Foxx and Wolfe, Supernatural Detectives
Part 4: A Few Solutions (This story begins in late August of 2017)
"In spite of the confusion and distractions we were able to backtrack the creature through the gate used to send it here," said Kelautle, the more senior of the two Sidhe who had been attacked.
"It was a close thing; even as we worked the trail was being covered. That was why we were so slow emerging from the car, and didn't notice that the asphalt had been melted."
Well, that was as good an excuse as any. Jackie watched as the still-shaken high elf drained his third glass of bourbon. Lisa didn't seem to care; she'd given up drinking long ago and now only kept a stock of potables on hand for guests. Since the werecougar had no social interest in impressing the Sidhe with her bar stock, Jackie doubted this was even the good stuff.
The fey leaving ahead of the two elves had all gone the right (and correct) direction when leaving Lisa's. However, Professor Finlay had felt something happening and returned, in time to meet the caravan which had gone to the rescue on its return. Once everyone was safely inside Lisa's house the sloughy stayed quietly in the background, part of his attention on the interrogation, and part on spreading word of the attack.
"So can you tell us the physical location it came from?" rumbled Bent-Tail, from where he sat on the floor, squeezed in between the wall and the end of the comfortable old sofa.
Even in human form the big werewolf could rattle the furniture if he chose, as much from pitch as volume. Just now he was not in human form. Jackie wondered if her Dad was doing that deliberately for some reason, or was just still agitated about the fight. Either could be an explanation for why he had remained in his huge midform.
"No," the Sidhe replied, reluctantly. "That was blocked. However, we did get the signature of the person controlling it."
"Wait a minute," said Todd. "It wasn't acting on its own?"
"Of course not. That should be obvious. There are several of these things acting in concert, which means someone was either controlling or - at the very least - coordinating them."
"Nice of you to tell us that at the meeting, earlier," was Jackie's sour comment.
The Sidhe - Kelautle - flushed, and tried to drink more from his empty glass. Lisa obligingly poured the last of the bottle into it. The other Sidhe, one Luriel by name, had drunk even more of the brew, and was currently slumped deeply into his chair, only partially conscious.
Kelautle looked suspiciously at the werecougar, but took a deep drink, anyway.
"So. This was definitely an Arcadian creature, imitating human form - possibly the one which killed that housewife a few days ago - with that appearance muffled by a blurring effect as a further disguise. It was teleported onto the highway in front of our car, where it attacked us."
"After you were diverted away from the proper route," Bent-Tail pointed out. "Someone is gunning for you."
"Wait," said Jill, holding up her hand. "We had already decided that the smart critter which came through the portal wasn't responsible for these attacks. Now..."
"You may have decided," huffed, Kelautle. "We knew better."
"And just how did you know better?" rumbled Bent-Tail, definitely doing it deliberately this time.
"Well, it's been done before," said the elf, tongue loosened by the whiskey, but his verbal clarity unfortunately also loosened. "So, of course, we recognized that someone was using these creatures as puppets for attacks."
"Who has done this before?" said Todd, rumbling some himself.
"Oh, it's ancient history." The Sidhe's speech was becoming more than a little slurred. "Not often used, you see, because it's been roundly condemned, but more than once. Of course, that was always in Arcadia. Nobody's ever been able to bring them here. Before now."
"I'm starting to get the feeling we've been had," said Lisa.
"Yeah," said Jackie, bristling. "Could all these incursions have been caused by someone as a way of getting these things into our world to be used as puppets?"
"This signature you mentioned," said Bent-Tail, quietly. "Was it elven? Perhaps even Sidhe?"
"Eh?" said Kelautle, peering blearily at the werewolf. He drew himself up a bit, not realizing the comic impact produced by someone as drunk as he was trying to look haughty. "Of course. Who else could perform such a feat!"
He hiccoughed, then passed out, slumping fluidly to the floor.
