbed her sore eyes. I need coffee, she decided, a yawn escaping her. God, she was tired. She really shouldn't be pulling late nights.
She made her way to the break room, smelling the sweet aroma of coffee; hot, freshly-brewed coffee. Chief Ampora must still be here, Kanaya thought, breathing in the relaxing aroma.
Eridan Ampora was Kanaya's boss at the Alternian Investigation Department (or AID). He was just one of the many...colorful faces at the department. He was generally kind, but he could be extremely terrifying when someone questioned his authority. Either way, he had a good heart, as Kanaya judged. Just...not always in the right place most of the time.
Kanaya grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee. She drank long and deep, but not before breathing in the wonderful smell. Did Chief make one hell of a pot of coffee or what?
"Well! Good morning, Kanaya."
Kanaya jumped, nearly dropping her coffee as she whirled around, tensing up instantly.
"Oh." She let out a relieved sigh. "Detective Makara. You startled me." Staying up through the night was no help on her nerves...
Makara laughed, earning a glare from Kanaya. "Did you pull another all-nighter?" he asked, stifling back a laugh.
"I believe I did," Kanaya replied, frowning and looking at the clock. It read "8:23." I could have sworn it was three...
She felt a large hand on her head as Makara chuckled. "You really need to get some sleep, Kanners," he mused.
"I am perfectly fine," she protested, removing his hand from her head. "And I request you cease addressing me as 'Kanners.'"
Makara shrugged. "Just thought you'd like the nickname."
"Detective Makara, we aren't children anymore."
"I know, I know." He laughed and ran his hand through Kanaya's hair - irritating her further.
"Look, just get some sleep," he said, adjusting his glasses. "Don't want to pass out on the field, now, do you?"
Kanaya rolled her eyes. "You don't have to fret over me. I can handle myself."
"I'm having a hard time believing you, Kanners-"
Makara rolled his eyes. "Kanaya. " He sighed. "Get some sleep tonight. Or do you like passing out on your desk?"
Kanaya ground her teeth. "Gamzee..."
He laughed. "That's my name! Don't over use it!"
"It's 'don't wear it out...'"
"You get my point."
Kanaya sighed in exasperation.
Gamzee Makara was a detective from the Northern District - 1413, to be exact. He was only in this area because he was working on the Capricorn Case; actually, he had been working on it for five years with no luck whatsoever.
Gamzee...stood out like a sore thumb, really. He was the only man in the station to wear his hair beyond his shoulder blades. It was dark brown, and messy as hell. He kept it in a ponytail...probably to keep it manageable (as Kanaya guessed). He stayed indoors a lot - as shown by his pale, pale skin (in contrast to Kanaya who had tan skin from enjoying the sun). Deep indigo eyes were hidden under his glasses, that were really...odd. Almost disconcerting. He also literally stood out by the fact he was freakishly tall; tallest person there.
"Oh!" Gamzee snapped his fingers. "I nearly forgot; there was another murder last night. I wonder who could have done it?"
Kanaya sighed. No need to ask; Gamzee's expression said it all. "It was our dear friend the Capricorn Killer, wasn't it, Makara?" she asked rhetorically. She had calmed down a bit; coffee tended to do that to her.
"Bingoroo. Chief wants us down at the crime scene. Downtown...seemed like a club, from what he said."
Kanaya rolled her eyes. Just lovely...
"Then I will see you there, Makara," she replied, adjusting her grip on the coffee.
"Right. If you don't fall asleep before then!" Gamzee laughed again; did he really enjoy tormenting Kanaya so?
"I assure you I won't do such a thing," Kanaya stated, trying not to be rude.
But Detective Makara was gone.
Later that day, Kanaya found herself at the latest crime scene; an alley just behind a club called the "Dark Carnival." It was rumored it supported junkies and other drug addicts, but it could never be proven. Either the rumors were false, or they were really good at hiding drug activities.
The alley was painted red with blood. Blood stained the ground, coated the walls, and completely soaked the victims. Yes, victims. A man and a woman, dressed as if they had - or were about to - enjoy a night of partying. But there they were, lying dead on the pavement; skulls bashed in. It was sickening.
Kanaya held a handkerchief to her mouth and nose to ward off the revolting smell that came from the victims. She made her way to the bodies, only to find a brunette crouched over them, donned in a strange blue and red jacket - that was literally blue on one side, and red on the other.
"I see you've beaten me, Sollux," Kanaya mused, walking over to the bodies and gagging slightly. It was disgusting...
Sollux shrugged. "It'th my job," he said, cursing as his lisp slipped through his control. "Sorry."
"It's quite alright," Kanaya reassured.
Sollux Captor was the head of Forensics (actually, the only person working there...) at the AID. A brilliant young man who seemed to know more than he let on, but could be extremely childish at times. He was very fond of technology - especially computers. Not only was he fond of them, but he also enjoyed programming them, and hacking them. And - on occasion - blowing someone else's computer up (usually Officer Vantas').
