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Weird Creature of the Night (IC)

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January 13, 2010, 6:55 PM Det. Morena Colby's Office, 13th Precinct

The office didn’t have much in the way of furniture, just two desks facing each other with matching chairs, a few file cabinets and a coffee maker. The window faced the alley and the grimy brick wall of the Italian restaurant next door. One side of the room was devoid of character, though dark squares on the walls indicated spots where several framed pictures, now departed, once hung. The other side was as crowded as the former was empty; carved African masks lined the walls, a Zuni fetish doll served as a paperweight, and several strands of cheap Mardi Gras beads were wrapped around the fluorescent desk lamp that provided the only illumination.

Morena Colby, the room’s only occupant, was without a partner for the first time in five years; at thirty, she was one of the department’s youngest investigators, and she’d been paired with Linus Lisowski, easily the oldest, for three of those five. Leaning back in her chair, she stared blankly at the unoccupied desk, with its fresh blotter and cup of sharpened pencils, and it stared right back at her. If it had eyes, it would have seen a beautiful young woman wearing khakis and a light sweater, her police issue .38 revolver snug in its shoulder holster. Her dark sad eyes were heavy with fatigue, and her long brown hair hung straight over the back of her chair.

Lisowski, against all odds, had made it to sixty-five, retired, sold his house and moved to Arkansas back in December; he’d sent her a lovely Christmas card, with a picture of him and his wife Carolyn, smiling on the porch of their new home. The card stood open on a corner of her desk, a constant reminder that not every cop’s career had to end badly. Even so, the statistics were grim; cops have a higher rate of divorce, suicide and substance abuse than any other job in the U.S. Add to that Colby’s own department, the Supernatural Crimes Unit, had one of the highest burnout rates on the force, higher than vice or narcotics. The cases she worked often ended badly, if they were closed at all; human sacrifice, missing organs, spontaneous combustion, blood hexes, each more bizarre and twisted than the last.

But Lisowski, bless his soul, had somehow found the humor in it all, and not the smug David Caruso quips so many cops tried to pull off; Old Linus saw the humanity in everybody, even the craziest pimp hopped up on meth and chicken blood. Oh sure, it wouldn’t keep him from popping the guy in the mouth if he really asked for it, but somehow it all just seemed to run off his back, like the rain off his old gray slicker. Colby wearily rubbed her eyes as she reached for her coffee mug; with Linus gone, she'd had never felt so alone.

“Morena Colby, I have need of your services.â€

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Staring down the barrel of a loaded .38, Grimalkin had a little time to consider her actions.

So maybe a dramatic entrance was a bad idea.

After previously making a few inquiries, Grim had found out what precinct Det. Colby's office was located in; the front desk cop, a cheerful older man, was more than happy to help the adorable twelve-year old girl who wanted to deliver a thank you note from her mother to the detective. Dropping her disguise and then turning invisible, she was able to follow the young officer who offered to take the card to Colby on his way to the armory; the changeling stepped into the office and waited for the officer to leave, moving soundlessly into the far corner, behind and to the left of Colby.

She'd given the detective time to read the letter, which produced only a sigh as she dropped it into a drawer, and gather her thoughts before she altered her glamour, shifting to a tall, dark and menacing figure seemingly made out of shadow, which she felt might be taken a bit more seriously than a skinny little Jewish girl. She chose a creepy hollow voice that had more than a little Phantom and Avenger in it

"Morena Colby, I have need of your services."

Well she certainly made an impression; in the space of a heartbeat, the young detective dropped her coffee mug, dove out of her chair, and rolled into a perfect shooting crouch, her weapon in hand leveled straight at the glowing amber eyes of the 'thing' in the corner.

"Who the hell are you?! Come out where I can see you!" There was fear in her voice, but mostly she sounded pissed.

"Whoa whoa whoa, I didn't mean to freak you out! Here-"

The glamour peeled away, revealing...well, a skinny little Jewish girl with pointed ears, wearing a black mask and dark leather tights. She held up her hands to show she was unarmed.

"I'm so sorry, detective, I'm not used to dealin' with cops, and sometimes I'm pretty frickin' stupid."

Colby snorted a laugh, but her gun never wavered.

