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Case 2-E: The Count

Vergil didn't know how he did it, but he managed to clear his floors of all the paperwork in a single night. Not only that he somehow managed to alphabetize his filing cabinets. He didn't even know why he had a problem with his apartment room all of a sudden.

For the longest time, he had simply let the papers lie on the floor. Hell, he didn't even know what most of them were for. He could have thrown them all away ages ago, but he simply didn't have the willpower to pick them up individually or to move his trashcan to a more convenient location.

Yet the night he came home, he suddenly had the overwhelming urge to organize everything. Not only that, his mind somehow managed to plot the organization in literally a nanosecond, somehow figuring out what a majority of the papers were for. About a fourth of them turned out to be coupons with surprisingly long expiration dates.

Anyways, now that the papers were neatly tucked away, he wouldn't have to worry about them for many years to come. What he was now worried about was how his brain somehow had become a super computer. He could always ask Danny about that, but then he would have to go through the motions of having to explain his previous escapades. Frankly he was getting tired of having to do recaps for other people.

And then there was the case at hand. Who was this "Painter" character? Obviously he wasn't a figure known to most of the actual public considering that he wasn't in any of the news archives he had read so far (he had read seven years worth over the course of twenty-four hours and still going).

If there was anything he had learned, however, it was that the news hardly ever covered the activities of the mobs. So there was still another place he could turn for information. That was a good thing too, considering that his previous sources were becoming progressively more tight-lipped about their operations.

He would try going to the police station tomorrow to see if he had access to the forensics department. Perhaps he could even discuss the case with Simon or Mark assuming Park hadn't threatened them into keeping their mouths shut. After that, he would make his second trip to the Underground.

But first he would finally get some sleep. He didn't even bother to take his coat off as he fell onto the bed and quickly blacked out.
###
Now Vergil knew he definitely would need to see a doctor. This marks the tenth time in a month where he woke up at noon. Thankfully he found a cheap restaurant on the way that was serving brunch, though the groaning noises in his stomach probably indicated that the food wasn't the cleanest. He probably should've chosen the usual place instead of trying to experiment. Hopefully there wouldn't be any embarrassing emergency trips to restroom on the way to the police station.

Suppressing another churn of his stomach, he entered the police station. He looked around. The good news was that Park wasn't anywhere in the immediate area. The bad news was that neither were Simon or Mark. He hoped that the forensics department would be open at least.

Nobody was raising any alarms from him being in the station. That was good. From the way their last conversation had gone, Vergil had suspected that Park had gone back to the station to inform everyone not to let him through even the front door. He even pictured Park holding a photo of him shouting those exact words during a meeting. How Park would have gotten the picture, Vergil couldn't be certain.

What he could be certain of was that the forensics department was still open, judging by the lights, the computers still being on, the sword on the table, and the man in the lab coat. Actually the person in the lab coat should have been the first sign.

Vergil stopped at the door for a moment. He couldn't just barge in. He didn't have an appointment obviously. The man in the room would probably sound an alarm or cry out for help. If that would happen, he definitely would be barred from the entrance of the station. There was also the possibility of him contaminating the murder weapon.

After much deliberation, he finally came up with the perfect approach. He walked up to the door and gave three good knocks, not to heavy but still loud enough to hear. He looked up to see a small slot on the door open up, revealing a pair of eyes.

"Who're you?" said a voice.

"Vergil Vasquez, private eye," Vergil responded. "I'm investigating the death of former commissioner Roger Kingsly."

"You know I can't just let anyone in here."

"You wouldn't be very good at your job if you did," said Vergil. "So what can I do to gain access?"

"First, remove your coat," the voice instructed. "I got to see if you're armed."

Vergil swung the coat off of himself in nearly a millisecond, an ability he picked up from years of practice. "So where do you want me to hang it?"

"Bring it up to the slot."

Guessing the man wanted to have a closer look at the coat, Vergil did as he was told. A gloved hand suddenly shot out from the slot and yanked his coat out of his hands and pulled it through the narrow opening.

Vergil waited patiently. Then a minute had passed. He was beginning to wonder if he had been forgotten. "Take your time!" he shouted.

He waited a few more seconds. Finally, he saw his coat being pushed through the slot.
"Now I'm going to request that you give me your pistol," said the voice.

"Of course," Vergil muttered as he handed his weapon over. Like his coat, his pistol was pulled through the slot.

"Okay you're clear," said the voice.

The door opened revealing a red-headed man wearing a lab coat and glasses. That was to be expected. Vergil however was marginally surprised by the fact that the man was significantly taller than him and built quite sturdy. Not to say it was rare, but Vergil viewed scientists as being more of the lanky, meek sort of individuals.

"So what're you looking for?" the man asked.

"The murder weapons," Vergil said. "Did you find anything on it?"

"I was actually about to present my findings to the Lieutenant," the man said. "But as you can see, he's not in right now."

"You want to present them early?"

The forensic scientist shuffled around for a bit with uncertainty, scratching the back of his neck.

'Huh, so he is meek,' thought Vergil. 'Who'd of thought?'

"I don't think the Lieutenant is going to be happy with this," the man finally said.

"Tell me what you know and I'll be out of here," said Vergil. "He won't have to know that I was ever here."

After some more deliberation, the man finally conceded. "The lieutenant is going to kill me," he muttered under his breath as he guided Vergil into his office.

The forensics room was both cramped and sterile. A large table in the center occupied the most space. Above it was looked like a giant rectangular lamp. On the table was a sword, rusted blood coating the tip. This table was isolated by a giant glass container. The man seemed to notice that he was interested in the device.

"I would refrain from touching the glass if I were you," the scientist said.

"Of course," said Vergil. "Wouldn't want to contaminate the evidence."

"What I meant to say was that the barrier fries anything that makes contact with it," he said pointing to the glass casing.

Vergil backed away from the barrier slowly, deciding that he wanted a view of the rest of the room. What space wasn't occupied by the giant table was instead occupied by a desk lined with rows of files with different colored tabs along with the pistol he had handed in beforehand. Off to the corner was a rather large monitor that was streaming information, the code cascading down the screen. Sticking out of the side of the monitor was what appeared to be thick bands of neon wires, connecting to the lamp hanging over the large center table as well as the table itself.

As a matter of fact, he was seeing a lot of neon wires lining the room.

He couldn't help but ask the scientist, "Hey how do you move around with all these wires hanging everywhere?"

"What wires? Everything in the room is supposed to be wireless." The scientist looked as though he had no idea what Vergil was talking about.

"Never mind," Vergil said.

'Great, now I'm seeing things again,' Vergil thought.

He could only assume that this was one of his newfound "abilities." Why it would decide to show up now instead of at a more convenient time was beyond him. If anything, this activation now made the place look like a minefield.

"Uh, what would you like to see?" the scientist asked.

Vergil shook his head, snapping out of his thoughts. "Well what do you have so far?"

"We are certain that whoever killed the former commissioner wasn't using gloves," said the man. "But it's as if the killer didn't have completely organic hands. The incisions on the hilt seem to hint that whoever was wielding it had razor blades for fingers. But there were also -- "

Vergil stopped him before he could finish. "I kind of figured that beforehand," he said.

The scientist realized almost instantly how useless his information thus far had been. Vergil could tell because his face flared up like a Christmas light. "I'm guessing you already know everything that I'm telling you then."

"I don't know about the actual body," said Vergil. "Why don't you tell me about what you found on that?"

"O-of course!" the man said with a nervous laugh. With a small cough he continued. "There were no lacerations found on the body besides the stab wound. There was, however, a heavy amount of bruising and a few fractures especially to the back area. We also discovered what loosely appear to be foot prints on his body."

'So The Painter literally kicked the guy around the room before dealing the finishing blow,' Vergil thought. 'Just who is this guy?'

"We also found a scrap of clothing on the body," the scientist said.

Now they were finally making progress. "Did you identify who it belonged to?" Vergil asked.

"It's strange really," the scientist said. "The computer does identify DNA, but the actual name isn't in the database."

"So the cloth belongs to someone who just came to Aigis then?" Vergil asked.

"Yeah, that's actually why all of the investigators are out," the man said. "They're questioning every recently arrived immigrant. Anyways, that's all I have so far."

"You want to give me your name so that I can give you a proper greeting next time?" Vergil asked. Seriously, he was tired of having to label the red-head as just "That Guy."

"The lieutenant says that I'm not allowed to for security reasons," the man responded.

Vergil couldn't even think of a witty response to that. "Well that's... odd."
###
It had been weeks since he last traversed the sewer systems of Aigis. He had to adapt to the smell all over again. Thankfully, he actually knew where the entrance was this time. The gate with the broken lock also had remained unfixed. Though there was always the possibility that it had been that way from the beginning.

Vergil was in for quite a shock as he took the elevator down to The Underground again. What once looked like a desolate landscape repurposed for living had been turned into a city of lights. It reminded him of a fallen grand city that he had read about in history books that had been called "The City of Lights."

Indeed, The Underground was now almost blindingly bright. Neon lights lined newly refurbished buildings. Search lights beamed out of the pseudo-city. The streets even looked more densely populated than before. He also swore that he heard the distinct boom of club music. How did all of this go unnoticed by the surface world?

The moment the elevator finally reached the ground, the first thing Vergil immediately noticed was the new ads that were plastered all over the place. He had never taken the criminal underworld to be a place for commercialism, but apparently gangs could also get their names plastered all over products.

In this case, he saw several posters lining the walls advertising:

Aristocrat's Aura
The Perfect Scent

On the posters were a spherical perfume bottle with what appeared to be a grinning mask printed on the front with starry eyes. That grinning mask seemed to be showing up on the other ads as well. Looking outside he saw newly erected billboards and more posters advertising things ranging from bullets to cigar cases, each with the label of "Aristocrat" and the same mask printed on.

This commercialization probably was also attracting a different sort of population. No longer did he exclusively see formally dressed individuals. Now amongst the crowds were women dressed in skimpy outfits and men who most likely were disgruntled cubicle workers. That was not to say that the element of organized crime wasn't going strong in the place.

There still were men and women dressed in formal dresses and business suits walking amongst the place. Some of them looked uncomfortable with having to share the space with people who were so casually dressed. Others appeared as though they had no idea that their business community had suddenly been remodeled.

