We had a new volunteer show up two days ago. He has only referred to himself as 'Ash' and authorized me to include that name in any documentation as it is not his given name. He has refused to provide us with any identifying papers. I'm not going to press it since this study is supposed to be as anonymous as possible. There has to be a reason this older gentleman doesn't want to talk about his history. He seems kind and has gotten along well with all the personnel as well as the other CoLs on site. We ran him through the initial tests and he has scored in the uppermost percentile. Book was pleased to learn they're not alone anymore.
- CoL Case Study 0001 Notes of Doctor Rose Hailu, November 1, 2029
A shit ton of things happen after that. The kid's tentacles become longer and tipped with lightly curved steel blades just before those squid sabers lash out at everyone and everything in the room. I manage to push Starling out of the way as I reshape my clothing to act as a shield, just hard enough for the weapons to skid across. The couch gets cut into pieces as the blades aim past it toward the parents, who stand stock still and stunned. I loosen up my left arm enough to stretch it out to knock the blade tipped tentacles out of the way.
Then the kid tackles me, sending us both careening through one of the fully loaded bookshelves and the wall behind it. We slide across the marble floor a few feet, he slashes at my chest and guts to no effect, as I have kept up my added overall strengthening to myself and my clothing. I retract my arm and return it to normal while I push the kid off me a little more forcefully than I intended because I send him straight up through the ceiling. The house rattles as he lands on the next floor.
Starling reaches the hole in the wall and shouts, "Go get him!"
I can't say I don't agree with him.
This guy just tried to kill six people and may know where the actual Patrick's been taken. I nod and jump through the new skylight above me. A bit more of the house is damaged as I make the breach bigger on my way through it.
I see a body a few feet away on the floor near a bathroom door. Dust and debris fill the air covering everything. The body starts to move, tattered clothing sloughs off as an adult person, assigned male, gets to their feet, no longer using the form of Patrick, they've returned to Basic.
I must have stunned them pretty good.
They spit something out into the bathroom and wipe a bare arm across their eyes. Then all the dust and dirt just slides off them as their skin becomes glossy for a moment before returning to Basic. They're a pretty buff pale guy with sandy brown hair, brown eyes, and a cleft chin. A bit of their left ear is missing at the top. Probably an old injury from before they became a CoL. I know I have some scars I like to keep.
"What did you do with the kid?" I ask.
They shake their head. "Nah, let me go or I bring this whole house down."
"Tell me where Patrick is," I say.
They smile and then they explode.
I jump down the hole in the floor as a wave of flesh takes out walls. Swiftly, I grab Detective Windgate around the waist with one arm, then the Williams' with the other which I've stretched out to wrap around them like a snake. I keep moving as the house continues to shudder above us and pull everyone with me as I kick through the bay window and run out into the front yard then the driveway.
I set the Williamses, and Windgate down as the house creaks and begins to collapse in on itself.
"I need to go back," I say quickly. "The butler!"
Before I can do that the roof explodes away violently. I turn and shift my clothing to form a dome around the cowering couple and detective, strengthening it as much as I can. Wood, stone, metal, countless family belongings, bang and bounce off the shield as the remnants of the house rain down on us.
Don't worry, I'm not naked.
It doesn't take long for the debris to stop falling. I pull my clothing back in, reshaping it into the suit I was wearing when I met Windgate at the hotel.
The house is gone. Sirens start up in the distance.
"Get in the car!" Starling shouts at me while pushing a two by four with drywall still attached off the front windshield. "Hurry up, Simmons! He's getting away!"
I look at the Williamses. They're holding one another in shock.
"What about them?"
"The cops can deal with this shit," Starling shouts as he brushes some smaller debris from the car. "We have a kidnapper to find!"
I guess he's not quitting this job.
I run around to the passenger side and get in as Starling starts the car. He backs over chunks of house and pulls out into the street the opposite way we came in.
"Did they go this way?" I ask.
"No clue," Starling says. "I just need to get us away from there before the cops arrive."
I narrow my eyes at him. "Why?"
"Don't do well with cops," he says through clenched teeth. "Eugene's bad with CoLs. For me it's cops."
"I understand," I reply. "I didn't see which way the guy went either, they could be anywhere, or anything."
I don't like the idea of just leaving the Williams' house. It's not like we're going to be able to spot the culprit anywhere. Naked or not, they could look like anyone or anything. If Starling has as much of a problem with police as Eugene does with CoLs I understand his not wanting to stay.
"What can you tell me about them?" He asks.
"They're at least a Class A," I say. I pause for a moment before asking, "Should I be telling you this?"
"Me?" He looks at me surprised. "Oh, no, I'm fine with CoLs. Y'all are wild as shit," he says with a grin. He turns his attention back to the road as we approach a different gate than the one we came in. "Not fine with one trying to kill us, however."
"Me either," I say. "But it may be better if I handle this on my own, Starling."
He hits a button on a keypad outside and the gate opens to let us out onto the road. Starling turns in the direction opposite the approaching sirens.
"Not gonna happen," he says. "Remember, we hired you."
"But Eugene was going to transfer this case to me," I say.
"I'm pretty sure he'd agree not to now that this is a kidnapping and attempted murder," he counters. "I'll leave him some notes and let him call you about it later. He's out right now."
"You leave him notes?"
"Yeah, he leaves me notes, Lucas too," he says. "We don't always remember what the others do, for obvious reasons. We try to keep one another up to date in case we miss something the other caught. You don't seem surprised by any of this, by the way. Kinda suspect."
"I've worked with Doctor Hailu for ten years off and on," I say. "There's been more than a little work put into determining why there's never been a recorded case of a CoL with DID."
"Any conclusions you can share?" He asks with a grin.
I shake my head. "Just theories, namely that they exist but shift, or they don't exist at all. Neither of us thinks that latter theory makes sense, by the way. Doctor Hailu could never get enough funding to stick with that line of study. Big mess."
"Like that house back there?"
"Sort of," I say. "Listen, I really don't want you forcing Eugene to stay on this case."
"I'm sure he's changed his mind," Starling says confidently. "He'll call you if he hasn't."
"Everyone texts," I say.
"Then he'll text," he replies while rolling his eyes.
"What do we do now?" I ask.
"I take you to your house or motel or wherever you're staying," he says. "I missed most of your conversation with Eugene at the hotel."
"Little Asgard Heights," I say. "It's a CoL exclusive apartment complex. You can drop me off a few blocks away."
"Great, I know where that is," Starling says while grinning. "We avoid it like the plague." He looks at me and lets out a snort. "That place, the other one, and that CoL nightclub on south Sixth street."
"Stick Shifter's," he says with a hiss as he looks back at the road. "Usually has some cops hanging around but might be worth it to look there for clues in this case, actually." He tilts his head a bit. "Maybe."
"I don't think that's a good idea," I say.
"On second thought," Starling says. "We're heading to that hotel room we booked. We can regroup there."
"I think the nightclub's a good idea," he says.
"I don't. We don't even know who this person is or what they're into. They may not be the type who goes to a nightclub. I didn't even know this place existed until you told me."
He tilts his head and grins. "And yet you're the expert."
Right. He has a point.
I am an expert when it comes to using CoL powers and knowing what we're capable of. Not all this social stuff. I have a few CoL friends but most of them are from the studies so it's online stuff. I made a CoL-space page to keep in touch with them, even.
"I think I know how I can look the guy up," I say. "And you're right about the hotel. Let's go there."
"After lunch," he says. "I am starving."
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