Cooper "Coop" Knowles

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  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Cooper Jameson Knowles
    [​IMG]
    NicknameCoop
    Age48
    Height6'0 ft.
    Weight180 lbs.
    HairBlack (Graying)
    EyesGray
    &nbsp;
    BornMontpelier, Vermont
    BirthdayMay 23rd, 1958
    GraduatedBaker College, 1983
    MajorsLaw Enforcement
    Criminal Justice
    CareerHomicide Detective, Retired
    Detroit Police Department
    &nbsp;
    StatusAlive
    Character Reputation
    ThemeThis & This
    AtmosphereMusic, More Music, More

    Physical Appearance:
    [​IMG]
    Standing near six foot, around one hundred and eighty pounds, Coop would appear more rough around the edges now than he ever had in his life. His hair, although well kempt and cut short, was at the initial stages of graying. He had thin, tired eyes, marred by bags from a growing number of consecutively sleepless nights. Dressing formally for most occasions, in a three piece or two, often in a coat or trench, it had become natural to find him disheveled, whether by insomnia or the alcohol no one could determine. And though he was at least moderately pleasant on the eyes, his demeanor often betrayed his good nature through a scowl, or a grimace. It was rare that he might seem truly amiable.



    Biographical Information:
    When the world burns down around you, it's a normal reaction to dredge through the ashes. His colleagues had been on their hands and knees, sifting with fine tooth combs. The therapist, the girlfriend, the worried phone calls from back home. You could see it in his eyes from a mile away, that emptied, vacant stare. Coop had seen enough by the time he reached Astoria that he hadn't the will for digging any longer.

    By all regards, Cooper Knowles had an average, American childhood. He was born and raised in Montpelier, Vermont by two loving parents who lived relatively boring suburban lives. He excelled at school, though he struggled with managing his focuses between study and athletics, chasing girls and playing varsity baseball in his late teens. He left to study at Norwich University, though that didn't last long, and after two semesters he moved to Michigan, changed his major to law enforcement, passed the entrance exam, and graduated from the Police Academy of Baker College in Detroit. At the age of twenty-five, he was assigned to active duty at the DPD.


    He spent eight years on the beat before he was plucked from the ranks by a senior officer who noticed his potential, and by that time he'd seen all Detroit had to offer. Manufacturing plants were shuttering in waves, the rise of unemployment fed into the already troublesome and mismanaged tragedies of homelessness, gang violence, and substance abuse. By the time Coop earned his shield, he was used to living in one of the most dangerous, deteriorating urban environments the United States had to offer, and he had a passion for the work, perhaps at times too much passion.

    Coop caught his first major case in 1991 from what would later be referred to as the work of the "Wayne County Killer", otherwise known as William Everett. Spanning the next year, the investigation developed across eleven murders which culminated at trial in 1994, where Everett was found guilty. Shortly after being attached as Lead Detective to that case, he was attached to another string of murders being worked by a colleague and friend, which ended with the arrest of Lindsey Latham Wilkinson, a serial rapist who took fondly to young girls.

    In particular, these first significant clearances molded him into the detective he was, and over the following fourteen years he developed a reputation for expedient results despite the circumstances, being so bold as to bend or ignore what was jurisdictionally prudent to make certain the necessary individuals had been served justice. But as time went on, Detective Knowles became more reckless and encumbered by guilt -- he drank to excess, womanized without concern -- all the while Detroit slowly but surely descended into the depths of hell, dragging him down with it. It was the last case he worked that broke him.

    In September of 2001, a shipping container filled with thirty-three dead girls surfaced at Nicholson Terminal, off the Detroit River. Through the next two years he navigated a quagmire of confidential informants and crime scenes which eventually lead him into an armed encounter with three suspects, posthumously proven responsible for the abductions, nicknamed "The Dearborn Massacre" by local news affiliates. When patrol cars arrived in response to a 10-71, Detective Knowles was found wounded, shot several times, and barely clinging to life. His firearm was later linked by ballistics to their untimely demise.


    Though he spent months in recovery, he only ever rode a desk until the end of his career in 2005 when he was pressured to resign over the mounting evidence of his final case, those three killings, which suggested he had not acted in self defense. His life spiraled out of control in the aftermath, and a year later drew him westward to Oregon, where particular opportunities had provided the means to put his experience to use.


    Ajax: "I can tell another professional when I see one -- hell, I'd swoon if I had a gash between my legs -- but what secret government program did this son of a bitch escape from? Forget it, I don't want to know."

    Firecracker: "If I could do everything differently, I would. I don't expect you to forgive me either, you can hold it over my head until I'm dead and gone, but if it were the sort of thing I could snatch out of the air and call passion, I'd name it Bonnie."

    Fritz: "Something about him sets off alarms in my head. Haven't seen him around for quite some time, but I know he's involved with the ASC, so I can only assume he hasn't left Astoria."


    Lemon: "I only caught her name, but we exist on contrary wave lengths. An extrovert, surely. Apply sedatives without prejudice. Rinse and repeat, apply again."


    Mark: "Come to like him more as time goes on, we're pals I think. He's got a rivalry with Bonnie that borders school-yard, but it makes me remember what it was like to be young, and we tend to float in the same circles."


    Noah: "Needs to remember where his balls are, but he's an alright kid, smarter than I initially gave him credit. The world's been known to chew through people like him without remorse, though. Sink or swim, buddy. I'll do what I can to keep your head above water."


    Teach: "A bit of an enigma, I'm never quite sure how to read him. We see each other around enough, we've shared a few drinks at Frankie's, but he's the kind of sharp you could cut yourself with. Deadly intelligent. Not the type to mince words. I like that."


    Tom: "Charismatic, and he works the best watering hole in Astoria. He's also a bourbon man, so we get along just fine."


    Ron and Dianne: "I see them more than anyone else, yet we rarely talk. Dianne doesn't seem to care for me much anymore, though. They know my usual without having to ask, and I leave generous tips to keep them on my side when I'm falling to pieces. Works most of the time."


    Raven: "Listen, I have absolutely no self control. She's good-looking, she's provocative. Women with sharp edges and tats do things to me, okay? Trouble with a capital T, make no mistake, but my life is just a series of bad choices at this point, so I might as well pile on a few more."


    Dante: "Played a game of twenty questions at Frankie's, won a free night of drinking. He's a good person to have around. Capable, handy. Smarter than he looks, that's for damn sure. Can't say I hate his company."


    Decebal: "A slimy son of a bitch. He's deceptive and spineless, fooled me enough for a decent guy when we first crossed paths, but I know better now. If it were up to me, Dianne never would have split that fight."


    Queen Victoria: "Laura's a brain, obviously very intelligent and driven. We're both in Astoria for the sake of research, amongst other things, and given her initiative we probably share more in common than not. She stood me up for coffee once, but who could blame her?"


    Joel: "What happened with the Eckert's is a god damn shame, but you're a decent man and good police. Reviewing the evidence gives me the impression that Christopher didn't give you much in the way of choices, either. I wasn't there, though. Had I been, I probably would have done the same thing. If I could offer any advise that might help you move on, I'd do it, but I'm still working that out for myself."

    The Pastor: "We may not share the same opinions on spirituality or religion, but god damn, I think he's a decent guy. Served in Nam, stands by what he believes. Makes a fine drinking partner. Wish I'd seen him recently. Wouldn't mind a little of that holy intervention right about now."