"I'll say; why the hell would you sneak up on a cop with a loaded gun? Do you want to be shot in the face?"

Grim could only shrug and look mortally embarrassed. "To be honest, I have no idea; it might be the dumbest thing I've ever done. Look, my name's Grimalkin, I come in peace, and I could really use your help, detective."

At long last the gun slowly lowered, and Colby got to her feet, looking thoughtful. "So wait, you're Grimalkin, the vigilante all the pimps in the Fens are scared ****less of? You're tiny!"

Still holding up her hands, the indeed very tiny shapeshifter laughed nervously. "Yeah, that's me; really, I just have a good press agent. Um, can I put my hands down now? To restate, I come in peace and need your help."

Still apparently not entirely comfortable with the situation, the mystical cop finally holstered her weapon and sat on the edge of her desk, slowly rubbing her chin.

"I've heard a lot about you; it all seems kinda ridiculous seeing you now, but you really put the fear of God into those SOBs. We haven't seen a working girl roughed up in months."

Hugging her sides with her arms, Grim actually flushed a bit with pride. "Really? That's awesome! You claw up a few faces, and whaddya know, you make a difference!"

Colby wryly smiles and arches an eyebrow. "Yeah, well, maybe. Technically it's still assault on a private citizen, but I won't argue with your results; you don't get to be a cop in this town without appreciating any help you can get. So how exactly can I help the great and powerful Grimalkin?"

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"...and so that's why Jack was being such a dick!"

At some point in the conversation, Grim had made herself a nice comfy high-backed chair, padded with soft red leather, and she'd been sitting in it, gesturing expansively as she regaled Det. Colby with an only slightly abridged version of recent events. For her part, the detective had made a fresh pot of coffee (gingerly filling the changeling's glamoured mug and adding obscene amounts of sugar, per Grim's request), as well as taking detailed notes and asking several questions. Of particular interest to Colby was Grim's description of the demonic invasion back in November, which meshed with a very disturbing series of dreams she herself had around that time.

When Grim finally finished, the policewoman dropped into her chair, rubbing her face with a sigh. "Sweet Jesus, that's quite a tale! Though I imagine you had to leave out a few details; I know how you capes look out for each other, which sometimes pisses us badges off a bit."

The tiny shapeshifter snorted with mild derision. "Oh right, like cops don't ever form ranks and protect each other? Whadda you call it, the 'thin blue line'?"

Colby nodded in resigned agreement and raised her mug. "You're right, you're right. I guess that's one of the reasons you all bug us sometimes; we're both working the same side of the fence, but you guys can get away with so much more, behind the mask and all that. We wear our failures out in the open, for everyone to see."

For a few moments, Grim was lost in thought, lips pursued; she'd really never thought of it that way before. How maddening it must be for a beat cop to read about Avenger pounding on bad guys, when if he did the same he'd run up on charges? Whether or not cops were more envious or disgusted by the heroes...well, that was the real question.

"I guess...I can see that. But it's not like we just beat up punks to spite you or make you jealous. Plus we help in non-crime ways too, with rescues and stuff-"

The junior detective waved her hand as if to clear the air, and she smiled a weary but apologetic smile. "Look, I'm not trying to bust your chops here; I just don't get many opportunities to talk to a cape one-on-one very often. Let's get back to your troubled swordsman for a sec."

"Okay, let's."

Colby took a big swig of coffee, then tilted back in her chair, cradling her mug and staring up at the ceiling. "So you say he hasn't been himself since this horrifying experience, killed at the hands of the legions of hell."

Grim nodded as she sipped her own coffee, sitting in her comfy chair. "Yep, right here in the West End."

The policewoman couldn't help but shudder. "That's just so damn creepy. Anyway, his powers are acting differently, he himself is exhibiting much more aggressive behavior, and it's affecting his work; does that all sound correct?"

Once again, the changeling nodded. Colby set her mug on her desk and started chewing on the end of a pen.

"Well, there are a few options here. First off, do you know if his powers are magic-based, or is he some kind of mutant? Because that could be a big part of it."

For a second, Grim looked like she's gonna say something, but then her mouth snapped shut like a trap. "I have absolutely no idea how his powers work."

