April 27, 2014

Demons Ascension - Croatoan

[Posted by Ted H]

There's still about 20 minutes before midnight...technically it's still Sunday.
...Part 3, the final one, of the exposition dump...


[Demons Ascension - Croatoan]

            "What do you know about Roanoke?" he asked as he opened the book, the spine cracking from years of non-use, and searched for the appropriate page.
            "The lost colony?" James asked, "Or not so lost colony?"
            "Right, In the 1580s, the English settled a colony in present day North Carolina. A starting point for privateers. The main ships left for England to return with supplies. When they did return, they found that the colony was abandoned."
            "They assimilated with the nearby indian tribe. Case closed. What does this have to do with the symbol?"
            "That's not the whole story," Matthew said as he flipped to the correct page and spun the book around to show James. On the opposite page he placed the napkin. The book and the napkin featured the exact same symbol. "What you have in Chicago is a demon, but it's far worse than that," he said with a grim look.
            "What can possibly be worse than a demon?" James asked "The big guy himself?"
            "I wish," Matthew said "If the big guy, as you put it, wanted to conquer the earth, he wouldn't be faffing about it, we'd already be in the apocalypse. This is worse though."
            "Listen to me very carefully," James said with a serious look "I've been jerked around a lot regarding the identity of this guy. I will punch you in the face if you too decide to get all cryptic on me instead of flat out telling me who this guy is. Now just tell me his or its name."
            Matthew looked at James for a moment without blinking. He then moved the napkin away revealing the name. He spoke as James read it. "The one you're looking for is called Croatoan."
            "The indian tribe?"
            "Native Americans."
            "Whatever. You're trying to tell me a bunch of indians are what I'm looking for?" James was visibly annoyed at the news after such a supernatural buildup. Matthew sighed. "I wish I still had the Bible of Hell," he said "He wrote such an intriguing passage in it."
            "Croatoan is to the devil what the devil himself was to God."
            "There's a story in this isn't there?"
            "Revelations is a funny book in any bible. Heaven and Hell, both have different ideas over how things will go. Basically both of those revelations chapters are little more than fan fiction; The ultimate what-if matchup between good and evil, each with their own personal happy endings. One thing is known though, that the devil will eventually decide that it is his time to reign over earth."
            "How do indians and a lone demon figure in on this?"
            "Earth belongs to nothing. God, not so much abandoned it, but no longer has a strong interest in it. Imagine when you play the Sims game: At first you're really into it and have a hand in everything that happens. Then some time passes and you switch the free will mode on so your sims do things for themselves while you worry about other aspects of the game. Eventually you grow tired of day to day maintenance and do less and less, allowing your sims to do more and more for themselves and also endure the consequences of such actions. Before you were simply coddling them, now they're directing their own destinies. You only step in when you absolutely need to.
            "Time passes, generations of your little sim family come and go until the sims you were directly interacting with are a distant memory, while the current set of sims have been doing everything for and with themselves since birth, only hearing stories of a so called creator. They don't need to believe in you because you don't do the things for and to them that you did for the original generations. Sure, you may do the occasional tweak of addition that will strike the sims as odd, but it won't nearly be as extravagant as what you originally did. You, meanwhile, have grown tired of your sims. Direct intervention no longer suits your fancy and maybe some of the sims have made choices in their free will that you don't particularly approve of. You shelve the game, allowing future sim generations to come and go with even less reason to believe in you, and you less reason to care about them.
            "This is where we currently stand with God; A disinterested higher being that will only pay heed to humanity if something major were to occur. But just like your save file, God doesn't want anyone else playing in his game, so no one is allowed to claim it. The old gods though could, since they'd have home field advantage, but that's a completely different matter."