Sollux had short, light brown hair (usually a large mess since he didn't like taking care of his hair) and was about as pale as Gamzee from spending all his free time in the lab. For some odd reason, he liked to wear two-colored clothes - like his odd, unfashionable jacket. It might have been because he had heterocrhomia, Kanaya guessed. His right eye was blue, while his left was red. He had to wear glasses, though. Kanaya always thought he'd look less geeky if he just wore contacts. His pesky lisp really didn't help anything, either. It just further added to the fact he seemed like...a geek. But, he did try to hide his lisp (despite how thick and apparent it was), and was successful...most of the time.
"So, what have you found?" Kanaya questioned.
"Not much. The usual, really," Sollux replied with a shrug, poking a gloved finger at the woman's ribcage. "Huh. That's weird..."
"There's a pair of extra gloves in my pocket. Can you put them on?"
Kanaya hesitated, but pulled them out and donned the blue gloves. "What now?"
"Poke his chest," he said, pointing at the body of the man a few feet away. Kanaya nodded and did as Sollux said, wincing slightly as she touched the man's decaying flesh.
"It's soft," she commented as she turned back to Sollux.
"Now poke hers," was all he said. Kanaya hesitated, but walked back over and prodded the other victim's chest.
"It's solid," she muttered with a frown.
"Exactly," Sollux began quickly. "Now, I can't be thertain until I do a full autopthy on them, but - from what I've found - I think she died of blood loth, while he wath beaten to death brutally." Sollux paused, then swore loudly. "Damn it! I let it slip again!"
Kanaya rested her clean hand (the one that hadn't touched a cadaver) on Sollux's shoulder. "It is alright, Sollux. Please, continue."
He let out a sigh. When he got excited over evidence, he often forgot about his lisp, and it caught up with him. Fast.
"Our John Doe sustained numerous wounds all over his body," he started slowly. "I can't say for sure what killed him, but he certainly took a beating.
"Now, our Jane Doe: she only sustained one wound; a blow to her head." Sollux pulled away matted clumps of bloodstained blonde hair to reveal an ugly bruise with bone protruding out of her skin. "It didn't kill her immediately, I don't think. I think she was struck, tried to crawl away-" he pointed to a trail of blood, "-the fell unconscious from blood loss...and then died."
He paused for breath. "Now, this where it gets interesting." Sollux pointed to the woman's cheek, where the mark of Capricorn was. "See how sloppy that is?"
"Yes..." It was, indeed, very sloppy. Not nearly as neat as the marks that had been on the previous victims.
"It's the same with our John Doe over there. Sloppy. I'm guessing the killer was rushed."
"Rushed?" Kanaya was confused.
"Yeah." Sollux began to speak faster again. "I found numerouth wounds on him - in placeth you wouldn't expect. They looked ath if he had been blocking thomething. Like a weapon. Tho, I think our John Doe fought back before dying, but cauthed a ruckuth and brought attenthion to the killer. Tho, our killer wath rushed!" Sollux moaned and slapped a bloodied hand to his forehead. "Shoot."
"Sollux." Kanaya sighed. "Don't worry about your lisp. I can still understand you. What were you saying? About your theory?"
Sollux let out an almost depressed sigh. "I found dried blood on his knuckles. Too thin of a coat to be his. I think-"
"Hey, Squint! Kanners!"
A groan escaped Kanaya as she caught Sollux stiffening. It was that name.
Kanaya turned to face the voice. "Hello, Maka-"
"Theriouthly, Gamzee?! The hell?! I have told you a million timeth not to call me Squint! It'th annoying and jutht abnothiouth!"
"Whoa!" Gamzee backed up a little as Sollux shot up and turned on him. "Whoa! Calm down, Lispy!"
"Are you making fun of my lithp?! Becauth, I thwear! If you are, you will not hear the latht of thith! You do not have any right to make commenth like that when you barely do any work! Do you dithect bodieth?! Tediouthly tetht DNA thampleth for matcheth?! Deal with the grieving familieth?! No! You don't! I do! And without any help! You are not in any pothithion to make fun of. My. Lithp! If it weren't againtht the law, I would-"
"Break it up!" came a third man as he stepped between Sollux and Gamzee, shoving both backwards. "Are you serious, Sollux?! Complaining about all this work you have to do?! You never want help. And Gamzee wasn't making fun of your lisp! So just calm the hell down before I frigging make you wish you had never gotten out of your damn bed today!"
Kanaya sighed in exasperation and hid her face in the palm of her hand (clean one, mind you). It was Officer Karkat Vantas. Just wonderful...
Kanaya didn't have anything against him; rather, he was one of the few people she considered a friend - but he was extremely rash and quick to assume. Crabby, and easily angered; rude, and had the mouth of a sailor. But, despite all of that, he was...an okay guy. Just didn't know how to express his feelings; that was all.
Sollux glared at Gamzee, but backed off. "Whatever." But - before Karkat could speak - Sollux said: "Hey, KK. Since you're here, you can help me bag up the bodies. I already photographed the crime scene, and chalked the area around them. So, it's time to haul corpses."