As he was busy taking in his new surroundings, he abruptly bumped into someone. He looked in front of him, at first no seeing anything. Then he looked down. Against all odds, he managed to run into Corina for the second time. This time she was back in the navy blue suit he had become accustomed to seeing her in.

"Excuse me," she said quickly.

Vergil stopped her before she got a chance to move past him, figuring it was a good time to do some questioning."Hold up," said Vergil. "What are you doing here?"

"Conducting business," she said.

"Trying to inform more associates about Marie's change in codename?"

"Sure let's go with that," she said, walking away again.

That answer obviously wasn't good enough. So Vergil decided to walk alongside Corina, hoping to strike a conversation that could yield more than just one sentence answers.

"So what is your job exactly?" Vergil asked.

"Are you going to keep harassing me?" she asked.

"Just trying to strike up a friendly conversation," he said.

"Well we're not friends are we?" she said.

"Who says we can't be?"

"I do." The girl seriously could pull off the coldest looks imaginable. Vergil swore that her very eyes were just inches away from piercing his soul. It was doubly impressive considering her big youthful eyes. They seemed more useful for someone who wanted to look cute rather than menacing.

"And if you want to continue this conversation," she said. "I suggest that you stay back there."

"Okay then." Corina was seriously limiting his conversation options. He had a feeling that she had prepared for individuals such as himself many years beforehand. "What're you doing down in The Underground?"

"I could be asking you the same question," she responded. "I thought you already got what you came for."

"So you eavesdropped on our conversation?" Vergil asked.

"It was hard not to when you stirred up such a commotion," she said. "And you were quite a popular subject for days afterwards."

Vergil couldn't help but be curious. "So what're they saying about me?"

"They think that you might have broken their boss," she said. He could just barely make out the hints of a snicker underneath her professional tone. But that moment of emotion was fleeting at best. "She's been unfocused on the current state of her family's business they say."

"Is she?"

"That's private information between Miss Rosette and I," she said, gaining the edge back in her voice.

"So you and Marie are... close?" Then a realization hit Vergil. "You're not part of the Rosa Mafia are you?"

Corina stopped walking. "How can you tell?"

"Don't think I just like asking questions," said Vergil with a smirk. "I'm quite perceptive when I want to be."

"Could've fooled me," he heard her mutter.

For some reason, the statement didn't hurt as much. It probably was a growing immunity.

"And that doesn't answer my question," she continued.

"Well since you asked nicely," Vergil said. "The first thing I noticed was the fact that Marie was detached from everyone in the room. At the time, I just brushed that off as her being unable to keep track of the sheer amount of people in the room. But there is the possibility that she doesn't particularly like any of the other associates. Then you mentioned that she might not be focused on the family business and how she only disclosed it to you."

"I never said that."
Ignoring her, Vergil continued, "Obviously she wouldn't tell someone within the business as it would severely damage her reputation, and in a business like that it would probably lead to her death. So she only confides in the one person who isn't a part of the business yet still connected to it which would be you. The question now is what your job is. You're obviously not just somebody who exists to open a door. So are you going to tell me?"

"Wasn't there something you needed to do?" she asked.

Vergil was drawing a blank here. He thought that his purpose was to get acquainted with this girl who he had just run into for the second time in a row. What was he originally going to do? There was the police station, then the forensics department, then the ride down...

Corina was already ahead in the crowd by the time he managed to retrace is steps, figuratively of course.

"Okay before you leave," Vergil said quickly. "Do you know anything about someone called The Painter?"

Several other people within listening distance suddenly froze in their steps. Corina however didn't seem to notice as she continued walking on.

"Never heard of him," she said. Without another word, she disappeared into a crowd of people.

Before Vergil could move another inch, he saw several people break away from the crowd, surrounding him. They were all dressed in black suits and wore matching shades.

"Lucky girl," he heard one of the men say.

"Unfortunately we can't say the same thing to you," another suited man said.

Vergil pulled his gun out. "What do you want?"

"If you forget about this 'Painter' fellow, we can avoid this," said another voice this time behind him.

"Sorry but I wouldn't be good at my job if I stopped investigating now would I?" Vergil said as he pushed down the hammer.

Before he could react, his gun was flung out of his hands, a shot echoing in the streets soon accompanied by a crowd of screams. He stared at his pistol, noting the bullet hole going through the side of the barrel. It would have only taken him a second to reassess his strategy, but even before the second was up, he felt something strike the back of his head.

Then everything went dark.
###
"Christ! Couldn't you have just put a sack over his head or something?!"

Vergil's eyes opened slowly at this outburst. The room was still very blurry, though he could make out a red figure standing by two black ones.

"We wanted to make sure there was no resistance."

"You caused a panic in the streets with your stunt! Do you know how hard it is to maintain control over a place as large as this?"

As the two black figures left, the room came into view. His new surrounding looked rather... old-fashioned, like a castle from centuries ago. The ceiling was painted with a portrait of a cloudy sky and adorned with bright, ornate chandeliers. Great stone pillars propped this fake sky, blue tapestry tied along all of them.

"I see our guest has awoken," a voice said.

Vergil turned to see a blonde man in a red suit standing by him. He looked oddly familiar, like he had met the man only a few weeks ago.

"Where'm I?" Vergil managed to utter.

"You're inside the Aristocrat's private chambers," the man in red said.

"Huh. You know I saw that name plastered everywhere not to far back." Vergil's mind was piecing itself together at a surprisingly quick speed as he was already processing a way to escape.

The moment feeling came back to his arms and legs however, he realized he was strapped to a chair. Admittedly, it was a fancy chair with red cushions and a golden frame. But still, he was strapped to a chair.

"Just a precautionary measure," the man said. "We know what your first reaction will be." He viewed Vergil tugging at his bindings, flashing an amused smile when one of the binding began coming loose. "I admit, our men are not the best at tying people down, but I still wouldn't do that if I were you. Five men were more than enough to subdue you. Now think of having to go through a mansion filled with nothing but them."

Vergil soaked the comment in for a moment then stopped resisting. "So did you take me here so that your boss could personally execute me?"

"I wouldn't jump to conclusions so quickly," the man said. "That's for the boss to decide and it's entirely likely that you two will strike some form of compromise." Vergil threw him a skeptical glare. "I do apologize if our men gave you the wrong message. The boss is actually quite a nice guy, honest."

Something about the suit and sunglasses triggered something within Vergil's memory. "Hey wait, didn't I see you here several weeks ago?"
"Did you?" That was the probable response. Not everyone was graced with the ability to memorize faces.

"I guess it'd be too long for a lot of people. But yeah, I was that guy who asked you about Harman. Do you at least remember that?"

"Oh." He pondered for a moment and appeared to come to a realization. "Nope, still drawing a blank."

"Never mind," Vergil grumbled.

"Anyways, in a matter of minutes the boss will be coming through those doors," the man said pointing towards a set of double doors.

A second after he had made the gesture, the doors swung open. Behind said doors was a peculiarly dressed being. On said being's face was a mask, not unlike the image he saw in the ads.

The mask blocked the person's true identity, but from the general body shape Vergil could assume that this masked individual was male. He wore a black vest with a studded, asymmetrical collar pulled up, complimented by similarly colored pants and a white dress shirt. In his right hand was a long cane tipped off with a head bearing the Aristocrat's grinning face. He just exuded the aura of an upperclassman.

The way he spoke however, gave off a completely different image. "Hey what's up?" The boss of the Aristocrats noticed that Vergil was still tied to his chair, giving him a very confused look.

He gave a rather nervous laugh and scratched the back of his head, acknowledging the awkwardness of the situation. "Yeah, sorry about the whole tying you up thing. But you had part of it coming."

"Did I now?" Vergil was still waiting for the part where someone would go over his list of transgressions.

"Yes," the mob boss said.

Vergil waited for a follow-up. The room remained silent for a good minute, only briefly broken by the tapping of the mask man's foot.

"Oh right!" the mob boss exclaimed. "I forgot the introductions!"

With that, all of the lights in the room shut off, rendering the surroundings pitch black. Suddenly two search lights turned on, beaming across the room. All the while, a booming announcer voice echoed through the room. "Introducing the one and only..."

After a rather long drum roll, the search lights shut off anti-climactically with a click and a hum as the audio crackled out of existence in a wave of static.

Through the darkness, Vergil heard the very annoyed shout of the red-suited man. "Dammit! I thought I told Vasquez to fix that!"

The lights abruptly turned back. The man in red looked exasperated. Vergil obviously couldn't tell what the masked man was thinking at the moment, though his stance did imply that he was virtually unfazed.

"Anyways, they call me The Count," the masked man said with an extravagant bow. "And the guy standing next to you is my right-hand man Montoya Lorde Von Gabriel. Everyone just calls him Gabe."

Vergil looked up at the man in red. Gabe looked back down at him, giving him a respectful nod. Yet another moment of awkward silence filled the air. Gabe coughed a bit, most likely to alleviate the mood.

After a ridiculously long pause, the Count finally spoke again. "So, you know why you're here right?"

"No," Vergil said. "I was thinking that you would tell me."

"Well why didn't you ask?" the Count said.

"I ju -- " Vergil started. He caught himself, realizing that nothing good would come out of starting an argument. "Never mind."

The Count turned to Gabe. "So wait. You didn't tell him on the way back?"

"Well sir, he was out cold at the time," Gabe responded.

"I guess that makes sense," the Count said. "You want to tell him now?"

"Didn't think I had to but okay," said Gabe with a shrug. He turned to Vergil. "I'm guessing you weren't present during our little 'renovation' here."

"Oh yeah," said Vergil. "What was that all about anyways?"

Gabe sighed. "Well, it looks like I'm going to have to give you a full-blown history lesson." He cleared his throat. "The Underground has been ruled by a series of prominent crime families for several decades now since the initial discovery of the underground city on February 14, 2080. Not one of these crime families have ever established dynasties at most lasting twenty years. They either move out to another state or country entirely or they are killed by an outside party."

"Wait," Vergil interrupted. "You said 'outside party.' What's keeping other crime families from overthrowing the one's in charge?"

"Ancient contracts signed a long time ago," said Gabe. "You see, the founders were smart enough to keep attention away from their newfound discovery, so they devised a way of determining the new leadership that would minimize the amount of noise heard on the surface." He held up his hand, silencing Vergil before he could interrupt again. "But that's not the point of this history lesson."

'I guess that's understandable,' Vergil thought. 'I'll probably stumble across the answer a month or so from now.'