            "And Croatoan?"
            "The devil will be patient. He has no interest in rushing the end of days. He feels the time will come where he will be known of the god of not only Hell, but of Earth as well. Not all of his demon followers agree. One of which decided to claim the rule of Earth for themselves. One does not simply declare themselves a god however. When Croatoan found his way to Earth, he found that his influence was negligible. Not only that, but once the devil tracked him down, there would be hell to pay, no pun intended.
            "Croatoan was not the first, nor the last demon to defy their creator. But unlike the devil, they all lacked the skill and cunning to achieve the same success he did. Croatoan was no different, but what made him special was when he stumbled upon a tribe of Native Americans. They saw him as a god, and immediately worshiped him. This alone would not save Croatoan from the devil, but they possessed secrets and knowledge from the old gods. How any of them came to that knowledge, or claimed a Bible of Earth for themselves, no one knows.
            "Using the powers that neither major deity knew of, the Croatons, as they begun calling themselves, managed to hide Croatoan from any divine knowledge or tracking. Unless they knew exactly where to look, neither Heaven nor Hell would be able to find Croatoan. And thus he was free to exist and be worshiped like the god he now believed himself to be.
            "Then the New World was discovered and slowly European influence began to spread. Croatoan knew he wouldn't remain hidden much longer, especially when it was Christians making their way across the ocean. He was prepared though. He had for a long time studied the Bible of Earth and found a way to exploit its power to achieve his long desired divinity. The required ritual was useless with his followers, but the approaching English were ripe with what he needed.
            "He needed seven sacrifices, timed apart perfectly and in precise locations to create the proper bastardization of the two divine superpowers at odds; devout followers of God used to conjure the unholy power of the devil. Combined with the ritual from the bible, he could corrupt the energy and use it in tandem with the residual energy of the old gods, the true gods of Earth, and himself become a true god of the realm. The sacrifices creating a conduit of divine power that flowed through him, and when he completed it, his power was absolute. With that power, he would be able to resist both divine entities and lock Heaven and Hell out from Earth permanently.
            "So did the ritual work?" James asked.
            "Well, details are sketchy," Matthew said "Word was that six of the seven were successfully sacrificed and the conduit completed; their souls collected into their hearts, then cut out to be fed to the demon. Three done in secret by his followers, afterwards Croatoan would be powerful enough to block out any divine influence. The next three would be performed by Croatoan himself. After the six are sacrificed, Croatoan will have his powers, but will need to make the final sacrifice to essentially seal the deal and lock out the other realms, because even as a god of Earth, he would still lack enough oomph to stand against either of the major deities.
            "The ritual worked but the final sacrifice, the one necessary to finalize Croatoans divinity, was never made. Some say it was God himself who found a way to step in at the last minute and prevent the final kill. Croatoan failed, now at the mercy of two raging gods, furious at his attempt to claim something that was not his right to take. But Croatoan, with the secrets learned from years with his followers, had a trick up his sleeve.
            "You see, demons and angels, gods and devils, none of them are mortal. They are ever existent, never ceasing to be. Earth is all about being mortal; Every beginning has an end and all things much end. Major interaction between mortals and either angels or demons is impossible. Details are beyond human understanding as far as I can figure it, but that's how it is.
            "So when Croatoan had failed in his attempt to become a god, he quickly realized he was about to be outgunned by not only some seriously pissed off gods, but also their entire armies of angels and demons to boot. The only way out safely was to make himself mortal, then to vanish with the help of his followers so he could safely regain his immortality in secret and stay in hiding while plotting his next attempt."
            "All that made possible from the same book I brought here?" James asked.
            "Maybe," Matthew responded "If you're willing to subscribe to the notion that Croatoan was the one who attacked you outside."
