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Written Story Sinnoh Mature Gijinka Refracted Shadows; a blind Brilliant Diamond storylocke

Extravanganza Accordian Demo
Thread Description
(Now in storylocke form, because IRL.) In a Sinnoh where individuals can draw upon the power of Pokemon with mysterious Stones, a handful of individuals stumble upon a mysterious conspiracy. Updates every other Monday.

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
1) Pokemon that faint are considered dead and must be released.
2) Catch only the first Pokemon encountered on a route.
2a) Shiny Clause
2b) Evo Dupes' Clause
2c) Gift Clause
3) All Pokemon must be nicknamed.

And as noted in the title, this was also a blind run - a completely blind run, I never played the original Gen IV either. About the extent of my knowledge about Sinnoh when I started was that the Champion is called Cynthia and she has a scary Garchomp.

The bang of the gavel's strike was like a gunshot. He was expecting it, but he still jumped.

"The Republic of Sinnoh vs Roark Ferruccio. Court is now in session."

The judge sounded bored. Bored already. He supposed she couldn't very well be blamed – after all, everyone knew what the outcome of the trial was going to be. You couldn't get a more open-and-shut case if you tried.

The prosecutor rose to her feet with a rustle of paper. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. You've all heard of the Ferrucio crime family. The Republic will prove that Roark Ferrucio is not only a member, but a high-ranking enforcer for the family." The prosecutor turned to fix Roark with a look. "And that on the evening of the 25th​ of Herran, that man – Roark Ferrucio – murdered an innocent woman in cold blood!"

They'd looked her up when they'd heard she'd been assigned the case – Cassie Connor, a new name they'd never heard before. Some high-up thought she had a promising career and assigned her a big case that even a rookie prosecutor couldn't possibly lose. She obviously knew it was make-or-break for her, didn't know what an easy opportunity had been dropped in her lap.

"The Republic calls former Detective Tanel Moller."

Former detective. Like Connor had to rub it in. He kept his expression level as he took the stand, resisted the urge to fidget. It was just another case. Just another witness testimony. Roark was just another criminal.

This time there was no way he could wriggle out of it. The case was watertight.

And yet Roark looked so relaxed. The judge had scolded him before the jury had been brought in for leaning back in his chair with his feet up on the desk. And even now he was as casual as anything, meeting Tanel's gaze and flashing a cocky smirk.

"Mr Moller, you were the first on the scene of the murder. Can you recount the events that led to your pursuit and arrest of the defendant?"

"Yes, ma'am." His throat was suddenly dry. He coughed into his fist, hoping it wasn't too obvious, as if all the eyes in the courtroom weren't on him. "There was a report of a break-in to a residential property. My partner – Sanja Holt – and I were off-duty, but we were the nearest officers, so we responded. When we arrived, all the lights were out, and we found the victim on the floor, badly wounded." That fear in her eyes. Had she known she was going to die? Known that they were too late to save her? "I heard a noise from the adjacent room. While my partner stayed with the victim, I investigated and found –" he caught himself from saying 'Ferruccio,' kept his tone level "- the defendant trying to open the back door, holding a knife. I ordered him to stop, but he shifted and broke the door to run. I caught up with him, tackled him and arrested him."

"Hmm." The prosecutor paused for a few moments as though considering the testimony, then pulled a picture from a folder she had tucked under her arm, waved it slowly in front of the jury's faces like she was doing a magic trick and wanting them to watch closely before turning it to show him. "Now, Mr Moller, was this the weapon you took from the defendant?"

"Yes, it was."

"Hmm. When you interviewed the defendant, did he offer any kind of explanation for what he was doing outside the victim's house?"

"He said he was out for a walk."

"Hmm." It was like she was a broken record. "No further questions, Your Honour."

The defence counsel was on her feet like a jack-in-the-box. He knew her by reputation, at least – Gia De Palma. He almost felt bad for her, getting a case like this. Almost. Such was the life of an expensive defence lawyer. "So, Mr Moller, you don't have the Spark, correct?"

He could already see where this was going. It wasn't surprising. "No."

"And your partner does. But it was you and not her that investigated a potential threat." She paused, just for a moment, as though considering the observation – giving the jury the chance to reflect that it was strange if you didn't know what police protocol was – before returning to her questions. "In your testimony you said Mr Ferruccio shifted. Did you know beforehand that he had the Spark?"

"Yes, I did." He'd only been on the department's shit list for the past five years – mostly with the hope of flipping him on his dad, but he was a piece of scum on his own merit as well.

"What visual evidence was there that Mr Ferruccio used his Essence?"

"He grew spikes from his head. And headbutted a solid wooden door into splinters."

"It was dark in the house, you said? You must have good eyesight to be able to spot the spikes of a Cranidos shift. In any case, another question. When you arrested Mr Ferrucio, it was outside the victim's property. Now, there was no damage to the fence of the victim's garden the way there was to the back door – I presume you and the killer both vaulted the fence?"

"Yeah."

"So, then, there must have been a few moments during which the killer was out of your sight, in that brief period after they had climbed over the fence before you did the same. Especially if they had the speed and agility of a shift on their side." She waited for a moment. "Was the killer in your sight the whole time?"

"No, he wasn't."

De Palma nodded. "From our investigations, our estimate is that the killer was out of your sight for five or six seconds. So, then, you connected Mr Ferrucio to the crime scene when you saw him after jumping over the fence on the basis that you knew he had the power of a Cranidos, and knew that – as you yourself noted just a moment ago – the killer had the strength to smash a door like it was made of paper."

"And on the basis that he was holding the murder weapon." And that he'd seen Roark's face, his smirk. But he wasn't going to say that, that left too much opportunity for her to call his testimony into doubt.

De Palma nodded. "Of course, of course. Which the killer could easily have tossed aside in those few seconds they were out of your sight, but let's leave that aside for now." She held up one hand, a gaudy ring obvious on her finger, and shifted in a shimmer of orange light. "I'm sure some of you can recognise my ear fins –" she tucked her hair behind them to make them more obvious "– but for those who don't know, I have the Essence of a Magikarp. One of, if not the, weakest Pokemon out there. And I'm not a fighter. I've never been in a fight in my life, in fact. But – and no offence – I would be fairly confident in saying that shifted like this, you wouldn't stand a chance at apprehending me if I chose to resist. Nor would any other human in the Republic. Do you agree, Mr Moller?"

As if he needed reminding how powerful the Spark was. "Yeah."

She turned away from him, letting her shift fade. "People of the jury –" she emphasised it just enough to draw attention to the prosecutor's misstep if it had gone unnoticed "- the prosecution are trying to paint Mr Ferruccio as a hardened criminal, a vicious killer. And yet they expect us to believe that this 'dangerous' man with the power of a powerful Rock-Type didn't even try to shift to stop himself being arrested when it would have been trivially easy to do so. When he had supposedly already shifted in his escape attempt."

Even Roark wasn't stupid enough to attack a cop shifted. He'd returned to normal when Tanel had caught up with him rather than risk any Essence being scattered that forensics could've picked up. De Palma knew that, of course. She'd been around long enough. She wasn't going to say it.

"One more thing, Mr Moller. It is Mr Moller now? Not Detective Moller? Of course, as you said, you don't have the Spark. Now, the unfortunate death of the victim occurred on the 25th​ Herran, and the federal mandate prohibiting humans from serving in the police and military came into force on the 1st​ Phoenii, less than a week later. A dozen years of exemplary service thrown away because…what, you can't bond with a Stone?" She pulled her ring off and tossed it up in the air casually, catching it again before looking back at him. Was that genuine sympathy in her eyes, or just an act? "That must have been a blow. I imagine if the chance to prove that you didn't need the Essence of a Pokemon to protect the city of Oreburgh came up, you would have taken it. And lo and behold, you come across a murder scene and a known Pokemon – a Pokemon who you were no doubt under pressure to arrest if you had the opportunity, judging from the police harassment cases settled by the city."

"Objection, Your Honour!" Connor was back on her feet. "Badgering the witness."

"Sustained. Counsel will ask a question or dismiss the witness."

That objection should've come far earlier than that. The damn rookie prosecutor was managing to mess even this up.

De Palma smiled and nodded to the jury, her point well and truly already made. "No further questions, Your Honour."

Tanel tuned out as Connor laboriously went through the facts of the murder. He was pretty sure he wasn't the only one, not that the fledgeling prosecutor noticed the dreary expressions on the faces of the jury. The judge breaking for recess couldn't come soon enough, and he sat down on a bench outside the court with a squashed sandwich bought from a stall across the road.

"You doing okay?" He turned around to see a familiar figure approaching, gave her an idle wave and a small sigh.

"Sure, I guess."

She was in uniform – the new uniform, the one with the Stone clasp and Essence weave through it, and he couldn't help but feel a pang of envy. She noticed. Of course she did. They knew each other better than anyone else. It had been six months since he'd been ejected from the force, but it hadn't changed that. "Sorry," she said quietly. "With you not being allowed to wear uniform, the brass told me I had to."

"It's okay," he lied. "Anyway, what are you doing here?" he asked, as she sat down next to him.

"Oh, bloody De Palma subpoenaed me. I swear, if she tries to use my testimony to keep going with that line she was using I'll blast her out the window. What she did in there was totally out of line."

He couldn't help but chuckle. "So violent," he teased her. "It's fine. It's literally her job to present the best defence possible. A case like this, she's got to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Besides, it's not going to make a difference whether she paints me as some bitter ex-cop or not."

"I know." She paused for a few moments. "Look, Tanel, I'm sorry I haven't spoken to you in a while," she said quietly. "I just…I figured maybe you could do with a clean break rather than having me around reminding you we used to be a team."

"Hey, we're still a team." He nudged her lightly with one elbow. "Just because I'm not a cop any more doesn't change that, right?"

She smiled. "Sure." They both knew it would. That it had. "Anyway, how's PI work treating you?"

It had been Sanja who'd found the loophole, that he didn't have to have the Spark to get a private investigator's licence even if only those with the Spark could be cops any more. And he was grateful for it, it was the closest he'd ever get to being a cop now, but…"Slowly," he answered, after a few moments' thought.

"That bad, huh?"

They didn't say anything for a long few moments.

"Anyway, how's your new partner?" he asked.

She took the hint, let him move the topic on. "Green as anything and stiff as if someone rammed a board down his spine," she smirked. "He keeps telling me what he was taught at the academy like it's gospel."

"Be nice, we were both like that once."

"Oh, trust me, even you weren't this bad."

"Hey, I seem to recall you being pretty uptight at times yourself," he retorted.

They leant back on the bench slightly, looking into the grey sky.

He'd missed this.

Sometimes when a case was bugging them they used to just sit quietly together like this. More often than not that was how they got their breakthroughs, their new ideas.