Karkat gaped. "What the-No! No! What do I look like?! A stupid valet?! A janitor?! This was not in the job description, thank you very much! I didn't want to lug cadavers around! I'm not like you; I never aspired to grow up and grope dead people! I'm not that desperate!"
"KK, I don't grope them." Sollux glared at Karkat. "I perform autopsies - so you could say I dissect them. Now, grab a pair of gloves and help me. They aren't moving on their own anytime soon."
Karkat looked as if he was going to argue with Sollux further, but he clamped his mouth shut and angrily stormed over to the bodies.
"Aren't they fun?" Gamzee laughed.
"Makara, you did start the fight with, well, that name," Kanaya sighed, staring up at Gamzee.
Gamzee shrugged as Kanaya watched Karkat and Sollux strained to lug the body of the man into the back of Sollux's van. "I was just joking."
"A joke that went too far, it turned out," Kanaya sighed as she peeled the gloves off of her hands and placed them in her coat pocket. "I was actually curious, Detective Makara. Why is it you give us all nicknames?"
Gamzee shrugged again. "Well, Chief Ampora's always shortening your names - like Kan, Kar, Sol, even Gam for me...I thought maybe you guys would appreciate nicknames-"
"We don't! Would really appreciate it if you just stop with those childish names!" Karkat yelled.
"Wait, what do you call Karkat?" Kanaya asked, a bit confused.
"I call him-"
"Gamzee! Don't you dare!"
"KK, you dumbasth! You jutht dropped the body!"
"Like I care!"
"Oh, you will! Ampora'th hearing about how you tampered with evidenth and cauthed the case to fail!"
"It was just her feet! Why does dropping her feet matter?!"
"Will you just pick the damn body back up?!"
Kanaya sighed and rolled her emerald eyes. "I envy your gift to cause the pettiest fights with just a simple sentence, Makara," she said sarcastically.
"Why, thank you."
After another session of screaming and name calling (and Karkat swearing his head off), the bodies were finally loaded and Sollux headed back to the lab, leaving Kanaya with Officer Vantas, and Detective Makara.
"Well, that was fun," Kanaya commented, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"You didn't have to haul corpses around!" Karkat sneered, glaring at Kanaya, his red eyes just filled with loathing and anger.
"No, but now I have a splitting headache," she replied coolly. "I believe it is you who is to blame, Karkat."
"Hey, why don't you ever call me by my first name?" Gamzee wondered, glancing over at Kanaya. "You only say it when you're mad."
She paused. "I'm not entirely sure. I guess it is because I'm not as familiar with you as I am with Karkat or Sollux."
Gamzee grumbled and looked away. Was he fooling around again?
"I'm heading back to the station," Karkat growled, still thoroughly mad.
"I will see you there later, then," Kanaya said, bidding him farewell as the crabby officer left.
She turned her attention to the crime scene, mulling over what Sollux said. She couldn't completely understand what he was saying - since when he got excited, it was hard to understand what he was trying to say...he usually had to rephrase his sentences to get people to understand him - so she was replaying what she had understood in her head, and was piecing it together with what she saw.
"Is something bugging you?" she heard Makara ask.
"I'm merely thinking," she replied, tapping her fingers against her pursed lips. "Sollux said that the victims died different - and separate - deaths. The woman died of blood loss, while the man was beaten to death. He was also going to say something about the man's knuckles before you came, Makara. There was a thin coat of blood on them, and he was about to say something about it...I think-" She stopped, looking down on the ground.
Lying there, was a bloodstained tooth. Surrounded by strands of hair.
"Did Sollux miss this?" she murmured, pulling out the gloves and picking up the tooth with them examined it. It appeared to be a large molar. It was slightly cracked at the roots - as if it had been forcefully removed from whoever's mouth it came from.
The hair, however, was brown - nearly black. It were fairly long, which she found odd. The woman had had long hair - yes - but it was blonde. The man had shorter hair - much shorter - that was styled in a mullet, and dyed neon green (it had been black before, since a streak of black had been visible when Kanaya saw his body).
She could only come to one conclusion: it was the killer's.
"Makara?" she asked.
"Do you have any plastic bags on you and - possibly - a marker?"
"Yeah, hold on." She heard him walking over. "How many do you need?"
"Two," was her reply as she pulled out her cellphone with her free hand.
"Hold, please." She quickly dialed Sollux, and waited for him to pick up.
"Hello?" she heard him say.
"Sollux, it's Kanaya," she said, looking at the tooth. "I was wondering; are the victims missing any teeth?"
"Teeth?" She shuffling on the other side. "What makes you ask that?"
"Will you just please check if you can?"
"I can...I guess."
It was a few minutes before he finally responded. "They aren't. I see a few shattered teeth inside the John Doe, but that's about it. They're all accounted for."
"Why did you ask anyways, Kanaya?"
"I think I may have a lead, Sollux." Without another word, she hung up and slipped her phone back into her pocket.
"What was that about teeth?" Gamzee asked from behind Kanaya as he handed her the bags and a dark purple marker (a miracle he had them on him).
