Here we are again, with part 3 of the story! If you’re thinking ‘huh, what story?’ please start here! It’s a bit shorter this time, I had some time off of work and took a week to recharge my batteries and do as little as possible. It was wonderful and very much needed. Now, onto the story!
“Tell me you have something for me, Kravitz,” I called out as we walked into the Violent Crimes and Homicide division of the SCPD, finally sipping my well-deserved coffee. The precinct of the Sweetlake City Police Department was located in the heart of the city. Just outside the shopping district and next to the Firehouse, our division looked out on the shoppers swarming around like ants on one side, the Cinnabon sign right across from the station a constant temptation. The other side looked out on a tiny bit of green landscaping bordering the Firehouse’s yard where, if we were lucky, the firefighters would be running drills and walking around shirtless.Don’t judge.
Deputy Malik Kravitz walked towards us, a thin file in his hand. A curl of fresh ink peeked out from under his collar, the black soft against his dark skin.
“New tattoo?” I asked when he got close enough. Kravitz was a hundred percent human, like me, but he was one of those people who wanted to be more. A lot of humans stuck to just two or three small ones, magical tattoos for a touch of luck, healing a little bit faster, being able to activate a few of the devices that required magic to work. Kravitz wasn’t happy with just two or three though, he really wanted to find out the limits of his bought magic. In the two years that he’d been assigned to our department, this was his fifth tattoo. That I knew of.
“You’re going to run out of space if you keep going.”
“That’s the plan, I have to do something if I want to keep up with people like Flowergirl over here.” He said with no small amount of snark, jerking his head towards Violet. Violet just rolled her eyes as she always did at his nickname. “One day, T.J.” Kravitz continued, “one day you’re going to get over your fear of needles and I’ll take you to Dean’s. Don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand the entire time,” he said with a wink.
I wasn’t afraid of needles, I just didn’t feel the need to have magic forced under my skin just so some things could become more convenient. I liked being just human. Kravitz knew this, but we’d been bantering back and forth about it ever since he joined our division. He was all easy smiles and good-natured sarcasm. It was why we all worked so well together. “In your sad and lonely dreams, Kravitz,” I said, grinning.
He placed the hand holding the file over his heart. “You wound me.”
“You’ll live. Now, tell me what you found.”
He held up the file again. “Donald Koppenhaver, human, age 52, moved to Sweetlake City three years ago from Greensboro, North Carolina. Works for the DMV, no immediate family in the area. He has a mother in a retirement home in Florida. Local police have been contacted, they’ll notify her.”
I held out my hand. “Any priors?” Kravitz handed the file over and I flipped it open, staring at the picture of Koppenhaver for a moment. He didn’t look like anything special, his face a bit too smug and his smile a bit too wide, but that was it. An unassuming man wearing a white button-down, what was left of his hair combed back, a thick gold chain resting over his shirt.
“No priors,” Kravitz confirmed as I turned the page to his non-existent record. “I put a call into the Greensboro PD, they’ll get back to me if they find anything of note. Doctor Strong, however, did find something interesting.” He reached over to turn another page.
It was a close up photo of Koppenhaver’s ruined chest. It had been washed clean, the wound still a gruesome cavern that I didn’t want to look at too long. But that wasn’t the interesting thing Kravitz was talking about. “Is that a burn scar?” I asked him, tracing the edges of the wound where a webbing of scar tissue radiated outwards.
“Indeed it is, and these,” he reached out and tapped the two smoother bits of the scar, both ovals, “are fingers.”
“Somebody burned a handprint into our murder victim?” Violet asked as she walked over, looking over my shoulder to the file.
Kravitz nodded. “Doctor Strong says it’s older, about three years.”
“Hell, first burned, then mauled, this is one unlucky bastard.” I flicked the photo against my hand. “Do we know what did it, Fire Mage, Ifrit?”
“No idea,” Kravitz answered, reaching over to grab another file from his desk, “Donald never even went to a hospital to get treated. There were no charges filed.”
I frowned, it was never good when someone didn’t step forward in assault cases. It meant that either they were ashamed, or they were hiding something.
“So I did a little digging,” Kravitz continued, “and found this.” He handed me the new file.
There was a booking picture of a teenage girl, her fiery red hair falling in waves past her round face. She looked younger than her file said she was, but there was a defiant gleam in her eyes as she glared up at me. “Bryni Hugh,” I read aloud.
Violet walked past me to her desk, typing in the name and pulling up personal information.
“Also known as Pyra,” Kravitz said. “Fire mage, 23, she works as a performer at Unveiled, the club in the industrial district. She has two priors, one for arson when she was a teen, which isn’t that unusual for a fire mage coming into her powers. The second, however, is for assault. Apparently, our little fire mage is a bit – forceful when it comes down to shooting down unwelcome advances.”
I flipped the page over to her record. “She gave a guy a similar burn mark because he was hitting on her.”
“And he’s not the only one,” Violet said from where she sat, “a Christopher Harris was brought into the hospital eighteen months ago with a similar burn, but he refused to press charges.”
“So we have a girl who likes to hurt men that come on a little too strong. Maybe that’s what happened with Koppenhaver last night?” I asked Violet. “Or she could just be out seeking revenge for whatever he did to her.”
“She’s performing tonight.” Violet pointed to the website of Unveiled she had open on her screen, the name Pyra written in dancing flames across the top. “We should definitely go and ask her some questions.”
“You should,” Kravitz said, sounding impossibly smug, “did I mention her brother’s a werewolf?”