    Abby: "Met her at Frankie's, stuck in a rut and stood up by some asshole who bailed on their date. I can sympathize with her situation, unemployed and looking for work, enticed to Astoria by North Watch and abandoned, but she'll recover. She's attractive, seems capable. That goes a long way."

    Cliff: "I like him. He's tough. Doesn't seem the type to catch shit without giving it back, so we're cut from a similar cloth. Maybe a little anxious. Certainly more intuitive than his age might dictate, just don't tell him I said that."
     
    #1 Anonymous, Jan 27, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2019 at 4:50 PM
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  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Prelude, I

    [​IMG] Every road he traveled lead him to this destination. This was his moment, that pinnacle of events formulating from years of diligence and sacrifice, the hour in which he would face his greatest adversary. He looked to his conscience for guidance, but it had long since vacated. It was nearly three in the morning.
    [​IMG] Steeling his nerve, he quietly opened his car door and stepped into the bitter cold. This part of town was one of many others like it, decrepit and failing, emptied of respectful residents many years ago. The only people who still called it home were trapped by circumstance or born into wickedness, and after two decades of living in the city he had no remorse for either. Two of these citizens in particular he followed to this silent corner of Detroit earlier in the evening. He'd been waiting for hours.
    [​IMG] Coop had studied the residence he tracked his suspects to many months prior. The ADA and the 36th District Court had worked together then, to facilitate a search warrant that ultimately lead to a lack of substantial evidence and a surmounting mistrust of their division resources. The Captain and the Major were both ready to abandon the case. They needed a clearance and it was not forthcoming.
    [​IMG] Knowing the stakes, Cooper had premeditated a solution in the days preceding. It was a squat building, a meager two floors, mostly abandoned. The apartment in question was a simple climb from the balcony beneath it, faced away from the street and to a deserted, overgrown lot. The lights inside were off. When he tried the sliding glass door, it budged without effort. The interior latch had not been engaged.
    [​IMG] It took a moment for his eyes to adjust as he entered unaware to the residents. The apartment was almost empty, save for a card table with folding chairs. Pizza boxes and delivery bags were strewn about in disorganized piles, empty beer cans and liquor bottles. A couch had been pushed against the far wall, and an individual he recognized was sleeping there, gripping a pistol to his chest.
    [​IMG] Mindful of the dwellings floor plan, he crept cautiously towards the bedroom and entered without a sound. He expected to find the next suspect there and he did, sleeping on the floor -- snoring, face down -- near an old mattress that had been positioned askance, as though haphazardly tossed inside, but Coopers attention was urgently caught by a light that poured from underneath the connecting bathroom door. Suddenly, it swung open.
    [​IMG] Face to face with a man he'd come to know thoroughly during the investigation, Cooper experienced an epiphany which hit him like a truck. There wasn't supposed to be a third man present. As if time had stopped, they stood there, staring at one another in the dark, shadowed by the door frame. The suspect knew in those final seconds what he was there for, it was shared in the whites of their eyes.
    [​IMG] As a scream pierced the air, Coop raised his firearm and pulled the trigger. There was no turning back now.
     
    #2 Anonymous, Jan 31, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Prelude, II

    [​IMG] Nothing, there was nothing. It stretched out before me like an endless plane of snow, so pure and so white I cannot fathom the beginning or the end. I am overwhelmed by an intense euphoria, a comforting warmth, like someone had wrapped me in linens fresh from the dryer. In this instant, I experience bliss the likes of which I hadn't the capacity to understand, as though bathed in sunlight and affection, an infinite peace.
    [​IMG] Abruptly, the sheet is pulled from my eyes. The moon hung in the sky, bright and imposing, larger than I ever remembered, cascading a brilliance in elaborate platinum upon a field of swaying grass. In the distance, a river of stars weaved through a mountainous valley bordered by snow capped peaks, and upon either bank were crowds of people milling aimlessly. Some of them I could recognize, even from where I drifted at the precipice, floating above it all like some wayward spirit or empty illusion. Their eyes were locked with mine.
    [​IMG] The face of my father appeared most prominent. My mother stood beside him, their brothers and sisters, further still those women who I loved and who, for a time, had loved me. Ever more remote, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, each of them gathered by the anticipation of what would come next, but none of us certain. Across the river, an amorphous, inky clot accumulated. My heart sank with dread as I fell towards it.


    [​IMG] My eyes open. Two heavy doors swing wildly aside as I'm wheeled through, feet first, slamming with great effect and a resounding thud. Florescent lights flash in sequence as I pass beneath, the smell of bleach stinging my nostrils, and though I can hear unfamiliar voices shouting pluralities, I cannot focus on what they're saying. When my eyes close again, I am glad to be rid of them.
    [​IMG] There was nothing to fear, and nothing to doubt.
     
    #3 Anonymous, Feb 6, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2019
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  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Prelude, III

    [​IMG]He was celebrated when he first returned to duty. The briefing that afternoon consisted of ceramic mugs filled with whiskey, cheerful colleagues, and the sort of platitudes men paid one another when women and children weren't present. Coop had four slugs extracted in the emergency room, one of which still remained in pieces, poking out from under the skin, just over his ribs, and everyone wanted to see it. He spent most of that day with his shirt untucked and half buttoned.
    [​IMG]Over the following weeks, that tune quickly changed. They didn't want him working cases anymore, they wanted him in the Sergeants seat, or passing examination for a more promising career, the sort a hero deserved. It was all he could do, keeping it to himself. He shot those three men in cold blood. If they hadn't found the victims, he would have been facing a disgraceful termination and murder charges, he had no doubt in his mind.
    [​IMG]Once Internal Affairs got involved, the camaraderie disappeared. Coop worked a desk while he completed the rest of his physical therapy. Administration, bullshit, all of it a show by certain individuals to keep the pressure off as long as they could manage, and he suffered for it. He showed up to work drunk, developed a taste for dilaudid, prescribed to him after the shooting, and with the story what it was in the papers and on television, there wasn't a doctor in the state who didn't want to medicate the man who brought to justice the criminal element responsible for the trafficking and murder of countless young women.
    [​IMG]Eventually, it was a weight too great to bear, so his Lieutenant talked him into resignation. It wouldn't have looked good for the department to fire him under the circumstances, and the internal investigation was being lead in circles by the people who still had faith in Detective Knowles. After nearly twenty-three years of public service, the sole focus of his livelihood and the drive which gave him purpose, he left the Detroit Police, Second Precinct, and imploded in the process.
    [​IMG]Whatever immutable good he once cherished in law and order quickly vanished. He spent his days a sloven mess, reading case files and studying, left by his live-in girlfriend, the lawyer, until contacted by an Agent he developed a friendship with in the Bureau who brought to him an intriguing development. With the IA's investigation floundering, he was hired on through government contract and sent to Astoria in an advisory role, to help establish the profile for a collection of fresh murders which almost identically matched his last case in service.
    [​IMG]At forty-eight, it was all or nothing. This would be his last clearance, and he was prepared to die trying.
     