"Anyways," Gabe continued, "The Aristocrats emerged victorious and proceeded to rework The Underground in accordance to The Count's personal tastes."

"Like putting his face on perfume bottles?" Vergil asked.

"Hey, a lot of people would pay money to have a perfume bottle with my face on it," said The Count.

"As for why you're here," said Gabe, "Anything having to do with this 'Painter' is taboo in The Underground."

And that was it. There was no elaboration. There was no follow-up. There was no lecture. There was just that one sentence.

"So your whole history lesson was just leading up to that one simple point," Vergil said, trying to maintain a steady tone. "Well maybe if someone would give me some answers I wouldn't be asking around nearly as much."

"No you wouldn't," Gabe said bluntly. "This conversation is ov-- "

"Wait hold on," said the Count suddenly. "He has a point."

"But sir," Gabe started.

"He came looking for answers," said the Count. "It's better he gets it from us than scream his head off in the streets."

"Could I talk to you outside for a moment?" Gabe said.

"I don't see why we can't do it here," the Count said. Then he got a look at Gabe's face. "Oh right. Uh, whatever-your-name-is, could you just sit there for a moment? Okay thanks!"

The two of them quickly exited the room, the doors closing behind them with an echoing bang. Vergil could hear vague whispering from beyond the walls, though nothing really more than that. He looked down at his own straps. There was little thought put into them. If at least two of his fingers could reach one of the loose ends, he could easily undo the entire knot. Then he remembered the moment when he got his pistol shot out of his hands. These men had accuracy down to a point. He would stand less of a chance without a weapon.

He looked around the room. Tucked in every corner of the room were security cameras. And experience had taught him that he wasn't quite ready when it came to evading their gaze. Just as he finished contemplating his ineptitude at stealth and subtlety, the doors swung open again. Gabe respectfully stood behind by the entrance while the Count approached Vergil, an overly dramatic flare added to each step. His cane, which he previously had simply held in his hand was now a rather ornate walking stick, each click and clack punctuating his step. It was almost as if the Count was trying to compensate for the outright failure that was his introduction sequence.

"After much deliberation I've decided to enlighten you on your current situation," said the Count.

While Vergil would have been elated by such news, his brain had suffered a bit of whiplash from the sudden change in the Count's character. Up to this point, the Count had been a man of informal banter. Now suddenly, the Count was speaking with the same sort of wordiness associated with his right-hand man in red. And that wasn't going into the fact that getting vital information took more than a polite question, not that he wasn't polite in the slightest during the entirety of that conversation.

"However, there is one condition that you will need to fulfill," the Count continued.

Before Vergil could respond how he saw it coming, the floor underneath him gave way. As he fell into the darkness, he had enough time to silently compliment the interior designers who somehow managed to conceal the lines highlighting the trap door.

Then he hit the cold, hard ground and everything went black. Again.
###
A bright light woke Vergil up from his impact-induced slumber. At the very least, he no longer felt any restraints tied to him. However, his sight was now crippled. Even a simple squint let in the burning light. Unlike his past experience with being knocked unconscious, this time his other senses came back quickly. He could almost instantly deduce the cacophony of cheers surrounding him.

He felt the ground beneath him as he attempted to stand back up. The ground was cold and completely smooth, though the feeling brought to mind a metal sheet as opposed to marble. As soon as he got his bearings back, he used his hand to shield a bit of the light away from his eyes. He looked around to see large walls erect all around him. And above said walls were rows of tables, seating businessmen and women in formal gowns. That was all he could see for the moment. Had he looked any further, his eyes would make contact with the blinding spotlights once again.

To his relief, the lights diverted their gaze from him. Without them shining on him, he noticed just how dark the room actually was, only illuminated by the lamps dotting the tables of the apparent audience. More importantly, he got a clear view of who stood, or rather sat directly in front and above him.

It was the Count, reclining against a golden throne, the spotlight focused on him. To his side stood Gabe, looking particularly stoic. Leaning idly against an arm of his throne was his cane.

As the sound of the crowd quieted, the Count emerged from his seat, and taking up the cane. Apparently there was a microphone hidden inside of it because the moment he spoke, his voice reverberated throughout the room.

"Welcome to the coliseum detective!" the Count shouted, arms spread out. "The rules are quite simple. Fight until you drop. I hope you don't disappoint!"    

Then, out of the black void hovering over him, three figures descended with alarming speed, a loud bang accompanying their landing. Despite the distance they probably dropped from, they landed with surprising grace and got up just as easily.

They were all dressed in black, much like the men that had knocked him out earlier.

"First to score a knock-out or kill wins," the Count continued.

The Count raised his arm into the air, seemingly cuing the audience into initiating a countdown sequence.

"Six, five, four," the crowd chanted slowly.

The men in black suits slowly began to approach Vergil with confident strides. He fought ninja before, but they didn't have the accuracy of the reflexes to shoot a gun out of his hand. Vergil could already imagine the smear on the floor he would be reduced to. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face.

"Three, two, one... "

The Count threw his arm down in a mighty arc.

"SHOWTIME!" he shouted.
Case 2-D: A Setback and A Reveal
Well, there went the Cleaners' ticket to Spooner County (well technically tickets). The four of them watched the train as it departed from Concord Station then directed their annoyed glares to Mick.

"What?" asked Mick.

Mick had a genuine look of confusion on his face, oblivious to the fact that all four of them were now seated just inches away from law enforcement in a cramped office. The authorities thankfully were distracted by their own conversation. Said authorities consisted of a portly police officer, a member of the station's staff, and a security guard. To be honest, it was hard to tell who had which profession considering that their uniforms looked similar with only a few minor differences.  

Rhodes leaned over to Hank. "Should we tell him?" he whispered.

"It didn't stick when I tried it in Durwood," said Hank. "Just tell him not to kill or maim anyone in the room."

Rhodes passed the message onto Scott, who passed it on to Mick.

Mick opened his mouth. Scott whispered into Mick's ear again. Mick closed his mouth almost instantly.

"What did you tell him?" asked Rhodes.

"Stabbing counts as maiming," Scott responded. "Don't want another repeat like what happened with the Calliope Brothers."

"Jesus that was a nightmare to get through."

By that time, the authorities had finally finished their lengthy discussion.

"After looking through your records, we've decided to let you off the hook for now," said the police officer. "On one condition."

"What would that be officer?" asked Hank.

"You are not to set foot on another train as long as he's alive," he said, pointing to Mick. "Now get out."    

As the Cleaners were thrown out along with their luggage, the door was shut swiftly behind them.

Hank was at the forefront, formulating an alternate method of travelling. Mick was not far behind him, sulking apparently. Rhodes and Scott hung out behind them. All of them were carrying their heavy luggage on their backs with surprising ease.

"So how long would that be?" asked Scott just out of earshot of Mick.

"Well Mick had his sixty-fifth birthday just a few months ago," said Rhodes. "I'm guessing it will be another thirty-five before we can even set foot here again."

"So what's the plan now boss?" Scott shouted as both of them caught up to the rest.

"What are our finances at the moment?" asked Hank.

"We brought about eight hundred dollars," said Rhodes.

"Well buying a car is out of the question," muttered Hank. "Are there any buses that can go outside state boundaries?"

"Are those even a thing?" asked Scott.

"No then."

"We could try hitchhiking," suggested Rhodes. "There's got to be at least one car that's heading outside the state."

"Wait, how many states away is Spooner County?" asked Rhodes.

"Around four more," said Hank. "Even if we hitchhike, I doubt we'll be able to get there through one car alone. Not that many people travel there."

"Well we could always -- " Mick started.

"No!" all three of them shouted in unison.

"Screw it," said Hank. "We're hitchhiking."
###
The Harman family's new residence wasn't exactly what any of them would consider roomy. If anything, all of them would rather be back at that spacious mansion in the Underground. Not to mention they had to go through a lot of hurtles just to even set foot in it. Whoever decided on the rule of succession in the Underground clearly was born several centuries ago.

Now that the Cleaners had discovered them, they had no choice but to retreat to the spare hideout in the middle of Spooner County. Their living conditions were still posh, especially when compared to the wooden shacks the residents still lived in. It seemed like no matter how many years passed, there was that one part of America that refused to embrace the modern era. At the very least, it was inconspicuous.

But that came at the trade-off of the spaciousness of their houses of old. It wasn't even a house meant for four people. It didn't even have a second floor to it. There were only two bathrooms, a single kitchen off to the corner, a living room, and three bedrooms. They had enough of an awkward time deciding who had to be the ones to share that one bed. If anything, the squabbling brothers weren't going to share with the likes of Franz, the fattest of them. Franz usually got to go first anywhere in the house. Nobody wanted to suffer the misfortune of getting crushed by his humongous frame, for he was as tall as he was wide.

Every time, the moment they finally settle in, they always had to show up and chase them out. Well, they weren't trying to chase them out so much as they were trying to murder them every chance that they got. This had been the case from the very beginning. All of them had a nostalgic yearning for their old mansion, though not for sentimental reasons. It just meant that they wouldn't have to stay in the same room constantly.

As of that moment, they were all closer than they ever wanted to be in their lifetime. The living room was long, but not nearly long enough to keep the brothers from making eye-contact the moment one of them lifted his eyes from whatever he was doing. Not that the other brothers were doing anything that could be considered constructive, at least in Franz's eyes. They were all a waste of space as far as he was concerned.

Roderick, the thinnest yet most lethargic of the four, lay on the wide couch near the entrance, twirling his hair. He was hogging the entirety of it and wasn't keen on letting anyone share it. Every time Emile tried to sit down on the only unoccupied space, Roderick pulled out his prized machete. He didn't have to aim it in order to get Emile to back down. Emile wasn't the kind of person to start a fight, but was the kind of person to repeat the same methods repeatedly in hopes of getting different results. That probably was conveyed best by his overly long bangs which covered one side of his face. Craig, the most muscular in stature, sat on a chair off to the side, thoroughly engrossed in whatever was playing on his phone. He was never really up for anything unless it was leg breaking or murder.  

Franz cursed the lack of wall space for him to move around in while he was busy looking over the monthly profits of the Harman family's joint businesses. He was finding it hard to breath as his humongous girth was pushing up against the desk. His beefy arms were also having a hard time leaving his side as he tried moving to them to reach out for the slice of cake that was across the table. Food had always been his sole comfort, whether it be the chatter of his annoying siblings or the loss of a particularly profitable business venture. This denial of his sole respite only made his temper flare even more. With a great roar, he flipped the table over, sending his paperwork, a lamp, and the cake flying everywhere with a loud crash.