"Y'know, neither of 'em is fit to drive," said Bent-Tail. "Even if their car wasn't wrecked."
"Then it's only fitting that we take them home," agreed Lisa, nodding and smiling.
Jackie looked back and forth between them, realizing that something was going on but not sure just what.
"Oh; right," laughed Jill.
"You weren't there when she opened the gateway to the Sidhe escape hole, were you?" asked Todd, grinning.
"No, but I've heard of it," said Jackie. "But why is that important?"
"That is in the same physical location used to monitor gating in the area," said Jill, beaming.
"Okay," said Jackie, smile spreading slowly over her face as she got it. "So, we take them back and, while we're there, do a little investigating about gate activity."
"Exactly," said Bent-Tail.
* * *
Hemlock was only an Underhill, a low class of elf, a technician. He wasn't used to making important decisions, only to following policy. Though he often griped about how he would be better at running things than the high and mighty Sidhe the truth was he really didn't want the responsibility. So when he got a call to open the gate for a couple of high-ranking Sidhe who'd been injured in one of those bizarre attacks he simply followed procedure: He quickly notified the Sidhe guard on duty and opened the gate.
He was rather astounded when a large group simply barged through before the guard could arrive, or Hemlock even close the gate. He was terrified when he saw that most of these strangers were shapeshifters, all in their midforms. And two of them were quite large. And one was huge! Each of the two large werewolves were carrying a limp elfin body. Which did nothing to make the situation any less alarming.
"Obble, obble, obble..." said Hemlock, trying to say several different things at once.
"These two were injured by one of the attackers," said the cat-woman. "They weren't hurt badly, but they were rather shaken up. I administered a sedative to calm them. Should wear off in a few hours."
"While, we're here," rumbled the giant, "could we ask a favor? We need to check the gate records for the last hour."
Hemlock swallowed so hard his ears popped.
"I-I'm not a-allowed to leave the controls while I'm on duty," he squeaked.
"So where's the Sidhe officer who's supposed to answer calls for help?" asked the large werewolf on the right. "C'mon; I'm tired of carrying this lug."
"H-he should have answered... by now?"
"There's something wrong here," said Jill, white-furred foxy ears up and swiveling.
She stepped past the nervous Underhill and looked through the open doorway, leaning out to get a good view both left and right.
"Don't see anybody. Don't hear anybody."
"Where's your infirmary?" asked Lisa.
"Guh, guh, guh, down the hall on the right."
"Are you here alone?" asked Jill, returning to the control panel, as Lisa, Jackie and Todd headed out.
"When the Guardian didn't answer I pressed the call button for the Watcher," Hemlock babbled, pointing at the control panel. "He hasn't answered, either!"
The little elf grimaced as he realized he'd just admitted he was alone here.
"If you have someone outside you can call, do it. I think you've got a bigger problem than just one attack."
They got directions and Jackie and Bent-Tail went off to check the gate activity monitoring room. Professor Finlay, until then unnoticed at the back of the group, volunteered to stay in the gate control room. Which made poor Hemlock very nervous, when he realized the mild-looking little man was actually a sloughy.
The decor of the building had been reshaped by elfin magic to resemble the interior of a castle. The walls were well-fitted stone, with numerous tapestries on the walls and expensive, hand-woven rugs covering the floors. Light came from faux torches in sconces on the walls. The result was a very quiet place with many shadows.
"This," murmured Jill, "is spooky."
Bent-Tail nodded. The pair approached the room the Underhill had directed them to, and found the door smashed in. The monitoring room was a wreck, with mysterious paraphernalia shredded and shattered and mixed together with furniture, tapestries and rugs. And one Sidhe body.
"Oh, dandy," sighed Bent-Tail. "Someone was covering their tracks."
Despite the impression this basement gave of being part of a large dungeon complex, it was actually quite small, having only 5 rooms. The werewolf and kitsune checked the storeroom and armory, then headed upstairs. The ground floor contained the public rooms, including a large and well-stocked kitchen. All appeared in order there, so Bent-Tail and Jill crept up the ornately-banistered grand staircase.