            "Probably. I did take that book from what I believe to be his little alter slash temple. There was just so much blood down there. Do you think he attacked me for the book?"
            "I think he was able to follow you because of the bible. If he wanted it, he would've taken it back instead of trying to torture you. Anything he's needed from that bible, he already memorized over the last few centuries."
            "So why attack me?"
            "Because he failed once before, and you obviously represent the chance to stop him. No matter how bad the odds are for you to prevent him from succeeding, he's unwilling to take that chance. The last time he failed, he barely escaped."
            "What's been stopping him from trying again before now?"
            "The ritual itself was not designed to allow repeat attempts so easily. Those seven sacrifices? They're integral to the ritual, they can't just be randomly replaced. His godhood was tied to their blood. Only a blood family member could be a suitable replacement. The survivors of Roanoke, and more importantly the surviving members of the sacrificed, all were scattered. Many were taken in by the Croatans, who were no longer following their fallen god in hiding. Others were led across the new world to other colonies by divine guidance and protection. They were scattered so Croatoan wouldn't be able to try his ritual again."
            "There any way to manage a loophole?"
            "No such thing as loopholes where the old gods magic is concerned."
            "You think he actually managed to figure out who the descendants would be?"
            "I honestly think he never needed to figure anything out. He's probably been keeping tabs on all the appropriate families since day one. All he needed to do was manipulate conditions to ensure the right people were in the correct place at the right time."
            "There's no way something, even a demon, could orchestrate such events."
            "Croatoan has had centuries to plan this. You've been after him for a week."
            "How can we figure out who these people are in advance though? Might be the best way to prevent everything."
            "At the time, only six family names were ever recorded. So either two of the sacrifices shared a name or one was immediately lost. Hell, only one identity has been remembered to this day: Virginia Dare, the seventh sacrifice."
            "Dare found a way to survive?"
            "Again, details aren't the best, but the same people who recorded Virginia Dare as the final sacrifice failed to mention if she survived the ordeal. Either her sacrifice was, unlikely, botched or something else got in the way long enough for Croatoan to fail. Her mother, however, was rumored to have had another child, thus allowing the bloodline to continue and allow Croatoan another shot. Probably his first act in ensuring a retry."
            "So, the only way to stop him is to mess up his ritual?"
            "That depends. How many murders have occurred?"
            "Specifically? Or in general? Cuz those numbers might vary."
            "Rituals. Anything else is irrelevant, to him and to the matter at hand."
            "Specifically regarding to the heart being cut out? Three."
            Matthew's face slowly grew pale. "This is beyond divine intervention," he said "If you were able to track him down before, you could have easily have allowed either an angel or demon to step in and stop him."
            "Because, you know, I can easily call upon an angel, right? Who wouldn't be able to?"
            "But with the first three sacrifices done, he's now strong enough to repel divine forces. The only way to stop him now is for mortal intervention."
            "Well sure, coming from you that sounds like no big deal."
            "Honestly, your best bet is to track down Eleanor Dare's descendant and find a way to protect her from Croatoan and his followers."
            "Again, sounds easy from you. And you're also suggesting that I simply let three more people die."
            "Unless you can pull their identities out of your ass, yes. For the greater good of the rest of humanity, I'm asking you to not bother trying to save three people we have no idea of how to track down."
            "Alright, I'll figure out the Dare child. What else can I do to damage the demon though?"
            "He is immortal. There isn't a weapon on earth that can possibly hurt him. A head shot may slow him down."
            "Head shot? Because I'm a marksman, right?" James said sarcastically.
            "In the heat of the moment when you need to momentarily jar him, it would work. Anywhere else, he won't even flinch."