"Would you keep it down you big oaf?" Roderick said. "We're trying to keep a low profile remember?"

"Shut it!" Franz shouted back. "You got no right to tell me what to do. Not when I'm the only one doing anything remotely useful right now."

"Hey chill man," Roderick said without changing his tone a bit. "Why don't you just take a load off for once?"

"Well I could," Franz said through his teeth, "if you three would do something remotely useful."

"Well the rest of us know that there's always time to relax," Roderick said smugly. "Right Emile?"

Emile's one uncovered eye shifted around the room. "Uh, yeah sure. Whatever you say." He forced a smile.

Franz wasn't even remotely impressed. In fact, he believed he was past the point of toleration. Perhaps the family could do without the added weight. Ronnie wasn't much of a loss. If anything, he didn't subtract any of his frustration at all. Now that that pathetic whiner was out, the flaws of his remaining siblings were really becoming apparent.

"Well if you're not going to add anything you may as well be dead," Franz said. Without another word, he pulled out his ancient Luger from its holster.

Inevitably, none of his brothers were going to let him have his moment. Before he was even close to drawing his gun, he had a machete to his throat and a shotgun pointed shakily at his head. Even though Craig hadn't even gotten out of his seat, he had taken his eyes off of his phone. Franz new his skull would be caved in before he even pulled the trigger.

"Okay, okay, I get it," Franz muttered.

Before the air could get any more awkward, all of them heard a blip from the computer monitor. Without another word, they addressed the incoming caller. The monitor projected a distorted portrait covered in static. A tag off to the side labeled the figure as Ciel.

"I heard quite recently that you five got involved with quite the debacle in The Underground," Ciel said in a deep synthesized voice.

The three brothers backed away quickly from Franz. All of them knew what was coming next. "Uh yeah, about that ... " Franz started.

"Perhaps we were not quite clear on what you were supposed to do," Ciel continued. His voice managed to maintain eerily calm. "Perhaps you did not hear me when I told you to leave no trace behind when you left."

Franz looked back at his brothers for some kind of support. All three of them chose to look the other way. Evidently, threatening to kill your siblings doesn't net that much in the long run. "It's not our fault!" he shouted at Ciel. "If the Cleaners hadn't figured out where we were, we could have gained control no problem!"

"Please understand," Ciel said. "I am not foreign to the concept of bitter rivalries. But the fact of the matter is that you left vital pieces of evidence you have left behind during your little exit trip. Not to mention you left a family member behind."

"You mean Ronnie?" Franz asked. "What about him? He's not useful or anything."

"I wouldn't underestimate his worth if I were you," Ciel said. "Regardless of his abilities, he was present when you and your brothers made the 'arrangement.'"

"Well the Cleaners probably will be heading out to find us again pretty soon," Franz said, trying to maintain a steady tone. It proved to be difficult as the room seemed to progressively darken as the conversation continued. "It's not like they'll be able to throw a wrench into whatever you guys are doing."

"I would greatly advise you not to be so lax Franz Harman," Ciel said. "We of the top brass need the necessary foundation for our plan to go smoothly. It would prove very difficult if we had to improvise an alternative because of several oversights."

"W-well we did what you asked already," Franz said. he wasn't even trying to hide the nervousness in his voice anymore. "That disk you gave us has already been put inside The Underground's mainframe. Isn't that all you really ask from us 'pawns?'"

"You are not completely wrong," Ciel said. "However, all of your earnings shall go down the drain the moment our plan shows any possibility of coming undone."

"I can assure you that it won't," Franz said.

"I need you to swear on this," Ciel said. "Promise me that the Cleaners were the only ones with access to the mansion between the times of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.."

"I swear," Franz said. He questioned internally why the time frame was so specific.

"Remember that the only reason you were able to take over The Underground months ago was because of our assistance," Ciel said. "And one more thing."

"What?"

"Try not to waste too many of our mercenaries this time. They're expensive."
Case 2-C: Investigation Begin

FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER FOUND DEAD IN HOME

Vergil easily put two-and-two together.

"If you're curious, the hour spent was trying to re-arrange the number you gave me," said Lewis. "As it turns out, the former commissioner isn't that skilled at editing his contact information. His false contact information is merely an unholy amalgamation of his address and his actual phone number. I'm surprised it took people this long to find him."

"Well not everyone's got your IQ," said Vergil.

"Compliments will not get you a discount," said Lewis. Vergil frowned.

"Anyways," continued Lewis, "the next thirty minutes were spent checking his browsing history and schedules. It turns out you're not the only private investigator he's hired."

"Kind of figured that," said Vergil.

"Judging by what I read, you would have been left jobless the moment you gave him information about the Harman Family," said Lewis.

"What?!" shouted Vert. He always thought of his mysterious employer as abrasive and judgmental, but he at the very least thought his employer would know how to be grateful, at least silently.

"Don't take it personally," said Lewis. "He's already laid off twelve investigators beforehand."

"Twelve? How many investigators are in Aigis?"

"The thing is that whatever he's after extends throughout all of Aigis."

Vergil raised an eyebrow.

"You do know that Aigis is also the name of the city-state?"

"Well you could have said Aigis State," said Vergil, scratching the back of his head. "Jesus, this whole naming the capital city after the state thing is really confusing."

"I have to agree with you there," said Lewis with a nod. Vergil could count it as the first time he agreed with him on anything.

"So he was already looking into DEUS?" asked Vergil.

"Bravo, you're finally doing your own research," said Lewis. Ignoring Vergil's annoyed expression he continued. "As I was saying before that tangent, the former commissioner has been looking into the current members of DEUS."

"Current?"

"DEUS has been without more than two members for a while now. From what I've gathered already, the organization shouldn't even be functioning."

"Yet somehow it is?"

"It's much more than just functioning if his files are anything to go by," said Lewis. "The organization is definitely planning something big. The question remains what it is exactly. It would seem that even with all of his help, our murder victim could not even find the identity of a single member."

"Can't trust quantity over quality," Vergil muttered.

"You're pretty low-rent yourself," said Lewis.

"For a guy who doesn't even want to know my name, you're really on my case a lot," said an irritated Vergil.

"Maybe I'm just sick of investigators paying me to their jobs for them. Or maybe I do actually care." He shrugged. "Who knows?"

Vergil didn't even know how to respond to that. So he chose to leave.

"I take it our conversation is over?" said Lewis.  

"Yeah. I got a date with a crime scene," Vergil said as he began exiting.

"You're a detective," said Lewis as Vergil was almost out the door. "Start acting like one."
###
Park was just inches away from the front door of the police station when Vergil opened it. Despite the door swinging open just inches away from his face, Park reaction of surprise seemed more oriented towards Vergil's sudden arrival as opposed to almost having his nose broken.

"Mr. Vasquez!" exclaimed Park. "I didn't expect to see you back here so soon!"

"I didn't really expect it either, but here I am," said Vergil.

"Didn't you say that you had business to attend to?"

"That's actually the reason I came back."

"Really now?" asked Park.

Vergil could already predict what Park was going to ask him. He held up his hand before Park could open his mouth.

"I'm still on the fence about becoming an actual detective for the force," he said. Quickly he added, "I do however, want to check out the scene where the previous commissioner was murdered. Mind showing me?"

"Why are you interested in Kingsly all of a sudden?" Park said with narrowing eyes.

Vergil now was left with three options: tell them it was confidential detective business, lie outright, or tell them at least part of the truth.

In that split second, Vergil mulled over the possibilities. If he told them it was confidential, he might seem like a criminal. If he lies outright, it would really bite him in the ass once the truth came out.

With the first two options out of the question, there was only one thing he could do. "I just discovered that the former commissioner was the man who was employing me for the past four months."

There was a collective gasp and the start of some busy chatter from all of the police officers close enough to hear this. Park apparently had nerves of steel because he didn't even flinch.

"Quiet!" he shouted. The officers shut their traps almost instantly.

The Lieutenant quickly pulled Vergil outside of the station onto the noisy streets. In a tense voice he asked, "Are you meaning to tell me that our former commissioner was making contact with sources outside the police department?"

"Yeah?" said Vergil. "Is there a problem with that?"

Park sighed. "Not everyone is you, alright?"

'Geez! What happened to the friendly reception?' Vergil thought.

Park apparently read Vergil's face. "You stated once or twice that you made contact with people of more 'morally questionable' fiber to aid in your investigations. Kingsly, however, has been adamant about nobody on the force ever making contact anyone who could be associated with criminals."

"And yet he called me," Vergil said. More offhandedly he added, "As well as several dozen other detectives."

Park was trying really hard to keep a stern face, but Vergil could tell that it was starting to slip as he confessed more. "This goes beyond breaking one of his own rules. He must have found out about something that the rest of the station is unaware of. But then why wouldn't he contact any of us about the discovery?" He muttered these things in quick succession.

Vergil managed to catch his last sentence. "Maybe because he wanted assets that were more expendable?" Park glared at him. Vergil threw up his hands in defense. "His documents mentioned firing me after he got a particular piece of info, and he did it to several other detectives beforehand." He returned Park's glare. "Look, I never knew the guy personally like you probably did, but he really didn't leave good impression."

Rather than give a response, Park walked to the nearby parking lot and walked to his car. "You're explaining on the way," he finally said.

"Right," Vergil said quietly.
###
Vergil seriously needed a bottle of water by the time they reached their destination. Talking almost non-stop for ten minutes will do that to a person. But at the very least he had gained enough of Park's trust to be allowed into the crime scene.

Kingsly's home was a remarkably old-fashioned, like the ones he had seen in history books about centuries past, the time when the woodwork was visible from the outside. There was even a fairly large forest behind it, separated by a large hedge. Besides the yellow police tape and the officers standing outside, the house looked relatively untouched, at least from the outside.

Park led him through the entrance behind the police tape. Even the inside looked relatively untouched. He could not find a single scratch on the walls or a splatter of blood. Even the furniture was intact and standing upright. In fact, the inside looked completely dull, with off-white painted walls and polished woods floors. There wasn't even one painting or family photo hanging. For sure, the former commissioner wasn't much of a decorator.    