Upstairs they quickly saw that one of the rooms had its door smashed open from the inside. Looking in, they saw a single, Sidhe body, plus several large, glass cages. Most contained monstrous creatures, all too familiar to Jill from her work on the incursions. There were also three empty cages. One of those had been forced open, again from the inside. Against one wall stood an odd construction, resembling a more elaborately decorated version of the Underhill's control panel in the basement. It was obviously damaged, with parts blackened and twisted. A strong smell mixed from several types of burnt substances lingered.
"Looks like somebody bit off more than they could chew," observed Bent-Tail.
* * *
"So it was one of the Sidhe," muttered Toole, absently tapping his pen on the desk blotter. "At least, this particular one was involved; I doubt he could have done it alone. Question is, why?"
"Unfortunately, they've brought their politics to this world," sighed Foxx. "And they're almost as bad as the most extreme of cunning human politicians. I know that some factions believe that they - and all supernaturals - should try to restore the secret of our existence, as impossible as that would be. Others want to retreat to Arcadia until humans forget them."
"Y'know, despite the seriousness of this situation, it's reassuring to know humans aren't the only ones who stick their heads in the sand," said Toole, with a wry laugh.
"I have no love for the Sidhe," said Wolfe, "but keep in mind we are talking about extremists, here. They don't represent the majority. And, like any sort of extremists, they will act in ways which seem perfectly logical and reasonable to them, but are difficult for most people to predict. We aren't sure they're even responsible for bringing these things over; they could just be rounding up some that get by us."
"Great," muttered Toole. "I need for you two to work closely with me on this. If supernaturals are brining these things over then they're guilty of manslaughter, several times over, besides the assaults. That means we have to handle this with care, and through the human courts. If some hot-headed Sidhe claims vengeance over the draining attacks we'd have to stop him, or go after him if he succeeds. I'm not looking forward to that."
"That would be a problem," acknowledged Foxx. "Most Sidhe would see the results of such an action as justifiable, and a subsequent arrest and charges filed as human bigotry. You might even have an armed raid on the jail to free the prisoner."
"Our system of laws isn't perfect, but when properly applied it is fair," said Toole, seriously. "And it's fair for everyone. It's important that the Sidhe and all the other supernaturals not only know this, but accept it."
* * *
Not much later, as the sun finally started to set on a long and worrisome day, Foxx and Wolfe exited the precinct building by their usual route.
"Great," sighed Jackie. "The guy immediately involved in the attacks is killed by one of the..."
She was interrupted by a shrill scream of "Fur is murder!" While the two shapeshifters were still trying to fit this incongruity into their world views, the rather dowdy young woman who had yelled swung a small bucket around, sending an arc of vivid purple liquid through the air. Some splashed on the steps and handrails, some spattered on other people nearby, but most went onto Foxx and Wolfe. Since many of those in the area were police officers, both uniform and plain clothes, the woman was quickly wrestled to the sidewalk and cuffed.
"Fur is murder!" she screamed again, as the officers struggled with her. "You should be ashamed of yourselves! Fur is murder!"
If the attack had been with firearms or magic or a bomb the two shapeshifters would have dealt with it quite competently. However, this was so out of left field that they were caught flat-footed, even though Wolfe was digitigrade at the moment.
"What in the name of sanity was that all about?" asked the bewildered werewolf, as the hysterical attacker was dragged into the police station.
She appeared to suddenly realize she was spattered with fluorescent purple stuff and tried to wipe it off, but that just spread it more. Fox sniffed cautiously at the liquid and shook her head.
"It's... just dye. No acid, no carrier for a magical effect. Just... purple dye."
She shrugged, and made the dye go away. Not only from their fur and clothing, but from the steps and the skin and clothing of the bystanders.