            "So basically, stop him from sacrificing the last child cuz there's no way I can hurt him otherwise. But what about you? Didn't you do some weird voodoo stuff before that made him back off?"
            "While the magic and power I wield will always be more effective for me since I am native to this realm, a higher demon of Hell with many more years experience could easily handle me. What I did was merely cast flare by comparison, since I had no idea what I was squaring off against, but it also would have caught the attention of some angel or demon. Croatoan was smart to run, not because I could stand a chance against him, but because his whole plan requires secrecy. And if you're as threatening to his plan as I think you are, then something, be it good or evil, wouldn't have been far behind to keep an eye one you."
            "Stan..." James said softly to himself.
            "Besides, I'm not stupid enough to go against Croatoan even if I thought I had a chance."
            "You have a better chance than anyone else."
            "I'm safe in this house, and so are you so long as you don't leave. Croatoan may be powerful now, even at a fraction of what he'll be capable of, but he won't easily breach this home. I've had years to layer spells and such to secure this place from anything you can think of."
            "Let's just say you're not the first person to come to me for help while trailing a whole mess of problems."
            "So you'd rather sit here and suck on your thumb as prolly the most qualified person in existence to help me?"
            "Yes. Because in the event that you fail, and let's face it, you probably will...In the event that you fail to stop Croatoan, I will still manage, for a short while at least, to stay protected in here while I research a way to possibly save the world. Croatoan takes over, there has to be a way to get one of the major deities back into the picture."
            "You can't even translate that book. You think it's going to have an answer?"
            "An answer can always be found. In time I may be able to figure out its contents."
            "Not fast enough though. You sure there's no one else who can maybe help you read that book?"
            "No. There may be one person who might have the ability to figure it out, but I don't know how to find him. I haven't seen him in years. Like you, he never carries a phone on himself though he has more intriguing reasons. And odds are if he were to come, he would bring that infernal child of his with him and I still haven't been able to clean my carpet from last time they were here."
            "You're going to let a carpet be the reason why you won't ask for help?"
            "I don't even know if the man is dead or not, let alone how to find him."
            "What did God do the first time against Croatoan? You said he somehow found a way to intervene. Why can't he just do it again?"
            "Because he just doesn't care as much as he did then. By time he figures something is wrong, it'll be too late. Hell, right now is too late. Humanity is on its own on this."
            "No pressure, right?"
            "You need to return to Chicago, immediately."
            "Why the rush? Besides the obvious."
            "The forth ritual killing will mark the beginning of the end, and the expedition of his ascension."
            "What do you mean expedite? There a time limit between his kills?"
            "Everything has to fit with the ritual. You have little more than a day to stop him."
            "A day? He's been waiting around a week between killing. Why would he suddenly speed up?"
            "Six days between kills to be exact. It will be six days exactly since his last sacrifice tomorrow."
            "......How long was I out?"
            "Several days. You've probably been forgotten by Croatoan, no doubt confident in your demise. Once the fourth sacrifice is made, his own pattern will repeat itself, but much faster, needing to wait only 6 hours as opposed to six days."
            "Six days, six days, six days," James said as he counted on his hands "Then six hours, six hours, six hours. Six, six, six. How quaint."
            "The number of Croatoan. It's always been confused as the number of the beast. That number is 619."
            "Crap. What time is it now?"
            "A little after seven."
            James said nothing, but was on his feet and running out the door in seconds. He cursed himself for taking the bus as he jogged out of the apartment complex and for the bus stop. After a few minutes of pacing, he started running in the direction of his own apartment to get to where John's car was. He felt dizzy and his back still hurt and burned but he ignored it as he ran.