    #4 Anonymous, Feb 9, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    The Interim: A Phone Call, I

    [​IMG]"Did you get my message?"
    [​IMG]"Yeah, Coop. Things are going to hell here. IA's out for blood," a voice buzzed through the speaker, the sound of a familiar baritone that, simply by its presence, relieved some of his uncertainty. His faith in the thin blue line remained partially intact.
    [​IMG]"Who's talking?"
    [​IMG]"No one, not yet at least, but they're threatening everyone in the unit. It's just a matter of time," replied the man on the other end. "Did you read that story in the Free Press?"
    [​IMG]"Fuck no, I've got enough on my plate." The sound of ice on glass rattled, following a long pause. "What are they saying?"
    [​IMG]"You know, the same stupid bullshit they always say. 'Was it justified?', 'What was his record?', 'Did he have a history of violence?' Shit, who did we work with that didn't have a history of violence?" Cooper didn't respond. He was two days deep into a bender of case files, liquor, and opiates.
    [​IMG]"Listen partner, you need to get your priorities straight. Why are you dodging your union rep?"
    [​IMG]"Said they're fighting my pension. A quarter fucking pension. How much did I sacrifice for them? How many girls did we pull out of that shipping container," Cooper asked, the volume of his temperament echoed by frustration and guilt.
    [​IMG]"I heard the Bureau tapped you for a profiling contract. You know the Feds are gonna come down on you hard if this investigation hits Grand Jury, right? They won't tolerate it."
    [​IMG]"Yeah, well, unless they can come up with a testimony that contradicts what Maddy's been saying from the get, it's all circumstantial. Have you checked in on her recently?"
    [​IMG]"Reg popped in the other day. She's holding together, but it'll be a long road before she gets her life back. The psyche evaluation," the other man needed some time to find the appropriate words before he could continue. "She's all fucked up."
    [​IMG]"Did you hear from Candace," Coop inquired, prepared for a response he wouldn't be pleased with. An exasperated sigh transferred across the line and he instantly knew what to expect.
    [​IMG]"About that. When you left town she went to the apartment and cleaned house. She said to tell you to fuck off next time we spoke."
    [​IMG]"Yeah, that sounds like her," Coop replied in defeated, flat tonality. They'd been at eternal odds since his injuries sustained at Dearborn. Even she doubted him. Silence overrode their conversation.
    [​IMG]"You and I both know what happened to those sons of bitches was justice, Coop. Because of what you did, those monsters aren't stealing women off the streets and sending them to god-know's-where to be raped and murdered. Fuck the procession and fuck the Grand Jury."
    It was a difficult pill to swallow. He'd seen it every night on replay in his mind, over and over again, the events which lead to the shooting, the endless white, the river of stars. Making sense of it left him a shell of a man, and he couldn't bear the thought any longer.
    [​IMG]"Hey, I gotta go. Send my love to the boys," Coop replied, abruptly flipping his phone shut before the other voice could reply, shoving it into his pocket with a shudder as he poured himself another fresh bourbon. It was destined to be a long night.
     
    #5 Anonymous, Feb 12, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2019
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  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, I

    [​IMG]The light from a television dimly illuminated a dark, narrow room. He was laying snug in bed, dizzy from bourbon and opiates, adorned in the day's dress shirt and slacks, passing a joint between a woman with frizzy pink hair. She was younger than him, considerably even, only half his age at conservative estimates but they never specified. It was a trend in their relationship, whatever the hell it was. They didn't spend time dwelling needlessly on details and he preferred it that way.
    [​IMG]As a movie rolled in the background, his thoughts remained preoccupied. Shutting off had never been easy, though now more than ever. His career, the purpose for which he'd shaped and dedicated his life absolutely, had been on the brink for a year. The Grand Jury was closing in, his pension had been denied, the woman he left in Detroit was glad to be rid of him, and rightly so, relinquished to substance abuse and guilt, but he remained single minded in his pursuits.
    [​IMG]His friend in the Agency had sent him there under cloaked pretenses, unbeknownst to certain operational supervisors. While the research and profiling was his day job, an affair aided by twenty-three years of Police work, information continued to pour in regarding a case which he'd been deadly attached. Girls were still being pulled out of shipping containers. They were finding them all over the west coast, and Oregon had not been spared.
    [​IMG]Maddy was a common focus of his attention despite the proclivity, but through relation. When he was shot at Dearborn, it took weeks to compile the events as they occurred. The crime scene had offered little in the way of hypothesis, but when she woke up in the hospital days before Coop, her story provided all the necessary motive to put an officer in that apartment the night three men were killed. She lied because he saved her life. She lied because she wanted them dead, too.
    [​IMG]However, in eighteen days, he was no closer to discovering the leads his Federal counterparts needed to pursue the criminals abducting those young women, like Maddy. He'd heard accounts of a dead girl found in an alley; the missing person, Sandra King; rumors of men in hazmats who had quarantined the boardwalk, which he had not been able to verify directly; the mishandling of nuclear waste from a vessel docked in town, also mere speculation; and that the fishing had died off in a place where professionals were accustomed to teeming waters. Separately, none of it made the impact he needed. How or if any of it was connected, he had only conjecture.
    [​IMG]It continued like this throughout the night, every night, inwards and outwards like the product of neuroses, while the sort of distraction he received from his time spent with Bonnie had become his only opportunity to relax. She administered a sort of humanization that had grown distant, and when Coop thought of her, he could not help but contrast what she was to the grisly heap of images he sorted through every day. He rarely slept, he ate less than a prisoner. His drive to collapse like a dying star -- implode for the sake of respite -- had been quelled by the company. He never could have anticipated their friendship.
     
    #6 Anonymous, Feb 14, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, II

    [​IMG]The boundless sky was stark and bare, smothered by swollen, languorous clouds. Gentle waves rolled awash in the distance, the earthy aroma of Lake St. Clair drifted on a wayward breeze. Wherever he looked, shipping containers sat in neat stacks, stretching like a labyrinth as far as the eye could see, but the beam of a flashlight focused upon one in particular. Unexpectedly, the doors lurched open.
    [​IMG]Every muscle tensed. Inside, young women lay heaped in piles like rubbish, an assailing, rotten odor drawing bile to rise in the back of his throat. As though outside of his body, Cooper watched himself pick through the corpses in desperation, each as frigid and still as the last. When the realization gripped him, the dirt dissolved beneath his feet. "No survivors," the words wailed like an echo.


    [​IMG]A shocking, searing pain coursed like lightning through his every nerve as he fell, clutching at the carpet in frantic handfuls. Blood pooled like syrup, ever expansive. Within moments of laying prone he was saturated by it, almost indistinguishable, painted like so many crime scenes etched into his memory. He teetered on the edge then, absent of will, a triviality in that place where worlds come to die and men find peace of mind.
    [​IMG]As an endless alabaster sea swelled on the horizon, he heard a scratching not unlike fingernails upon wood: whimpering, squeaking, like an animal, he thought, or a child. It sat across the room, a closet, just meters away now but an impossible feat all the same. Coop crawled forward and collapsed, reclaimed his mettle and strived again, on and on until languishing at the threshold. The door slid open of its own accord to reveal a malnourished woman.
    [​IMG]She was a young adult, shaking, crying, dressed in rags and filth. Her hair was red and matted, her pale skin covered in a barrage of burns and contusions. When he reached for her, the sea washed over him. Like some divine halo, Maddy sat shrouded, sheltered, the last face he would ever see, of that he had never felt so certain. Without warning, the room tore away to expose nothing. Nothing and forever.


    [​IMG]Cooper was standing on the bank of a familiar river, snaking through an ancient basin surrounded on all sides by impassable peaks. The current rushed like a deluge, sparkling as if the surface of a thousand tiny stars in crisp, obsidian water. His feet carried him onward involuntarily, shoulder to shoulder with a meandering crowd that accompanied, but eventually he began to recognize them, the portrait of all the people he ever met, knew or cherished: family, colleagues, lovers; Candace, Maddy; the guise of Astorians; Bonnie.
    [​IMG]On the other bank, an inky cloud had formed. Like the space between galaxies, threatening tendrils reached over the flooded torrent amidst cryptic intent. Without explanation he was overcome, crippled by the nature of something he could not fathom, driven to terror without ever understanding why. Convinced to save himself, he dove into the river and was instantly propelled outward, through the universe, as though shot from a canon.