"I do not understand humans," said Wolfe, shaking her head.
* * *
Not surprisingly, the next week brought no more attacks - either by magical creatures or demented young women. However, there was another incursion, this time of ur-chows. That was a nasty one. The detective in charge this time was Dan Davis, a man Foxx and Wolfe knew from the Precinct, but with whom they hadn't worked before. Fortunately, Detectives Toole and Thompson had briefed him and introduced him and the settling in difficulties were minor.
Afterwards, the two shapeshifters and Davis met in Toole's office for a debriefing. This was new, and instituted by Toole as a result of the increase in the size of the group working to counter the incursions.
"I'm glad you two were able to help us on this one," said Davis, feelingly. "Chows are fairly big dogs, and often mean. Amplify that by having them used as a pattern by these things..."
"Wait," said Foxx, twigging to something. "'This one'? Have we missed some?"
"One local," said Toole. "It was Monday. After what you'd been through over the previous three days we figured you could use a break. This one was bees. We brought along some hazmat suits and smoke grenades and cleaned them out without much trouble. However, we've also had requests to send our 'special unit' to other cities in the area."
"There is no 'special unit,'" growled Wolfe.
"I told them that. They then asked if I could train some of their people to form one of their own. So, I've been busy the past couple of days going over our experiences in fighting incursions with some people from Cincinnati."
"I didn't know Cincinnati had had an incursion," said Foxx, surprised.
"It was a small one, in a public building, late at night," supplied Toole. "They've kept it quiet, so far. They're hoping to have a special response team in place before another one comes. Whether or not they have any supernatural volunteers."
"Good luck getting any in Cincinnati," said Wolfe, with a gruff laugh. "Weren't they the ones who tried to declare all supernaturals non-human, and require all citizens to carry a proof-of-humanity ID card?"
"Something like that," sighed Foxx. "Being part Asian I paid special attention to their proposal, and what happened because of it. The local minority speakers told the city that there would be riots in the streets if that was tried, out of fear that nobody with dark skin would be able to get a card. The mayor and everyone else in the city government acted surprised, and announced this just proved how necessary such measures were. And got riots. And acted surprised. And used the riots to push through the measures. Which were overturned in the courts. Which decisions were appealed, and overturned again. The second set of appeals is still being heard."
"Which reminds me: what happened with that crazy girl?" asked Wolfe. "The one who splashed dye on us."
"We're still holding her, pending transfer to a mental ward."
"Even though we said we weren't pressing charges?" asked Foxx, surprised.
"She committed a number of crimes with this attack, including assault on several officers," Toole explained. "However, they are all misdemeanor offenses, and normally she would have been freed on bail. We held her at first on suspicion that there was something bigger behind this. There doesn't seem to be, but the psychologist we had examine her authorized the transfer, recommending further evaluation. Says she's exhibiting obvious signs of dissociation, if I remember the jargon he used."
"Told you she was a mental case," muttered Wolfe, with a mixed snarl and smirk.
"So, she is crazy?" asked Foxx.
"I think the fact that no matter how many times we point out that the fur you two wear is yours she keeps screaming about how animals had to die so you could wear it." Toole sighed and shook his head. "Telling her that you grew this fur didn't help. She just yelled that taking fur bearing animals and putting them in cages with the intent of harvesting them for their fur is still a sin, the moreso because you planned it out ahead of time."
"The most bizarre part is that the big, fluffy collar on her coat is dyed rabbit fur," said Davis. "When we pointed this out to her she had a screaming fit. Accused us of trying to taint her message with this ridiculous accusation, and that anyone could see it was synthetic fur."
* * *
As Toole entered the Chief's office he felt his stomach lurch. Not only was the Chief there with a couple of his senior staff, but also waiting for him were three others. Two of them he recognized, from the DA's office, one of those his old "friend" Marcia Putnam. Also in the office was a suit who looked vaguely familiar. Introductions were made, and the Detective's stomach sank even further; the suit was there to represent the Mayor.
