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May 10, 2017 


Bedlam City

Black Rose Detective Agency



A god kicked in the door not long after opening. Lady Horus flew into the Black Rose Detective Agency with speed fast enough to send loose papers flying everywhere, then kicked the door shut behind her with equal alacrity. "Lo!" she called in that oddly resonant voice that was familiar both from the television and to the local residents of the Wolverton/Hardwick Park area - "where is thy doctor? This girl needs care!" In her arms, or rather, wrapped in her white and gold cape was a battered-looking young woman in the torn remnants of a super-costume - the darkly complected Hispanic girl looked like she'd taken a heavy beating from somebody. 

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Though there was normally little happening this early in the morning Liam made a point of opening the agency every morning. Not being a morning person Rosa tending to skulk around the back of their consciousness until at least the first cup of coffee. His reaction, once he was sure that there was no danger, was quick and decisive as he cleared the desk and gestured for Lady Horus to lay the wounded on the cleared desk. Luckily they didn't own anything as valuable as a computer to get damaged.


"I'm afraid you're mistaken though she isn't that kind of..."


In the mere blink of an eye Liam was replaced by that of Rosa, the before mentioned Doctor Thorne, in a pair of rather unflattering flannel pajamas.


"... I interned for a whilst at a hospital and am a capable medical practitioner. Over there's a medical kit bring it to me please." she gestured to Lady Horus to go fetch as she checked the injured woman to see if she was conscious and reactive


"Do I need to ask how this happened?"


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Lady Horus didn't seem interested in talking - instead she was darting around at speed, pulling down the shades on the windows, then actually picking up and putting the waiting area's couch directly in front of the door. 


"No! No, get away!" The injured young woman was filthy too, with the smell of one of Bedlam's back alleys on her bloodstained clothes and broken skin. The injuries looked hours old, but it seemed as though shock and dehydration might be the greatest threats. She was trying to push Thorne away but she was not in good enough shape for that. "No, he'll find me and he'll kill me, and he'll kill you..." 


"She was left with these wounds in her-her-blast this wretched thing!


Are you sure this is what you want? came the voice in her head. 




Lady Horus, without much fanfare, reached up and did something neither Liam nor Rosa had seen her do on television - she pulled off her helmet. The removal of the helmet made her divine armor seem to vanish in a faint, shimmering cascade of light that left the most famous heroine in Bedlam looking - diminished. Lady Horus was older than she looked in the helmet, somewhere in her mid-fifties if her interlocuters were any judge, wearing a sweater and slacks that belonged to the previous generation's sense of fashion. She stared at Liam and Rosa defiantly for a moment, then said in an accent thick enough to be startling, "Some bastid beat the Hell out of her and dumped her in a freakin' alley in Hardwick Park! Left her there all night, it looked like!" 


"Lady Horus?" the injured girl stared up at the revealed face of Bedlam's golden guardian. "Is that you?" 


"No." Keeping the helm still under one arm, she reached down and took the injured girl's hand. "My name is Anna.

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“I’m Doctor Rosa Thorne and the gentleman you were talking to previously is Liam Conner. We share a body between us, something I’m sure you can understand with you own transmogrification.” she looked over at Lady Horus “I have a multitude of questions that I’d like to ask about you and your abilities, but of cause at a more opportune time.”


She continued to busy around treating the wound of the young woman, glad that her wound wasn't so serious that they’d need to worry about the generally corrupt Hospitals or back street doctors.


You do know that she could be some kind of criminal or worse? Liam was being cautious, a solid survival trait in Bedlam


What Lady Horus? She seems pretty on the level, if not a little bombastic...


No the woman you treating right now


She’s in pain and needs our help, we’ll worry about the what and why when she’s fit and well.


“We’ve managed to survive and thrive in an area between two areas of competing gangs, We’re more than capable of dealing with threats mundane and magical. Though anything either you can tell us will help us deal whatever cause this woe.”

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"Her ma lives by me," said Anna, who was substantially more Anglo than the typical inhabitant of the area. "Esperanza's," Anna pronounced it turning the second to last syllable into "Anne", "been super-crazy since she was a kid - she's got pictures of Raven, Midnight, all of 'em up in her bedroom. Pinky said lately she's been sneakin' out at night, so she thought she was trying to be a hero." Anna laughed a bitter laugh. "I kept telling her she needed to send the kid to Freedom. Goddamned Bedlam, though." 


"You don't understand. He's not going to let me live - and he's not going to let you live now that he knows who you are." Esperanza had been badly beaten about the face and body, enough to turn her face into an eruption of swelling and bruises, and one front tooth was out. "He beat me until I couldn't walk - then put me there in that alley so you would find me.


Anna gripped Esperanza's hand, sitting by her side with the look of a concerned grandmother. She was fidgeting, free hand's fingers drumming, shifting in her seat with almost manic energy. "Who did it, honey?" 


"The Hammer of Justice."