    [​IMG]Startling awake, he sat upright like a spring, drenched in cold sweat. His breath had gotten away from him, dizzied and spinning, white as a ghost. He planted his hands to secure himself as the room reeled, but it spiraled remarkably from his control, faster and faster. In a singular, fluid motion, Cooper stood from the bed they shared and crumpled to the floor like a cheap suit. Serenity beckoned. He answered the call.
     
    #7 Anonymous, Feb 17, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    The Interim: A Phone Call, II

    [​IMG]"Hey brother, what's the news?"
    [​IMG]"Man, you're on my shit list. I just spent the last hour getting my ass ripped apart by the biggest swinging dicks in the department," complained a friendly voice, frustrated as it may have been by the severity of their conversation. The manner in which they carried on would have suggested this was standard behavior.
    [​IMG]"What's the matter, sweetheart? Didn't buy you dinner first?"
    [​IMG]"Fuck you, Knowles," the other man replied, laughing under his breath. He paused a moment before continuing to speak. "What do you want first, good news or bad?"
    [​IMG]"Come on, let's hear the worst of it," Coop responded, groaning in anticipation.
    [​IMG]"They want you to leave the port authority alone for now. We're working with the CBP, they'll be able to bypass the civilian infrastructure. You'll have access to the reports when they're compiled, but that's gonna take time. Did you get the letter I faxed over, from the ASC?"
    [​IMG]"To North Watch? Yeah, discrepancies in their shipments."
    [​IMG]"We were bound to find anomalies. Any pier, you name it," expressed the speaker on his phone. "So do me a favor, leave it the fuck alone until I hear something new. Did you get in for your interview and exchange with the local precinct?"
    [​IMG]"Hell no, they're piled neck high in bullshit. Two reported homicides since I've been here, missing girl, some strange rumors about hazmat crews. I copied you on the report," Cooper verified bluntly, transmitting the flick of his lighter, a fresh cigarette.
    [​IMG]"I read it. I'll make another call," the voice confirmed. "But I've got more bad news for you."
    [​IMG]"What, I pushed the Foreman a little too hard? Give me a fuckin' break, I'm looking for dead girls in cans."
    [​IMG]"That's not it. I heard they called the Grand Jury. We can keep it quiet for awhile, but they'll find out eventually, and when that happens they'll pull your contract until the verdict comes in."
    Silence stole the conversation, reflecting on what he'd just been told with a sinking feeling in his chest that left him anxious and temperamental. Heat flushed to his face. This wasn't supposed to be happening so soon, but he'd been expecting it all the same. "Still there, Coop?"[​IMG]
    [​IMG]"Yeah, I'm here. How much time do I have," he inquired, inhaling and exhaling a billowy cloud of smoke into his phone without concern for modern etiquette.
    [​IMG]"A few weeks. If it was me, brother, I'd be taking some time off right about now. And I've got the perfect opportunity for you to step away, get your head on straight," his supervisor suggested.
    [​IMG]"Weekend with your sister? One way ticket to Whore Island?"
    [​IMG]"Shut the fuck up, bustin' my balls," the other man trailed at a crippled cadence. "We nabbed clearance for the North Watch scene in Portland like you've been asking for. Summarize your findings, send them to me, take a trip on Uncle Sam's dime."
    [​IMG]"How'd you swing that?"
    [​IMG]"Everyone's got their hands tied. You're the only one in the area we can free up. Leave in the morning, check in when you get there, okay?"
    [​IMG]"Yeah. Yeah, alright," Coop replied flatly. "I'll speak to you then."
    [​IMG]"I mean it, check in when you get there," the voice implored assertively, "and stay out of trouble. Christ, you're on thin ice around here."
     
    #8 Anonymous, Feb 21, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Portland, I

    [​IMG]The drive from Astoria to Portland was scenic by most considerations. Ice and snow piled in large banks on the sides of the road, small towns ushered motorists along Route 30, sweeping forested hills, the sort of places men could observe and hold sacred, convinced that whatever happened beyond their border was inconsequential. Coop didn't hate the idea of disappearing somewhere like that.
    [​IMG]Together, this was their second trip into the city. Bonnie had driven them weeks prior to conduct separate matters of business, something illicit and something investigatory, but the scene at North Watch was destined to demand more of him than his exchange of profiles and reports with the Staties. A few days, at least. It was his candid intention to gather what he needed for the record, get a little reckless with his partner in crime, and enjoy a short vacation when the work was done, his first since he recovered from Dearborn.
    [​IMG]A two hour trek later, they split ways at the Seward, an old boutique of a hotel on the west side of the Willamette River. It's history was storied, dating back to 1909 when an architect took an immeasurable risk and built something daring, inventive for the time: the exterior was glazed in terra cotta; robot-like sentinels adorned the roof-line. When they checked into their room, other visitors stared. They stuck out like a sore thumb. By all accounts it was an expensive place to be, and he got a kick out of watching the blue bloods squirm.
    [​IMG]Coop called his supervisor shortly thereafter, as he'd been instructed. Head Office had scheduled him an escort from CID, fighting lunch-hour traffic until they reached ground zero, a frustrating commute through downtown, a hastily fabricated memorial and a checkpoint. From a distance the damage almost seemed negligible, but upon approach the magnitude broadened. Rescue crews were still on site, the rubble had all been picked through and piled around the street, awaiting delivery to another location for forensics and disposal. A parade of cars with flashing lights seemed to be directing access for a multitude of agencies each present for distinct motivations.
    [​IMG]The facility itself was quite large, a collection of wings that appeared stark even by modern sensibilities, brick and concrete, four stories high. On each floor, not a single panel of glass sat in its window unbroken. A void prevailed where the lobby once stood, a ruination that expanded into the third floor, the location of the initial blast. On the other end of the building, in the northern most corner, a massive hole exposed what might have once been offices but were now difficult to identify.
    [​IMG]He and his escort spent most of their day speaking with the local Police and Fire Departments, both of which had been the foremost responding authorities. Their statements shared many of the same details, that upon arrival the first detonation had already occurred, that Officer's were struggling to secure the area amidst the chaos and injury when the second went off, or that Emergency Services scarcely managed the abundance of victims, simply by volume. Everyone seemed convinced this had been the doing of URSA, an organization of eco-terrorists, but Coop was still grappling with the connection.
    [​IMG]It wasn't until late afternoon that he was finally permitted entrance to the interior, to witness the damage first hand, and immediately became skeptical. While the Portland Police Department might have been in control on the outside, Homeland Security had their own agenda on the inside. Most of the scene had been made inaccessible by government clearance, citing structural safety concerns by official dispatch and exposure to hazardous materials by rumor. Either explanation offered him little satisfaction, however. He wanted to see for himself.
    [​IMG]In the evening, he collected the evidence reports and caught a ride back to the Hotel, where he met Bonnie. They hooked up with a guy she knew, copped and got high, hopped from bar to bar until last call and narrowly avoided delinquency in the back seat of a cab, but it was a difficult promise for Coop, to leave it behind and embrace distraction. Eventful though the night had been, it nagged at him. He could pretend not to listen, but it made no difference. What had been hidden behind the tape?
     