"Let's get straight to the point," said the suit, interrupting the Chief as he tried to open the meeting. "Where did you get the authority to incorporate civilians - especially civilians of questionable legal status - into a special police unit."
"I didn't," said Toole, startled.
"Contrary to what the press has said, there is no special unit," said the Chief, quickly. "We do have certain officers assigned to handle these outbreaks, but they're not officially in any separate unit. They are chosen from the general pool because of experience and expertise. And we know of no legal challenges against Foxx and Wolfe."
The suit glanced over at the DA's people, one of whom nodded, just slightly. He sat back, scowling, thinking for a moment.
"Then where did you get the authority to involve civilians in police operations?"
"Kentucky Revised Statutes," said Toole. "I can look up the specific citation, if you want. Basically, police officers can accept - or, in some circumstances, commandeer - civilian aid and resources. If there is a chance the civilians could be actively involved in an arrest, they can even be deputized."
The suit seemed... boggled.
"Are you sure about this?"
"Yes, sir. I even checked with one of the department's legal advisors."
The suit muttered under his breath. The Chief openly smirked.
"But what if this Foxx or Wolfe are injured? Or if they injure some civilian?"
"They have signed wavers, absolving the department of any responsibility for injury, except in the case where it is a direct result of a department member's improper action or decision. And the Good Samaritan law protects them in the second instance. The department is also protected - I checked - as long as, again, there's no gross incompetence on our part."
"Well, I'm not sure I like those exemptions," said Putnam, sourly. "A jury could find almost anything to be the direct result of an officer's actions or decision."
"You aren't going to persuade them to drop that," said Toole. "Not after Wolfe got shot in the back by a uniform on one of the first operations."
That caused a stir.
"Why wasn't this reported?" demanded the suit.
"Because shooting a werewolf with a 9mm round causes her a minor blemish, which heals in under a minute," said Toole, smirking. "I thought you knew that. Anyway, Wolfe told me, but stated she didn't want to jeopardize their efforts by raising a fuss about it. I just made sure that officer didn't participate in any more incursion operations, and got additional firearms safety training."
The look on their faces - even that of the Chief - was gratifying. He wondered how they'd react if he told them the bullet was silver, and the shooting almost certainly a deliberate attempt on Wolfe's life.
"Anyone else have any questions for Detective Toole? If not, I'm sure he needs to get back to his duties."
There were some minor questions about the details of his arrangement with the two shapeshifters. To Toole's relief, nobody asked if he knew who they really were.
"I have question," said Toole, when the others were finished. "Does this mean you're going to alter our procedures? Because if so, you need to be very careful. We have a good thing going, here. These teams are effective, even without Foxx and Wolfe, and their morale is high. Any changes should take the reasons for both those factors into account. Given that other cities are looking to us to help them set up similar programs..."
"Thank you for your advice, Detective Toole," said the suit, coldly. "We will be sure to consult with you before making any changes."
With that, he was dismissed.
* * *
"I resent your implications," said the Sidhe, stiffly.
"I'm not implying anything," said Bent-Tail, easily. "I'm simply asking how one of your most trusted operatives - someone who actually lived in the place where your rescue and gate monitoring operations were based - could do this without anyone knowing."
"We respect each other's privacy," huffed the Sidhe. "Until his actions were revealed through the escape of the captured shapeling we had no reason to think Olliertin was doing anything improper."
"'Shapeling'?" asked Bent-Tail.
"One of the terms the Fey use for the creatures," said Professor Finlay. "Others are 'mutable,' 'formless,' 'unformed,' and several similar terms, plus some others."
"'Shapeling' will do, I guess," said Bent-Tail, with a wry chuckle and shake of his head.
"You guess," hissed the Sidhe lord. "This is a serious matter! I'd prefer you do better than guess!"
With that he jumped up and stormed out.
"What brought that on?" wondered Bent-Tail, baffled.