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Originally hailing from outside Bedlam Rosa had only really heard of the Hammer of Justice as an urban legend and not the kind she normally paid attention to being of the more mundane side of things. Liam being a native of the city had heard much more about the vigilante, even from the ivory towers where he grew up. It didn't take long for Liam to bring her up to speed on what she didn't already know.


“Don't worry Esperanza you'll be safe here for now. Try to rest a moment whilst I get you some water."


With other however concerns, she went straight to the Anna to whisper in her ear.


“Will she be safe here? Is this vigilante the kind to try again?"


Her concern wasn't for herself and Liam, they could look after themselves, as could Lady Horus, it was more concern for the young woman that he'd already severally hurt.

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Anna Cline knew sincerity when she heard it. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. 


Tick. Tick. Tick. 


Call Dickie - and do what? Tell him you screwed up bad and now a superhero wants you dead? 


Call Set then - and do what? Tell him you screwed up? Tell him you're just some dumb old broad? 


Call Basil - and tell him you're weak, and stupid, and old, and - 


"I don't know the Hammer of Justice." Stupid stupid stupid - you're pretending to be a hero, why didn't you try and get to know the people who think they're heroes too? "Why would he want to kill me?" It wasn't that she lacked for enemies but why would they strike at her here, when half the people who knew her still thought she was just on a cross-country trip after Bryant died? 


"I don't know," said Esperanza, shaking her head painfully. "He's-he's always planning something. After-after he was done with me, he said you'd be along soon and he'd get two birds with one stone - then he threw me off the roof. If I hadn't hit that trash pile..." 


"You're not trash," said Anna fiercely, anticipating words Esperanza hadn't actually said. "He's a son of a bitch, and he'll get payback." She looked up at Rosa and said, "I heard he's tough. One of those overcompensating scary guys who just happens to fight the blacks and the Mexicans every night." 

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Bloody typical, even the superheroes here are corrupt. Present company excepted." it took a fair bit to get Rosa upset, she tended to be fairly level headed but a few things like this got past her armor.


“If he happens to be supernatural in nature, or if we had time I could probably cook up a ritual to help protect you. But he doesn't strike me as the type of person that would give us the time. I might be able to do some scrying to see what he's doing..."


She finally handed Esperanza the bottle of water, pretence or not the young woman really needed to be kept hydrated.


“You are both welcome to stay here as long as you wish. Though I'm afraid the cupboards are a little bare right now."

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While Doctor Thorne went to do her (his? their? Anna wasn't up-to-date on the pronouns for this kind of thing) scrying, Anna Cline scooped up her helm and - 


The echo of a goddess long past appeared in her perceptions, hovering somewhere around the other side of the desk where Esperanza was laying. 


"Why didn't you tell me somebody wanted me dead?" she demanded of the goddess, seeming to be staring at nothing in particular as she shouted at the air. 


"I am not your social secretary," said Nepthys dismissively, reminding Anna of the phase her friend's granddaughter had gone through with all the black clothes and the dark nails - Nepthys sounded like that a lot. "I track the moods and meanings of the Great Work that keeps me on this plane and empowers you - not every common criminal who seeks your demise. If you want the power of the helm to use against your enemy, don it again.


"Not yet," declared Anna, aware that she was speaking aloud to no one visible but pressing forward all the same. "I can't just go away from Esperanza here..." She settled down, the helm in her lap, still holding Esperanza's hand. "We girls have to stick together."


Dr. Thorne's scrying showed the outside of a SWAT van speeding down a street in Hardwick Park - a street that wasn't very far away... 

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With long strides it wasn't Rosa that came bounding down the stairs, but Liam with a slightly concerned look on his face. But he also looked ready for action, however that might happen.

He politely ignored the voice of Rosa complaining that she wasn't properly dressed to tell the others of what she had discovered.


"Looks like there's someone on there way here in a van, we haven't long to get ready."


It was his home and business so he was all prepared to defend the others here, but could pretty much understand that the others might not have the same option on the matter.

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Anna disappeared. Wait, no, that wasn't right - the door was swinging open and closed as if a strong wind had come through the room and papers on the floor were flying everywhere - and then Anna was back, just a touch winded, her helm still under one arm. "...dammit, it's the freakin' fuzz!!" Anna set the helm down on the desk next to Esperanza.


"Ms. Halliday," Esperanza was saying, "You can't let the cops take me - even if he doesn't kill me, the Mara'll find me in jail and then I'm fucked!" She said the last word too loud and started coughing, hunching over herself from the pain of her injuries and what had to be a few broken ribs. 


"Ah, jeez, fella, you shouldn't fight the damn cops over this" said Anna, waving her hand around the detective office. "Bedlam cops may be screwy as hell but they're still real cops - and you gotta legitimate business here, they'll shut you down!" She swallowed hard, then said "All right, she ain't dyin' no more, so I'll take Espy here some place they can't find us - then I can come back for you and you can finish patchin' her up?" 


Outside the sirens were clearly audible now - the famously trigger-happy Bedlam PD was just a minute or two from their door! 

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Liam didn’t answer straight away and seemed distracted for a second like he was considering all the angles with himself. Which wasn’t that far from the truth really.