Their phones chimed to signal the end of the recess. "Ready to be bored to death by our good prosecutor again?" Sanja asked wryly.

"You know it."

The trial took most of the week. Just as they'd expected, De Palma continued trying to paint Tanel as a reckless cop desperate for a collar, calling not just Sanja but his old captain to the stand, circling back around to the 'police harassment' that she'd alluded to during his cross-examination. He was just glad she hadn't looked into his dad. That was a barrel of worms that he didn't want opening.

But he could see the look in De Palma's eyes. She was pretty good at the suave, confident act but she knew her efforts were futile just as much as the rest of them did. It didn't matter how unreliable she made the jury think he was when Roark had been stupid enough to use his Essence to attack his victim and changed his story twice.

Finally, though, the two lawyers had finished dredging up the most thorough arguments they could, and the jury was sent away to deliberate. Captain Reiger stopped by to tell him that no matter what happened he'd done a good job. Just the same way everyone on the force had congratulated him when he'd brought in Roark – right before waving him goodbye as he was forced to resign because he didn't have the power of a Pokemon to call on.

"Have the jury come to a conclusion?" the judge asked, as the foreman stood up to address the court.

"We have, Your Honour. On the charge of the murder of Laura Vesten, we find the defendant Roark Ferruccio…"

Roark still had that arrogant grin on his face.

"…not guilty."
 

bumblebee

Kanto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3139
Caught
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
161
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her/hers
Pokémon Type
  1. Water
  2. Flying
Pokédex Entry
This pokemon flits from new idea to new idea, never able to settle down.
Ooooo!! This is such a strong start 👀 Tanel's voice is really strong, you can absolutely feel his desperation in not being able to Shift
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah, Tanel's history with the Spark and shifting the powers of Pokemon is a...complicated one, but not having that power is definitely something he wishes could change.

'Not guilty.'

It was like the jury foreman's words still echoed in his mind.

The sound of the reporter on the TV, crackly with static, was like a piercing shriek in his ears. "Four hours ago, Roark Ferrucio was acquitted of a savage murder in a shock decision. The case was held behind closed doors, so it's still unclear what evidence was provided, but speaking on condition of anonymity, sources familiar with the case have confirmed that it was widely assumed to be a certain conviction for the son of billionaire Byron Ferrucio. The Ferrucio Foundation have just a few minutes ago released a statement -"

"Hey, buddy, can you turn that off?" Tanel slurred, gesturing in the direction of the TV.

The bartender looked at him primly, before his attention was drawn over Tanel's shoulder. Tanel turned to follow his gaze and then looked back at the man, a flicker of irritation in his eyes.

"Seriously, Ray?"

Sanja wasn't in uniform any more. That was something, at least. But she came straight towards him, mouthing a 'thank you' to the bartender.

"Go 'way," Tanel grumbled, as she put her arm around him to try to pull him out of his seat.

She rolled her eyes. "Okay, time to go." There was a shimmer of light and he found himself dragged up to a standing posture, stumbling as he tried to find his balance.

"Look, thanks for comin' and all, but I don't need your help."

She scoffed, the fact that he was only managing to stay standing because she was holding him up a pretty good rebuttal to that claim. "You want those reporters to find you like this?"

He tried to pull away and sit back down. "Like it'd make anything worse. Everything's gone to dist anyway." She was holding him with one hand. He might as well have tried to stop a freight train.

Sanja paused before they got to the door of the bar. After a moment, he looked up into an unexpected face.

"You in the wrong bar, counselor?" Maybe it was a good thing he was too drunk to stand on his own.

De Palma looked him up and down for a moment. "Could be worse, I suppose," she reflected. "And no. I was looking for you."

"What do you want?" Sanja asked. Tanel felt her move slightly, putting herself more directly between him and De Palma. Of course, De Palma had the Spark too. How could he forget after her showboating?

"Not you. Him." She stepped a little closer. Tanel saw the faint shimmer of energy building in Sanja's Stone on her bracer. "You're a private investigator now." It wasn't a question. "I want to hire you to –"

"No."

"I haven't told you what I want you to do yet."

Tanel paused before repeating his refusal. There was…something…in her tone. He sighed. "Fine. What's so important that you can't hire one of your real expensive investigators?"

"I want you to find out how Roark was cleared."

Tanel blinked, shared a glance with Sanja. Of all the things they could have expected, that wasn't one of them.

"Ain't you supposed to be happy about that? You got your client off something everyone said was a watertight case."

"You and I both know my arguments had nothing to do with that," De Palma retorted.

They sat down at a table in the corner. Sanja stayed shifted. "How'd you even find me?" Tanel asked.

"I researched you for the trial, remember? You still see yourself as a police officer, and after that show –" she gestured with a perfectly manicured hand towards the TV "- you'd want to get as drunk as humanly possible. There aren't that many cop bars."

"Maybe you oughta be a detective. Feel like changing careers?"

"Given what happened? Maybe I should consider it."

He couldn't tell if she was joking.

"And if this doesn't work I'm going to be looking for a new job anyway." She was holding a briefcase that she set down on the table with a loud thunk, swivelling it so the clasps faced them.

"What's this?" Tanel looked at it, back at her, and reached out with one hand towards the briefcase.

"Ferrucio Junior gave it to me. To 'thank me for my expertise and loyalty.' In a public, crowded space." Tanel flicked the case open, his eyes widened, and he snapped it shut again hastily.

That much money had a sobering effect. "How much..?"

"I haven't touched it. But probably millions." Her Stone shimmered faintly with orange light, responding to her anger. "The bastard's trying to set me up, give the police someone to look at while he buries the evidence of the real corruption, let them tie the case up with a neat little bow the way he wants." She paused for a moment to look at Sanja. "No offence."

Sanja didn't reply.

"The bar's already talking about opening an investigation into me."

"Too quick." Tanel didn't say anything else, his gaze fixed on De Palma's, on those eyes that shimmered with the Spark, trying to push away the instinctive flicker of envy the way he always had, until he finally spoke again after seconds that felt a lot longer. "It really wasn't you, huh?" he asked, quietly. His voice was gentler than it had been, and Sanja paused, looking over at him briefly before sighing and de-shifting, beige and black feathers retreating away into her arms.

"No. It wasn't." But as harsh as her tone was, there was relief in De Palma's eyes.

Tanel leant back in his chair. "Fine. What do you know?"

De Palma shrugged. "Not much, except my guess is he planned on doing this from the very start. He told me he wouldn't take a plea deal the first time we met. He leant me a legal assistant who came to court with me."

"To learn about the jury while you were selecting them."

"And you didn't think that was suspicious?" Sanja asked, derision clear in her tone.

"Of course I did," she retorted. "But in case it skipped your attention, he was denied bail. He was in prison. The only times he got to talk to anyone without being recorded was when he was talking to me, and I can damn well promise you I didn't tell him anything he wasn't allowed to know."

"So basically, you don't have any useful information." Sanja shook her head.

"I'm not finished." De Palma paused for a moment. "I don't know for sure, but…I think he's done this before. Used lawyers and burned them, same way he's trying to do to me. Not for a murder case, maybe, but…there were rumours about him. Colleagues – friends – told me I shouldn't defend him. That it could harm my career. I thought they just meant taking on a case I had no chance at winning, but…" She trailed off. "I looked into it after the court was dismissed. Three lawyers already turned him down before he came to me."

"So why didn't you turn him down? The money that good?"

De Palma glared at Sanja briefly before returning her attention to Tanel. "I didn't do it for the money." She sighed. "I did it because no-one else would. I believe in our legal system. I believe that the best way to get justice is for the jury to be presented with the best possible prosecution and defence." She chuckled briefly, humourlessly. "Feel free to laugh now."

Tanel shook his head. "We're not gonna laugh at that."

The three of them were quiet for a few moments. "Do you know of anyone else who's worked for Roark – or the Ferrucio family – as a lawyer?" Sanja asked. If she still doubted De Palma, she was hiding it from her tone now, for Tanel if nothing else. "Anyone else he might have framed like this, if you're right?"

De Palma shook her head. "No. And right now I doubt I'd be allowed access to the information. It would look too suspicious, a lawyer suspected of corruption looking for other lawyers who'd been in the same situation. That was where I was hoping you could come in," she added, looking to Tanel. "You must still have contacts from when you were a detective, right?"

"Not many. And given how much pushback we got trying to convince the prosecutors to charge him…" Tanel looked over to Sanja. "What about you?"

She shook her head. "I've already been 'asked' not to open another investigation into the case. Orders from on high. But…" Sanja hesitated briefly before continuing. "There's one person who might have information about past cases on the Ferrucios."

Tanel narrowed his eyes. "No." Sanja raised her eyebrows. "He's unstable, Sanja. Deluded. He thinks he's tailed every time he goes to buy milk, for Arc's sake."

"That's what you said when he told you Roark would be acquitted," Sanja retorted. "And now look where we are." She raised her hands slightly, defensively. "Look, I'm not saying it's a good idea, or even that ten percent of the stuff he claims is true. But right now it seems like it's our only idea."

Tanel massaged his head. "Damn it. Fine. I'm getting a drink."

"Who are you talking about?" De Palma asked, as Tanel sloped back to the bar to order another whisky. "And what does getting a drink have to do with anything?"

"It has to do with me not being drunk enough to deal with him right now!" Tanel called back, ignoring the irritated looks the other patrons at the bar gave him.

"The guy we're talking about," Sanja explained more quietly, "the guy who's probably our only lead into figuring out what happened to get Roark acquitted…" She sighed. "It's Tanel's dad."
 

bumblebee

Kanto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3139
Caught
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
161
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her/hers
Pokémon Type
  1. Water
  2. Flying
Pokédex Entry
This pokemon flits from new idea to new idea, never able to settle down.
OOOOOO super suspicious that the prosecutor wants Tanel to find out what happened! Maybe I'm wrong, but it feels odd that she would suddenly switch sides; I'm sensing a trap? 👀 Is Tanel's dad going to be one of those folks super into conspiracies? Because if so, it's going to get super interesting real fast
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah, De Palma's about turn is pretty sudden, but Tanel decided to trust her, for reasons that definitely aren't to do with the case against Roark being the last thing he did as a cop, not at all, nope. 😆

As for Tanel's dad...well, read on and see!

"So this is his definition of being drunk enough to deal with his father?" De Palma asked, watching Sanja bundle Tanel into the back of her car.

Sanja turned and gave her a withering stare, considering for a few moments if Tanel would understand if she just drove off without the lawyer. Sadly, she doubted he would. "Get in," she said instead, with a brusque nod to the passenger seat.

De Palma changed tack. "So…there's something that confused me about your arrest of Ferrucio Jr. Why did Moller investigate, and you stay behind?"