"Hold on," she muttered, uncapping the marker with her teeth before writing on one bag: "Unidentified Hair Sample," in her neat writing, then "Unidentified Tooth: Molar," on the other. She carefully removed all the hair from the tooth, then place each find in their corresponding bags. She scanned the ground - finding a few more hair samples and slipping them into the bag - before closing them and standing up and recapping the marker.
She held them up. "I think I may have a lead. I'm going to take these to Sollux and-" She stopped. "Damn it."
"I forgot. I had a meeting today. If I go back to the Department, I'll be far too late to participate." She shrugged. "Case fir-Gamzee!"
Gamzee yanked the bags out of her hands and held them out of her reach. "I'll take them to Squint. You go to that 'meeting' of yours."
"And why should I listen to you?" she asked, trying to reach for the samples. "The case needs to be solved, Gamzee!"
"And you need to get some relaxation!" he countered almost playfully, placing his other hand on her head and pushing her back slightly. "You're running yourself to the ground, always working on the case twenty-four-seven. It's not good for your health-"
"Since when have you been an expert on health?" she asked sarcastically, pushing his hand off of her head.
He just looked at her disapprovingly. "Do something you enjoy, for once! Doctor Gamzee orders it."
Kanaya sighed, defeated. "Fine. But get those DNA samples back to Sollux as fast as you can. "
"Don't worry! I've got it covered." That's when I worry the most...
Kanaya hurried out of the alleyway, but stopped. "Thank you, Gamzee."
"No problem. Now go! Time's a-wasting!"
With a roll of her eyes, Kanaya left.
A few minutes after leaving the crime scene, Kanaya called her boss. She asked him if he minded if she took a few hours off for a program, and he had willingly cooperated and allowed her to go - since she had been working so hard on the case lately, and spending every bit of her free time on it.
It wasn't long after she left, did she reach her destination. It didn't take her as long as she thought to get to the Community Center where her "meeting" was being held. "Meeting" being a club for aspiring florists - and authors. An odd combination - yes - but it was fun all the same. She had a couple of acquaintances there (friends, but she wouldn't say that), and enjoyed conversing with them.
It had just started to pour heavily when she reached the large black building that was the Community Center in Alternia - the city Kanaya called home. It's a good thing that Sollux managed to take those photos when he did; he would have lost a lot of evidence...
She walked into the foyer and ran her hands through her hair; trying to remove as much water as she could while she made her way to the stairs. She made her way to the second floor - climbing two steps at a time. She hated being late.
She managed to get there on time, slipping off her sopping wet coat and hanging it on one of the hooks.
"Hi, Kanaya!" came the eager voice of Jade Harley.
Kanaya turned around to see a woman with black hair making her way to her. She was wearing an...interesting dress that looked like a suit, but the skirt was torn up in shreds, while she had red pants underneath. I need to talk some sense into her. That "dress" is just horrendous. And paired with her glasses! She needs to learn a few things about fashion.
"Hello, Jade," she said, nodding. "What an...interesting dress you have."
"Thanks!" She grinned. "Rose helped me make it! I drew out the designs, and she stitched it for me!"
At the mention of her name, a girl with blonde hair (nearly white) just laughed. "Jade, I believe that Kanaya finds your dress absolutely horrendous, but is trying to spare your feelings so she does not harm you. Am I not right?" she said in her mysterious - almost distant - voice.
"No, you are correct," Kanaya said, crossing her arms over her chest and raising an eyebrow. "But, I do think the dress could be altered to be a bit more...practical." And fashionable, she added in her head.
"I think it's nice," Jade pouted. "And that's all that counts! ...Right?"
Kanaya sighed. "I guess." Though she really needs to get a sense of fashion.
Jade Harley and Rose Lalonde were two of Kanaya's friends at this club.
Jade was a girl who was actually from the Pacific Ocean. She lived on an island there, before moving to a nearby city, Prospit, where her brother lived. From living on an island for her whole life, Jade had very tan skin. Actually, she was slightly similar in appearance to Kanaya - with black hair, green eyes (hers were more the color of jades, whereas Kanaya's were the color of emeralds) and tan skin. But other than that...she was very different, with her buck teeth, large, round glasses...and the love of wearing dog ears.
Okay, not really. She was the granddaughter of a famous scientist - so she picked up a few things from her grandfather. Like how to split atoms, and other things like that. Nothing abnormal. Somehow - a few years before she moved to Prospit - she accidentally merged her DNA with the DNA of her dog, Becquerel. So now she had dog ears, and sometimes acted like a dog - especially around cats. But, really, she had managed to get a hold of her dog side over the years she had lived in Prospit. Now, she has control over those annoying habits. Though, she can't help but have a strong dislike of cats.
Rose, on the other hand, loved cats. Cats, knitting, the occult, and psychology. She was mysterious, and never forthcoming with her feelings or thoughts. She always spoke of higher, darker powers that commanded her will, but Kanaya never believed it. But, despite her odd...dwellings on, she was a very skilled writer, and seemed to enjoy writing stories about wizards. And, she was quite good at it.
