Melody smiled at him. “I’m alright. I’m just tired.” And she looked it. She had expended quite a bit of energy, more than she was willing to admit. “I’m just going to head home, curl up with a bottle of wine.” She reached out and dusted the soot and dirt from his once stark white shirt. “You should join me.”
“I should, and I will.” His jaw stiffened in a yawn, and he didn’t bother fighting it. “Don’t wait up. And don’t worry.” She leaned over, held back slightly by the belt that ran across her chest, kissed his cheek and told him that she wouldn’t wait up. Capin backed out of the window and watched the tail lights roll down the street and turn away, leaving him in the lightening rain.
His head cocked back for another yawn when it hit. The SOS signal rang in his cowl so loud, his tired, achy neck muscles seized as his head jerked in reaction. “What in the holy-” The Trust had agreed to maintain radio silence between them… This signal could only mean that somebody’s encounter had gone incredibly poorly.
“Crap.” Even without a destination, he was already hot footing it… The nearest rooftop would give him the fastest lead in whatever direction “Crap.” He threw himself onto the fire escape, Enry gripping the bars end over end, taking them up as fast as he could. “Crap.” Tapping his finger to his ear, the alarm keyed off and the voice-activation chirped. “Log-in: Capin. Voice print: I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” Somewhere in Garrison City, a set of Cray computers worked silently. Bluewolf had set them up for situations like this, when Silhouette was unavailable. Perhaps it was forethought to a day when they wouldn’t have that access to Stragegoi. It didn’t quite have the bank of knowledge readily available, but if nothing else it was faster and more reliable than using mapquest.
“Where’s the emergency?” Capin planted a hand the parapet and hopped over it.
The computer paused a moment. 4862 South Arlington and 8820 West Patch.
“The IPD?” None of tonight’s events took place in the Industrial Parkway District. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but it did worry him more. Taking a leap to the next building he headed west.
Capin stopped on the aged building that sat at the corner of Arlington and Patch. His breathing was labored. After this evenings earlier festivities he wasn’t in much shape to run halfway across the city at top speed. Stepping over the firewall Enry peeled back from his face as he ran his sleeve across his forehead. The cowl then climbed back into place. He pulled the small device from inside his coat and flipped it open. The flashing dot was right ahead, down in the alley. He took the last few steps forward and peeked down.
He grimaced. The bike was on its side, its wheels pressed into the wall. The body was slumped over it. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was still somebody there, leaning close to it. Wiping the last vestiges of blood from his face, Capin jumped across, bouncing back and forth down, landing silently behind them.
She was crouched down, her arms resting on her knees. Even crouched down he could tell, she wasn’t tall. Her frame was slender. She tucked a lock of her rather long burnt sienna hair back behind an ear and leaned closer to the body. Dressed in a nice little business suit, she didn’t appear to be the super villain type, but who could tell these days? And she didn’t appear nervous. Her body language had none of the nervous shaky movements found in the average person who stumbles across a body in the alley. As for said body, though his view was obscured, judging by the blue and red pants and the star-spangled cycle, there was no doubting. It was Kardiac’s protégé’. She was reaching for his mask.
“Now that seems hardly fair.” Breaking the silence, lost her just a little bit of her cool. She swung round with an axe kick. Not exactly your average ‘YWCA Self-Defense Class’ move. Capin leaned back, letting both arcs of the foot breeze by. “Peeking under the guy’s mask when he’s unconscious.” She was swift, falling back into a defensive stance. She sized him up but said nothing. “He’s with me.”
He nodded his head, indicating the unconscious Freedom. With her out of his line of vision he got a better look. The kid’s face was bloodied and bruised. One eye was swollen closed. Slowly his chest rose and fell. That was a good sign. Not much of one, but he’d take what he could get tonight.
“And you are?” She said, finally breaking the ice with him.
The Dapper Detective smiled. “I’m with him.”
She returned the smirk. “Cute.”
“Stop… I’m blushing.”
