12

Geno isn’t really in the mood for it, I get the feeling that he’s been a little more disturbed by the killing that he had to view than he thought he would be. However, like any true professional, he’s more than happy to put aside his own problems to help the team.

“The glyph corresponds with that of stupidity, but you mention that there was a small indentation on the underside of the glyph?”

I look a little closer at the body, the smell gets worse as I get close and I find myself talking through my respirator on reflex; “Yes, there’s a separate marking, like a swirl.”

“Much smaller than the main glyph?”

I look upwards over the massive dome of flesh in front of me “Yeah, you could say that.”

“Okay, I’ll be over there in a while, stay put.”

Eve stands by at the door, not looking in.

“Yo, Rio.” She calls.

“What?”

“I gotta go, got a call from Pat, says that one of us should get over to where he is and check something out.”

I nod, walking over to the door “Guess you don’t want to be staying here then?” I smile gently at her. She shudders almost imperceptibly, shaking her head quickly.

“Okay” I grin “Go, give me a call if you find anything interesting.”

She’s out in less time than it takes to count, I should really think about getting her an easier job for her first week, it may be a little bit of a kick to her eyes, but it’ll save her more sights like this one. Thinking about, it, I really should have got her an easier thing to do when the second kill came along and we figured out that this wasn’t a regular thing, but it’s just one of those things that hindsight is good for.

Still, while I’m here, I might as well try and discern a little more about what went on here, I go back and scan through the tapes. Nothing different to what else was going on, but three quarters of the way through the months, I notice that the killer’s disengaged the machine for a while and is sat on the body doing something. I can’t see exactly what it is, but I can see a Karma medikit resting next to them. I look and see the small gantry area above the body, it’s accessible from here, so I slowly climb up, disengaging the sprays from above.

I get to where the killer was working and take a look at the small scars in the centre of her breast, they match those of patients who’ve had lung or chest replacement implants, there’s a small serial code etched in to her body, looks like a Karma part code. I note it down and get down from the gantry. Without the grease running over the body, the filtration units in the room quickly clear the stench, and the only things audible in the room is the quiet hum and a faint noise like the sound you get when you tear at your meat with your teeth. The machine is still on, but I’m not sufficiently expert enough to disarm any potential traps on it, so I stay my hand.

A quick call to Karma indicates that the part is a series four life support unit, designed to keep the patient alive even when all basic ability to live has failed, usually reserved for catatonic patients and those that can’t do anything for themselves. An interesting aside is that it has been used in some special forces units, as it stops the requirement for oxygen, respiration, and all other basic bodily functions by taking over control of the central nervous and autonomic systems.

“Dear God.” that’s Geno’s voice, I turn to face him as he enters the room, He’s short for an Ebon, standing maybe five feet nine in his deathsuit, but that’s made up for by the sheer width of him. Like a lot of our crew, he used to be a good athlete before he came here, and he still keeps up with the basics. He’s gone pale, I’m not surprised all things considered, he’s probably still working on getting rid of the after effects of the last thing I called for his help on.

“Dude,” He shakes his head as we knock hands “you really got to stop picking these cases.”

I smile wearily “I know it.”

“Where’s the second glyph?”

I motion, not willing to talk about it, he nods and moves over there, putting on his examination gloves. He looks at the glyph for a second, then nods again and looks over at me “Sorry Rio, I’m going to have to mess with your crime scene for a second, you might not want to watch this.”

This is a silly thing to say, you say that, and people are going to keep watching no matter what the subject matter. He grins as he realises what he’s just said and shrugs, putting on the long forensics gloves that he usually carries with him, he readies his hand near her genitals and I suddenly realise why he wanted me to look away. I nearly manage it as he slides his hand (and arm) all the way into her, the soft organic slurping noise nearly makes me retch and I manage to tear my eyes away from the sight for a second.

A few minutes of slopping and slurping noises later (you want me to go into detail?, ain’t gonna happen), and he walks back over to me and peels off his glove, holding a small box out towards me.

“The second glyph reads not only stupidity, but the swirl underneath also stands for an opportunity missed, something hidden ‘in places man was not meant to see’. Given this sicko's pattern of being strange with the clues, I figured that he’d be doing something like this.”

I put my gloves on before I take the box from him, again, no explosives on it, no worries about blowing things up, I pop the catch on the box and open it. Inside is a small piece of paper, written on it in immaculately small and neat writing (too neat, printed in a perfect line without being on lined paper) is the words

“Where’s your partner?”

I pass the box back to Geno quickly and dial Minas number, she’s in, and she’s fine from the sounds of it, I spend a few minutes just listening to the sound of her voice, then something drags me back to reality sharply.

The woman in the pool shudders and her head bangs against the floor where it rests. I terminate the call instantly and leap over to where she is, her face is moving ever so slightly, as if she’s trying to form words. Her eyes open and for one brief second, I can see her look down the dome that is now her body. I signal for Geno to get the med teams down here instantly, he’s already on the phone calling it in. I look down at the woman and brush her hair away from her face, it’s not something anyone should have to go through, and as I watch, her face screws up and she tries to draw breath to scream, but her body is too heavy for her lungs to work.

Suddenly, her whole body convulses, and a soft rumble comes from underneath the level of the pool, I put one hand on her body, realising that the pressure level inside her just increased by an enormous factor. Geno leaps over and grabs me by the shoulders, hauling me towards the door, and for a half second, I try to resist him to go back and save her, but a look over at the stretching skin tells me that I’m not going to make it in time. We dive to the other room as a loud noise, like the sound of raw steak being slapped against a wet piece of wood, erupts from the other room and a tide of blood and entrails flow like a wave into the room.

Part of me has some horrible need to look back in the room, it’s a human thing, other races can seem to shrug off the temptation to look at unnecessary gore and blood, but for humans, it’s one of those things that we can’t resist. Geno holds me back against the urge and shakes his head. I nod disconsolately and wonder what the next step would be.

The answer is in my hand.

“Where’s your partner?”

Not Mina, Eve…………..