Rose was a girl from another city that was close to Alternia: Derse. She lived there with her albino brother...well, half brother, Dave Strider. Being from Derse (or a Dersite, as they were sometimes called), she was a little distant. Actually, "a little distant" would be an understatement; she - and a lot of other Dersites that Kanaya knew - were often in their own worlds and not paying attention to what was going on. Maybe the rumor that Derse was possessed by dark forces was true. Though, Kanaya never believed in such folly, since she grew up in the peaceful Prospit before moving to Alternia, which really had more job opportunities.
Kanaya made her way to the table Rose was seated at, sitting down in one chair, while adjusting her red skirt so it wouldn't be uncomfortable to sit.
Rose was wearing a black blouse with the mutilated Squiddle she seemed to be fond of on the right side of her chest (possibly a nod toward one of her favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft). Her hair was pulled back like always by a white headband, while she was wearing black makeup again - lipstick and thick eyeshadow. Goth? Most definitely.
She had her nose in another book, while she had a second open, her right hand poised over the paper as she furiously jotted down notes while reading. A multi-tasker anyone could be envious of.
"What are you reading now?" Kanaya asked, crossing her arms and leaning them on the table. "Another Lovecraft book?" Kanaya was fond of classics like Dracula, herself.
"Actually, no," Rose said, turning a page before returning to reading. "This one is by one of my preferred authors. A...mister William Scratch. I highly doubt that's his real name, actually. Yet another pen name to hide one's identity. Both ingenious, yet spontaneously tedious."
"You've really been poring through those books, haven't you?" Jade asked as she sat down next to Rose and leaned on the table herself.
"That I have." Rose picked up an embroidered bookmark and slipped it into the book and set it down, closing her notebook and placing both in her purse. "Say, Kanaya. I couldn't help but be curious. You're usually the first one at our meetings to arrive, but today you were rather late. I must implore you; what happened?"
"Was it work?" Jade asked, resting her head on her hand. "Did Ampora give you more paperwork?!"
"No, he did not," Kanaya reassured. She looked around, then lowered her voice and leaned forward so only Rose and Jade could hear. "There was another murder last night."
"Another?!" Jade exclaimed, catching the attention of few people. After lowering her voice to a whisper, she continued: "It was the Capricorn Killer, wasn't it?!"
Kanaya nodded. "It was."
"Then just who was it that perished under the light of the leering moon?" Rose questioned, looking intrigued for once.
"Sollux hasn't identified them yet, but it was a man and a woman. They were found just outside of a club called the Dark Carnival."
"I've heard of that place," Jade commented. "It's filled with wackos..."
"It's a night club where the apostles of the 'Mirthful Messiahs' and the 'Subjuggulators' congregate to spread their teachings," Rose explained. "It's like a virus, really. Cultists of a degree I never wish to explore. Whereas I delve into the darker side of life and all that there is, they delve into clowns." She said it with disdain - as if she loathed such people. "Clowns and the 'Dark Carnival' - hence the ridiculous name of the club. Hardly stimulating at all, in my opinion. Where is the knowledge or personal gain in such a cult? But, I hear the only reason why they migrate to the 'Subjuggulator religion' is because their practice in drugs - such as marijuana, opium, and other...new drugs - is hidden and encouraged."
"You seem to know quite a lot about the clown cultists," Kanaya commented. "Are you sure you're not one yourself?"
Rose laughed. "Hardly. I just happen to have a neighbor that is one such cultist. He is always trying to 'convert' me, though it will never work. He is quite lucky that I haven't reported him to the police yet."
"You just did."
"I did not. I am telling a friend who won't do the same - despite the fact she is a detective. But, because of that, she cannot arrest him and bring down the Dark Carnival." She shrugged and leaned back into her chair. "It's for the best, really. There would a large scale outcry if the 'Subjuggulator religion' were to be torn down without warning. Many lives would be lost, and it would be the perfect distraction for that dear, dear friend of yours, Kanaya."
Sometimes, Kanaya wondered why she was even friends with Rose, with her constant tormenting.
"I never implied I would have had him arrested," Kanaya sighed. "I just mentioned a flaw in what you said-"
"The was no flaw. I'm not talking with an officer; I am talking to a detective. And Jade?"
Jade jumped, her white ears perking up. "What-?! Yes?!" Kanaya moaned at Jade's absent-mindedness and hid her face in her hand. How embarrassing...
"Were you even listening to us?" Kanaya asked.
"Partially..." Jade looked away. "I kind of stopped when Rose went into detail about the clown cultists." She laughed wearily. "Guess I kind of dozed off there."
"Jade, you cannot tell your 'friend,'" Rose said, pulling out a scarf she had been working on for a few days now.
Jade's face turned a considerable shade of red as she turned her head away at the mention of her 'friend' (though Kanaya didn't know what Rose was talking about). "Okay! I won't! I'll keep it to myself. Though I really don't know what you're talking about..."
The club meeting was rather interesting. One member had brought someone that gave them advice on growing plants that were meant for tropical climates in the cool Alternia, while another brought a book they were working on and read it to the group - asking for advice on how to improve it.