At least it was like this on the first floor. The main room of interest on the second floor was much more eventful. Papers were strewn all over the place. Whatever cabinets were not turned over were left with their drawers hanging open. Now that he thought of it, the room looked oddly familiar. Well it would if it were not for the shattered remains of what Vergil could only assume was once a vase and a lamp.

There was also the white outline on the floor that was where the body used to be. There was deep gash in the floor, in the area that would once have been Kingsly's back, stabbed through by a blade. Presumably, the forensics team already had their hands on both the blade and the body.

"Honestly boss, I don't see why you made us search the same place three times," said a voice.

Mark and Simon were already there, having apparently been standing in a corner behind Vergil and Lieutenant Park the entire time.

"This is really your third time here?" asked Simon.

Park ignored Simon's comment. "Any progress?" he asked.

"Still nothing," said Mark in an irritated voice.

"Are you actually trying this time?" asked Park.

"I'm trying as much as I did the last two time," said Mark. "Just searched every crack of this place for the fourth time in a row."

"Brushing your hands on the walls is hardly investigating."

"What are you implying?"

Vergil rubbed his eyes a bit as an argument sparked between Mark and Lieutenant Park. Something had been wrong with his eyes from the moment he entered the scene. He could swear that he was seeing glowing patches of yellow light along the interior of the house. He rubbed his eye again.

It wasn't working. They were still there.

"What're you looking at?" asked Simon suddenly.

Vergil turned to see that Simon had broken away from the argument which had apparently moved outside of the room.

"Uh, can you see anything 'off' in this room?" Vergil knew that the answer would be obvious, but he needed to find a way to explain his 'visions' in a way that wouldn't make him look insane.

Simon squinted at the spot where Vergil assumed he had been staring at for minutes. He frowned. "Nope. Can you?"

"I might need to see an optometrist later because I'm seeing glowing sp -- " Suddenly, something resembling a pop-up window appeared over one of the glowing spots that he had just been staring at. Vergil stumbled back in surprise.

Simon looked at the spot. "Did you find something?"

"Yeah," said a disoriented Vergil. "A pop-up window."

"What?"

Vergil shook his head. "Never mind."

Then he noticed something. The argument had apparently died down. He looked to see that the Lieutenant had already left the area. Judging by the jovial expression on Mark's face, he had won the argument, at least for the moment.

"Hey partner!" shouted Mark. "We're finally going to be doing some investigation outside of the house!"

"I'll be right down," Simon said as Mark exited. He turned to Vergil. "You sure you're feeling alright?"

"To be honest, I have no clue," said Vergil.

The room got a lot quieter following Simon's departure. Now he was alone with a spectral pop-up window. There was the possibility that he was just hallucinating. In that case, actually reading it would probably cause him to go deeper into insanity.

Then Vergil suddenly realized he didn't care.

Blood Type: A
ID: Roger Kingsly
Time: 1:40 AM
     February 4, 2108

That's what the pop-up window said as it hovered over the glowing yellow spot. He looked ahead of that spot to see several more leading up to a window overlooking the street then across the rooftops. As he did, several more pop-up windows appeared, all having the same descriptions (albeit with slightly different time stamps).

It was strange. The descriptions identified that there was blood in the room, yet the floor didn't look stained. Judging by the direction the spots were going in, the killer commuted from rooftops.

The bigger question now was why his field of vision was now like a desktop. It was like that one project that was ultimately scrapped years ago, only without the unnecessary eye accessories. Apparently his brain had somehow gained a database filled with names (though not this particular person's).

These past few weeks in fact, Vergil felt that something was off about himself. First there was the sudden increase in agility, followed by somehow being able to see through cloaking devices and gaining a healing factor. And now he could literally scan the environment.

He could go on this separate tangent and investigate his newfound powers, but then he realize he was still in the middle of an investigation. The first order of business was to look over the rest of the spots he had missed.

With that thought, new marks began appearing right before him. Vergil made a guess that his brain was the main controller.

The marks looked vaguely like footprints; only vaguely because they looked more like a combination of a foot and a shoe. With a bit of concentration he made another pop-up window appear.

Parts:
Steel Frame
Springs
Shock Absorbers
Oil
Unidentified Fabric
Time: 1:36 AM
1:41 AM
February 4, 2108

At the very least, he could assume that the murderer wasn't wearing normal shoes or going barefoot. Well, technically he or she was but the feet were not organic. Vergil looked outside. The other houses on the block were spaced fairly far from each other, unlike the buildings within the city. A normal person wouldn't be able to leap across them, even with sufficient training.

Going on a hunch, he walked towards the window. On the frame, he saw more marks, this time ones that looked distinctly claw-shaped.

ID: [REDACTED]
P.N.: R101
Last Known Alias: The Painter
Parts:
Steel
Unidentified Material
Time: 1:35 AM
1:41 AM
February 4, 2108

The second portion of the description was not as surprising given the description of the feet. The parts used would certainly have explained the claw marks.

For someone who called him or herself 'The Painter,' there wasn't really any showmanship in the crime scene. He at the very least would have expected the killer to paint something on the walls with the blood of his or her victim.

The question remained why this particular person had a product number and why his vision identified that. He could only assume that this killer had previously been outright owned by a company. The last time he'd seen anything like that was --

No. He wouldn't think about that.

The first order of business would be to find out who this "Painter" was. And with that, suddenly all of the marks in the crime scene flickered out.

He walked outside of the room, hearing faint commotion coming from downstairs. He walked down to see several police officers huddled around the kitchen area. Forcing his way through the crowds, he saw Lieutenant Park, Simon, and Mark all staring at a particular part of the wall. More specifically a portrait of a man, old age etched on his face though his hair was still apparently dark.

It was painted entirely with blood.

Looks like his original assessment of the killer's alia was right on the money. The question remained how he or she managed to go from a second-story room to the kitchen without leaving a trail down the stairs. There was also the question of where the killer got the blood to begin with considering that the victim was killed with only a sword to the back.

Mark turned around to the circle of onlookers. "Uh, could you guys resume your positions outside?" he asked. "This is getting really awkward." As the crowd dispersed, he tilted his head a bit to see Vergil amongst those in the crowd about to leave. "Oh, so you came down finally," he said. "You want to help us examine this thing?"

Vergil mock-inspected the painting. "I don't recall seeing this on the way in."

"It was covered by wallpaper for some reason," said Simon.

Vergil turned to see a poster-sized piece of wallpaper, painted in the same color as the rest of the wall.

"The murderer wanted us to find this," said Simon suddenly.

The other three turned to him in confusion.

"The corner of the wallpaper was neatly folded when Mark and I found it," he explained. "There's also the fact that he put a lot of effort into painting it."

"Looks like we got ourselves a mad artist," said Mark.

"So who's this?" asked Vergil, pointing to the portrait.

"The former commissioner," said Park.

"Seriously, how did we miss this?" asked Mark. "We've been in this house for like what? Three weeks?"

"There was no evidence of forced entry from any of the doors," said Park. "The crime scene and the eye-witness accounts took top priority."

"You want us to spend another week investigating the kitchen?" asked Mark with a smirk.

"If there's evidence to be found, probably," said Park.
"Should have seen that one coming," Vergil heard Mark mutter.

As all four of them were now fixated onto this rather macabre painting, Vergil decided to put his newfound scanning skills to use. Right on cue, the portrait glowed yellow. He could swear that he had also seen scan lines briefly appear.

Blood Type: N/A
Species: Raccoon
Time: 2:50 AM
3:00 AM
February 4, 2108

At least he got an explanation for where The Painter got the "paint."

He looked below the portrait, spotting a mess of footprints interspersed with the traces of blood that only he could see. They were the same ones from the crime scene, though they were there at a much later time; around 3 in the morning.

As he began following the trail of footsteps, he heard a voice from behind him. "You going somewhere?" asked Simon.

"Just investigating the other rooms in the house," said Vergil.

"Need some extra eyes?" said Simon, eyeing Mark and Park. He frowned upon seeing that they were still distracted.

"I think I got it covered," said Vergil. "But you're free to come along once your partner unglues his eyes from the painting."

As Simon turned back to the remainder of the group, Vergil made his exit. "It is surprisingly detailed," he heard Simon say. As morbid as it was, he would have to agree with that sentiment.
###
Vergil leaned against the wall near the doorway, contemplating the information he currently had. Besides the crime scene and the huge painting comprised of blood, there was nothing really of interest. He could have sworn that the trail of footprints would lead to someplace new. Instead, they overlapped with the footsteps from the crime scene: through the rooftops.

Then again, he was probably getting too greedy with what kind of information he could get out of a single scene, especially with a body and a sword missing.

Something suddenly struck him as odd about that last particular statement. Mark mentioned that it had been weeks since the body had been discovered. Shouldn't the forensics teams have uncovered something by now? Then again, he never bothered asking.

And right on cue, Lieutenant Park, Mark, and Simon existed the house. Mark was evidently arguing with his boss again, though less loud and more thoughtful this time by the looks of it. As they were doing so, Simon came over to Vergil.

"You found anything?" asked Simon.

"I thought I was, but it turned out to be a waste," said Vergil.

"Shame," said Simon.

"So did you find anything new from the painting?"

"Actually, now that you mentioned it, the boss did mention possibly seeing that before."

"Really?" Vergil guessed that all of that time was spent on Park trying to jog his own memory.

"He says he only wants to discuss it with the detectives at the station, though," said Simon.

Even after the exposition on the way over, Park still didn't trust Vergil with information. Then again, Vergil probably should have known better than to outright announce that his methods were not ethically sound. In retrospect, he wondered why Park allowed him to come at all.

"Can I ask why?" asked Vergil.

"He doesn't have to answer," said Park, who had apparently been eavesdropping on the conversation. "C'mon Simon, your partner's waiting."

"Y-yes sir!" said Simon nervously as he walked over to Mark.

"Could you at least let him decide whether or not to answer before butting in like that?"

"It's too dangerous to disclose information like this to the public."

"Why is that?"

"You're just going to have to be left hanging for the moment until we get confirmation."

"For what?" Vergil was starting to get the strange feeling that he had just entered a game of twenty questions.

"Just trust me on this alright? You're safer not knowing it anyways."  

"And yet you let me join see the crime scene," Vergil muttered to himself.