Sanja scoffed, ramming the car into first with far more vitriol than the unfortunate vehicle deserved as they set off. "You're the fancy defence lawyer. You're going to tell me you don't know?"

"You don't like me, do you?"

"Took you that long to work that one out?" Sanja sighed, glancing back briefly at Tanel in the back of the car before returning her attention to the road. "Tanel went because he always does. Always did," she corrected herself, trying not to let De Palma hear the sadness in her tone. "If we use our Stones straight up the minute we think there's a threat, lawyers like you will frame it as aggressiveness, lack of control, whatever, and use it to keep criminals like Roark on the streets. So we can't just go in shifted. And without the power of my Spark to make up for it, Tanel's tougher than I am." She gave a small shrug. "So he goes first. We figured out it made more sense a long time ago, and it works."

"What if he did face a Pokemon?"

Sanja's hands tightened on the steering wheel for a moment. She didn't answer.

The drive only took quarter of an hour. Sanja parked outside an apartment building as De Palma looked back at the sleeping Tanel. "Do you have some water or something?"

Sanja shook her head. "Probably best to leave him for now."

"Isn't it his father we're here to see?"

"Yeah." Sanja met De Palma's expectant look for a few moments before giving an irritated sigh. "Tanel and his dad…they don't exactly get on. Come on."

The apartment building was unassuming enough. De Palma tried to sneak a look at the letterboxes, but she couldn't see one labelled 'Moller.' Sanja seemed to know where she was going, though, leading De Palma up to the fourth floor – or rather, walking up to the fourth floor and expecting De Palma to keep up.

"It's pretty late," she said, as Sanja stopped outside one of the apartment doors. "Maybe we should come back tomorrow?"

"What's the matter?" Sanja retorted. "I thought you wanted to find out the truth as soon as possible."

"I do, but if Moller's relationship with his father is as strained as you say, we want the best chance of getting the information out of him. Waiting until a more reasonable hour –"

"Would give Roark all the more time to cover his tracks. Funny how you're suddenly trying to slow us down as soon as you learned we might actually have a lead." Sanja flashed her a harsh grin and knocked on the door.

For a moment there was no answer, and then there was a quiet "Aw, dist!" from the other side of the door.

"Detective Ballard?" Sanja leant closer to the door. "It's Sanja Holt. I worked with Tanel on the force."

"Yeah, yeah, I know who you are, I'm coming, I'm coming!" There was a loud rustling from somewhere inside the apartment that almost drowned out Ballard's voice before footsteps approached the door and it swung open.

Ballard was a tall, burly man, and once upon a time he might have looked imposing – but the raggedy, shoulder-length hair and matted beard diminished the intimidating factor somewhat. So did the dressing gown.

But his eyes were bright and intelligent, and luminescent gold, and De Palma couldn't help but flinch slightly as he turned to look at her. "Who's she?"

"Gia De Palma. Roark's lawyer."

"The dist's she doing here then?" But for all his gruff words, Ballard stepped aside to let them in, closing the door behindthem.

The apartment building was much better-maintained than De Palma had expected given its owner's appearance. The curtains were drawn, drowning out most of the noise of the road outside, and the lights bathed the room in a warm, golden glow.

De Palma glanced over at Sanja, who gave her a small nod.

"I hired your son to look into the case. To look into how Roark was found innocent."

"Pah. There's your first mistake, Counsellor, hiring my son." The way he said 'Counsellor' was almost identical to the way Tanel had.

"We thought you might have some information about some past cases involving Roark."

"Oh, you did, did you?" Ballard turned one of the kitchen chairs and sat down, looking at Sanja and gesturing for the two women to sit. "Well, keeping case files at my home would be illegal now I'm retired, wouldn't it, kid? You'd about have to arrest me for it."

"You predicted Roark would be found innocent despite all the evidence against him." Sanja met Ballard's gaze evenly as she took a chair of her own. "How?"

"I was on the force forty years. Ran across the Ferrucios more than once. Any cop on the force could've told you that was gonna happen."

"And yet none of them did."

"That says something about the calibre of people you get on the force these days, don't it?" Ballard sighed. "Look, Sanja, you're welcome to stay for a coffee, or something stronger, but you want my advice? Go home. Don't let my son drag you into more of his messes. 'Cos I don't have the answers you want."

"Don't give me that shit."

De Palma jumped and looked around as Tanel stumbled through the doorway and into the apartment.

"Breaking into my house now?" Ballard scoffed.

Tanel ignored him. "Hey, Counsellor." There was an edge to his tone, unmistakeable even under the slurring. "You're pretty perceptive and all. You're wondering why my surname's Moller when his is Ballard, right?"

He leant back against the kitchen counter, looking over at her. And somehow even without the Spark in his eyes, it was harder to meet his gaze than it had been his father's.

"Moller was my mom's surname. She died, when I was seventeen. And my dad decided that it wasn't possible that it could've just been an accident, that it had to be some big conspiracy that had taken her away from him." He looked over at Ballard. "And now you're gonna tell us that you've suddenly packed up everything and accepted it?"

Ballard's eyes were cold and hard. "Maybe I have."

Tanel laughed. It was a grim, mirthless sound. "Like dist. You start out reluctant, and make some minor concessions to make them think they're making progress even though you're steering them where you want. Then you use Sanja's name to bring back the human, emotional element. You forget you taught me how to manipulate people to avoid giving answers?"

He fell quiet for a moment, clenching his fists tightly.

"When I tried to talk to you after the lake, you just shut me down. Shut Barry and Dawn right out of my life and to dist with what I wanted, what I needed. Because that's what you do when you don't want to think about something, you just refuse to allow anyone to remind you about it. If you really had dropped it, you wouldn't be offering a nice little tea party, you'd be throwing us out the damn door. So don't for a second think that I'm gonna believe you've dropped it, especially now."

De Palma shifted uncomfortably. Would any of them even notice if she left? She took her eyes off the two for a moment to look over at Sanja; the other woman met her gaze, and there was a little sympathy in her eyes.

"And you know something else?" Tanel continued. "All this?" He gave a sweeping, expansive gesture to encompass the apartment – a movement that left him unbalanced and stumbling. "It's all exactly how it was when Mom died. The table, the chairs, the wallpaper…it's even the same kind of flowers in the vase." He paused, and looked up at the curtains his stumbling had brought him near, reaching up a hand towards the fabric. "So why'd you change the drapes?"

"Don't -!" Electricity crackled as Ballard shifted, crossing halfway across the room before his toppling chair had even hit the ground.

But even the speed of his shift wasn't enough, and Tanel pulled the curtains open.

It wasn't a window on the other side – or if it was, it was obscured behind a large board that was itself almost entirely obscured by newspaper clippings, papers and photographs, various pins and thread and handwritten sticky notes bringing something approaching order to the chaos.

De Palma realised she was staring, her mouth slightly open, and risked a glance over at Sanja. There was a faintest hint of a smirk on her face.

"Son of a…" Ballard grumbled. His star-tipped tail swished irritably behind him.

"What's the matter?" Tanel asked, scornfully. "Wait, don't tell me – you decided you absolutely had to be the one who arrests Byron Ferrucio and no-one else was allowed to, and now we're threatening your little conspiracy theory?"

Ballard sighed. "Look, kid. You have no idea what you're getting into. This is so much bigger than you –"

"We have more important things to do than listen to your conspiracy theories on how the rich and powerful of Sinnoh are in some League of criminals manipulating the country how they want," Tanel interrupted. "We just want whatever files you have on past cases involving Roark. Then you can go back to being a crazy old man on your own, just the way you like it."

Sparks crackled across Ballard's body. "You think I like this?"

Tanel sighed. "You want the truth?" And when he next spoke, his voice was softer, gentler than it had been since he'd first arrived. "I think you're so scared of growing close to anyone that you've convinced yourself that anyone who gets close is going to get hurt. Because pushing everyone away is easier than being hurt the way you were when Mom died."

Ballard didn't say anything for a moment, and then he de-shifted, returning to his normal form, leaning down and picking up the chair he'd knocked over. "I'll give you the files you want, kid. But only on one condition."

"What now?"

"You look at it all. Not just the files on Roark, all of it - without just tossing it aside as me being a crazy old man." He looked away from his son and to the other two.

"But if you go down this path…there may not be a way back."
 

bumblebee

Kanto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3139
Caught
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
161
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her/hers
Pokémon Type
  1. Water
  2. Flying
Pokédex Entry
This pokemon flits from new idea to new idea, never able to settle down.
The way he said 'Counsellor' was almost identical to the way Tanel had.
Side note, love how you added this detail of how Tanel and Ballard (also absolutely adore how his name literally means "Bald Man" 😂) are still alike, even if they butt heads.

The intro to his dad was so fascinating!! The fact that Ballard is can shift, but Tanel can't. Theory time: Mom also couldn't shift and she ended up dying because of good ol' Pop, which is why Tanel is so intent on proving himself as powerful even if he himself can't use Stones
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
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Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
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Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
I wish I could say that was intended with Ballard's surname, I plucked it out of thin air as I was writing lol. As for the theory...well, you're part right, but there's a bit more of it yet to be revealed...

"He got over being drunk real fast," De Palma muttered to Sanja, as they watched Tanel and Ballard dump box after box of documents on the table. They were hidden all over the apartment – in kitchen cupboards, wardrobes, under the bed…there was even one hidden at the bottom of a bin that Ballard promised he never actually used as a bin. None of them believed him.

Sanja gave an amused little grin. "Yeah, he does that. Trust me, me being the one to drag his drunk ass out of a bar is unusual. It always used to be the other way around."

She'd seemingly warmed up to the lawyer a little – maybe because acting friendly with her saved her having to get involved in the evidently-longstanding argument between Tanel and his father.

"I'm surprised you didn't know who he was." Sanja looked over at her. "You looked Tanel up for the trial, didn't you?"

"Yeah, but I didn't find much on Mr Moll…uh, Mr Ballard," De Palma admitted. "I guess my PI didn't think to look up his parents' surnames. Not that it matters," she added, grimly.

“Hey, Holt.” Sanja paused as Ballard beckoned her away from the others. “You trust her?” he asked quietly, nodding at De Palma as the other woman turned her attention to the contents of the boxes.

Sanja gave a small shrug. “It wouldn’t surprise me if everything she said was true. And some of the things she said broke privilege, so if she is working for Roark, she’s risking her job even more when we could report her. But do I trust her? No.”

“Then why’d you –”

“Because Tanel does.” She sighed, quietly. “Look…it’d be pretty hard to be a detective if you can’t read people, but Tanel’s better than anyone else on the force.”

“Was better,” Ballard corrected her. “He ain’t on the force any more.” She gave him a look, and he sighed. “Yeah, yeah, carry on.”