It was a very interesting book, actually. Jade thought it was kind of boring, but Kanaya thought it was a good start. It was about vampires (a race Kanaya just loved) and a struggle for them to just survive in a world that was designed that almost made it seem like the gods (the higher powers in the story) were trying to erase them for good.
Kanaya walked back to the station - relieved that it had stopped raining - while her thoughts strayed to the case. Sloppy insignias? One died like the others, while the other died of blood loss? It was odd, to say the least. Sollux had mentioned blood on one of the victim's hands, and then Kanaya found strands of hair, and a missing tooth at the scene of the crime. Could that lead to the identification of the killer?
She sighed and ran her hand through her hair. She was tired again...she needed coffee...
But coffee could wait; she wanted to talk to Sollux about the DNA samples.
She made her way to the Forensics lab and rapped her knuckles against the door.
"Sollux, can I come in?" she asked - knowing for a fact he would be in there (where else? It was like a second home to him.)
When no answer came, she knocked harder. "Sollux."
She ground her teeth. "Sollux! Are you at your computers again?"
Again, no response.
"Sollux, if you do not answer, I will come in there."
She let out a sigh. "Sollux, I'm coming in."
No response yet again.
She let out an exasperated sigh and opened the door. "Sollux, I wanted to-" She stopped, her eyes wide as she walked into the room.
Sollux had been standing a few yards away from the door with his back to it. But...he didn't acknowledge Kanaya.
She could see headphones on his ears...and he was dancing. And singing.
"Make me come alive! Come on and turn me on! Touch me, save my life! Come on and turn me on! I'm too young to-" He finally turned around and stopped, his two-colored eyes wide. "Kanaya! Theriouthly! Knock before you come in! At leatht thay thomething!" he yelled angrily.
Kanaya had to restrain a laugh. "I did. Five times," she finally said, trying not to bring up the fact he was singing a Nikki Minaj song. She wasn't sure if she didn't have the heart to bring it up, or just was too amused - and frightened - at the thought he was listening to it.
Sollux grumbled and ripped off his headphones, reaching into his pocket, before pulling his hand back out. "What did you want?" he demanded, his face red with anger and embarrassment.
"I wanted to know if you had tested those DNA samples I had Gamzee bring to you," she said. "Have you?"
"DNA samples?" Sollux raised an eyebrow in confusion. "What DNA samples? Does this have anything to do with the victims teeth?"
Kanaya frowned. "Yes...actually. I found a tooth and some hair samples at the crime scene. I asked Gamzee to bring them to you. He...never came?"
"I've been the only one in the lab," Sollux said, pressing his glasses further up his nose. "No one else."
Kanaya frowned. "Are you sure? You didn't hear me come in, he could have-"
"I'll prove it."
Kanaya raised an eyebrow in turn, but followed Sollux as he walked into a side room. Inside, were hundreds of computer screens - with cables everywhere. There weren't any lights on, save the soft glow of the monitors. There also weren't any chairs - just a bunch of pillows in front of a makeshift desk with a keyboard on it. It just screamed "Sollux."
The lispy man sat down in front of the keyboard and began to furiously tap away, the screen in front of him flickering to a desktop before switching to a video of the lab. After a few more key strokes, the video began to play at a speed which would allow them to watch the entire footage from when Sollux got to the lab, to current time in a matter of minutes, but slow enough to tell what was going on.
After a few minutes of watching Sollux examine the two bodies, before he wheeled them into a different room (the morgue so he could work on them later, she guessed), Sollux actually leaped up and covered one part of the screen with his hands.
"Th-That's personal!" he exclaimed, fast forwarding a bit. But Kanaya couldn't help but notice that she saw Agent Megido walk into the lab just as he covered his hands over the screen.
They finally got through the tapes of the lab. The only people who had been in there were herself, Sollux, and Agent Megido. No Gamzee.
"What about the tapes for the front door?" Kanaya questioned.
"Hold on a sec," Sollux murmured, running his hands across the keyboard. "And, up."
The screen switched to the door that lead outside of the department. People were coming and going quickly - such as Chief Ampora; Officer Vantas at some point; Agent Megido; Terezi Pyrope, a blind bounty hunter that came by at times, and several people she didn't recognize. When she saw herself walk through the door on the tape, she knew that it was close to the end. With no Gamzee in sight.
"So, he never got here," she murmured, furrowing her brow in confusion. "But it's been well over an hour or so! He should have made it back by now..."
"Dunno." Sollux shrugged and went back to typing on the computer. He was accessing files...with names Kanaya couldn't understand - cryptic and confusing.
She sighed and ran her hands through her hair. How frustrating... She happened to glance over at one of the monitors and frowned. She hadn't seen that on the tapes.
"What's this screen?" she asked, pointing at the monitor.
"That?" Sollux turned around. "Oh. I keep a few screens locked on live stream so I know who's doing what so I don't get jumped when I'm working in here." He muttered something after that, but Kanaya couldn't understand what he said. Something about "AA," whoever that was.