    #9 Anonymous, Feb 22, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2019
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  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Portland, II

    [​IMG]An alarm blared, his phone buzzed across a bedside table, Bonnie sleep-kicked him square in the shin. Like most mornings since the start of their friendship, his days had a tendency to begin in similar fashion. He'd roll out of bed drunk or hung over, riding the dilaudid, always more tired than when he laid down to begin with, and the first thing he'd go for was the flask. It either made him puke or killed the headache, a win-win as far as he was concerned.
    [​IMG]That morning was no different. They received a knock on their door well before the sun rose, a noise complaint delivered by a severe looking manager with a bristly mustache and a fading head of hair. When they later crossed paths in the lobby, it was nothing short of contempt that glinted in the codgers eyes, but Coop got a rise out of it, a subtle thrill. He couldn't have explained why, dissected the behavior or damned his conduct. Maybe he was hoping someone would get sick of his shit and lay into him. That'd been exciting.
    [​IMG]State CID picked him up from the Seward in the morning and accompanied him to the Medical Examiner's Office on schedule, to collect the forensics data on incident casualties and observe the bodies for themselves. The pathologist had completed the autopsies following procedure, directly after the coroner's analysis and within the first twenty-four hours of expiration, but expecting three slabs, Coop was instead provided five. The discrepancy would have been cause for concern if this hadn't been such an uncommon crime, and with reports matching the victims to the time and location, the tell-tale signs of interior pooling, fractures, and two instances of missing appendages, the conclusion was relatively straight forward. They had all suffered blunt force trauma related to explosive impact.
    [​IMG]North Watch cleaning crews were present in a big way when they arrived, Coop's second day at the scene, marching around the facility without the same sort of restrictions Homeland Security had applied to the throng of Agencies now benched on the sidelines. Whatever they were doing there, that was above his pay grade and certainly above his clearance. Out of frustration, he pushed his escort on the subject and succeeded only in escalating confrontation. After all, what could he have done differently? They were both stifled at the mercy of similar constraints.
    [​IMG]Stuck without recourse, he resorted to canvasing. Local authorities had tried their hardest to keep civilians from crowding, but they seemed impervious, forming larger and larger groups that began erecting their own memorials, like the one Coop spotted on his way in the day prior, and most of what he gathered seemed a waste of time. Speculation, rumors at best. Aliens, Illuminati, insurance scandal. Some claimed the URSA wasn't even involved, or that the bombings had been an inside job. Others were still desperately searching for loved ones with no avail.
    [​IMG]When Coop returned to the hotel that evening, he was spent, defeated by obstruction. Bonnie drug him out again for the usual sort of trouble, but his mind was preoccupied: there was nothing left he could do here without seeing the rest of the scene. He stayed awake throughout, washed his hands of it, to compile his findings so they could leave the next morning, departing south from Portland and along the coast for the rest of his vacation like a bat out of hell, on edge by the lack of closure. They stopped at diners and bars along the way, pulled over at intervals to wander and spark a blunt, stayed at cheap, sleazy motels for another three days until meandering back to Astoria in time for the Town Fair.
    [​IMG]It was with absolute recognition that he surveyed an underlying impulse to steer his life into oncoming traffic, clear of regularity, a willing anticipation that something terrible might finally happen, thank Christ. There was a moment when the work provided a destination, like the vision of a tired old man surrounded by family, or that the struggle had been for something greater, something he didn't quite understand, perhaps, but was there all the same. It used to make him feel valuable, but after Dearborn that value was tainted by shame and regret. Certainly, the indictment would come, and at last the world would know. He could stop pretending. He could disappear.
     
    #10 Anonymous, Feb 25, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  11. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    The Interim: A Phone Call, III

    [​IMG]When he returned from Portland the vacation crawled on, colliding with his work in a spectacular display of obsession and catastrophe. He took less care of himself than he was already accustomed: drank to a detriment; stayed awake until it was difficult to tell the days apart, rarely dressed or ate; inhaled a thirty day prescription in less than a week; left the apartment only for liquor or cigarettes, maybe a few rounds at Frankie's; but otherwise remained a fixture at his kitchen table, flipping through the same several dozen photographs ad nauseum, comparing them to coroners reports and eye witness testimonies, police reports and evidence summaries. The bender swept into the following week when his phone rang, an unknown number. He answered in silence.

    [​IMG]"C-Coop. Hello? Hello," quaked a timid, uncertain voice, sweet like a gentle melody. They hadn't spoke since Detroit and for good reason, but reacquainted now -- even at a distance -- sent a shiver up his spine. Memories rose to the surface like relics strapped to buoys.
    [​IMG]"Maddy? Oh Maddy, god damnit," he sighed into the phone, shamefully palming his face. They weren't supposed to be talking, certainly not on the telephone, but things had changed. "What are you doing?"
    [​IMG]"I know y-you said not to call, b-but -"
    [​IMG]"Fuck it. Doesn't matter anymore," he interrupted, pausing to light a fresh cigarette, the flick of a zippo. "Are you okay?"
    [​IMG]"No," she choked through a sob, barely capable. "P-people keep c-coming by, Coop. They're asking a lot of q-questions."
    [​IMG]"What'd they say to you," he demanded pointedly, a seething boil as his heart raced.
    [​IMG]"S-said I'll have to testify, that I'm a l-liar, to retract m-m-my statement. You told me, you promised I w-wouldn't have to!"
    [​IMG]"And you won't. They're trying to scare you, Freckles."
    [​IMG]"Well it's w-working!"
    [​IMG]"So what's the problem, you don't trust me anymore? I told you," he affirmed, ashing listlessly as he gestured with a wild hand. "I told you something like this might happen, and if it did, I'd make it go away. I said that, didn't I?"
    [​IMG]"Y-yes, but -"
    [​IMG]"Then you've got nothing to worry about," he impeded. The line died for a spell, both parties trod carefully, as though afraid to disturb the quiet, but it couldn't last. "Just do me a favor, okay? Take care of yourself, give them the story they want."
    [​IMG]"W-what're you gonna do, Coop?"
    [​IMG]"Come clean," he offered with fatal sincerity. "Tell them everything, the whole damn truth."
     
    #11 Anonymous, Mar 2, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2019
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  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    "Hang there like fruit, my soul, till the tree die!"

    [​IMG]Strange, those little things, the smell of her hair, the flavor of balm. Like so many profound inspirations her name rang in his ear, whispered on the wind and earth, a smile so lost and simple but piled beneath ruin. Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie. Transformative, their tangled limbs and sweated brow, where one ended and the other began, a slumber bestowed by impassioned toil.
    [​IMG]It screamed to him -- a fool! -- what harm the lover destined for empty arms. Weeks, a month, the passage of time before judgement, delivered as the damnation from secret scrolls? He didn't care to speak it, those looming truths on the horizon which shared in the now and future a similar result. A dark night, a darker morning surely, but the sun would rise again and he would always have the memory of her, rain of the world, whether or not he would be there to witness.
    [​IMG]And the faces, the god damned faces, they clung like specters, apparitions of the wayward coil left in once capable hands. The lie could not be sought when he professed to fervor, the hours withered replacing one with her, but for the same ambition it stung as completely. It was his only defense for the inevitable. Make due with the moment, remember their languid coitus. Soon he would be gone, and in this he steeled himself.
    [​IMG]From it all arose a wicked sense of presence, the reason for being, those husks disposed and stacked ghoulishly as the forgotten whims of madmen and locusts. Astoria held its mystery abreast, sincerely, littered by unsolved obscurities, among them a girl with pink hair and a wild heart who coaxed the animal in him. To treat death like a toy was a wondrous, powerful motivation, enraptured by purpose, obsessed with the dance and the moon. Alight like fire and coal.
    [​IMG]It was all he could ask on the eve of calamity.
     
