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The Pied Piper of Hanover [IC]

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January 5, 2018


The winter weather wasn't exactly forgiving. Record lows and snowfall were a strain on everyone's patience in sone form or another, and nowhere was it more obvious than among people who worked for Freedom City's social services. Homeless shelters struggled to find room for everyone, from adults to runaways... The situation was taxing enough on everyone that no one really noticed when vacancies opened up. A bed here, a room there... no one questioned it; rather, they were thankful that someone else could be housed, and the fairest assumption was that the previous occupant had moved on. Transient population", they siad.


Some people knew better.


All Nathan Ratliff wanted to know was 'why'. A local volunteer and social worker, Nathan was well known among his peers for being a big-hearted busybody. So in late December when several runaways he'd been working with vanished, Nathan refusded to believe they'd simply packed up and gone somewhere else.


A week later... Nathan didn't show up for work.

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Of course, on Moe's side of town, disappearance basically was the polite way of saying 'dead but not found'. But this city had shown her some weird things before. Maybe aliens, demons, or faeries did it. Still, some of the transients were some of the people she knew, at least in passing. Technically they were supposed to throw away refuse at Joe's. But Moe knew where the homeless looked first and took the food out first. The only ones to shoo them away was the cops that barely came around. But boy were they in trouble if those cops ever came around. At least they didn't 'disappear' if they were lucky and a certain shade.

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Marcus stared for several  moments at the faded neon sign. He'd heard of places like Moe's of course, but he couldn't recall having ever been in one. It was certainly the kind of place where he'd order everything on the menu... twice... but now wasn't the time for that. He was technically working.


He wasn't sure who gave Susan Ratliff his number. For that matter, he wasn't sure why he met with her. But when he did, he could immediately smell something was amiss. She hadn't seen her husband in a week. Police refused to help. She'd spoken to him over the phone but his voice seemed... unusual. Monotoned. Rehearsed.


At first, he wasn't sure how he was going to be able to help. Still, he was confident he could track the guy down. Starting from his workplace, he traced Nathan's steps back to Moe's. Surely someone there spotted him... and it didn't hurt to ask.


He walked in quietly and sat down at a booth, removing his knit hat and gloves. It really seemed like an odd place for Nathan to have been wandering around, but there was nothing so far but weirdness and conjecture. He decided to flag down a waitress while he figured it out.


"Excuse me... can I get a coffee, please?" As he spoke, he put Nathan's photo on the table, quietly fishing for a bite without asking the question he wanted to ask--yet.

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