April 20, 2014

Demons Ascension - THE Bible

[Posted by Ted H]

exposition dump...part 2...


[Demons Ascension - THE Bible]

            "So what is it that you even needed?" Matthew asked, ignoring the question. James went to talk, but stopped as he sprang up. "My bag!" he exclaimed "Where is it?" Matthew pointed to a corner of the room where he had tossed the bag. "That thing is radiating with something unholy," he said "I'm not touching it until you tell me what you had me drag in with you."
            James went over and retrieved his messenger bag. Out of it he pulled the book and presented it to Matthew. "For starters, I was hoping you could tell me what it is," he said as Matthew stared at it wide eyed for a moment. "That's" he said as he placed his hands around the book and took it "That's...no, it can't be."
            Matthew opened the book and gasped at what he saw as he flipped through the pages. "Can you read it?" James asked. "No," Matthew responded without looking up "There is nothing alive that can read this. This is a dead language, beyond ancient."
            "So, what, Latin?" James asked. Again, Matthew was not amused. "You obviously know a what it is," James said "So what is that thing?"
            "It's a bible," Matthew said as he continued flipping through the book.
            "Jewish? Or Christian?"
            "Neither. This is not God's bible."
            "Whose is it? The other guy?"
            "This is not a bible from Heaven nor is it from Hell."
            "That was a joke before. You mean to tell me that both sides have their own bible?"
            "And this one is neither."
            "So...So whose bible is that?"
            "You know about the Bible of Heaven, and I just informed you of the Bible of Hell. This bible, however, is known as the Bible of Earth. Bound in flesh and written in the blood of a god, it isn't just any bible, it is THE bible."
            "...You lost me."
            "This realm, earth, existed long before God dared to shape it as he saw fit. It existed before he even existed in theory. Before there were any other realms."
            "Earth is, for the sake of simplicity, a nexus or starting point for other realms. Heaven and Hell, for example, aren't separate planes so much as they are augmented realms that are connected to the earth. There are many more than those two though. In theory they all exist, but it's tough to actually prove them because they can come and go or never exist at all. Some are practically in synch with earth, constantly blurring the lines between our world and theirs."
            "...I'm gonna pretend what you said didn't just go right over my head..."
            "Here," Matthew said as he turned to one of the last pages of the book "I can't read the language, but someone once showed me a long time ago a translation they did." He trailed his hands along lines until he came across a section that looked familiar. He looked at James and smiled before he started to read.
            "And in the end there was only darkness, and the powers that be saw to it that it was good. And enter came a being not from this realm who raised his arms and shouted "Let there be light," and there was light, staggering and radiant, driving back any and all that saw it, and he proclaimed it as good. This being proclaimed itself as Elohim and he set forth to change the earth as he deemed fitting. The old gods did not have the strength nor the ability left to challenge Elohim so they retreated to the darkness that remained, for the darkness is infinite and even a being claiming to be not almighty but THE almighty cannot force the darkness to cease. And from that, the great divide occurred."
            Matthew closed the book and laid it on his lap. "Cute story," James said. "I wish I could understand and read the rest," Matthew said "The secrets of the universe are literally sitting on my lap and I can't access them. The stories and secrets of the original superpowers, older than God and the Devil...You need only one hand and not even all of your fingers to count how many of these exist, period, not even just in our realm."
            "But you can figure that one passage," James said "Can't you use it as a Rosetta Stone?" Matthew shook his head. "It is so much more complex than anything I could describe."
            "So what did a demon from Hell want from it?" James asked "And how is this thing connected to what's happening in Chicago."
            "Demons have no use for the old powers," Matthew said.
            "Well, what significance would it have to require human sacrifices?"
            "You're asking me to figure out the motives of a hell spawn using a bible that predates the existence of humanities supposed creator."
            "So...you're saying you wouldn't know."
            "Not without any sort of context. Look, Blake, I know I said I'd help you, but you're asking an awful lot from me."
            James sighed as he sat back down. "Well what about some of these symbols?" he asked as he searched his pocket for the papers he traced back at the apartments.
            "These are," Matthew said as he looked them over "Protection runes. You carve them into an entranceway to prevent, essentially, unauthorized entry. Crude, yet vastly effective, especially if you wish to avoid detection of any sort when you initiate it."
            "Any way to narrow down who would have that kind of knowledge?"
            Matthew looked at James like he was a small child who asked a stupid question. "It's one of the most basic things you can master," he said "Akin to asking a basketball player if they know how to dribble."
            "Yeah yeah, well, how about this?" James said as he passed the napkin over "That symbol look familiar?"
            "Not particularly," Matthew said as he glanced the symbol over "The old gods had no need or concept of symbols."
            "Well how about demons? I think this one was left as a calling card."
            "Hmmm," Matthew said as he kept turning the napkin to different perspectives before getting up and searching his bookshelf for a particular book. "I know that symbol," he continued as he scanned his library "I just haven't..." James waited patiently while he absent mindedly picked up his cup and sipped at it, regretting the decision immediately. Matthew continued searching for a few moments before his head shot up and he immediately reached to a specific place and pulled out a book. It had multiple pieces of written on paper sticking out of its yellowed pages.