    #12 Anonymous, Mar 4, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2019
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  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, III

    [​IMG]He awoke to an unfamiliar mattress in an unfamiliar room, head pounding from a hangover. Raven was still asleep when he rolled out of bed and started his day, a fitful rest that destined to wake him time and again until he grew weary of the routine, but it had always been easier to leave this way. No small talk, no bullshit, like two ships passing in the night. It was simple by his standards, though perhaps more complicated by others. To him, fucking strangers came as naturally as breathing or walking on two legs.
    [​IMG]The week leading up to their rendezvous had been busier than most since his arrival in Astoria. That's where she crossed paths with him again, what was becoming his impromptu office at the Astoria Cafe and Wine Bar. Anticipating the cancellation of his federal contract, he scrounged every resource still available to him, hounded the local precinct, and started to make headway for the first time in weeks.
    [​IMG]Vital to his undisclosed investigation, he was finally able to reach Sandra King's father on the telephone. When her mother passed away in 2004, Norman explained, he moved back home to live with his surviving family in Whistler, outside of Vancouver. His daughter, Sandra, had opted to stay in Oregon when he left, where she was a dedicated student enrolled at the University of Portland, studying Environmental Science and Ethics. She was only twenty-two when she was reported missing by a peer who had accompanied her to visit old friends in Astoria a month prior, and Norm had been hospitalized by an injury sustained during a camping trip, so it was his first time hearing the news. He was devastated to say the least. Hopeful, but devastated all the same.
    [​IMG]During their conversation he relayed another particularly crucial piece of information. In her third year at school, she started dating a local activist by the name of Howard Katzin who caught felony charges for burglary, vandalism of federal property and threatening an official during a staged protest turned riot, opposing rumors that the North Watch facility had been testing the application of weaponized viruses on animals. Reaching out to the Gang Intelligence Unit in Beaumont, where Howard was serving, revealed another interesting detail. Sandra's boyfriend was a radical environmentalist who claimed to be a member of the URSA some time before his arrest.
    [​IMG]Whether or not Sandra King was associated, no one could say. Traveling to Beaumont for an interview was certainly out of the question and Mr. Katzin refused any offers to increase privilege for exchange of testimony, but the picture was beginning to formulate. From the letter to North Watch addressed by the ASC, to Sandra King and her connection to a man who may or may not have had information regarding the terrorists or the organization who carried out the bombings in Portland, and the four local homicides, the victims all of which had been female, his focus was locked on the Port. Circumstantial or not, he was at the end of his rope. Discrepant North Watch shipping containers were sitting on that dock, and his time was running out.
     
    #13 Anonymous, Mar 10, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2019 at 7:36 AM
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  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, IV

    [​IMG]Sickly florescent lights illuminated the aisles of the local hardware store as he searched the shelves, looking for a new door latch. He'd fallen asleep the night prior, drunk on a park bench, broken nose and a black eye, melted ice pack held to his face, puzzled as to what had happened when stirred by the buzz of his cell phone. It was Bill, his supervisor from the Bureau, delivering the inevitable news he'd been waiting for. Coop's contract had been canceled. If he didn't return to Michigan in a timely manner, the FBI would request the District Attorney file motion for a bench warrant to cover their asses.
    [​IMG]That alone might have been cause for grievance, but when he returned to his apartment he found it broken into, ransacked, his furniture toppled. The documentation and crime scene photography stored in neat manila folders on his kitchen table had been spread during the frenzy in a disorganized mess upon the floor. His toothbrush was in the toilet. Nearly every tablet of dilaudid had been emptied from his prescription in the medicine cabinet. The red yarn on his conspiracy board had been creatively rearranged to spell "FUCK YOU".
    [​IMG]As he began to piece together the events which lead him here, the culprit seemed obvious. They had a row in the parking lot outside of Frankie's, he knew that much. What he said, it was difficult to be sure, and how she found out, he had absolutely no idea. He did recall, however, clear as day, that moment when she decided to leave and he grabbed her arm. She went for the gun stored in her bag and looked to use it. Coop had half a mind to let her.
    [​IMG]Odd to recount, at least for him, he felt awful for the position he put Raven in. Usually he didn't dwell on this sort of thing, the cascading torrent of guilt and shame that accompanied infidelity, but Bonnie had loomed so large in his heart, repressed as it may have been, that she became his only focus. He cared a great deal more for her than he would have ever admitted in person, but before Bonnie and Raven, it was Maddy and Candace, and before Maddy and Candace, well, it was difficult to keep track. He was used to this behavior, but rarely, if ever, had it gripped him like disappointing that wild, pink haired girl he met in Astoria.
    [​IMG]Sat in the mess on his linoleum floor, a bottle of bourbon the miraculous survivor of Bonnie's rampage, he remarked in silence the capacity of her destructive will with a particular brand of respect that left him smiling. God damn, could she tear it down, and he deserved every bit of it. Filing a police report would have been the work of a coward, spiteful and unnecessary. Rather, he dialed her number and it rang until answered by voicemail.
    [​IMG]"Hey, Firecracker. Listen, I uh," he paused for a moment, clearing his throat. "I want you to know I'm sorry. No excuses, no bullshit," the line died again, a considerable break. He wanted to say more, but it wouldn't have done either of them a benefit. "I'll see you around."
     
    #14 Anonymous, Mar 13, 2019 at 9:03 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2019 at 4:45 PM
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  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, V