“I know what you thinking, what this looks like.” Her body loosened, but she kept her eyes tuned in on him. “I didn’t do this.” She stuck a finger down, pointing to more to the bike then the boy. “I just found him like this.”
“I had a teacher once.” He took a relaxed step forward, Enry draped down around the tux, hiding the white away. “A guilty conscience needs no accuser.”
“Okay, Okay.” She held her hands up and took a step back. Her greenish eyes twinkled in the alley light. “I didn’t say I was totally innocent, but I didn’t do this. I did just find him like this.”
Capin shrugged his shoulders, “Sure.”
Quickly she dug her hand into her coat. Pulling whatever it was out, she stepped up and slapped it against his chest. She held her hand there a moment, pressed up against him. He cocked an eyebrow, taking her eyes off her for the first time and picking the card from between the two of them. It was a simple business card. All black with a large white star in the middle and the word “Services Inc.” across the center with a phone number beneath it.
“Star.” He looked back at her. She had her hand stretched out. “I’m a PI.”
“A PI,” he responded flatly, not sure what to make of any of this.
“Private investigator.” She still held her hand out, waiting. Capin took it and gave it a shake. It had remarkable weight for such a small hand. “I was hired by the Mayor’s office to look into the outbreak of… um… you.”
“Outbreak of me?” He could’ve been wrong, but he didn’t recall breaking out anywhere. Not since puberty. He hadn’t been in the papers. He was about as public as Kaiser Soze.
“Well, vigilantes.” She looked into his eyes. He could feel Enry stir uncomfortably under her gaze.”You are a vigilante, aren’t you? I mean, you operate outside of the law.”
Capin shook his head. “No. No, I’m a magician.” The fact that the Mayor’s office was now looking into them as well was settling nicely into the pit of his stomach. He pushed hard against the Rockwell song that started echoing in the back of his mind.
She laughed, and shook her head. “Sure.” She turned and knelt back over Major Freedom. “You know, he’s still a suspect in a murder investigation.”
“I think I read something like that. There’re a lot of people falling in the streets these days.” She nodded. “Incidentally he’s innocent.” As he said the words he hoped they were true. If Kardiac stood by the kid, that would be faith enough.
“So young,” she said to herself softly. Taking a deep breath, “I don’t suppose you’re going to let me take him in.” She stretched to her full height.
“Something like that.” She looked him over again, “And I suppose you think you could take me out?”
“Oh, no.” Capin shook his head and held his hands up in protest. The Enry formally parted at his chest. “I’m involved. I don’t believe she’d appreciate me taking out nice young Private Investigators working for the Mayor’s office.”
“Interesting…” Her eyes narrowed. “What about the others? Kardiac… the Wolf… You know those guys?
“Look,” he brushed past her, “I’d love to continue this interview and all, but the kid needs medical attention.” He knelt down beside Major Freedom and carefully scooped him up. He could feel her eyes on him as Enry slid up supporting his head, and wrapping around his body.
“I-” She stammered, stepping back as he stood up. “I hope he’s ok.”
He leapt up, grabbing the fire escape with one hand. “I know a great doctor.” Enry reached up and pulled them onto the landing and he hurried up the steps, leaving Star below. He tapped the com in his ear and waited for the chirp. “Mid-Night Man.” He started heading north, hoping that it was late enough.
The now familiar voice came through the com. Cap?
“Hey, Doc. You guy’s safe and sound?”
We’re fine. I wouldn’t say everything went as planned or anything, but… Mildly successful, I guess.
“Good.” He grunted, landing on another building. Enry held the boy carefully, not letting him jostle.”Look. There’s a Kentech building at Sturgess and Crate road, in the Parkland. I need you to meet me on the roof and prep your own little ER.”
God, It’s not-
“No, It’s Major Freedom. Looks like he zigged instead of zagging a few too many times.”
What’re his symptoms?
Capin looked down briefly. “He’s unconscious, was when I found him. A lot of bleeding, some already clotting. His breathing’s faint but regular enough. Might have a broken rib or two.”
I’m already there.