This prompted a hearty laugh from the young cop. "And you guys are part of the same group? Some teammate you turned out to be!"

"Hey, I've been busy!"

"Yeah, riding around on the back of that cowboy's space chopper; what, you think people don't notice these things?"

The diminutive heroine crossed her arms tightly across her chest, looking genuinly hurt; the expression on her face hit the detective in the gut, and she covered her face with her hand.

"Alright, I'm sorry; you have the right to date whoever you want and enjoy yourself when you're not bending the law like saltwater taffy. Let's get back on-topic here."

"Fine." :evil:

"Oh Jesus; look, I said I was sorry, okay? Can we just move on?"

"Okay, okay, I forgive you..."

"Good!" With a firm nod, Colby went back to looking up at the ceiling and gnawing on her pen. "Okay, so we need to find out if his powers are magical or not. He could be tainted by some kind of energy, or God forbid part of the demon is still inside him. But there's one more cause we really need to look at."

She turned her head to level her gaze at Grim, who was leaning forward eagerly as the detective rattled off theories. "What? What?"

Colby smiled sweetly, and went back to her tasty pen. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's exhibiting a lot of the signs, and I can't imagine anything more stressful than remembering your near-death, or even worse actual death, at the hands of demonic forces. Heroes, and villains for that matter, often experience bizarre side effects to stress, especially if they're energy wielders" She thumped her chest with her fist. "That power comes from in here; you mess with the source, you mess with the power."

Grim could only stare at the mystical detective in awe. "Wow. You're good."

Colby beamed as she shrugged humbly, leaned forward and put her boots back on the floor. "Well, I try. What I'd really like to do is meet this guy in the flesh, maybe run a few tests; I'll need a day or two to whip up the equipment in my shop, and then you can either come to me or I can go to you. You know, whichever."

"That's awesome!" Grim rose to her feet, the comfy chair melting away behind her, and vigorously shook Colby's hand "Thanks a lot! I really appreciate it."

"Forget it, I'm looking forward to trying out some new things." She turned to warm up her coffee, then turned back to her unusual visitor. "So I gotta ask you, how exactly do you-"

But the detective was once again alone, Grimalkin having vanished without a trace. Sinking back in her chair, Colby sighed with dismay.

"Oh, this is not good..." :o :? :roll:

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January 19th, 3:02 AM Greenbank, near the rail yard

Ask just about any detective what their least favorite part of the job is, and more than a few will say 'winter stakeouts'. Nothing is more conspicuous that an unmarked Crown Vic with the lights off and the engine running; this means thermal underwear, heat pads and a lot of hot liquids with few bathroom breaks in an ice-cold prowler with no heat. Sadly the criminal community rarely take the needs and feelings of the police into consideration when they plan their activites, which is what led Det. Colby to were she was at the moment.

"You still awake over there, Colby?"

The beautiful detective yawned before grabbing her radio and responding to her fellow officer, parked in another unmarked car across the street and halfway down the block.

"Just barely, Kolanski. How are you holding up?"

There was a sigh of static before Detective Bernard Kolanski, on loan from Narcotics, responded.

"I've been poking myself in the leg with a pencil for the last half hour to keep my eyes open over here."

Colby laughed. "Ah, the glamorous life of Freedom's Finest, eh?"

"You think this little b**** is gonna show?"

"She'd better, or I'm gonna file a complaint with the Crime League." She rolled a bit of tension out of her shoulders, hearing a satisfying crack as she did so. Her eyes happened to flick to her rear view, and that's when she saw the girl in the back seat.

"Jesus Christ! You have to stop doing that!"

As usual, Grimalkin looked mortified, a face Colby was getting used to, for better or worse.

"I'm sorry, I didn't want your 'perp', y'know, whoever he is, to see me enter your car."

The cop could only shake her head in disbelief; luckily, she hadn't been taking a sip of coffee out of her thermos, or there would have been serious consequences.

"Why did you have to come in here at all? Can't you see I'm working?"

"I know, but I thought you might need some help on that case you're working, with whatsername, Madonna Nightshade."

"I told you, the last time you stopped by my office and nearly gave me a heart attack, that I don't need any help on the Bennett case. Now get out of the car before my partner sees you."