“So no, I don’t trust her, but Tanel thinks she’s telling the truth. And I trust him.” Sanja paused for a moment. “Maybe you should too, sir.”

"So this is your plan?" Tanel's question was loud enough to make them jump as he set another box on the table, unnecessarily forcefully. "Make us read through so much junk that we're here for the next week combing through all this for what we actually need?"

Ballard scoffed, and whatever momentary gentleness there had been in his gaze after Sanja’s words was gone. "What did I tell you about agreeing to deals before you know what they entail, kid? But no. Most of this is just what you called it, junk. I keep it separate to stop anyone realising what I've connected the dots if they search my house."

"Right, because your mysterious League are so scared of you that they're going to break into your house to check you haven't found out about them," Tanel retorted, sarcastically.

Ballard put a hand into the box Tanel had put down, riffled through a few sheets of paper, and shoved a photograph at his son's chest. "Someone was."

Despite himself, Tanel sat down next to De Palma and Sanja so all three of them could see at the picture.

There was no denying that it was the apartment. The corner of the shot even had the vase of flowers. But the figure in the centre of the shot was definitely not Ballard. It was a slim, younger man, wearing a long coat and gloves.

"The management sent me an email telling me that they would be showing a potential new tenant around," Ballard explained, calling over his shoulder as he retrieved a handful of documents from a kitchen drawer. "I was out that day."

De Palma looked between Tanel and Sanja. They both had almost identical expressions, narrowed eyes as they looked at the picture. "What?" she asked.

Tanel sighed, irritably, but he didn't answer.

Sanja gave him an expectant look for couple of moments before rolling her eyes slightly and explaining. "If that's the superintendent, where are the people he's showing around? I've never lived in an apartment building where people are just allowed to traipse around someone's flat to see what it's like without any supervision."

"Yeah, and they sent me the email after he'd already been and gone. I had a tripwire at the door to let me know if anyone came in, the kind of thing that would be easy to see if you broke in. But he didn't know 'bout the camera." Ballard grinned. "I gave his picture to some contacts I have in the national force. Got a name back. Anthony Slater, ex-con who did time for burglary turned owner-operator of a camping goods store that's had regular cash injections from – guess who?" He thumped a handful of papers down on the table in front of them. "Ferrucio Industries."

"You think Byron Ferrucio is involved?" Sanja asked.

"None of these papers even mention Ferrucio Industries." De Palma was scrutinising the papers Ballard had put down. "The funds came from a shell company registered in the Sevii Isles – 'The Galaxy Corporation' – there's no way they'd reveal the owner."

"Yeah, well…" Ballard stumbled. "I don't have any records to show it, but I have it on good authority that it comes from Ferrucio Industries."

"Whose good authority?" Tanel scoffed. "Your beer bottle's?" He stood up, turning to face Sanja and De Palma. "This is why I told you it wasn't a good idea. He thinks Byron Ferrucio is involved in everything from the garbage collection being late to it raining when he's outside."

"Ha ha." Ballard scowled at Tanel. "If you're not even gonna try to connect the dots, you're never going to find anything on the Ferrucios. Slater broke into my apartment, went through my files. Why would anyone want to do that except The League? And when it comes to them, Ferrucio's the money. But in this case, no, I don't think this was Byron. This is too clumsy for the head honcho. My guess? This is Roark trying to get in his daddy's good books by finding something on me they can use."

"You were a cop for forty years. You going to tell me you never made an enemy other than Byron?"

"An enemy who can find out where I live – when I don't have any of those…social medias – and hire an ex-con burglar to case the place? No."

"If you two are finished," Sanja interjected, "we have a lead."

Father and son turned to look at the two women, blinking in surprise.

“Well, maybe,” De Palma added hastily.

"That photo was taken on the 16th​ Yushi. The mystery transactions came in on the 15th​ and 17th​."

"Paying half in advance and the other half when the job was done, yeah, I know. They are my files."

"Then you noticed the other string of payments that came in just a few days ago?" Sanja asked.

Ballard paused for a moment. "Gimme that." He snatched the paper from Sanja's hand, squinting at them, holding them at arm's length for a few moments before giving an irritated huff and handing them over to Tanel.

"So whoever it is in charge of this Galaxy Corporation hired Slater again," Tanel said, sitting back down with the papers. "What does that tell us?"

Sanja looked over at De Palma. "Well, it's just a hunch," the lawyer explained, "but…I had access to Roark's accounts, including the Ferrucio Industries subsidiaries he manages. I wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything the prosecution could use if they subpoenaed them."

"Was there?"

"Not related to the murder case, but…just before the trial started, I remember seeing some strange expenses. I asked about them – Roark said he was buying a new warehouse for a business idea he was going to pitch to his father. He was…cagey. Which, for him, was unusual."

"A career criminal doesn't give you the whole story. What a twist," Tanel said, drily.

"Yeah, well, I kept copies of everything he gave me. Which includes the address of the warehouse."

Ballard returned, having replaced his dressing gown with a jacket and a pair of pince-nez spectacles perched on his nose, taking the papers from Tanel and scanning them again briefly before a slender grin spread across his face. "That's good work, Counsellor." He moved towards the door, pausing before he opened it to look back at the other three. "Y'all waiting for a written invitation?"
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
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Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
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Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
"Well, it looks like an ordinary warehouse," Tanel commented.

He was in his car with De Palma. Sanja and Ballard were in Ballard's. They were parked on different streets, covering the warehouse from two different angles.

"You make pointless observations when you were on the force, kid?"

Sadly, they were on speakerphone. Even after barely half an hour Tanel had already been looking forwards to a break from his father.

"So what happens now?" De Palma asked.

"We wait," Sanja answered simply.

"And then?"

"Depends on what happens." There was a crackle from the speakerphone, followed by a slurping sound, and Sanja's voice became a mixture of confusion and exasperation. "Where did…"

"I keep a bottle in the glovebox. Warm beer's better than no beer."

"You seriously brought a bottle of beer to a stakeout?" Tanel asked, shaking his head slightly.

"Ain't like I gotta worry about being written up for drinking on duty any more," Ballard retorted.

"As if you worried about it when you were still a cop."

De Palma cleared her throat. "So…we just wait?"

Ballard chuckled. "Never been on a stakeout, Counsellor?"

"No, I have people for this." She paused for a moment. "Had people for this."

"Well, maybe it'll do you good," Sanja commented. "Next time you're defending a criminal and you feel like lambasting a good cop for not dotting the I's and crossing the T's, you can think back to this moment and remember that not everyone gets all the information handed to them in a cushy office."

"It's my job," De Palma retorted. "Besides," she added, more quietly, "you mean if I ever defend anyone again."

She was quiet after that – for about half an hour.

"Look, are we even sure Slater is in here?"

"It's your lead, Counsellor," Tanel pointed out.

"It's not exactly much of a lead. If I was defending and this was part of the prosecution's argument, I could argue it as a clear case of overreach. Especially with someone like Roark who's sued the city PD for persecution. To say nothing of the fact that this could be construed as a breach of privilege."

"Well, good thing you're not going to be defending him this time, then."

"Ha ha. I'm being serious – if we manage to get some connection to Roark, and if it turns out there's even anything criminal about the existence of this warehouse or its contents and Roark's payments to Slater that coincided with it, the police's case has to be airtight."

"'Cos an airtight case made so much difference last time," Ballard retorted. "Now quit your worrying, Counsellor, some of us are trying to sleep."

They were still there as the sun rose the next day.

"Have you had any sleep at all?" De Palma groaned, as she blinked back to wakefulness, looking over at Tanel.

"Nope."

"Ugh…" She stretched as best she could in the cramped car – and realised that Tanel had draped his jacket over her at some point during the night. "You don't even have the Spark, how aren't you tired?"

"Practice," he shrugged.

"How are the others?"

"Sanja's gone back home. She needs to get into the precinct on time and her partner would notice if she hadn't changed clothes all day. Plus if the bar really is going to open an investigation into you, they can't do that without a police case as well. She's going to try to convince our – uh, her – captain to give her the case, as a followup to the original murder investigation."

"And Mr Ballard?"

"My dad is…well, I don't know, I hung up on him a few hours ago. He snores."

There was a tap on the car window that made them both jump.

"You two want coffee?"

"What the…dad, what are you doing here?!"

"Offering an ungrateful son coffee, by the sounds of it," he retorted, reaching past Tanel to hand De Palma a takeaway cup. "Would've said I was gonna buy, but you hung up on me."

"You could've called back."

"Wait, if Sanja's gone and you're buying coffee, who's watching the other road?" De Palma asked.

"Eh, don't need it," Ballard shrugged. "We can see the entrance just fine from here, and I was watching the other road all night. No other entrances or exits to the warehouse."

"Except when you were asleep," Tanel interjected, shoving his father's arm out of his face and taking one of the other cups.

"I was resting my eyes."

"Wait, isn't that Slater?" De Palma pulled out her phone to check the picture from Ballard's apartment against the man who'd just exited the warehouse.

"Yeah, that's him. C'mon." Ballard was walking towards Slater before the other two had even managed to get out of the car. "Hey, Slater!"

Slater didn't even turn to see who was calling him. He just started running.

"Oh, dist," Ballard growled.

In another situation, De Palma might have almost been amused to watch how Tanel and Ballard threw their coffee cups away in almost perfect synchrony. As it was they were sprinting after the ex-burglar – Ballard shifting in a crackle of lightning – before she'd even taken a step towards Slater.

By the time she caught up to them, Slater was face-down on the ground with Ballard kneeling on his back.

"If you're gonna be doing this, Counsellor, you need some better shoes," Ballard observed.

"You can't…you can't do that," she protested, gesturing to the prone Slater. "You're not a police officer any more."

"Then what the dist are – agh!" Slater's complaint was cut off as Ballard shrugged, shifting his weight on his captive.

"The kid's a PI, we're investigating the break-in in my house. I'm a retired cop. Jury'd buy that."

"Except you haven't hired me," Tanel pointed out.

Ballard rummaged in his pocket and tossed something at Tanel. "There. Hired."

"This is a stick of gum."

"Eh, about the value of your work as a PI, then, seeing as the Counsellor got the location, Sanja noticed the payments, and I got the collar. Speaking of which, I about forgot you down there, Slater." He was still shifted, lifting Slater up easily and setting the man on his feet. "Go ahead, feel free to try to run again if you want." His tail swished behind him.

Slater didn't try. "What…what do you want?"

"Well, I'd like to know what you were doing in my apartment, few months back." Ballard pulled the photo out of his coat and shoved it in Slater's face.

Slater turned away, a pleading gaze fixed on De Palma.