    [​IMG]By all accounts, Coop was teetering on the edge. He'd been standing near the precipice for quite some time, inching his way closer to the point of no return, but after word came through that his contract was finished, that Bonnie wanted nothing to do with him, that he was no closer to finding what he came to Astoria in search for, he was more prepared to take the dive than he'd ever been. His only concern was making it back to Detroit that he might clear the air, explain what happened at Dearborn and spare Maddy from living a lie. They'd make it hard for her, certainly, but she was the victim of a terrible crime. She'd be forgiven.
    [​IMG]On the other hand, Coop would be headed for prison if the indictment came through. He falsified a confidential informant, instructed the testimony of a state's witness, premeditated the murder of three men, and obstructed the course of justice by use of official channels and chain of custody. The District Attorney wouldn't be pushing for Grand Jury if he didn't have something damning up his sleeve, but the shame of it all? The absolute wrenching guilt, the devastating demolition of his life's work? It all paled in comparison, knowing that when he got back to Michigan it would be empty handed. The promise he made to Maddy would be for nothing, and she might never have the closure necessary to move on.
    [​IMG]Everyone always told him it would get easier to detach as the job grew long. Coop never had that experience, however. With each passing clearance, with every new body caught on rotation, he only became more obsessed, involved to a detriment. The change had been gradual upon approach of events unfolding at the Nicholson Terminal, where he was called to crack a shipping container piled with the corpses of young women, and there was no going back after that. He became the thing he hated to put an end to it and was still drowning to this day by the weight of that decision, like he had been shackled to an anvil and dropped in the Detroit River.
    [​IMG]That's where his head had been in the days leading up to, during, and after his row in the parking lot with Bonnie, and the fist fight at Frankie's with Decebal. Had he gotten his hands on that Romanian bastard, he would have throttled the life out of him, spilled his teeth across the god damn floor, pummeled that shit eating grin until his face was rearranged. In the moment, Coop wouldn't have been bothered to add another state to the list of prosecutors. It was all over for him anyway, and there was little else more dangerous than a man who had nothing to live for.
    [​IMG]One bad choice after another, he despised that Dianne had to clean up his mess, to have him forcibly removed after the brawl, contentious as their relationship may have been. Like his shrink back home, she had seen every disturbing aspect of him, the alcoholism and the addiction, the violence, the fraternization, steadily wading deeper and deeper into the ocean, adrift on the current without burden. It wasn't her job to reel him in, though. She poured drinks and he drank them. That was all they wanted from one another.
    [​IMG]Separated that day from his watering hole, he wandered the streets without aim. He had every intention of making it to the strip club across town, but never reached his destination. Rather, he stopped on a bench and buried his head in his hands. A time existed when he was a good man, a decent man. He couldn't remember what that was like, but it was as if he lived another life before those first cases in Detroit, before the Wayne County Killer and LLW. Something changed after that. He couldn't put his finger on what it was, but whatever kept someone on the right side of morality had broke in him. Ensorcelled by the stress and the gravity of it all, he remained vacant until interrupted, sat alone on that bench when a familiar voice caught his ear like a bell had been rung.
    [​IMG]"Hey, you're that guy who used to be a detective, right? The psychologist," he asked. Dante didn't know any better, that his position with Behavioral Sciences at the Bureau was in name only. Coop's training came from case work, and not from academia, but he didn't bother correcting him.
    [​IMG]"That's right. What's goin' on," Coop replied.
    [​IMG]"I found something, and well, you're smart. Maybe you can take a look at it for me?"
     
    #15 Anonymous, Mar 15, 2019 at 4:46 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2019 at 1:37 AM
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  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    The Riversea Galleria

    [​IMG]Several days before Dante tracked him down, Coop had discovered a simple VHS cassette at the Astoria Cafe & Wine Bar, resting on a table near his usual seat in the corner. It looked new and had no visible markings save for a numerical label that indicated it was the first in a series, "#1". A simple curiosity, Coop found a tape player from a second hand electronics store in town and hauled it back to his apartment, and when played, it preformed an abrupt introductory message.
    [​IMG]"If you've gone so far to start this recording, at least I have your attention," a man shrouded by shadow relayed. The screen was hardly visible, but dialing the brightness and contrast on Coop's television revealed his silhouette. A few seconds of silence passed. "Be careful with who you share this with. Trusting everyone is the surest way to fail. I will leave my next message where you found this one. I hope you will find it first."
    [​IMG]Though his interest was piqued, Coop waited day after day at the cafe, hoping he might spot an unfamiliar face or another recording, but the tape never appeared. He'd given up that there'd ever be a second, and so tried his damnedest to play through the cassette already in his possession, hoping something in the audio might provide a lead, or that he had perhaps missed something that would indicate where it had been filmed, but it didn't. Until Dante found him, he was sure it had been a hoax.
    [​IMG]The two of them were unlikely allies, united only by circumstance. Dante was young and inquisitive, impressionable, but imposing by his stature. Simple, maybe, but not stupid. Definitely not stupid. When he produced for Coop the second recording, played from Dante's living room, he was greeted by the same obscured videography, like the two messages had been filmed in succession and separated, though for what purpose he couldn't say.
    [​IMG]"Make no mistake, look to the Mall for answers," the stranger's voice on the tape advised.


    -----​

    [​IMG]Surprisingly, Dante had already been prepared for this, construction jumpsuits and hard hats for disguises, a tool box filled with everything a man might need to force entry. It rang an internal alarm, but Coop was desperate. Without Bonnie, he lacked the means to enter the Port and crack those shipping containers like he planned, and was only days away, if not sooner, from a bench warrant to be issued by the 36th District Court. His back was to the wall. Breaking and entering were the least of his concerns.
    [​IMG]Piled into Dante's truck, they drove in relative silence until stopped in the parking lot outside the Galleria. They didn't have much of a plan, or any idea what to expect, but they at least looked the part. Only moments after arrival and abandoning their transport, however, they were stopped by personnel. Though he recognized Coop, the night shift patrolman couldn't put his finger on where or how, and when Dante suggested they were looking for his keys, that they might leave for the day, they were told nothing had been turned in and to be gone by morning. Apparently, most of their electronic security systems were down. The timing was serendipitous.
    [​IMG]Not long after speaking with the guard, they came across a set of twin doors. They were locked, both by biometrics, which were inoperable due to the outage, and a standard key mechanism. The inside of the mall was sparsely illuminated by a collection of work lights, tools scattered across the tarp-covered tile floor. The entrance plaza was large, with two sets of stairs leading to the second floor, and in between, a fountain shaped in the same manner as the North Watch logo. It didn't appear that there were any security inside at the moment.
    [​IMG]Dante, having watched many movies, attempted to pick the lock for about a minute without success. After several more tries, they decided on using duct tape to make sure the glass didn't shatter, latticed over the pane, and hammered through, facilitated by using a folded rain coat to dampen the noise from impact. They were able to unlock the door from the other side by aid of the opening created, and upon entering the mall the sheer size became more apparent. It was a long walk to the other end of the plaza, from the bottom floor a large shutter seemed to be separating it from the other side. This, however, was easily circumvented by using the second floor to bypass it. A remarkable structure, the vast extent of it was failed justice by the simple glow of standing work lights.
    [​IMG]As Coop stepped through the door, its lock bypassed, he peered cautiously through the interior looking for points of interest, other security guards, or operating cameras, of which he spotted several. Most were not easy to avoid. They did, however, seem to have a pattern to them that allowed for brief windows of evasion. Taking these variables into account, he turned to Dante.
    [​IMG]"Keep an eye out for doors marked 'Employee's Only'," he muttered, ushering his partner along after him, stuck to the perimeter as they wandered forward. The only access in proximity had been to empty store fronts.
    [​IMG]In hushed voices, they discussed their next plan of action, deciding that the cameras weren't necessary to avoid as long as they acted like they belonged and made sure their faces were never directly recorded. With little other options available, they purposefully climbed the stairs and continued their search for any other nonstandard entrances that might lead to areas designated for staff members. The second floor was intricately designed, behind them a circular loop with a giant window, undoubtedly built to allow sunlight in, though now in the evening had been occupied by the brilliance of the rising moon. On their left, a door marked "Employee's Only" immediately caught their attention. To their surprise, it was unlocked.
    [​IMG]On the other side, a long corridor took a left-turn. A sign on the wall identified it as leading to the 'SECURITY ROOM', and it didn't seem as though there were any sounds coming from the other end, no televisions or voices. Unsure at first, but eventually steeled by resolve, they briefly convened on the dangers inherit but settled on its potential, too great to ignore had they any desire to formulate a plan for pushing further into the complex. They followed the turn in the corridor and walked to its end, stopping at a heavy door. Dante handed him a wrench then from the toolbox he had in tow, arming himself as well, prepared to enter with haste should the room be occupied. Reaching out, Coop gripped the handle and gave it a turn.
    [​IMG]When they stepped through, they were faced with an air conditioning unit. Opposite was the security office, which was clearly empty. It seemed that whomever was on duty had abandoned their post, a relief to the intruders. While Dante busied himself with searching for keys or an identification card, a floor plan or loose documentation, Coop sat himself at a desk where a terminal was logged into session, where the last user had been browsing Google and distasteful porn. With the tabs closed, several shortcuts on the desktop provided access to camera feeds, the mail server, employee listings, and a log of use for the biometric security system.
    [​IMG]The video feeds themselves proved predominately useless. Contractors and construction personnel were still on site and the patrolling guards were far and few between. There were staff entrances in every plaza, right around the partitions that separated them, but by most regards, the complex was relatively devoid of life.
    [​IMG]"You find anything yet," he asked Dante without shifting his gaze. He hadn't. The room was mostly empty of any blueprints, or files. There were a few pages laid bare on a table, scripts for the launch day of the mall, but that was it. In that moment, the computer beeped.
    [​IMG]Coop would have startled had he not been so focused. Rather, he investigated the other open tabs or windows for anything that might have received a notification or an update, a noticeable (1) hovering over a shortcut named 'MAIL SERVER'. There were a whole host of messages, hundreds at most, none of which sparked much interest save the title of the newest, which read: 'WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ANNOUNCEMENT IS?'


