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Holt Hotel

Midtown, Freedom City, NJ
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

12:00 PM


The terrific Holt Hotel blends comfortably into the downtown area of Midtown's residential district.  Despite being considered a budget hotel, the warmly decorated rooms seem to have a sleek almost futuristic furnishing style.  Bathroom's are oasis inspired with a splash of color.  Room service was closed after 8pm, but while active the food was a passable mix of American cuisine.


Despite the fantastic amenities, at the end of the day it is still a value hotel.  Far less luxurious than the sort of place one would expect multiple time bestselling author to hang his hat.  Much less kill a woman.  Yet a cursory glance of Enest Steinbeck's hotel room in the Holt Hotel had a story to tell.  A story of a beheaded woman, her head nowhere to be found, posing on the bed.  An eerie and outright disturbing scene that was quite literally a recreation of Steinbeck's first novel's big murder scene.


No one had an account for Steinbeck's whereabouts.  Steinbeck's last novel was released a decade ago.  Coupled with his well known recent drinking habits, the media circus had already painted a villain.  Except, there was absolutely no trace of the author.  And no visible signs that he had ever left the room.

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Lynn Epstein was working in her office at Silberman's Books, making some last minute changes to next week's schedule.  No Doubt was playing on her iPod (yes, she still had one; how retro!) and she felt she'd done a pretty good job of accommodating everyone's needs in terms of hours.


Just then, her partner Gretchen intruded into her thoughts.




-Hey. What's up?-


-I was going through my newsfeeds and a really weird, disturbing case popped up.-


-Oh, really? Disturbing how?


-Headless woman found in a hotel room in Midtown.-


-Oh...God! That's awful! Do they have any clue who she is?-


-No, they don't. And it gets worse.-


-Oh, God. Do I want to know how?-


-It says she was...'posed'.-


-God, people are...people are sick, y'know? That's just wrong.-


-Also, that one hack mystery writer you like might be involved.-


-Wait, which one? You mean...oh my God, you mean Steinbeck? Oh wow, that's the same scene...holy crap!-


-Yep. And she was found in his hotel room...-


Not long after, a tiny flitting creature landed in a dark corner of the alley behind the Holt Hotel, quickly expanding into the form of Grimalkin. Even though she normally did her best work at night, she felt she owed Ernest Steinbeck something; despite what Gretchen thought, he was good writer, and she always hoped to have him do a signing or reading at the store someday. 


At first, she thought of trying the direct approach, going in the front door and talking to the cops, but for some reason, she decided against it; it was a gut feeling, and she tended to follow her gut.


So instead, she went invisible, cloaking herself in glamour so she could slip inside the front door like a passing breeze.

Edited by Heritage
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The Holt Hotel was terrific, Samantha Carson mused, and not in her trademark way. The hotel was hosting a small conference between the science departments at MIT and HIT. HIT had sprung for room, if not board, so this time the MIT professors had come to Freedom City. Sam was bored. Super, super bored. Physics was, for the most part, a male dominated field. And most of them were far from young. It was also filled with those whose social skills, particularly toward women, could be…lacking. Especially when the woman in question was happily married and had no intention of behaving otherwise. So Sam was staying out of the macho bovine feces group, away from those looking for a night of lust, and far, far away from the grown adults who couldn’t muster the confidence to look her in the eye when they spoke to her. Which, as it happened, narrowed her conversational partners to near zero. Add to that the fact that she was a better physicist, scientist, and professor than over half the people here, and well…she was so, so, so bored.


Fortunately, there was nothing like a good ritualistic murder investigation to perk one up. The number of cops showing up, followed by the crime scene techs and two homicide detectives she’d worked with last year. Something was up. So, a little stealthy eavesdropping, and she had enough of the story to become quite interested. She returned to her room, changed into Terrifica. A quick slide out of the window later and she was strolling around front. She was so pleased she’d decided to bring the longcoat. It tended to leave a better impression than a person in thickish tights, and it made her feel so badass. Between the media circus outside, the curious people inside, and doing their jobs, the police were just distracted enough to miss a bonafide professional superhero stealth her way past then and into the room. She’d heard Steinbeck was staying here, of course. He…wasn’t her favorite author, but he wasn’t entirely worthless, either. There were few better examples on how to become a bestselling author without any talent at constructing plots, developing characters, or establishing settings. She scanned the crime scene once with her eyes. With her perfect memory, it was all she needed for a preliminary analysis, anyway. She set a portion of her mind to work on that at top speed, and then stuck her hands in her longcoat’s pockets. It was time to make an entrance. Fortunately, one of the detectives was in the ideal position for just a thing. “Good afternoon, detective. How can I help?” The desired effect was to make it seem as if she’d been there the entire time, and the detective was only just noticing her now. Failing that, there was always the simple sudden appearance.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Nevermore had been watching the hotel for over half an hour, taking note of who was coming and going, how thick the media and police presence was, and more. He wished it had thinned out already but that seemed unlikely to happen soon. So instead he opted to reposition a bit before firing a grapnel line from his current roost to the balcony of the room in question. Or more accurately, to a good waypoint between. His cape flared, but somehow no one noticed. It took him three swings to arrive at the balcony, but no one made a ruckus about him. 


Once on the balcony, he took a moment to pull a few cowl attachments out and slide them into place near his lenses, before pulling out a high-end palm-sized computer and slotting it onto his left gauntlet. His hands deftly pulled a few more basic investigative tools from his belt, and he slipped into the room unnoticed by anyone else. 


For now, he stuck to the darker corners of the space, letting the police do their work for the most part, and letting the staff-wielding heroine near the door draw most of the attention. He flicked the extra lenses he'd attached onto and off of his eyes over the course of the next couple of minutes, gently poking and shifting the occasional bit of evidence or scenery to try and get a feel for where everything was located, how it all went down, and so on. The palmtop was used to attempt to gain access to the local camera network; with how heavy its coverage was, he felt sure it would have picked up someone coming even near this room, or coming at an odd hour, that might help provide a clue. 

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With the number of people moving about, Grim realized invisibility actually wasn't the best way to go; more than likely, someone would bump into her, which would lead to a major freakout for the cops, which wouldn't help anyone. Instead, she ducked into a corner and did two things: scoped out the various uniforms used by hotel staff, and listen until she heard one of the cops mention the room numbe. Once she'd had this information, she silently stepped into the women's room and adopted the look of an unassuming middle-aged woman from housekeeping; in this guise, she was able to take the elevator up to the right floor without drawing any attention.


Once upstairs, she found a quiet corner and shifted back into her pixie form, which she used to dart from shadow to shadow until she was inside the room; she noticed the brilliant-but-frequently-irritating Terrifica was already her, talking to one of the detectives, and she heard and smelled someone else in the room who-


Ah, there he is! Looks like another Raven-in-training. I think he goes by...Nevermore? I like the Poe reference!


High up in a darkened corner, Grim watched his progress with a mixture of amusement and admiration as he made a methodical search. Rather than crimp his style, she stayed out of his way and studied the horrific crime scene from her vantage point, focusing mainly on scent, as it was often neglected in situations like these.


Ugh, this poor girl!

Edited by Heritage
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