Tanel stepped in between them, breaking Slater's line of sight. "There's already a detective investigating the break-in," he added. "I mean, there's the paperwork to file to transfer a private investigation to the police with the evidence of a crime, but with your priors and the photographic evidence, that's a slam dunk case for…" He paused, as though considering. "I'd say a good dozen years or more. Now if I hired you to do something like that, I'd be worried you were going to turn state's evidence, try to get a plea deal in exchange for dumping me in hot water."

"And you been around a while. You ain't stupid enough to think jail'd keep you safe from Byron." Ballard grinned, sharp teeth on full display. "So here's how it's gonna work. We'll forget about the break-in…"

"…if you tell us about the warehouse."

Slater looked between the two former officers for a few moments before sighing. "Okay, fine. The warehouse is being used to hide someone."

"Hide who?" De Palma asked.

"I don't know."

"Well, have fun talking to the prosecutors." Ballard de-shifted and the two of them turned to leave. Tanel reached out and put a hand on De Palma's arm to nudge her into following.

"No, I really don't know! No-one does!" They paused, looking back at Slater. "I don't know where Roark got them from. They just…turned up one day. Roark's been moving them around the city, stashing them in safehouses. This is just the latest one. And…" Slater paused. "Look, if they know I talked to you…"

"Well, you better talk quick before someone sees then, huh?" Ballard turned back to face Slater.

"Okay, okay. I've only seen them once. He made it clear that this was the kind of job where you don't ask questions."

"But you wanted to cover your ass in case things went sideways," Tanel prompted.

"Yeah, so I spoke to some friends. Whoever this person is, they have serious amnesia. They don't even know their own name."

"And the bastard is keeping them prisoner?" Ballard growled under his breath.

"No. Well, not exactly, I mean…he's taking advantage of them, maybe, but they're not a prisoner. I wouldn't be working for him if I thought he was involved in kidnapping, I swear."

"Yeah, right."

"Keep talking," Tanel said.

"From what I hear, Roark wouldn't be able to keep them captive anyway."

"What do you mean?" De Palma frowned, stepping past Tanel slightly. "Do they have the Spark or something?"

"Well…kind of."

"That kind of non-answer to a yes/no question is what makes me start to wonder if you're being honest with us, Anthony." Ballard stepped closer to Slater.

"Look, all I know is what I heard. And what I heard is that the reason Roark found them in the first place is that some Sparker thug tried to rough them up. But…"

"But what?"

"They didn't have a Stone."

"Forget it." Ballard turned to leave, and this time it was Tanel who lingered.

"C'mon, man, I'm just telling you what I heard. They took on someone who was shifted, and they won without shifting. Almost killed the guy."

"You got a name for the attacker?" Tanel asked.

Ballard rolled his eyes. "Oh, for Arc's sake…"

"Uh…no. But I know when it was, and I know what hospital they took him to."

De Palma chuckled slightly as they left. "Something funny, Counsellor?" Ballard asked, over his shoulder.

"I've just…never watched the police interrogate someone first-hand before. Only ever read transcripts. It's…" She trailed off for a moment. "It's a little exhilarating. And you two work well together."

"Like dist."

"No, we don't."

They said it almost at the same time. She couldn't help but smile slightly, though her expression soon fell. "But we aren't seriously believing what he said about Roark's 'guest' who can take on people with the strength of Pokemon without the Spark, are we?"

"Nope," Ballard answered. "Sounds to me like Roark's denying his mystery person the medical attention they need. So I'm gonna make some calls, see if I can call in some favours and get this warehouse searched. You two stay and make sure Roark doesn't spirit them away."

As Ballard drove away, Tanel walked past his car without getting in. De Palma paused and looked down at the door, then back to him. "Uh…what are you doing?"

He turned back to look at her. "Going to talk to our would-be mugger."

"We just said…"

"No, my dad just said he isn't going to believe it. I didn't."

"You can't seriously think that he's telling the truth?"

"About someone without the Spark capable of fighting at the power level of a Pokemon? Yeah, I do." He tossed her the keys to his car. "You stay and keep watch. Call us if something changes."

"Why?" she called after him. "Why do you believe that that's possible?"

"Because I've seen it before."
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
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Pokédex No.
169
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Jun 30, 2019
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Nature
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Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Stay and keep watch.

De Palma leant back in the seat, pressing the back of her head into the headrest, looking up at the dull grey of the car's ceiling.

Ballard was trying to get his old contacts on the force to get a warrant to search the warehouse. Tanel was looking into the supposed mugging. Detective Holt was bartering her way into the corruption case.

And what was she doing? Staying and keeping watch.

She checked her phone again. It had been five minutes since the last time she'd looked. Nearly twelve hours since they'd first pulled up outside the warehouse.

And an hour since Ballard and Tanel had left.

This was absurd. For all her talk about the importance of the police having an airtight case, the truth was the case was already more full of holes than a sieve.

In which case…what was one more?

She drummed her fingers on the dashboard. If there was proof someone was being held against their will in the building, they could argue it as exigent circumstances. Her being a lawyer would work against her, of course, but a decent defence painting her not as a legal expert but a panicked woman with no experience in actual investigations trying to do the right thing…

If she was a prosecutor she would tear that apart in thirty seconds on the stand. But when the state of Oreburgh was reduced to throwing rookie prosecutors like Cassandra Connor Esq into high-stakes cases…that was a different story.

The three detectives hadn't even tried to look in the window of the building. There was probably some reason for it that they hadn't shared with her.

She found herself closing the door to Tanel's car almost before realising she'd gotten out.

The window was smeary, greasy, and it was hard to make anything out, but…there was definitely someone moving in there.

If she could just speak to whoever it was…

She moved over to the door and knocked.

There was some rustling from the other side and then a soft voice said "Hello?"

De Palma hadn't actually expected that. "Hello?" She paused as she realised the nonsensical nature of her response.

"Do you have breakfast?"

She hastily turned on her phone's voice-recording app. "Um, my name's Gia De Palma. Are you okay?"

There was a moment's pause. "I'm okay."

"Can you open the door?"

"Oh, no, I don't have the key. Only Mr Ferrucio and his assistants have the keys."

"You mean you can't get out?!" She tried to keep her voice level.

When she'd been working out how this would play out she hadn't considered just how…human…Roark's prisoner was.

"No, but it's okay. It's for my safety. Mr Ferrucio says so."

"Yeah, I'll bet." She shifted, put her shoulder against the door, and pushed. The lock broke with a loud clunk that had her looking around to see if anyone heard her, and the door swung open.

"Wow…you're strong!" Despite the almost childish intonations, the owner of the voice couldn't have been any younger than she was, a little shorter than her, with long, silvery hair that stretched almost down to their knees and radiant lavender eyes, and a warm, friendly smile. They were wearing a long robe, almost like a hospital gown.

"Um…thanks?" She blinked in confusion for a moment – and then noticed the nasty bruise on the side of the person's head. "What happened?"

Their expression fell. "Oh. I upset Mr Ferrucio. But it's okay, he apologised. He just really wanted his assistants to be able to…um…get something from me, I think?" They paused to consider. "It was something about my blood. But they couldn't get whatever it was out of my blood. I must have done something wrong."

There was nothing but innocence in their eyes. And Roark had kept them prisoner. She realised she was clenching her fists, almost crushing her phone in her grasp.

"Okay, why don't you come with me? I'll take you to a hospital, and we can get you checked out."

They shook their head. "Mr Ferrucio says I'm not allowed to leave."

She paused for a moment. "Why…why do you listen to what Ro – what 'Mr Ferrucio' says?"

"Because he found me. He says without him, I'd be stuck in the gutter where he found me. He's the one keeping me safe."

"He's the one keeping you prisoner."

They tilted their head on one side slightly, as though considering her words.

"Look, I'm working with the police." Which wasn't technically a lie, Detective Holt at least was still on the force. "You can trust me."

"I…" They were quiet for a moment. "Okay." They reached out a hand –

And suddenly something slammed into De Palma from behind, hurling her into the building, and she rolled onto her side, struggling to focus on something, anything, dimly heard Roark's captive shouting something, and it sounded so far away, and she was grabbed by the shoulder, roughly, hauled into a sitting position, and saw someone draw back a fist –

And then there was a blinding light and she heard her attacker cry out and slump to the side.

Ballard lowered his hand.

"What the dist were you thinking, Counsellor?" he growled, stomping over and crouching down next to her.

"Roark…Roark was keeping them captive. My…my phone." She patted at the ground, found ceramic shards instead of the carpet or asphalt she was expecting.

"Hey, look at me." Ballard held up one finger, moving it back and forth in front of her vision.

She realised they were in a bathroom. There was a large hole in the wall that led out to the street, and a worried face looking through it. She gave a small, tired wave.

Ballard sighed, and patted her on the shoulder.

An hour later, they were sat in the waiting room of the hospital. The doctors had put a small adhesive bandage on the cut on her head and told her to take it easy, but other than that she'd been given a clean bill of health.

She found herself reaching up to rub at the bandage. Ballard swatted her hand down. "Hey!" she complained.

"You were lucky you were shifted," he said, quietly. "A hit like that could've killed you if you weren't."

"Look, I know it was stupid, I was just worried that with Slater out there –"

"I get it." She paused, caught a little off guard. Ballard chuckled slightly. "I've been there, Counsellor. I don't want to admit how many years ago that was, but I've been there. You wanted to get things done as soon as possible, especially when we were thinkin' that your new friend out there was held against their will."

"Which they were."

Ballard nodded. "Yeah, but you din't know that when you went in."

She was quiet for a moment. "Why aren't you mad at me? Detective Holt and Tanel are."

"Well, perks of bein' old, Counsellor. You ain't the first I've seen make mistakes like that. The kid, Holt…they've done just the same. Especially Holt, from what I hear." He sighed. "And no-one else's gonna say this to you, so…good job."

They paused as Sanja came back out of the room Roark's (former) prisoner was in. She spoke to the doctor briefly before shutting the door, coming over to the two of them. Tanel left the vending machine he'd been standing by to join the group as well. "Well?" De Palma asked, before realising how impatient she must have sounded.

Sanja looked at Ballard and Tanel, deliberately ignoring De Palma. "So far they've run their face and prints through the modern records and nothing. The closest match we got was to a record that was only entered yesterday afternoon, but there aren't enough points for it to even be worth considering. They're going to start looking at older records, but since most of those aren't computerised…"

"Chances are it's gonna be quicker for them to remember who they are than us to figure out. And they din't exactly sound all that…with it."