He should have muttered more quietly. "If Mark and Simon had uncovered that painting earlier, I wouldn't have even told about the case."
"What's so important about the painting?"

"God dammit Mark!" Park suddenly shouted. He had taken a glance at Mark's car to see two handcuffed teenagers. "I told you never to bring criminals to a crime scene!" He turned to Vergil. "We'll finish this conversation later."

"When?" Vergil shouted. He never got an answer. Instead, Park and Mark exchanged a few surprisingly quiet words and departed in their separate vehicles.  

Vergil didn't even get the chance to ask him what the forensics team had found. It looked like straight questions weren't going to cut it anymore, at least with Lieutenant Park.

He didn't know Park enough to know how he was like most of the time, but he at least knew that dodging questions usually meant hiding a particularly sensitive piece of information. Naturally, he couldn't rule out the possibility of Park being the murderer, especially considering the absurdly poor management of the investigation.

Then again, Park was only a lieutenant, so even he had to take orders. It was odd how he had never seen a sergeant or commissioner during his visits to the police station in the past.

The question now was how he was going to get back to the apartment.
###
Vergil was used to walking. Even if the light was blinding, he usual didn't mind a stroll. However, this was a ridiculous amount of steps for anyone to have to cover.

He sat on the steps outside his apartment's entrance, rubbing his sore feet. As his feet slowly regained feeling, he reviewed everything from the investigation. Thus far, he barely had a clue about who the culprit was except for a name.

The police weren't going to be of much help unless the forensics people actual found something. With the exception of maybe Park, the investigators didn't even know the killer's handiwork let alone his or her name.

Park was probably trying to divert him away from the murder case, but if anything his suspicious behavior only confirmed that the police force had the other half of this killer's identity.

Though it was unlikely that Vergil would be able to waltz right in and start questioning people. At least for the time being, he should avoid Lieutenant Park. That man was starting to look more bipolar with each conversation.

Maybe he would wait until a day or two. It would just look wrong if he barged into the station for the third time in a row.

It was then that he realized just how much time was spent. The sky had already turned a shade of orange. His stomach growled. Vergil realized that he had effectively skipped lunch and any kind of snacking in-between.

New plan. Get dinner then go online to start another news binge. He could go to the archives to learn the history tomorrow.

His feet still ached as he got up. It wasn't as big of a problem however. He would have plenty of time to rest his feet where he was going.    
###
Vergil could be thankful that his apartment was located near the heart of Aigis, where all of the points of interest were, and more importantly all of the major eateries. On his slim budget, the best he could hope for was a single sandwich and a bag of chips from Allison's Cafe.

He sat cross-legged at a lone table, taking sips from his glass of water. At the same time, he was reading through a news headlines on his phone, neglecting the half-eaten sandwich and chips in front of him for a moment. It was his priority to get caught up on the events of the state after all. For a moment, his surroundings blurred into a single mass of commotion.

Just as he had begun reading through the expansion of the rising corporation Dory Incorporated, Vergil's train of thought was interrupted by a fairly pronounced cough. So much of his time was devoted to such a tiny screen that it took him a few seconds to even see a few feet in front of him.

He was expecting the waitress, but instead saw a girl with short black hair who looked barely eighteen if not younger. It took him a second to realize how familiar the description sounded. The only difference now was that she had traded her formal blue suit out for an oversized purple jacket and navy blue tights.

"I wish to inform you that you are to use the designation 'Ivy' the next time you wish to set up an appointment," she said.

"Glad to hear that Marie finally got that name changed," muttered Vergil. "Wait. How did you even find me?"

"It was a chance meeting," the girl said. "I've been searching for you since Miss Rosette informed me of her change in designation."

"Marie?"

"If you are referring to Miss Rosette informally then yes," she said, though more to herself.

"Are you always this uptight?" Vergil asked offhandedly.

The girl's expression turned cold very fast. "Only when I'm doing business."

"Business? You're not wearing a suit and we're in a cafe. If anything, this should be casual."

The girl huffed and crossed her arms. Vergil had to admit he was having fun messing with this girl who was pretending that she was much older, much more than he really had any right to be.

"I have others that I have to report to," she said. As if she could read Vergil's mind she added, "Not everyone can be reached through phone or email."

"Hold up," said Vergil. "Don't worry, I won't take too much of your time. I just figured that I should at least have your name in case we ever meet again."

She didn't bother turning around to face him. "Corina Constable."

Then she was gone.
Case 2-B: Mishaps and Partners
A certain darkness hung over Danny's shoulder as he walked down the street, and it wasn't just the shade provided by the trees. There was just something unnatural in the way in which he and Vergil talked to each other, both during their reunion three weeks ago and just a few minutes back.

Of course, he still had to put up a friendly face in front of him. It was practically customary by that point. But the fact was the friendly gestures were reserved for only business and ensuring employee loyalty. Vergil wasn't supposed to be some representative of a small corporation or an employee.

Danny's train of thought was halted as soon as his eyes met a certain someone sitting near a window of Allison's Cafe. Marie looked like she had something massive she wanted to get off her chest. Her reddish-brown eyes seemed to leap about with a stressful energy as she absent-mindedly stirred the ice cubes in her glass with the straw. He gently rapped on the window to get her attention.

Unfortunately, he didn't gauge just how stressed Marie was at that moment. She nearly jumped out of her seat at the sound before quickly composing herself, her cheeks turning a faint red. He couldn't help but smile a bit at this despite its implications. As he entered the cafe, Marie returned said smile, albeit fainter.

"You seem a bit jumpy today," said Danny as he sat down at the table, setting his folder off to a spare chair.

"I've got a lot on my mind," she said as she returned to stirring the ice in her glass.

"Mind telling me?"
###
Through a combination of their varied incomes, the Cleaners (except for Mick, who mooched off of Hank) managed to purchase the "economic carriage." The train ride to Spooner County proved to be a bumpy one, and not just from the uneven terrain of the countryside. While Hank lay slumped against his seat with his hat over his face, Scott and Mick were arguing, though Scott was really the only one getting more angry. Rhodes sat on the side, shifting his eyes at the increasing number of passengers looking their direction.

"I can't believe you killed our ticket inside," said Scott.

"Well, next time you should be more specific," said Mick.

"I don't think we should be talking about this out loud," whispered Rhodes.

All three of them looked at all of the train passengers looking at them with the weirdest expressions on their faces.

"N-not literally!" shouted Scott nervously. After a bit of indescriminate murmuring, the other passengers proceeded to return to what they were doing before.

"So what's our plan anyways?" said Scott in a lower tone.

"I think that's Hank's job," said Rhodes. "So who's going to wake him up?"

Scott and Mick looked at each other for a moment, then looked at Rhodes. Rhodes just stared back at the two of them. The three of them didn't move an inch. They simply waited. Among the four of them, everything was quiet.

Finally Scott broke the silence. "So? What excuse did you have to give to get out of your shift?"

"I've been saving up my vacation days for something like this," said Rhodes.

Mick tried to open his mouth to answer, but Scott continued on talking, probably not interested in what he had to say. "Librarians have vacation days?"

"You didn't know that?"

"Hey! I have what you smart people call 'crippling over specialization.'"

"You know throwing in large words doesn't make a person smarter. And are you really saying that the only things that you know about are cars and killing?" Rhodes said with a small laugh.

"I don't have to answer that!" said Scott.

"So what excuse did you use to get out of Frank's Garage?"

"I told him I had to visit a friend's funeral," said Scott nonchalantly.

"Yeesh!" Rhodes said wincing. "That's a bit excessive don't you think?"

"Well technically we're going to be going to one once we get there."

"I don't know about that. From what I saw, Ronnie's brothers don't seem to even care about him."

Scott gave a small shrug. "Doesn't mean they won't hold one."

Mick merely darted his eyes back and forth between the volley occurring between the two of them looking bored. He tried opening his mouth several times, only to be spoken over by one of them.

"So how are things with Sissel?" asked Rhodes.

"She's returning my calls," said Scott with an empty laugh.

"So she's basically accepted you pro --" Their conversation was cut short by a loud popping noise. The both of them turned to see Mick, his hands each gripping a knife deeply imbedded into the seat cushions, just inches away from Rhodes and Scott's legs. Rhodes eyes darted around the carriage.

"Dude! Put those things away!" shouted Scott.

"Then let me talk!" said Mick.

"I think one of them is calling the police," Rhodes whispered to the two.

"Mmrhpph," mumbled Hank underneath his hat.
###
Mark's method of dragging Simon around was literally suffocating. Simon was still tugging at his collar, trying to get it loose as Mark drove him to the crime scene.

"So who is this guy who was murdered?" Simon finally asked. "I just got here, and Lieutenant Park hasn't filled me in on everything yet."

"Oh, you mean Kingsly?" said Mark with a surprisingly casual tone. "He was our former commissioner."

Simon's eyes widened. "What?!"

"Whoa there! No need to get antsy over it. You're not the one who got killed."

"How can you be calm about this? This murderer could be after members of the police force!"

"That's pretty likely," said Mark. Simon still had the wide eyes of surprise but his surprise now was focused on something else entirely. "Trust me though, there's nothing to miss about this guy. Even the other guys on the force are looking at it half-heartedly."

"You knew him?" Simon asked, putting off his previous question for a moment.

"During my first year on the force," Mark said. "You could say that he was an asshole."

"He probably had your best interests at heart."

"If he did, he wouldn't have told me to my face that I wasn't going to last more than a month on the force. This was after my fourth week on the job, after I had made my sixth arrest."

"Lawful or unlawful?" Simon asked.

"I don't have to answer that," Mark said without even changing his tone.

There was another uncomfortable pause.

"All that being said, murdering him is still going too far," said Mark. "I'm just saying that I don't think I really need to mourn him."

"So we're still going to the crime scene right?"

"Yeah," Mark said. Simon could tell from his tone that he really didn't care to go.

Simon's mind now focused on the other element of their conversation. "So you also think someone might be targeting members of the police?"

"Wouldn't be too surprising," said Mark. "Several crime families are pretty pissed with us, what with them being unable to bribe the top authority and us constantly monitoring them."

"You think the police force is really that clean, huh?"

"I know it is."  

Simon felt an urge to object to that statement, though he repressed it. Suddenly Mark looked through his window. "Hold on," he said.

Mark abruptly pulled his car over to the curb, causing Simon to gag as his seatbelt constrained him.