"Fear and uncertainty," replied Finlay. "Fear of you, of humans, of the consequences of his own actions for giving Olliertin his position of responsibility, and uncertainty over all of that and more."
"Figures," muttered Bent-Tail. "And yet they still deny there was anyone else involved, and refuse to allow anyone besides them investigate."
"I have a feeling their own investigation is ongoing," said Finlay. "The announcement that Olliertin acted alone is partly to allay the concerns of his allies, and partly to give them a reason to handle said allies privately when discovered."
"And it's more likely to blow up in their faces than go as they hope," said Bent-Tail.
"I'm afraid so," Finlay sighed.
* * *
"Another week, another night hunting vermin," groaned Wolfe, as she carefully lowered herself into the chair.
"Are you sure you're all right?" asked Thompson, concerned. "I know you're tough and heal fast, but..."
"'Butt' is right," snickered Foxx. "Oh, don't worry. She's healing nicely. I checked at the scene to make sure there wasn't anything more to it than just a bad bite on the rump."
The preliminary report was soon completed and signed, a new requirement since Toole's meeting with the Chief et al. Wolfe scrawled her nom de guerre writ large, while Foxx left her pawprint.
"We finally figured out what was going on with that girl who splashed you two with dye," said Thompson, suddenly remembering. "Turns out she thinks shapeshifters have to use an animal pelt to change."
"Well, some wizards use that method, but they're not real shapeshifters," sniffed Foxx.
"Yeah," grunted Wolfe. "Just for the record, neither of us, or any true werewolves or other real shapeshifters we know of have to do that. We just... change."
"That's what I'd gathered."
"In a way, I'm relieved," sighed Foxx. "At least she had a reason, even if it was something which didn't really apply to us."
"I'm not," growled Wolfe.
* * *
Later, back home in their apartment, Jill was relaxing on the couch, watching TV and eating pistachio ice cream.
"School tomorrow, fox gal," Jackie reminded her, as she exited the bathroom. "Better get in bed."
"I'm all ready," Jill replied, stifling a yawn. "Just let me finish watching the... Oh, shit!"
"What?" said Jackie, quickly reversing course.
The kitsune pointed to the TV, where a crude drawing of a werewolf carrying a body towards a car in a parking lot was on the screen. The werewolf figure had no tail, and the breasts were exaggerated, and the car simply a boxy outline.
"Witnesses say that after attacking the youths, the two werewolves escaped into the night," the newscaster reported. "However, a few minutes later, one of them was seen carrying a naked man to a car nearby. Who the man was and what happened to the other werewolf are unknown."
"Oh, SHIT!!" yelled Jackie.
They watched for further details, but that was the last story.
"Set the VCR for the next news program," said Jackie, desperately. "I'll update my clipping service."
"Shouldn't we call somebody?"
"But... Jackie, there's so many involved. If you're caught, I'm caught, and your dad and brothers. And if I'm caught my dad and brothers and sisters are caught. And if all of them are..."
"Nobody's caught anybody yet!" snapped Jackie. "Somebody in the gang must have talked, and caught a reporter's ear. So far all they have is next to nothing. If they had more - like my license plate number - they'd have told the police already, and the police would've done something."
"Okay," said Jill, uncertainly. "But... we're really going to have to check this out."
"I know, Jill, I know."
*All too sadly inspired by real-life events. Cincinnati is the city where - during a meeting between minority leaders and city officials to reduce interracial tensions - a high-ranking police officer grabbed a representative of the NAACP by the necktie and tried to drag him off the stage. There have been many other examples, including - yes - riots in the streets, some of them after a black man was shot multiple times in the back by police officers. The city acted surprised at the resulting criticism, saying the officers were just doing their jobs, and if the neighborhoods were that close to rioting, the officers were even more justified in being careful. Argh...
END Part 4
This document is Copyright 2002 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reproduce it must obtain permission from the author, who can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org