"I suspect that was partly due to the treatment they suffered," the doctor interjected. "From what they've said, they were forced – perhaps not overtly, but forced nonetheless – to acknowledge their captors as an ultimate authority. The leader had almost complete control over their life, including their medical treatment." De Palma noted idly that he wasn't referring to Roark by name. "The mention they made of blood being taken from them during the conversation you recorded – judging from the bruising on their arm, it wasn't done gently." Sanja's Stone thrummed with energy for a moment. "But in some respects they have a strong sense of self still – their choice of pronouns, most notably. That suggests they still have some idea of who they are. Hopefully with some exposure to other people and a more relaxed environment, they'll regain their memory." He paused for a moment and looked over to De Palma. "They seem to have formed quite a bond with you. It would probably be helpful if you came to visit them regularly."

"Yeah, about that, doc…what if we want them to come with us?"

The doctor pushed his spectacles up his nose slightly, fixing Ballard with a stern look. "They are in my care, and I don't think it would be wise to discharge them in their current state."

"Doctor, they can not only identify the person who did this," Sanja interjected, "but they are a witness to an assault for which we have a suspect in custody." She didn't even glance at De Palma. "We need them to come to the station to make a visual identification for both."

"When they are well."

"Are you sectioning them, doctor?" De Palma asked.

The doctor paused. "I don't think that is necessary at this time. Why?"

"Then it's not your decision or ours. They have every right to refuse treatment and leave the hospital – a fact that they might not even be aware of. Let me talk to them."

He sighed. "Very well. As long as you don't cause them unnecessary stress."

"I won't," she promised, moving back across the corridor to open the door.
 

bhelryss

rose cultivator
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
4768
Caught
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
1,036
Location
in the sunshine
Nature
Gentle
Pronouns
they/them
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
this pokemon can be found encouraging plant growth in other people's gardens, but can be territorial about the resulting blooms
OHOHOHO

i love a good mystery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i cannot wait to see where this goes
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Hehe, thanks! I'm glad this is interesting, I know it's a little bit different to the traditional nuzlocke lol!

The mysterious amnesiac looked over at De Palma as she entered the room, their eyes lighting up – and then they hopped off the bed they were sitting on and gave her a hug. "You're okay!"

"Yeah, I'm…I'm fine." She tried to ignore the twinging pain in her side that had sprung up again from the tight grip. "How are you doing?"

"I'm okay! I'm trying to decide on a name."

"A…name?"

They nodded. "Yeah! The doctor said it would be helpful for me to decide what I wanted to be called, since they don't know who I am. He said it would…uh, help me to reestablish my sense of self, or something."

They beckoned her over to a laptop that was sitting on the bed with a web page open, sitting back down and putting the laptop on their lap, turning it so De Palma could see the list of names on the screen. De Palma glanced at the website's name. 'Popular Baby Names.' "Where'd you get that?"

"Oh, the man who was with you gave it to me. The Shinx man, I mean."

Since when had Ballard even owned a laptop? But even leaving that aside, they'd recognised Ballard's shift with just a couple of seconds of seeing it. There weren't many people who could do that – as she'd pointed out when she'd been defending Roark. Why had she ever taken that case? She shook her head slightly, looking back to their patient. "You're…taking this pretty well. Not…not knowing who you are."

"Well, I was worried at first, but…I suppose I've gotten used to it now. Staying in Mr Ferrucio's safehouses gave me time to think. Anyway, I'm up to J now." They paused. "That's an idea! 'Jay'!" Then they shook their head. "Hmm…no, that doesn't sound right. Too…short."

"Too short? You mean your real name is longer?"

They nodded. "Maybe. But…I kind of like 'Jay.' It's not overly complicated, no hidden meanings. I like it. It makes me…" They trailed off.

"You remembered something else?"

"Um, no, sorry." They shifted, embarrassed. "I just thought of how to make it longer. Jamie! You know, Jay – Me." They bobbed their index finger from side to side to emphasise the point, and looked back up at De Palma.

"Don't get too attached to it. We're going to help you work out who you really are." She felt bad for saying it, and added "But I like it."

Jamie beamed. "So what happens now? Do I have to stay here?"

"The hospital can't hold you without an affidavit stating that…" She paused. "Uh, no, you don't," she simplified.

"I know what an affidavit is." Jamie paused, tilting their head on one side slightly. "…why do I know that?"

"Well, either popular culture, or you had some legal training." She sat down next to them. "You have any idea which?"

"I think…I think I had to learn it."

"Okay, so probably legal training, then. Which…could still mean a lot of things. You could be a lawyer like me, or a police officer like Detective Holt, or a PI like Mr Moller…an auditor…" She trailed off. "Any of those sound right?"

Jamie looked down at the laptop, pushing the screen closed. "I don't know. I don't…I don't think any of them, but…the police sounds close."

The door opened and the other three stepped in. The hospital room was a bit crowded with the five of them there, but De Palma didn't entirely mind – at least as long as she didn't look at Sanja's disdainful expression.

"I picked a name!" Jamie told them, happily. "Jamie."

"It's a nice name," Ballard said, casually.

"So, uh…Jamie." The hesitation in Tanel's voice before he used their name was obvious. "How much do you remember about five weeks ago?"

Jamie shook their head. "Not much. It's…really spotty. Hours, maybe even days, I just…I just don't know what happened."

De Palma put a hand on their shoulder. "It's okay."

"No, it isn't," they said, quietly, before looking back to Tanel. "It's important, isn't it?"

Ballard and Sanja both gave him pointed looks. He ignored them. "Yeah, it is." He pulled out his phone. "Look, just on the off-chance it jogs your memory, I'm going to show you some pictures. Let me know if any of the men in them look familiar."

They were mugshots, all similar-looking men. The digital equivalent of a lineup. If De Palma was defending one of the men, she'd have never let it make it to court, it was too unreliable and she doubted Tanel had followed the proper procedures – how could he, without access to the police's databases? – but all the same…

Jamie was watching her. "Go for it."

They didn't react to the first couple of pictures, but then just after Tanel had swiped over to the fourth they perked up slightly. "Wait, go back." They leant closer, peering at the image on Tanel's phone.

"You recognise him?"

"Maybe. I remember someone who looked like that, but…he was shifted, a…" They trailed off. "A Graveler, I think?"

De Palma could see the way Tanel made a conscious effort to keep his expression level. "What do you remember about him?"

"Not much," Jamie admitted. "It's…one of the first things I remember. Before that, it's all stuff that feels like it was…long ago. But all I remember is seeing him. I…I asked him where I was, I think." They shook their head. "Sorry."

"It's okay. Can you give us a second?"

De Palma was pretty sure he was more talking to Ballard and Sanja, but she followed them out anyway.

"So?" Ballard asked, impatiently.

Tanel turned the screen around to show them the image Jamie had identified. "This is Garren Grilieu. Also known as 'The Golem' – but despite the name, he's a Graveler shift, just like Jamie said. He's dangerous, with a violent streak. He used to be an enforcer for the Ferrucios, but they cut ties after he went against their orders – and even they didn't want to pick a fight with him by trying to punish him. And five weeks ago, he was put in the ICU."

Sanja's phone rang, making them jump slightly. She glanced at the screen, and sighed. "Give me a minute."

Tanel carried on speaking as Sanja stepped away from the group to take the call. "His life was never in danger, but he's not going to walk for six months to a year – the damage he took was while shifted."

"So you expect us to believe that the kid in there did that?" Ballard scoffed. "The shy, innocent person who wasn't even upset at being kept prisoner for weeks by Roark?"

"That's what Grilieu said."

"Oh, great, the career criminal who got beaten to a pulp is now your star witness."

Maybe it was because she was getting used to the arguments between Tanel and his father, but De Palma found herself paying more attention to Sanja's call. "No, I'm working on the kidnapping case…I can't just drag them down to the station…yes, I know we have the authority, Mark, but they're a victim…look, the only one who's made any real connection with them is Roark's lawyer…it's a long story, okay? I'll explain later." She shook her head, clicking the phone off as she returned to the group, looking at the others.

"Your partner?" Tanel asked.

"Yeah. Look, we have the guy who was replacing Slater in a cell back at the station, his lawyer's already arrived, we need to get Jamie to pick him out of a lineup. I'm going to explain it to them." The look in her eyes dared any of them to protest. Evidently whoever she'd been talking to had gotten on her nerves.

"Well, I ain't exactly welcome at the station these days," Ballard commented. "We know Jamie was shuttled between a bunch of safehouses, I'm gonna see if I can find anyone else who was playing prison warden for them. One of them'll lead us to Roark."

"Hey." Tanel paused as he turned to leave, looking back at De Palma. "You said you'd seen people use the Spark without a Stone before. That's why you're so certain Jamie did this."

"I'm not saying it wasn't self-defence," Tanel assured her. "But we need to know the truth."

"What happened?" she asked quietly. "Why is this such a big deal for you?"

Tanel sighed. "Ride with me to the station. I'll explain on the way."

Despite his assurances, he didn't say anything until a good few minutes after they'd left the hospital, until finally he glanced over to her and sighed. "I was twelve. Me and my two best friends – Dawn and Barry – we did pretty much everything together. Some of it was pretty stupid.

"Barry always wanted to be a pro catcher – you know, one of those folks who travels all over the world capturing Pokemon for Essence extraction."

"To make new Stones."

"Yeah. Well, for him it was more about the fame and recognition, like…whatever his name is, that famous catcher. Leon or whatever."

"Lucian."

"Yeah, that's it. Anyway, Barry had this 'great' idea: we should prove that we had what it took by going out and catching a Pokemon each. And, I mean, we all wanted to be good with Pokemon – I wanted to be a cop like my dad, Dawn wanted to be a researcher – so we thought it was a pretty good idea.

"Barry had it all planned out. You know Lake Verity? It's southwest of here. We grew up in a small village that was basically on the outskirts. And Verity's one of the registered catching parks. So we snuck out, made it to the lake shore – this was a couple dozen years ago, so security wasn't exactly as tight then as it is now. We even managed to find a handful of wild Starlies."

Tanel sighed.

"And that was when things went wrong. Turned out, with his typical level of forethought and planning, Barry hadn't bothered to bring any Poke Balls. He'd brought three nets."

"You're kidding."

"I wish I was. And to make matters worse, Barry was older than the two of us, and he had this…confidence. So when he said we'd be able to catch Pokemon as weak as those Starlies with nets, we believed him. It…well, it went about as well as you'd expect. About five seconds later we had three broken nets and a flock of pissed-off Pokemon. And this was in the days before year-round wardens. We were on our own, and none of us had the Spark."

"What happened?" De Palma asked, quietly.

"Well, luckily, the Starlies really were weak, Barry got that part right at least. So their attacks weren't strong enough to outright kill, but, I mean, it…it didn't exactly look good for us. And then…"

He trailed off. "What?"