"Oh what the hell?!" Simon coughed.

But Mark was already out the door, his gun pointed at two teenagers who were in the middle of breaking a car window with a crowbar. "You two! Step away from the car!" The crowbar dropped with a clank as he pinned one of the teenagers to the hood of the car to handcuff. The other one made a dash for a back alley almost instantly.  

He turned to Simon. "Want to lend me a hand?"

Simon sighed, got out a pair of handcuffs, and ran after the other carjacker into the alley. He thought was going to be longer, but it turned out that the attempted escapee only thought he knew parkour. As the boy was trying to recover from a failed wall-jump, Simon handcuffed him.

Returning back to the police car, he saw that Mark had already successfully shoved one of the attempted carjackers into the back.

"Well that really put us off schedule," said Simon as they drove off again.

"You learn to make time for people like these two," said Mark.

"So you always arrest small-time criminals off the street on the way to a crime scene?"

"Hey, who're you callin' small time?" said one of the teens in the back.

"You two," Mark said to them. Both police officers elected to ignore the explosion of complaints from the back. "What? Do you think that I would let something like this slide?"

"If there was anything that was hammered on my head back at Dobson, it's that you can't stop every crime," said Simon.

"Doesn't mean I can't try," said Mark.

"So are we going to leave them in the backseat while we investigate?"

"Don't worry, there are enough officers around the area to keep an eye on two attempted carjackers," said Mark.

Simon looked out the window to see several police cars parked near the sidewalk.

"Let the investigation commence," Mark said in a rather bored tone.

As they got out of the car, Simon took note that in his entire career as a police officer, Mark was the only other officer who actually had any interest in stopping crime; at least thus far. Further observation would tell if he truly meant what he said.
Case 2-A: Reconnect
Something had definitely been off about the last three weeks. Vergil's employer suddenly stopped pestering him about updates to the case, something that had been an almost daily occurrence up until that point (hence his habit of falling asleep at his desk). It was nice to have a break for once, but it hit him three days in that without an employer, there would be no money. Not to mention he still wasn't having much sleep as of recently.

Partly, it was because he still had to catch up on all of the current events that happened during the five years he had been out of state. There was a lot of archived news to go through and many websites to browse through. Not to mention he had to keep switching between websites. For all he knew, the news websites could have been spewing junk that hardly mattered. Still he had to stay on top of the going-ons in Aigis. It certainly would make interviewing much more convenient. The only problem was that he still hadn't found the information that mattered, such as the fact that there was an entire city under the sewers run by criminals.

But the info gathering made up only one-third of his sleeping problems. The other third were the constant rumblings that he heard coming from underground. And they always went on in the dead of night. What was even stranger was that there were no vibrations. So he had to discount the possibility of an earthquake. He wasn't even sure how he was able to hear something underground. He was living on the third floor! The last third was simply staying up too late to even go to sleep most of the time.

He had passed by the designated address several times a day, only to see that the package was still there. Vergil could assume that wasn't even his real address. If he had access to the wealth that guy probably had, he sure as hell wouldn't be living in an old-fashioned portable toilet in a rundown neighborhood. After a while, he just took the package back. He didn't need people prying into the package, if they hadn't done so already.

Over the course of the next few days, he had sent over 50 messages to his mystery employer, all of which had gone unanswered. More days were spent looking through the Internet a several yellow pages to link his employer's phone number to a person with no results.

With no other options, Vergil called a man he hadn't called in five years, the only one who could track a person with something as little as a phone number. The problem was that his services didn't come cheap.    

"So much for eating three meals a day," thought Vergil as he walked down the street.

He spent much of the walk squinting with his eyes to the sidewalk, his eyes trying to adjust to the fact that the sun had decided to come out after many months of overcast weather. Not to mention, he had spent nearly half of his time each day, cooped up in a room with the curtains down and only a lamp as a source of illumination. To all those that asked him about why he lived in such conditions, Vergil would justify it as a result of a genetic condition that makes him especially sensitive to light.

The streets filled with people began to thin out as he progressed further down the street. The bustling commotion of people gave way to the occasional car horn echoing through the air. The colorful assortment of stores, hotels, and apartments gave way to rows of drab concrete buildings. The trash that littered the streets became more noticeable amongst the gray surroundings.

At last, Vergil found the building, the last apartment complex on the entire street. The street itself seemed to end there, a giant wall stretching some distance away blocking what could have been the rest of the road. For all he knew, the wall had been there ever since he was born. The other side of the wall was a place that not even he would want to snoop in, even if the temptation to disprove the horror stories was strong.

Apparently, a section of the city was closed off many years ago after its crime rate mysteriously rose to absurdly dangerous levels. It is said that the criminals beyond the wall were so murderous that even the organized crime families of Aigis refused to cross the barrier. Whereas most cities had people preaching the end of the world, Aigis had people preaching the eventual collapse of the wall. The thought of the havoc these individuals would bring sent a shiver down Vergil's spine.

Diverting his attention away from the wall for a moment, he pressed the button labeled ROOM 148 on the intercom panel. He could hear the sound of footsteps approaching the speaker amidst the static of the aging intercom system.

"Who's this?" said a voice over the intercom.

"Your old buddy, Vergil."

There was a pause.

"Who?" said the voice.

Vergil sighed. "I have money."

"Come on in."

There was click, followed by a click from the steel door in front of Vergil. He opened the door, hearing the eerie creaking of the rusted hinges. Rows of closed wooden doors with faded numbers greeted him as he made his way to the stairs. The sound echoed up the barren staircase along with his footsteps as he ascended it. For all he knew, the entire apartment was abandoned except for his destination. On the second floor, Vergil already saw a door opened for him. What was beyond that was a dark void with only a small blue light at the end.

As he walked into the void, the light expanded, illuminating a cot, discarded wrappers of chocolate, and a figure whose face was focused entirely on the small screen in front of him. A wire stuck out of his shirt, connecting to a heart monitor, its faint beeping the only noise other than the sound of him typing.

"Nice to see you haven't changed jobs Lewis," said Vergil.

"When your heart could give out at any moment, your job options become much more limited," said Lewis, his eyes still glued to the screen. "And if our conversation is to continue, I suggest you refer to me by my last name."

"I take it you don't remember people too well?"

"Customers come and go. Now if you were to be a regular, I might attempt to learn your name. But right now, you're just my revenue."

Vergil reached into his jacket pocket and took out his contact's phone number. "Can you trace this number back to its source? It doesn't seem to be in any phone book or online."

"How fast do you want the results?"

"Preferably by the end of today."

"Give me fifteen hundred and I'll find it in the next hour."

"Jesus! You know I don't have that money on me Le -- I mean Browning."

"Give me eight hundred and I'll find it in five hours. Final offer. And thank you for listening."
###
Vergil took a good look at the contents of his wallet as he walked down the street. Without the fifty and hundred dollar bills, the inside of his wallet looked strangely empty. And without an employer, money would trickle out of more than just his wallet.

Then again, he did have a lead as to who was responsible. Hank had mentioned an organization by the name of DEUS that was apparently going to use the stolen technology for something.

"DEUS." That name just screamed pretentiousness and self-importance, the exact name a super-powered organization with vague boundaries would probably have.

With no employer to hold him by the hand, he now had to go back to what he did all those years ago: solve a case. The first stop was the Aigis Police Station.

But not before a quick diversion. The sign hanging above the entrance had caught his eye, largely because it was barely recognizable. The ink on wood had been replaced with fairly large neon letters, pronouncing the name of the company to the block. The metal door had been replaced with one of fairly thick see-through glass, the only hints of metal being the handle and the frame. The building still looked like a gray tower otherwise.

Walking inside, he saw several white collars walking around the once desolate halls. The elevator was still out of commission, but the caution tape blocking off the entrance was an improvement. With a little more life in the air, the echo of each step up the metal staircase now mixed in the air of chatter from what he could assume were employees.

Though it was certainly nice to see a little more life in the building, having more than one person ascending and descending the stairs proved to be very problematic. Three times, he was pushed against the railing by somebody who needed to get through. Halfway up, two men stayed in one spot talking to each other for nearly five minutes. And once he reached the top, he accidentally bumped into someone who happened to be carrying a mug of coffee that was overheated several degrees.

After a trip to the restroom to clean his shirt and sooth the scalding burns on his body, he walked to Danny's office only to find he was already leaving, a large file in his arms. Compared to how he was last time, he seemed to be in much better shape. He was still as thin as a rail, but he was dressed in a fine suit this time around. The glaring scar on his cheek still stood out though. Vergil couldn't help but get nervous staring at it.

"Oh hey!" said Danny turning around, "I didn't expect to see you around."

"Eh, I was just walking through," said Vergil.

"I mean I really didn't expect to see you around again. We haven't met in person for like, what, five years?"

"I've had my hands full for a while," Vergil lied. "So your business is finally picking up."

"I'm kinda surprised myself. I didn't expect this many people to apply for a job so quickly considering my past... involvements."

"That's one way to put it," said Vergil to himself as they both walked in whatever direction Danny was going in. "So what's in the folder?"

"Some rough concepts for our first project. Not really sure which one I'm going to go with."

"Are you going start small? Or are you aiming for one big debut?"

"Probably nothing too big. I don't really have the manpower for that." Danny gestured to the people walking through the building. There were employees, but only a handful; not nearly enough to occupy the entire building. "I think I might just stick with small for while."

"Don't want people thinking this is some kind of 'spiritual successor' do you?" said Vergil somewhat more somberly.

"Yeah," said Danny more quietly, shifting his attention to the floor. For a moment, there was silence as both stared awkwardly in several directions.

"Anyways!" said Vergil loudly, "Remember that tech that was stolen from Noland Tech's warehouse?"

Danny's face lit up a bit at this mention. "What about it?" he asked eagerly.

"Apparently some of the tech stolen were some kind of cloaking devices. I ran into a bunch of ninjas who --"

"Ninjas? Seriously?" said Danny with a rather incredulous look on his face.

"Well that's what they looked like." Vergil gave him an annoyed look before continuing. "Anyways, I ran into ninjas that for some reason were in the Harman residence."

"So you spoke with 'Peaches'?"

"I still can't get over that name," muttered Vergil to himself as both of them started to descend the staircase. "As I was saying..."

##AN HOUR OF EXPOSITION LATER#
"That's quite a story," said Danny.