“Whilst my partner disagrees quite vehemently I agree with your assessment. Whilst my license could take a few knocks, I’m not sure it’d be a good idea for various reasons.”


As he spoke he took something from his trenchcoat sitting on the stand, probably his PI license, and began to pick up the papers that he'd scattered when they'd entered


"There's a way out through the back there if you need it, we occasionally have clients that to keep everything on the down-low. Feel free to take a card and call us when you need help."


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Anna took this opportunity to transform, donning her helm as transcendent golden light cascaded over her body, so bright that for a moment the two-bodied detective could see nothing. When woman was replaced by goddess, the floating Lady Horus scooped up Esperanza, her position showing she'd carried the badly injured before. "We shall return when those unwanted guests are gone, my kind hosts - you have my thanks."  Lady Horus promised, a moment before vanishing out the back way in a blur of divine speed that made her simply disappear from view. 

A moment later came the pounding on the door, loud and fast. "POLICE! OPEN THE DOOR!" Knowing Bedlam cops, there were only seconds before they broke it down - and decided anyone inside the room must have been carrying a gun and shot them to death by officers who might get a long weekend of suspension for their pains. 

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Liam knew just how he had to act having to deal with Bedlams finest, supernatural events left very little evidence plus the desire to actually serve the truth as well really didn't help either.  Without much effort, he hefted the coach and moved it out of the way and after making sure that he'd not had anywhere where he could hide anything concealed weapon, you never gave the Bedlam PD any chance to arrest you. And that was if you were lucky.


Throwing open the door he stood there hand outstretched in looked both innocent and charming.


"Good day officers. What can I do for you today?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

The subsequent encounter was not unfamiliar to either of the two private detectives - after all, they worked in Bedlam in a profession that frequently required contact with law enforcement. Still, the number of armored, heavily-armed Bedlam SWAT officers who abruptly crowded into the office for an intensive search certainly was unusual. Corruption and deep paperwork meant that Bedlam cops weren't quite as heavily militarized as their counterparts in other American cities, but the city certainly had its share of armed, armored men with thick necks and thin morals, many of whom were either crowding into the office or were visible on the streets outside. They were looking for someone - and hadn't found her.


"Where is she?" demanded the officer in charge, who hadn't quite leveled his shotgun like one of those cowboy cops from the television, but looked like he wanted to very badly. "Where's the fugitive?" The cops were searching, but their very crudeness was actually undoing them - the papers being tossed on the floor and the desk bric-a-brac being swept down would be annoying to clean up, but so far they hadn't had the wit to go for any real secrets. 

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The secret with dealing with Bedlams finest was not to say or do anything that could provoke them at all, which was difficult if you had to smoothly lie as well. Luckily Liam was very good at such things, good enough to fool the local police. But whilst he seemed relaxed he was tensed in case one of them decided a good hit to the stomach would loosen the tongue. Random acts of violence were to be expected with them.


“I’m not sure who you are talking about officer? You know I don’t get any customers here normally anyway, Cheakina was here with her latest conspiracy theory, but she bolted out the front when she heard the sirens.”


Cheakina was well known for her out-there theories about various subjects, which would sound ridiculous for somewhere like Freedom City, let alone Bedlam. She was as far as the two knew out of town, or at least lying low, they didn’t want anyone to get a Bedlam Interrogation over such a lie.

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The subsequent search of Liam's office was not particularly Constitutional, nor was it particularly mindful of protecting property in general. But eventually the Bedlam SWAT realized they weren't going to find their target, and that an "accidental" squabble with the property owner would be tough to explain at this point. At least the local cops were unlikely to be wise enough to plant a bug or other tracking device, given their usual record of competence. They gave Liam a speech about Lady Horus, the notorious super-criminal who'd been running riot in Bedlam, then left, not bothering to clean up after themselves. 


Time went by, tick-tick-tick - and then Liam realized it wasn't the clock. 


The front office computer, left on, through all the melee was typing by itself. 





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  • 4 weeks later...


Whilst the cops might not be competent enough to plant a listening device, they were still savvy enough to pull a Columbo (it saddened Liam that Rosa knew obscure Aztec rituals but his younger companion didn't know about Columbo). So he pottered around the office tidying up, accidentally deleting the message just in case.


So on the plus side, we helped someone today but as usual, we didn't get paid. Plus the place has been trashed again, and that was my favorite mug as well!


They would have trashed my library, the books are filed in a very specific order they'd have put them back willy nilly or even worse.


Liam could feel Rosa trying to take over so focused on this one thing, that was admittedly important to her. But first, he needed to think through a few idea whilst he had her attention.


We need to do a little footwork and find out exactly what's going on here, but they've bound to have staked out the place so we'll wait awhile just in case.


He was counting on them only being worth a couple of hours of watching top, as they would expect most people to be dumb enough to go straight to whoever they were working with. Most criminals were either stupid or working with the cops, so it didn't breed a diligent work ethic.


So I guess for now we'll wait, and you can sort out your books...

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