Grim smiled and shook her head. "Ah, y'see, I took care of that! Right now, you're the only person who can see me!" A pair of bunny ears sprouted out of the top of her head, and she said in her best Jimmy Stewart, "Harvey's always been my favorite name."

Colby rubbed her face with her hand. "Will you get rid of those things? You look ridiculous."

The ears obidiently vanished as the changeling looked around the inside of the car. "So, can I climb into the front seat?"

"No!"

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January 19th, 3:36 AM, The same stakeout

Colby laughed so hard hot coffee shot out her nose. "Ow, damn it that hurts! Hahaha!"

"I'm sorry! You got any napkins in the glove compartment?"

"Yeah, yeah."

Grim popped open the latch and started rummaging around, and came upon the detective's backup piece. "Yikes, loaded gun, loaded gun!" :o

"Be careful in there, little girl."

"I am, I am! Wow, you eat a lot of junk food."

"Hey, only when I'm working; I eat healthy at home, and I work out. Thanks." She accepted the wad of different takeout napkins and began mopping the coffee off the dash, then returned to their previous conversation. "So the guy ran right into Nightrival's chest?"

"Yeah, and he bounced back like five feet, right on his ass; it was awesome!"

"I bet; would have loved to see that. I've got some good ones, too, some real crazy s***; just give me a minute or two, and I'll have you wiping up your coffee."

She chuckled as she finished her cleanup, but then her eyes darted back to the storefront they were watching.

"Waitaminute, we've got movement."

"You seeing what I'm seeing, Colby?"

The young detective grabbed her radio and responded. "Copy that, Kolanski, I see it; hold your position."

From her spot in the front seat, Grim craned her neck. "I'm not seeing anything, what do you see?"

Still holding her radio handset, she pointed up the street. "We got some movement in the window of the place next door. All of these business are supposed to be closed, no current tennants."

Squinting with all her might, the shapeshifter was annoyed that she still couldn't see anything. "Yeah, but it could be homeless; lots of squatters in this town."

The cop nodded. "True, true, you might be right, but we have to consider every possibility. They might be using the storefront next door as well, maybe knocked down a wall between them."

"I'm gonna do a drive-by, see if I can see anything."

"Okay, but be careful."

"Copy that."

Grim was actually speechless with excitement, leaning forward, eyes rivited to the unmarked car slowly creeping up the street in their direction. Just as it was about to pass the storefront, the heroine caught a glimpse of a hooded figure on the roof across the street, holding a large bundle. Eyes wide, she pointed her finger right at it.

"Movement on the roof, movement on the roof!"

Colby's eyes darted back to see the figure, raising what looked like a large cylinder to its shoulder.

"Kolanski, get out of there, get out of there!"

"What, what do you see, I can't see-"

The blast blew out the windshield of Colby's prowler, and set off car alarms all over Greenbank.

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January 22nd, 10:05 AM, FCU Memorial Burn Unit

It was her third day in the hospital, and Colby was ready to bust out of the joint; she was bored as hell, her bed was far from comfortable and the food was tasteless and oddly-colored. The detective idly nibbled the bandages on her right hand, which was itching like crazy again. It was maddening; if they'd just let her go home, she could put together a healing totem that would do more to heal her burns than all the gauze and Neosporin in the world. Though to be honest, it would be difficult to work with the necessary ingredients with her hands all messed up.

All in all, she was lucky; her attempt to drag poor Kolanski out of the car left her with third-degree burns on her hands and second degree burns on thirty percent of her body, plus major blistering on her face and a lot of singed hair. It was futile, of course; the coroner said he was killed instantly, and for what it was worth felt little pain, spared the horror of burning alive. Colby shuddered at the thought of such a terrible death, and was thankful the veteran cop didn't suffer.

And Grimalkin, God bless her, caught the bad guy; in a second, she'd seen Kolanski was gone, and in fact begged Colby not to try and save him, but she didn't understand, she wasn't a cop. But once that damn pixie girl realized there was no swaying her, Grimalkin was out the door, up the side of the building and in hot pursuit of the perp, bringing him to ground three rooftops away, and dragged him back hogtied, left with a note next to Colby's totaled car. The thought of that tiny girl hauling two hundred and thirty pounds of sociopathic cultist half a block made Colby smile, which made her nose itch something fierce. She screwed her face up this way and that, trying to make it stop.