April 12, 2014

Demons Ascension - Not Dead

[Posted by Ted H]

aka-exposition dump part 1


[Demons Ascension - Not Dead]

            There was an annoying and heavy scent of incense in the air. James placed a pillow over his face to stop from smelling it but he learned the pillow itself was also permeated with the smell. Then he realized not only was he now awake, but he was still alive. He sprung up in an unfamiliar room with a series of towel placed over his naked body. the entire bed felt damp with an odd smelling liquid. At the far end of the room in the doorway was a man in a dress shirt and sweater with black rimmed glasses and blond hair spiked up.
            "Where are my clothes?" James demanded.
            The man turned to his left and in a sarcastic tone said "Gee Matthew, thank you for saving my life!" He then turned to his left and spoke more normal but still with a slight hint of sarcasm said "No problem Blake. I sure love putting my ass on the line against Satan's minions to save the insignificant lives of people such as yourself!" James stared at him while he looked back over. "In a pile at the foot of your bed," Matthew said as he turned and left the room.
            James quickly jumped out of bed and scrambled some clothes on. He had no idea how long he was out and it didn't matter to him when he picked up his shirt and examined the hole in the back and the uncomfortable amount of blood that was around it. He reached behind him and felt the cut and some stitching. The entire area around the cut felt sensitive and raw, almost like he was also burned. He threw the shirt on and made his way out of the bedroom.
            Out in the living room sat Matthew in an elaborate armchair while sipping out of a coffee cup. James could tell by the smell that there was no coffee though. "Have something to drink," Matthew said as he motioned to the lone cup sitting on a tray on a nearby table. "No thanks, got some coffee?" James asked as he walked over to a less elaborate looking chair near Matthew. "That wasn't a question, have some," Matthew said "It helps your recovery."
            "I feel fine," James said but took the cup anyway. The drink looked like watery mud and didn't taste that far off. James made a face as he drank some. "It's organic," Matthew said "Good for you." James put the cup down. "Diarrhea is natural too, but you don't see anyone putting it into a cup to enjoy later," he said. Matthew was not amused. James took a second to look around at the vast and cluttered collection of strange books and figures strewn about.
            "Thanks," James said after a moment "Seriously. That guy came out of nowhere. Fast too."
            "That was no man," Matthew said "And he was actually moving pretty slow as far as demons are concerned."
            James waited for Matthew to smile or hint that he was joking, but he maintained a stern look. "Demon?" he asked.
            "Yes, Blake," Matthew said as he folded his hands onto his lap "I know you've pissed off a lot of people in the past, but a soldier of hell coming for you is a record even for you."
            "What makes you think it was a demon?"
            "That thing knew where to stab you; Exactly where you were shot before. That's not dumb luck either, it was right on without looking or moving your shirt. It was also the dagger it used." Matthew picked up a book from the floor and turned to a page that showed a large dagger curved exactly like the one James found in the apartment basement.
            "When I appeared and confronted the demon," Matthew continued "It broke off an end of the dagger in you."
            "Why?" James asked as he inadvertently reached around and placed his hand on his  wound.
            "To kill you faster," Matthew said, maintaining his stern look "It wasn't going to be able to kill you on the spot, so a broken piece of the blade, left to fester in you, would do the trick over time. He wanted you to suffer."
            "But you got it out, right?"
            "Not at first, but I got it. I had to heavily cleanse your spirit before I could even begin to pull it out. The demon obviously did not think I was able to do such a thing."
            "So it thinks I'm out of the picture."
            "Yes. And if you're smart, you'll avoid pissing any more demons off in the future."
            "Not possible. I have a knack for annoying everything I come across."
            "Yes, you are quite the charmer in that regard," Matthew said as he rubbed his temples.
            "How'd you even stop the demon?"
            "The magic of the old gods is still quite potent."
            "Old gods?"

April 6, 2014

Demons Ascension - Still on the Case

[Posted by Ted H]

Google Adolph Luetgert, then come back. Guaranteed you'll never look at sausage the same after.