"Then everything just…stopped. The Starlies, the water, the grass…everything. And these three…I mean, I guess they were Pokemon, but I'd never seen them before – still haven't. They just…appeared, one in front of each of us, and started glowing. And they kind of…shrunk down, and became these glowing orbs – one red, one blue, one green – and they kind of…fused with us." He shook his head. "I don't know how to describe it.

"And then everything started moving again, and Dawn and Barry shifted, hurling firebolts and blasts of water at the Starlies, driving them off."

He pulled into a parking space outside the police station, turning the engine off, but he made no move to get out.

"The red glow fused with Barry, the blue one with Dawn, and the green one…" He paused for a moment, and sighed. "And the green one with me. I watched as a Stone formed in front of each of them, like it was crystallising out of thin air, purer than almost any commercial one." He nodded to the Stone that De Palma was wearing. "And the whole time they were fighting, I was just waiting, expecting that same power to come to me too.

"And it just…didn't. When the fight was over and the Starlies had retreated, they had the Spark and I…I didn't.

"And twenty-five years later, I still don't."
 

bhelryss

rose cultivator
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
4768
Caught
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
1,036
Location
in the sunshine
Nature
Gentle
Pronouns
they/them
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
this pokemon can be found encouraging plant growth in other people's gardens, but can be territorial about the resulting blooms
ooooooooooooooooo

turtwig starter, huh? nice....

that's....really unfair though, that barry and dawn got powers while ballard didn't....

i wonder if it's because electric is nve against grass? (ballard is....shinx, depalma is magikarp? admittedly im havin a slightly difficult time remembering the spark-types because i'm so into the police procedural mystery side i just go [popcorn emoji])
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah I went with the Turtwig starter, I always used to go for the Fire starters (mostly because Charmander) but then I started using Grass starters instead and I've always had good experiences with them, so I stuck with it here.

As for who's who, I've added a spoiler to the bottom of the chapter, but yeah Ballard is a Shinx and De Palma is a Magikarp. I don't think it's made it explicitly into the story but Sanja is a Starly.

And glad you're enjoying the police procedural style, I can't guarantee it will stay as such for the whole story (I only have a very loose outline, most of which is just translating the gameplay itself into the setting) but I figured I'd experiment with it. 😄

Tanel didn't say anything else about the experience he'd had as a child. He didn't say anything about anything. He just got out of the car and went to meet up with Sanja and Jamie.

"You okay?" Sanja asked.

It took him a moment to realise what she meant. "What, being back here?" Jamie tilted their head on one side, curiously. "I used to work here too," he explained.

"But you don't have the Gi…the…"

"The Spark," Sanja said quietly. "You remember that?"

"Yeah. Humans who can't channel a Pokemon's Essence aren't allowed to serve in any frontline emergency service or military capacity. But are allowed to take desk jobs," they added, helpfully, before pausing. "Um…sorry."

"It's okay." De Palma had mentioned she thought Jamie had had some connection to the police. Knowing the ban on humans working in the emergency services or military existed wasn't too surprising, there had been so much tabloid coverage of it…but the desk job clause hadn't gotten nearly the same amount of attention.

He realised after a moment that when he'd reassured Jamie it was okay he hadn't been lying. It was the first time he'd genuinely felt okay with not working in the police. He'd have never been able to get this far if he had to deal with the bureaucracy.

"Come on, let's go. We've got an impatient lawyer waiting for us." Sanja didn't even look at De Palma as she said it, moving off ahead of the others – she needed to collect the visitor badges for the others.

"Anything look familiar?" De Palma whispered to Jamie as they made their way into the police station.

They shook their head, turning on their heel to look around. "No, I don't think…" They trailed off as Sanja returned. "Those do!"

Their excited exclamation got them some stares from the others in the lobby.

"Sorry!" they whispered. "But I remember wearing a badge, just like that one!" They pointed at the badges the bewildered Sanja had been in the process of handing out.

"That's great!" De Palma beamed.

"It is," Sanja nodded. "But just for now, can you focus on the guy who came to relieve Slater, Jamie? The guy who attacked her." She gave an idle nod in De Palma's direction.

"Yeah." Jamie's voice had lost all that excitement now. Now their voice was deadly serious. De Palma glanced sideways at them, meeting their lavender eyes for a moment. This was a side of them she'd never seen before.

Was this the side of them Grilieu had seen?

They misunderstood her look, and gave her a smile. "Don't worry. I know what he looked like. He won't get away with hurting you." Their voice was warm, now – almost…protective.

He probably will. She didn't tell Jamie.

"Once we're finished here, we can get recent visitor logs, start looking through them, okay?" Sanja continued, giving Jamie an encouraging smile.

She didn't know the PD her attacker – Sakari Driscoll, she reminded herself, glancing at the notes Sanja had pressed into their arms – had been given. That was probably a good thing.

"I hope whatever caused this delay was important," he said, as the group approached. "My client has been waiting for nearly two hours."

Tanel opened his mouth to reply, caught himself. Sanja said exactly what he would've. "Doctors were reluctant to let the people your client attacked and imprisoned –"

"Allegedly attacked," the man interjected, "and he knows nothing about any wrongful imprisonment."

"Well, either way, we came as quickly as we could." Sanja seemed to all but ignore the lawyer's comments. "Shall we?"

Jamie, Tanel and Sanja filed into the observation room. The lawyer put his hand out to bar De Palma when she tried to follow. "Oh, no chance. I was persuaded to let Mr Moller supervise since he has a PI licence and only left the police force a few months ago, and that was a stretch. The victim of the alleged attack, a member of the bar who has no doubt already formed opinions of my client long before today's incident? Absolutely not."

"It's okay," she said, when Jamie looked like they were about to argue. "Honestly, it is." And she was being genuine. She'd have been more concerned if she'd been allowed in – concerned that the lawyer would've used any random movement she made as an excuse to accuse her of trying to sway Jamie into pointing at his client. He was being open – the way she would've been.

It was something she appreciated even more, now.

There weren't any seats in the corridor outside the observation room, so she had to choose between going back to the reception room or staying standing. She stayed, leaning back against the wall.

How long would it get a proper identification confirmed by Jamie? Depended on how much the lawyer wanted to delay things or be pedantic, really. But since he'd had plenty of time to make any complaints he wanted, it ought to be resolved quickly, just taking a few minutes.

But for all her protestations that it was fine, Tanel took pity on her all the same and left the observation room again, leading her into the opposite observation room, and did something to one of the wires behind the computer, smacked the side of it a couple of times, and suddenly they were watching the footage of the observation room Jamie and Sanja were in.

"How did..?"

Tanel grinned. "The wiring's been like this since my da – for decades. They've redone the system a half-dozen times, but always left it like this. Unofficially, of course. It comes in handy."

He offered her a pair of headphones to listen in.

"So I just have to stand here?" Jamie asked.

"That's right," Sanja nodded. "We're going to turn the lights on in the other room so you can see five figures. If any of them are the person who you saw at the house you were kept prisoner in, the person who attacked Ms De Palma, you just need to point them out."

"But…I know who they are. You arrested them." They sounded confused.

"It's a legal thing," Driscoll's lawyer explained, with an apologetic shrug. "And like a lot of legal things, it sounds very silly when you try to explain it." He gave a small, self-deprecating chuckle, and Jamie chuckled too.

"Okay."

Sanja nodded to the technician in the room, and the lighting changed.

"Can we see?" De Palma asked Tanel, but he shook his head.

Jamie moved a little closer, peering at the prospective attackers. "He was shifted when I saw him." They looked between Sanja and the lawyer. "A Starly."

"You can't use a shift to identify people in a lineup." Sanja answered the unasked question. "Shifts make people seem too similar."

"And it's discriminatory against individuals with the Spark," the lawyer added.

"There are forensic methods to determine whether someone was responsible for a given use of the power, but they take time, so, if you can pick them out…"

Jamie digested the information for a couple of moments before nodding. "Well, okay." They pointed. "That one."

"You need to say it aloud," Sanja muttered in an undertone.

Even on the grainy video feed, De Palma saw Jamie roll their eyes. "Second from the left."

Tanel turned off the video feed abruptly, making her jump slightly. "C'mon, we're not meant to be in here, remember."

They were back outside, looking suitably impatient, by the time Jamie and Sanja left the observation room. "So..?" De Palma asked.

Sanja gave Tanel a look that made it clear she knew exactly what he'd done – but then her expression spread into a grin. "Textbook."

Jamie peeked around her, beaming at them both as well. "I told you," they said, and that light and happiness was back in their eyes. It suited them so much more.

They regrouped at Sanja's desk. Tanel sat down at the desk that had been his up until a few months ago before realising what he was doing. "What…what do we do now?" De Palma asked.

"We wait." Sanja turned on her computer and glanced through her emails, then flicked through the paper documents that were in her actual physical inbox. "Forensics are still going through the building we found Jamie in, so there may be a lead there. With Jamie's ID of Driscoll, the assault case has been turned over to the prosecutor's office to determine whether or not they can bring charges."

"Why wouldn't they? He tried to hurt Ms De Palma."

"Because –" Sanja started to answer, but was immediately interrupted by her phone ringing.

"Because they'll only prosecute a case they think they can win." Tanel completed the sentence as Sanja stood up from her desk to take the call. "Uh, that they can get a conviction from," he corrected himself.

"But…why wouldn't Driscoll be convicted?"

"There are arguments his lawyer could use," De Palma explained. "If Driscoll just claims he was hired to guard the warehouse and had no idea you were there, then from his perspective he would have just seen a shifted intruder in the warehouse he was supposed to be protecting and reacted."

"Of course he knew I was there!" Jamie protested. "All the guards did."

"Yeah," Tanel nodded, "but the only way to prove that is to get him to admit it. And if the prosecutors don't think we have enough to convict him from your ID and the evidence, then –"

Tanel jumped as he felt the pulse of Essence and turned in his chair, looking up at Sanja as she closed her phone and looked back at the others.

Her face was ashen, her Stone blazing with the golden-silver of her twin Essence, casting the feathers that were poking out of her sleeves and collar in a harsh, bright light. "Uniforms just found Mark Bukowksi on the other side of the city." Her voice was quiet, flat. Hollow.

Tanel was the only one who knew who she was talking about. "Your partner?"

He didn't want to ask. He didn't need to.

He could see it in her eyes.

But Sanja answered anyway. "He's dead."