Kanaya frowned and turned back to the screen. It was set on the entrance to the department, nothing really different-
"There's Gamzee!" she exclaimed, pointing at the screen.
And there he was, walking through the entrance. But, something seemed off.
"He's swaying," Sollux commented. Kanaya turned and saw he had brought up the footage on the screen he was in front of. He could have just walked over...
"Can you zoom in?" Kanaya asked, looking at his screen.
Sollux nodded and input a few commands, and the camera zoomed in on Gamzee.
The detective was holding his hand to his face, and Kanaya could see the startling sight of blood on his hands and face.
"What?" she murmured, looking at him with shock. She pulled out her phone and quickly composed a text to Gamzee:
GA: Gamzee I Request You Make Your Way To The Lab
GA: It Is Of Utmost Importance That You Do
She paused and watched the screen.
TC: You sure...?
TC: Welp, okay then.
She frowned. Welp. That word was spreading like a wildfire...
GA: It Does Not Matter
GA: Just Come To The Forensics Lab
TC: Alright now...
TC: Ha ha, I just realized your username is the first two letters of my name.
"He's delirious," Kanaya muttered, glaring at the screen of her phone as she walked out of the computer room into the main part of the lab. She heard Sollux get up and follow her as she leaned against a table, waiting for Makara to show.
And show he did.
He walked through the door of the lab, just covered in blood. His hand was against his face, while his other hand was putting away his phone. He was a terrible mess, with a large, ugly bruise on the right side of his face.
"What happened?" Kanaya demanded, almost forcing Gamzee into a chair as she quickly reached for the box of tissues that was lying next to a sink.
"I dunno," Gamzee replied, his voice a bit muffled from his hand that covered his face. "I was heading back to the station, when I got hit over the hea-oww, Kanners! That hurt!"
Kanaya sighed. She had just simply placed her hand on his forehead, and he was complaining. "Can you remove your hand?"
"Blood'll squirt everywhere," he said, grossing her out instantly. "Just warning you."
She heard Sollux muttering something as she held up the tissues in her hand. "I think we can manage."
Gamzee just looked at her, but then removed his hand - blood pouring from his nose and hand and onto himself and the floor. "Told ya."
Kanaya leaned forward and placed her fingers lightly on the bridge of his nose, a whimper of pain coming from Makara.
"It's broken," she commented. "I'm going to have to set it." She placed one hand on Gamzee's forehead, then took her other hand and placed at the very top of his bridge.
"Kanners...? What are you-Agh!" She ran her finger down the bridge of his nose, resulting in a loud crack. More blood gushed forth, and another sickening crack as she set the cartilage in his nose correctly.
"God damn it! That hurt!" he yelled, his hand shooting to his face again.
"Calm yourself," Kanaya said, handing him a few tissues - which he gladly took. "I'm trying to help you."
As she was making a few plugs to try and slow the bleeding, Sollux walked over, looking at Gamzee's head.
"Ugly bruise you got there," he commented, poking at the dark purple and green bruise forming on Gamzee's head.
Gamzee hissed slightly. "That hurts," he murmured, almost glaring at Sollux.
"Sollux, this isn't helping anything," Kanaya said as she finished the first plug. Motioning for Gamzee to remove the tissues, she carefully inserted the plug into his nose, before making a second and repeating the process. "That should slow it down. Can you tell us what happened?"
"I can try. Ahh..." He moaned and placed a bloodstained hand to his head. "Ugh, I feel like crap..."
"Sollux, can you get him an ice pack?" Kanaya asked, picking up the bloodied tissues and discarding them into a trash can.
Sollux scoffed, but left to do as Kanaya said.
"Why are there black spots around you...?" she heard Gamzee ask.
"I think you've lost too much blood," she commented, rolling her eyes. "It's getting to your head."
"Nah, it hasn't." He leaned back slightly, his hand against his head.
"Gamzee, if you do that, the blood will flow into your throat and you'll choke."
As if on cue, Gamzee sat up straight again, coughing. "You could have warned me sooner!"
She rolled her eyes. "Haven't you dealt with nosebleeds before?"
"Never really had them as a kid..."
Kanaya sighed. She had dealt with them countless times; she never understood why her nose was so sensitive to the weather. But, it just was. They had calmed down quite a bit by the time she was an adult, but they still came occasionally when cooler weather rolled in, and the air began to dry.
Sollux came back in with the ice pack...and a new tissue box.
"You're going to use up all the ones I have," he growled, passing Kanaya the pack.
Nodding in thanks, she took the pack and placed it on Gamzee's head, a hiss coming from him when it touched the bruise. "Thanks..." He groaned, his hand holding the ice pack in place.
"What exactly happened to you, Gamzee? How did you become injured?" Kanaya asked once more, becoming impatient with all the interruptions.
He shrugged. "I dunno. I was walking back from the crime scene, when I thought someone was following me. I headed in a different direction, then I got hit across the head!" He reached with his other hand and pointed toward the back of his head. "Right there-Agh! God! Sollux! Ow! Don't touch it! That hurt!"
"Sorry," Sollux said, laughing a little. He really enjoyed tormenting Gamzee...