"Need a little help there, detective?" It was one of the floor nurses, but not one she'd seen before, a pretty young blonde wearing Tinker Bell scrubs; the staff had all been great, one of the few good things about her stay at Memorial.

"Uh yeah, just an itchy nose, and you know-" She waved her bandaged hands ineffectually.

The nurse smiled warmly. "I hear you. I'm Emily, by the way." She leaned over and ever so gently scratched the bridge of her nose. "There, that better?"

The policewoman sighed with relief and chuckled. "Oh God yes! Emily, has anyone ever tell you you've got great hands?" ;)

Emily wrinkled her nose as she picked up Colby's chart. "A few times, yeah. Well let's have a look here." The nurse flipped through the pages in a haphazard fashion, not really seeming to look at anything in particular, then put the chart down abruptly. Her face went from cheerful to downright sorrowful. "Actually to be honest, I came here to apologize."

Frankly this was the last thing the detective expected to hear. "For what? The staff here have been excellent!"

Emily shook her head. "No, I mean-" And suddenly the nurse was surrounded by a familiar gray mist, and in her place stood Grimalkin, still in the Disney scrubs, but she looked different; there was no mask, her hair was still short but not so spiky, and her ears were no longer pointed. She looked like a small sad girl, and somehow oddly familiar...

"I'm so sorry about what happened that night; I feel terrible, I'm having these nightmares..." She twisted a handful of her shirt into a tight knot as tears welled up in her big brown eyes.

Colby held up a bandaged hand and laid it on her changeling's arm. "Hey, hey, hey, it is not your fault, young lady! Bad things happen to cops everyday, and there's nothing you or I can do to change that."

"Yeah, but if we hadn't been kibitzing and laughing it up, you would have seen the guy with the rocket launcher in time."

Dear God, the poor thing was really beating herself up over this, taking sole responsibility for Kolanski's death; as best as she could with her heavily-bandaged hands, she pointed an angry finger right at Grim.

"Now you listen to me, young lady! That is bull****! First of all, it was you who spotted the perp on the roof, not me; I had eyes on the storefront, and didn't even think to scan the roofline across the street, a mistake I would have made with or without you in the car. We had no evidence this suspected group had access to that kind of firepower, or else we would have had some serious backup out there."

Grim just stood there, eyes wide and gulping for air as Colby read her the riot act; when the detective finished, she pulled up a chair and sat next to the bed, eyes on the floor, lost in thought. Colby rested a hand gently on top of her head.

"Listen, I know the drill; you think I haven't had the same thoughts running through my head? I've been stuck in the hospital for three days; all I do is think! It's a game all cops play, and I'm guessing all capes, too; it's called 'What I Should Have Done', and it's a game that nobody ever wins."

When the shapeshifter looked up, tears ran down her face, but there were the beginnings of a smile, too.

"Thanks; I really needed to hear that, Colby."

The policewoman waved a hand dismissively. "Ah, it's no big deal, and please, call me 'Reena'; all my friends do."

And now Grim's smile was huge, practically lighting up the room. "You got it, Reena! Uh, anything I can do for ya while I'm here?"

Colby scooted up in her bed and peered around, making sure no one else was in earshot. "Actually, there is. I need to get the hell out of here and back to my workshop; I've got no patience with medical science, and all my juju's back there."

The changeling shook her head and waved her hands dramatically. "No problemo! I can get you outta here like that, and if you need an extra pair of hands to, y'know, chop herbs or stir cauldrons or whatever, I'm your girl!"

"Fantastic! So, how do we do this?"


When the regular nurse checked Colby's room a few minutes later, she was shocked to find a smiling wooden mannequin, which looked eerily like her patient, lying under the covers with a note attached:

You've all been great, but I need to finish my recovery at home. Tell all the doctors and nursing staff good-bye for me!

Det. Morena Colby, FCPD

p.s. My friend tells me the dummy will evoparate if you touch it with iron, so disposal should be fairly easy.

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