Sanja - Starly, Female, Keen Eye, Modest, Good Perserverance
De Palma - Magikarp, Female, Swift Swim, Brave, Loves to Eat
Ballard - Shinx, Male, Rivalry, Bashful, Takes Plenty of Siestas
 

bhelryss

rose cultivator
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
4768
Caught
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
1,036
Location
in the sunshine
Nature
Gentle
Pronouns
they/them
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
this pokemon can be found encouraging plant growth in other people's gardens, but can be territorial about the resulting blooms
ooooooooooooo

the plot, it thickens

who would've wanted to hurt sanja's new partner???? that seems, well i wanna say kind of odd, but im sure there's twisty murder logic to it

also the jury-rigged listening room is both a) really handy, but b) really shady sldfkj
 

Vivace

Designated Meganium Defender
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
204
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,251
Location
Fochun
Nature
Brave
Pronouns
He/Him / They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Fighting
Pokédex Entry
The Lad Pokemon, Vivace's main powers are photoshop and chatting shit. Manages the unofficial nuzlocke football team.
(Popping in to say, chapter 1 hooked me with its excellent worldbuilding and a few characters I really have to see more of! I'll catch up to the most recent chapter when I can! :sun: )
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
bhelryss - The plot does indeed thicken! And yeah the observation-room being used in a more literal sense is...definitely not something that they would admit to publicly, but is very useful at times. (It mostly came about because I figured that they would need to have some way of recording in there precisely because that would be where people are when they pick someone out of a lineup. This is probably completely inaccurate, but my knowledge of law enforcement comes from popular culture lol.)

Vivace - Thanks! Hope you enjoy the rest of the story when you get back here.

Their cars screeched to a halt just outside the police tape. There were a handful of pedestrians looking curiously at the police tape, but no real crowds or media there yet. That was something.

"They're with me," Sanja said, flatly, tossing her head at the others, and even though this wasn't on her precinct's beat, the officer standing guard obviously knew who she was, because he didn't protest about what was a clear breach of protocol.

Tanel paused to look back at Jamie and De Palma. "You two don't have to come, you know. Seeing bodies in person is a lot different to seeing them in police photographs," he added to De Palma.

"It's okay," Jamie said quietly.

De Palma wasn't so sure it was okay. At least not for her. It wasn't like she actually knew Bukowksi – he'd been about a one-sentence report in the PI she'd hired to look into Tanel and Sanja for the Roark case – but even if he was a total stranger…seeing someone who was just completely…lifeless…"I'll…I'll stay outside."

Somehow it made it worse that even Sanja gave her a sympathetic look.

There was already someone crouched by the body, a man wearing a hairnet and medical scrubs. He looked around and nodded in greeting to Sanja and Tanel. "Hey," he said, quietly, before noticing Jamie.

"Jamie, this is Dr Ryan Patrick, our ME," Tanel said, softly. He realised what he'd said a moment later, didn't bother correcting himself to 'the police's ME.'

Patrick looked up at them. "Who's..?"

"Is it him?" Sanja cut him off.

Patrick looked down at the ground for a few moments. "Yeah. Fingerprints confirmed it. Sorry, Sanja."

Sanja took a small step forwards. Tanel put a hand on her shoulder and she paused to look back at him.

"You don't have to -"

"Yeah, I do."

They crouched down around the body. Patrick gave Jamie an irritated look, pulling a pair of disposable gloves out of his pocket and handing them to Jamie. "If you're going to be here, at least don't contaminate the evidence. And if you're going to be sick, do it somewhere else."

"I won't," they said, coolly. They didn't seem even slightly bothered by it, any more than Tanel or Dr Patrick were. Sanja was the only one who really looked uncomfortable. But then, she'd been working with Bukowski for the past few months, and no matter how much she might have groused about him to Tanel…they were still partners.

"What was the cause of death?" Sanja asked.

"Not easy to say. See here." Patrick gestured to the bloodstain on Bukowksi's jacket. Tanel pulled a pen out of his pocket and used it to move the jacket aside. "He was stabbed, by something sharp and round. A horn, I'd guess."

"He was shifted?"

"Assuming my initial assumption is correct, yes, he must have been – an attack from a shift would have been far more damaging if he wasn't. But that's not the only potential cause of death."

"His eyes are bloodshot," Jamie said quietly. "He was struggling to breathe."

Patrick looked back at them with a raised eyebrow. "Subconjunctival petechial haemorrhaging," he nodded. "And there's bruising on his neck."

"He was stabbed and strangled." Sanja's voice was flat. She'd given her Stone to Tanel for fear of not being able to control her powers. It felt far heavier than it had any right to in his pocket.

"I'll know more once I get him back to the lab, but it's difficult to tell which of the two was the precise cause of death. Either way, this was a homicide." He sighed. "Detective Bukowksi was murdered."

"Did he have anything on him?" Tanel asked.

"I'm an ME, not a detective. And this isn't even the jurisdiction of our precinct, officially."

"And you also always speak to the uniforms. Unofficially."

Patrick sighed. "Fine. Unofficially, he had his wallet and car keys, but no phone. Still plenty of money in his wallet. His car is parked a couple blocks down."

Another car pulled up outside the police tape. "Oh, dist."

Jamie followed Tanel's gaze as a tall, muscular man with short hair got out, stepping under the police tape. "Who's that?"

"That would be Captain Reiger, the captain of our precinct," Patrick said, brushing himself down and getting up to speak to Reiger.

"So it wasn't a robbery," Sanja said, quietly. "Still money in his wallet, and that wedding ring is worth a thousand dollars, easy." She nodded to the man's hand, and sighed. "He only got married a couple months ago."

"I'm sorry."

Sanja paused for a few moments, looking over at Tanel. She didn't say anything.

"Detective Holt!" Regier's quiet call caught their attention, and Sanja got up to go over to where Reiger was waiting with Dr Patrick. "And the rest of you," he added, beckoning them. "You too, Ms De Palma."

De Palma tried her best not to look at the still form of the dead detective as she moved over to the others.

Reiger looked at Jamie. "So you're Jamie, I take it?" He held out a hand for them to shake, which they did, looking at him suspiciously. "A pleasure to meet you. I wish it could be under better circumstances."

"With all due respect, sir…" Sanja's tone was brittle. "What are you doing here?"

Reiger sighed, running a hand through his hair. "We're not investigating this case."

"What?!"

"I know this isn't in the jurisdiction of our precinct, but it's standard procedure for…"

"It's not being given to another precinct." Reiger interrupted Tanel. "It's being taken over by the national authorities. Dr Patrick will conduct an autopsy and send his results, along with all the evidence we collect from the scene. That's it."

"He was my partner, sir."

"I know." Reiger sighed. "I'm suspending you from active duty, until this case is resolved. I'm sorry, Holt, you're benched."

"You can't be serious!" Tanel exclaimed.

"I have also been instructed to inform you, Moller, that you are not permitted to investigate this case, under Section 17 of the Private Investigator's Act." He fixed Sanja and Tanel with a pointed look. "These orders come from very high up."

"Oh, sure, because that really…" Tanel paused as realisation dawned, sharing a look with Sanja before returning his attention back to Reiger, clearing his throat. "I understand, sir."

"Good." Reiger looked over at Jamie. "Now, on a separate topic, Dr Patrick tells me you seem to have some talent for forensic pathology. If it's okay with you, I'd be willing to let you sit in on some of his work. See if it helps jog your memory."

"But I want to…" They trailed off when they saw Tanel nod slightly. "Um…okay?"

"Come by tomorrow morning, then," Dr Patrick said.

Reiger nodded. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get in contact with the agent in charge of the case and make sure I'm kept in the loop. They'll be arriving here to take over the crime scene in half an hour."

None of them said anything until Reiger and Patrick were both gone. "Okay, what just happened?" De Palma asked.

Tanel gave a small smirk. "You're the counsellor, Counsellor. Not familiar with the Private Investigator's Act?"

"By heart? No."

"Section 17 states that any law enforcement official may, upon presenting a private investigator with a case number, require them to not investigate or interfere with anything pertaining to that case."

"…and Reiger forgot to give you the case number."

"Oh, he didn't forget. And officers on active duty aren't allowed to work on cases with private investigators. But since Sanja isn't on active duty any more…"

"I don't get it," Jamie muttered. "Why couldn't he just…ask you to investigate?"

"Because someone much higher up the ranks than him is pulling strings to make sure that neither the precinct nor Tanel are investigating this case." Sanja wasn't even trying to hide the anger in her tone. "And there's nothing we can do about it."

"But no way in dist would Reiger let someone else take the death of one of his detectives off his hands, no matter who tries to shut it down."

They jumped as Ballard spoke from behind them. "How long have you been there?!" De Palma yelped.

He grinned at the reaction. "Long enough. Guy at the tape is an old buddy of mine."

"Okay, look. Reiger said it would be half an hour before this crime scene gets taken over." Tanel looked between the other four. "We need to be out of here before then. So let's assume that we're not going to have any information on the case other than what we get here, and anything Jamie can learn from Dr Patrick tomorrow."

"Who the dist put you in charge?" Ballard grumbled.

"I did." The look in Sanja's eyes dared him to disagree.

He met her gaze for a moment before looking away. "Fine. Guess we oughta get to work."

Tanel beckoned Sanja away as Ballard started examining the scene – retired or not, he still knew what he was doing, neither of them were worried about him contaminating anything, and Jamie and De Palma were staying out of the way. "Are you okay?" he asked, quietly.

"No." She met his gaze for a few moments. "He was my partner."

"There was nothing you could've done."

"You don't get it. We got the corruption case." Sanja nodded towards De Palma. "The one I asked Reiger to put us on. Mark didn't want anything to do with it, but he was working on it while I was with you and Jamie, as a favour. And when he phoned, he told me he had a lead. A witness who could blow the case open."

"That's why his phone is gone and his money isn't," Tanel realised.

"That's not the point, T," Sanja snapped, and even though it wasn't touching her Tanel could've sworn he felt the air swirl around her Stone in his pocket. "When he phoned, when we were in the hospital…he didn't just tell me he had a lead. He wanted me to go with him and help him question the witness." She shook her head slightly. "I had to choose between helping him and helping you. And I chose you."

Tanel didn't say anything for a few moments. Then he reached out and put his hands on her shoulders. "This isn't your fault, Sanja."

"Yeah." Her voice was so hollow. "And I'm sure that'll be really comforting for his widow to know."

Sanja - Starly, Female, Keen Eye, Modest, Good Perserverance
De Palma - Magikarp, Female, Swift Swim, Brave, Loves to Eat
Ballard - Shinx, Male, Rivalry, Bashful, Takes Plenty of Siestas
 

bhelryss

rose cultivator
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
4768
Caught
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
1,036
Location
in the sunshine
Nature
Gentle
Pronouns
they/them
Pokémon Type
  1. Grass
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
this pokemon can be found encouraging plant growth in other people's gardens, but can be territorial about the resulting blooms
oof

OOF

"and i chose you" im WOUNDED

IM HURT, IM BLEEDING

;o;

it's not her fault but ohhhh my god this is going to stay with her for the rest of her life. choosing one partner over the other....aaaaaa
 

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