Makara glared at Sollux, but continued. "I turned around to see who attacked me, when I was hit across the face! Then I blacked out. Came to I think...half an hour ago. Maybe. My glasses were cracked, but I could still see out of them, thankfully. But the DNA samples you gave me, Kanners-"
"You stole them from me," Kanaya corrected.
"Yeah, well, they're gone. Along with my watch..."
Kanaya's eyes widened, and she heard Sollux choke.
"You lost them?" she asked with disbelief.
"What the hell?! Who took them?!" Sollux demanded.
"I don't know! Whoever attacked me, I guess!" Gamzee defended. "Some freak! Wearing this weird black and purple suit...dark purple..? I don't know. Some weird tight suit thing, I think..."
Sollux slapped his hand to his forehead. "Not them!"
"Not who?" Kanaya asked.
"Stupid Juggalos," Sollux grumbled. "Bunch of clown cultists. Worshipers of the 'Mirthful Messiahs' or some crap like that."
Kanaya frowned. "Don't they congregate at the Dark Carnival?"
Sollux nodded. "I've been researching them for a while - trying to figure out if they are dealing with drugs, and if there was a way to bring them down. It never occurred to me that the Capricorn Killer could have been one!" He hurried over to a file cabinet, and rummaged through some folders, before pulling out one. "Another note addressed to you, Kanaya," he said, pulling out a photo of a note.
Kanaya took it, her eyes slightly widening:
TiCk ToCk gOeS tHe ClOcK oF lIfE
wHoSe WiLl StOp NeXt?
YoUrS, dEtEcTiVe MaRyAm?
HoNk : o)
"What's it say?" Gamzee asked, trying to read the note in her hands.
"'Tick tock goes the clock of life. Whose will stop next? Yours, Detective Maryam? Honk...' Then a peculiar smiley face with an O for a nose..." She stared at it for a second. The same dripping, purple ink used in the previous letter she had gotten from the killer, and the same writing pattern...
"Juggalos write like that," Sollux pointed out. "They've got this weird drug that makes them so high they just go insane. They actually honk, write and type in that weird pattern when they're 'normal' and a different one when they're mad...some weird one where the first sentence is completely lower case, while the next is capitalized, then the next is lower case, etc, etc. And they use Os to represent clown noses in any smiley face they use."
He quickly began to write something down on a piece of paper to show Kanaya what he meant:
XoD : o) : oD : o( : o?
"It looks weird, but that's what they do," he muttered, shaking his head. "And they're big into graffiti...rainbow colors. God, it's an eyesore."
Kanaya paused. "So, the killer could be one of these...Juggalos."
Sollux nodded. "Clown cultist, Juggalo, Subjuggulator, whatever you want to call them."
"I thought they worshiped Subjuggulators?" She still didn't know what they were.
"The Mirthful Messiahs are their gods, basically. Subjuggulators are the 'higher' members of their religion. It's dumb."
"I'm seeing stars..." Gamzee muttered, his face paler than it normally was.
"He's lost a lot of blood," Kanaya said, placing her hand against his head. It was getting really cold... "Can you take him to the hospital?"
Sollux rolled his eyes. "Why should I?"
"Sollux, do you wish to be responsible for someone else's demise?"
"No, but I'm still mad at him-"
"That is childish!"
"Wait, who's dying here?!" Gamzee exclaimed.
"No one," Kanaya said at the same time Sollux said: "You."
"That was extremely uncalled for." She could feel a headache coming on; she was losing her temperament...she needed coffee...
"I'm not kidding; he could have died long before."
"What?!" Gamzee's eyes were wide with fright. "What are you talking about?!"
"Your nose." A smirk spread across Sollux's face. "If it had broken a certain way, the cartilage would have shot up and punctured your brain, killing you. You were an inch away from death, Makara."
The look of fright in Gamzee's eyes was too great to really express with words, as his face paled further (was it from blood loss, or fright?).
"Sollux! Please. Just escort Gamzee to the hospital," she said, placing her fingers against her forehead.
"Why don't you?"
"I don't have a car; you do."
He stopped. "Well-"
"Sollux! For the love of God! Just take him to the hospital!"
Sollux seemed slightly shocked, but didn't argue; instead, he helped Gamzee up and quickly left the lab.
Kanaya let out a frustrated sigh. Headache...crashing...need coffee... She rubbed her temples and made her way to the break room. Never had she really had to get into a fight like that...it was almost infuriating.
After getting herself a mug of coffee and making her way back to her office, she sat down and began to slowly drink from it. She was still puzzled by what Gamzee had said (and, well, mad for Sollux being childish and uncooperative again). She had the copy of the note that the killer had most kindly left her, and then the first note, which read:
HoNk : o)
It was a note that had scared her beyond her wits. First of all, how did the killer know she would be on the case? Second...it had been placed after the bodies had been inspected, as Sollux claimed he never saw it. But he had caught the note on the two new victims. Odd...
She placed both notes side by side, studying them carefully. Same dripping ink (a deep purple) and the same writing style...what was missing?
"I just don't get it."