    [​IMG]Scanning the communication, he read it over once and again, a second time, an attempt to commit the information to memory before closing the application. They were pushing their luck, whoever's office this belonged to would likely return soon, but he needed to examine what was left. He navigated then to the 'BIOMETRIC LOGINS' shortcut and opened it, a list primarily made of names, photographs, and personal information for the individuals who accessed the active portions of biometric locks on site. Though it was extensive, Coop quickly scrolled through, looking for a familiar face or a door listing that seemed out of the ordinary.
    [​IMG]Most of them had no relevance. There were a few employee listings for key figures within the company, a Joshero Kiresawa, who seemed to be on management level as well as logins for base level security: Dalton Stone, Aaron Kearney and Jason Aldridge. It was nothing too revealing. On register already was Desmond Parrish and his collection of VIPs: Brian Cooke, a board member and Sean Benford, a doctor who strangely lacked most of his information.
    [​IMG]"Come on, we've gotta go," Dante said, looking angsty, urging Coop to hurry his search. Suspiciously, he peered around the corner every so often.
    [​IMG]"Yeah, yeah. I'm almost done," he trailed, squinting at the screen. Of it all, only the Doctor seemed to catch his eye, specifically that the provided data seemed barren compared to the others. Taking note of his name, he closed the window and selected the browser, so he might reopen Google and the pornography left abandoned by the security personnel, so it would seem less obvious someone had been using the station. "Okay, let's get the fuck outta here."
    [​IMG]Coop was close behind, stood to follow after Dante who lead them back the way they'd came, the wrench given to him plucked from the desk where he left it when the search at the computer began. He closed the door to the Security Room on his way out, escorted by the corridor back to where they originally turned and through the next door, to the second floor of the open plaza. The pathway was still clear.
    [​IMG]From there, it seemed obvious to Coop the questions that needed to be answered. What was the big announcement he read about in the e-mail? Who was Sean Benford, and why were his details so obscured when even Desmond Parrish's were not? As they exited into the parking lot, he turned to look at the mall in a different light. Nothing damning, perhaps, but in combination with the VHS tapes that lead them there, the evidence seemed to hint at something he had yet to put his finger on, but something all the same. How it related to Maddy or Dearborn, there was no telling, but something very strange was happening in Astoria, and North Watch was at the center of it all. He was certain.
     
    #16 Anonymous, Mar 16, 2019 at 5:14 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2019 at 3:52 PM
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  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Astoria, VI

    [​IMG]When he returned to his ruined apartment that night, after the break in at Riversea, his mind was firing on all cylinders. Dante had dropped him off and they didn't share a word on the drive back home, so he was aching to put it all on paper when he sat down in the mess, the over turned furniture and broken television, the toothbrush still in his toilet. The only thing he bothered to clean in the aftermath of Bonnie's revenge were his photographs and files upon files, sorted after hours of painstaking labor into their rightful sequences and locales.
    [​IMG]His greatest adversary since her departure had been the dilaudid. Christ, the dilaudid. He was shaking like a god damn tree in a hurricane, the sweat never seemed to cease, his skin was pale as a ghost. If she planned to make him pay through detox, god damn if it wasn't working. Every little breath felt like torture. He was vomiting each hour on the hour like clockwork. Anything he forced himself to eat came back up almost as quickly, and drinking, well, that only made things worse. It didn't prevent him from chiseling a fifth of bourbon every day, but it certainly didn't make things any easier for Coop. By the time a blank library card slid under the crack of his front door, he was so dehydrated he thought it might have been a hallucination, or a fever dream.
    [​IMG]But the next day, sure as the sun would shine, it was there on his bedside table, waiting for him with the sort of dubious suggestion that brought him to the Riversea. Whoever had the intention of leading him there, he felt like a rat in a maze. And why was it blank? What purpose would it serve him, other than a sign in the road, a large pointed arrow, saying 'Look Here, You Dumb Bastard'?
    [​IMG]Certain enough, he spent plenty of time in the cafe next door. The library wasn't without familiarity, of course, often the only source available to check his e-mail and whatever alternative news he couldn't pick up in the local papers, but he also hadn't spent enough time there to know who came and went with more frequency. He checked through every spine on every shelf looking for something that might have been left behind, asked the librarian where or why a blank card might have been circulating with little assistance.
    [​IMG]"I don't know. That's odd," she told him. Great.
    [​IMG]It wasn't until he sat himself down at the terminal he hadn't often used, nearest the printer, that he noticed something odd in the browser history. A government source for missing persons had been recently visited, the individuals themselves mostly middle-aged men, though not without minor deviations, a young adult or child found here or there. Furthermore, there were results in the history linked to a series of street-fighting websites that had been blocked by the libraries firewall. Unsure if it had any relevance, he printed everything he could and sat on the couch digging through it all ad nauseum.
    [​IMG]Some time in the evening, the doors started to revolve with the kind of traffic he didn't presume regular from the experiences he'd had with the townsfolk. He didn't hold it against them, they were hard drinkers and hard workers, and books weren't the sort of thing that were destined to survive the internet, but through the course of several hours he spotted many familiar faces come and go. Cliff, Ramirez. Bonnie, perhaps mostly importantly. He hadn't seen her in person since the fight with Decebal, and he was still sorting with the shame like a house of cards on a seesaw.
    [​IMG]And he apologized to her. Good lord, did he apologize. Saying it over the phone hadn't been enough for him, and it hadn't been enough for her either, he could tell by the way that she carried herself and the fork in her tongue. She had every reason to hate him, and Coop had no place to deny her that, but he said it all regardless. He hadn't felt this kind of regret since who knows when? Dearborn, maybe.
    [​IMG]That night, when they parted ways, he had only been home for a few hours before an irritated knock shook his door. Bang, bang. Bang, bang. Coop was ready to draw the pistol stowed in the waist of his jeans when he answered, nearly tackled by the wild, purple haired girl on the other side as it swung open. It took him a moment to adjust, caught off guard, and he had nearly put an end to it when the endorphins kicked in, awash in an angry, aggressive coupling that carried on until he was dead asleep. Even as much as she vented, kicking him with a vengeance until morning, he didn't budge.
    [​IMG]Unmoved. No dreams. Clear head. Serene.
     
    #17 Anonymous, Mar 17, 2019 at 4:36 AM
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2019 at 6:18 PM
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