[Demons Ascension - Still on the Case]

            John and Lyle waited with a bag of potato chips between them. Neither were allowed near the case anymore, mainly due to what James and John, but both were interested in what was going on in Chief Monroe's office as he and Bradford were having a closed door meeting. Other officers had been coming and going with passing interest, but only John and Lyle were actually waiting around.
            "Scale of one to ten, how angry is Monroe?" Lyle asked.
            "Six," John said.
            "Really? I had money on eight."
            "James left. That was the bigger concern. If Bradford was smart, and he is, then he'd mention that right away."
            "Seriously though, what were you thinking bringing that guy in?"
            "James is smart. He solved Meg Hart's murder when no one else could. Figured his insight would be useful."
            "He solved a murder that a backwoods bunch of idiot cops fucked up. We're not Cazenovia. Besides, he involved the two of you in that matter and you got stabbed in the stomach."
            "Yeah, it didn't go that smooth, but we solved it. The whole reason I switched majors and decided to do what I'm doing now was because of what we did back there. Bradford can't throw too many stones anyway, he used James too."
            "Yeah, I heard about it. Monroe did too. Letting amateurs get involved doesn't sit well with the chief."
            "Think he'll kick Bradford off the case?"
            "If Bradford was white, defiantly."
            "Gotta love race politics."
            "This case should've gone to Truman."
            "Who gets a heart attack at 36 nowadays?"
            "Truman," Lyle said as both laughed for a moment "Best damn homicide investigator, dead a week before some nut starts cutting people's hearts out. Four dead within two weeks. Unreal."
            "The guy ate McDonalds every day for lunch and weighed 300 pounds. It was only a matter of time."
            "Yeah, right before the weirdest set of murdering done since Adolph Luetgert. Sad coincidence."
            "Hmm," John pondered as he stuffed a handful of chips into his mouth "Isn't it our job not to believe in coincidences?"
            Just before Lyle could respond, the door opened and Bradford walked out. He looked mildly annoyed, but no worse than most people see him. "Still on the case?" Lyle asked. "Yup," Bradford said, paying no mind to him as he pointed to John. "Monroe knows about your boy," he said as John rolled his eyes.
            "How thrilled was he about a civilian trumping through all the crime scenes?" Lyle asked.
            "He's more concerned about how Blake knew where to be that night in the church. Did you ever get an answer?"
            "Not one you'd like," John said "Besides, he left. Nothing more he could do."
            Bradford grabbed the bag of chips from John. "Notice how I'm not believing you," he said as he took a chip out "Blake is gone now, but I'd bet all my earthly possessions that he'll be back, otherwise he wouldn't have taken your car. When that asshole rears his head back in this city, I want to know because Monroe has made him my personal responsibility."
            "You gonna arrest him for obstruction?" Lyle asked as John shot him a look.
            "Flimsy reasoning at best, so no," Bradford "Unless he's been tampering with evidence."
            "He's done nothing but help," John said with his best poker face "He's trying to catch this guy too."
            "Either way, he comes back, him and I become real good buddies until he decides to leave for good. If he knows something, I'll know. If he's somehow involved, I'll know. If he turns out to be a Sherlock wannabe without a clue, you bet your ass I'll know."
            "It's been four days," Lyle said as he looked into the now empty bag of crumbs "You really think this guys coming back?"
            "I honestly couldn't give a shit," Bradford said as he walked away "Now if you ladies excuse me, there's a killer on the loose and I'm convinced that he's not done killing." He pointed to a nearby officer. "Lowfield," he shouted "You have anything on that name search?"
            "FBI hasn't gotten back to us yet," Lowfield said back.
            "Call them again," Bradford said as he approached the elevators to leave "I want the names of everyone in their database with even the slightest connection to ritual murders, prioritizing for anyone with a connection to anyone or anything related to a "croal". I want it before morning."
            "Needle in a haystack," Lyle commented as Bradford disappeared into an elevator.
             "What the hell is taking you so long, James?" John asked to himself "We've got nothing on our end."