"Tell me about it," said Vergil. "Ah! Wait! There's one thing that I need to ask you."

"What?"

"The men in suits that I mentioned said they were paid by you to find Harman."

Danny's face froze for a moment, that one sentence having apparently snapped a chord in his brain. He stumbled backwards, falling onto a nearby bench.

"What did you want with Harman?"

"Well, I-uh, you see, there, and I --" stuttered Danny.

"Danny! Breathe!"

Danny inhaled deeply, letting all the air out in what could be considered both a venting of stress and a troubled sigh. "They were sent to kill the Harman Family."

Vergil's eyes widened significantly in spite of the glaring light. Danny halted him before he could even open his mouth.

"I know what you are going to say. Before you start berating me on 'slipping back,' let me explain."

Vergil's eyes narrowed to a more critical glare.

Danny let out another sigh. "About a month ago, I started receiving these weird messages, saying that I was 'too deep into the case' and that I 'knew too much.' After that point, they turned into flat-out threats." Danny shivered a bit. "They went into some pretty gruesome details.

"At first, I thought it might be someone from Noland Tech who wanted revenge on me for turning on them. Didn't know who so I went to the only guy who could trace any kind of message back to its source --"

"Lewis Browning," interrupted Vergil, his critical view changing into one of fascination.

"Yeah him. He said that the person who sent it wasn't employed at Noland Tech. The sender was some guy named Cecil Harman. He explained that Cecil belonged to the Harman Family and told me he knew several people who could help me out. Several hundred more dollars came out of my pocket. He made a phone call to someone and told me the pay the men when they finished 'taking care of business. The next day the Cleaners were at my office door."

"And you told them you wanted the Harman Family dead," said Vergil bluntly.

"They wouldn't take 'peaceful persuasion' as an option," Danny said almost desperately. "Their focus seemed to be on killing them and nothing less."

"You think there is a more personal grudge between the two?"

"Probably," said Danny, quickly getting up from the bench.

"Hey! Where're you going?"

"To meet Marie," said Danny as he walked down the sidewalk. "She said there was something she needed to tell me afterwards."

Vergil had an idea what she was going to say, or at least thought he did. He eyed the folder in Danny's arm again. "So you're bringing work with you?"

"Let's see you try to run a business and have a social life," said Danny. "By the way, does this mean you'll be staying here? Like permanently?"

"You can count on it," Vergil said.

Danny nodded with an approving smile then disappeared through a crowd of people before he could say anything else. There was still so much of Vergil's mind on what to ask Danny, but business apparently had to come first. He still felt empty for some reason, and his gut told him it wasn't just the fact that Danny had left him hanging.
###
Vergil looked at the time on his phone. An hour had passed. He still had four hours left to burn. He thought about the concept of time a little more. There was a five year gap in his interactions with everyone he considered his associates (being an actual friend takes much more effort), at least in person. What was he even doing for all those years? Maybe it was time for him to reconnect.

He looked up at the tall lamp next to him. The letters stamped on it were beginning to fade. "Police" is said. The building was probably one of the oldest in Aigis, still having a wrinkled wooden door framed by weathered bricks.

Nothing really looked that different on the inside. Maybe several of the work stations were rearranged, but nothing really in terms of aesthetics. Granted, this was probably to be expected, but considering that Danny managed to convert a rundown office building into a lively one, Vergil was beginning to expect a change to his surroundings everywhere.

There was one person he hadn't met with for some time, the guy who claimed that he shouldn't go search the basement of a billion-dollar business, yet fed him the information leading him there anyways. His office was just down the hall amidst the chatter from the other officers.

"Hey! Didn't think I'd see you around here!" said a voice to the left of him.

Vergil jerked his head to see a man with a mess of spiky black hair leaning against a desk. Two leather holsters with pistols in them lay on the desk, as opposed to wrapped around his belt like he had been accustomed to seeing.

"Nice to see you haven't changed a bit Mark," said Vergil.

"Didn't think you'd remember me. How long has it been anyways? Like five years?"

"Yeah," said Vergil, his minding wanting to move away from the subject. "Anyways, anything new happen while I was gone?"

"I got a new partner," said Mark with a shrug.

"What was wrong with your old one?"

"The chief says that Harry was bad influence on me." Mark laughed a bit.

Vergil looked at the twin holsters on the desk. "Yeah, can't imagine why."

"My new partner should be transferring here today."

"Speaking of the chief, I want to meet up with him about something," said Vergil as he began walking again.

"You really should drop by more often," shouted Mark as Vergil walked on.

The police chief's office door was shut when he got there, but he could make out two vague figures through the glass. His ears could just barely make out what they were saying.

He debated with himself whether to knock or to let the two of them talk. Just when he was about the reach the doorknob, the door swung open. He quickly retracted his arm before it got smacked. Out from the door came a stout individual with a rectangular head and prominent stubble followed by a lanky, meek-looking individual with a short crop of dark brown hair.

"I'm sure you'll b -- " started the stout man before noticing Vergil. "May I help you?"

"So you don't recognize me Lieutenant Park?" said Vergil.

It would seem that even five years later, Park hadn't even gotten a promotion. Yet he was still had more control over the police force than the sergeant and commissioner combined.

The man with the brown hair just looked at both of them with a confused look on his face. Park scratched his head for a moment before apparently coming to a realization.

"Vergil Vasquez!" he exclaimed. "What a surprise! So what brings you here?"

"Oh, you know, just trying to reconnect with some people," said Vergil.

Park paused for a moment before his face suddenly lit up. "Oh, I almost forgot! This man next to me is Detective Simon Walker. He was just transferred here from Dobson City."

"Um, n-nice to meet you sir," said Walken as he awkwardly extended his hand out.

"No need to be formal like your boss," Vergil said as he shook Simon's hand. "So you're Mark's new partner."

"Yeah, Lieutenant Park said that he was becoming a loose cannon so he needed a by-the-book cop to straighten him out."

"You really think you can do that?"

"Can't say that I'm looking forward to it." Simon gave a dry laugh. "But hey, maybe he has soft side deep down."

For the sake of courtesy he didn't do it, but mentally Vergil was rolling his eyes.

"You really think so?" Almost spontaneously, Mark had appeared right in front of them. Park silently face-palmed. Vergil's eyes jumped for a moment. Simon jumped backwards a few inches.

Without even a moment to let the awkward atmosphere kick in, Park grabbed Simon by the arm and practically threw him to Mark. "You two go investigate the crime scene at 1418 Clandestine Drive," he said quickly pointing them to the entrance of the station.

Before Simon could even open his mouth to say anything, Mark was dragging him to the entrance by his red tie. Vergil and Park both watched silently until both of them had left the building.

"So what is this crime scene about anyways?" said Vergil finally.

"It's one of the biggest cases we've had in a while," said Park. "Roger Kingsly, our old police commissioner was found dead in his house three weeks ago."

Vergil turned an ear in interest. "So investigation is still going?"

"We haven't seen any case like this. Whoever killed him left nothing we could trace back to anyone."

"How do you know it was a murder and not a heart attack?" said Vergil half-jokingly.

"He had a sword sticking out of his back."

And like that, the mood was killed. Both of them stared around the office for a moment

"Say," said Park suddenly. "Have you come back here after all this time to take me up on my offer to work with the force?"

"What?! No, no, no, no. I'm sorry, but we both know that some things that I do are not ... strictly legal."

Lieutenant Park's face showed some disappointment, yet after his brows raised and furrowed for a moment, his face transitioned to a surprising bit of relief. Vergil suddenly felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out, the screen notifying him on a new text message:

IT'S DONE - BROWNING

"Anyways, I need to do something. Nice talking to you!" said Vergil rather quickly as he walked out of the station.

'Well that was fast,' thought Vergil.
###
"So much for it taking five hours," said Vergil as he walked into the dark room.

"If you had known that your contact was recently deceased, you could have bargained with me for less payment," said Lewis.

"He's what?" Well that would explain why he wasn't returning any of his calls.

"Well, murdered more precisely," said Lewis.

"You managed to find all of that out in an hour and a half?"

"If you're going to be a detective, you really should keep up with current events more," said Lewis as he turned his computer screen to Vergil. He had suspected it, but now there was no doubt.

FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER FOUND DEAD IN HOME

Well... This is Embarassing

Journal Entry: Wed Jan 1, 2014, 10:17 AM


It's already a new year and I haven't contributed anything meaningful to my gallery in over three months. I could blame part of it on college and on my various computer problems, but that still won't cut it.

If I had a New Years resolution, it would be to procrastinate less, but I know it probably won't happen the way I expect to. To the people who still bother to hang around here, I'm going to have to ask you guys to hang around just a little bit longer.

Anyways, happy New Year. I hope every one of you had a wonderful holiday.


  • Mood: Tired

deviantID

Yu-2

Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
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Print preference: anything that fits
Favourite genre of music: alternative, rock, electronic, badass video game music
Favourite photographer: Don't know any names
Favourite style of art: Cartoony yet dark
Operating System: Good old Windows
MP3 player of choice: iPod
Shell of choice: Blue winged shell with spikes
Wallpaper of choice: I'll find it eventually
Skin of choice: Mine!
Favourite cartoon character: Cardboard Tube Samurai
Personal Quote: Don't judge me.
Interests

Friends

Comments


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:iconshingworks:
shingworks Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much for the watch!
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(1 Reply)
:iconecho-chaser:
Echo-chaser Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011
thanks for the watch!
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(1 Reply)
:icondarkkenjie:
DarkKenjie Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the watch! I really appreciate it! :)
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(1 Reply)
:iconw33ntoast:
w33nToast Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2010
Dude, upload more :3
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(1 Reply)
:iconkurasato:
Kurasato Featured By Owner May 11, 2010  Professional General Artist
Hey there!
Thanks much for the watch!

And uh, sorry for the late reply >.<

Personally, I use Manga Studio for digital inks now, but as ~WhipsmartMcCoy stated, SAI's a great and inexpensive program to use. Give it a shot! :3
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(1 Reply)
:iconmiccool:
Miccool Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2010  Hobbyist Filmographer
Thanks for the watch : )
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(1 Reply)
:iconwhipsmartmccoy:
WhipsmartMcCoy Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2010
Welcome, and thank you so much for the watch!

If you're looking to start inking digitally, I recommend trying SAI. It's a relatively inexpensive program that can be used to get very professional results. C:
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(1 Reply)
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