Chapter 6:

Part 1- Chapter 6

Snowflake and Butterknife

Finals had finished, and winter had begun to set in. Small blankets of snow had begun to decorate the city, though were quickly cleared by the traffic of city life. The cold worked well for Edwin, just gave him an excuse to dress the way he always tended to. His jacket was thicker but it was still in the same style as his other jackets.

He stood outside the Peacekeeper headquarters, it wouldn't be too long, just a few weeks of work. Bracing himself, Edwin entered the building.

“Hi there, can I help you?” The receptionist said with a smile.

“I was told to come here by Reynard.” Edwin said, looking around at all the faces in the room.

“Oh right, you can have a seat over there, I will call him.” The receptionist said, pointing to a waiting area.

The entrance was just a large waiting area with a steel door that led to a set of stairs, elevators, and offices. Edwin was aware that the first floor was for lower personnel, the second floor was for those that managed the paperwork, and the third floor was for the Enforcers.

Reynard opened the steel door and waved for Edwin to follow. They both stood in the elevator in silence as the door closed.

“So. how'd your finals go?” Reynard asked awkwardly. He kept his grumpy demnor, but it was clear he was trying to think of a way to break the ice.

“Passed well enough, nothing too crazy.” Edwin replied.

Reynard nodded. “Good, good.” Silence returned to the elevator as it dinged to show they were on the second floor.

“What will I be doing exactly?” Edwin asked.

“I will be working with you.” Reynard explained. “We will be evaluating your abilities so we can get a grasp on how they work, you will also be assisting where we need it.”

“So I am a pseudo peacekeeper?” Edwin asked.

“A trainee if that makes sense.” Reynard said as the bell dinged and the door opened.

Edwin didn't know what to expect, but it wasn't what he got. The third floor had a large open area with desks sitting in the open space. Offices could be seen towards the back wall, with a door leading to a surveillance area on a different wall. A break room was near the front of the room, cluttered with things to make snacks.

“Captain! Loric is slacking!” Loghain whined from his seat. His desk was pressed against Loric’s, so the two were stuck looking at each other.

“What, no I wasn't!” Loric yelled out.

“Yeah, I saw you looking at your dating profile again!” Loghain said loudly. “Come on you barely started on that Mantis File!”

They looked like kids complaining to their mom. How were these professionals?

Nova was sipping at coffee while reading a report. He glanced at Reynard and gave a small nod before returning to his work.

Reynard’s glare deepened. “I left for two minutes.” Reynard said, his voice seemed calm yet it held the weights of a thousand knives. “Two minutes. Is that to long for you two to get along?”

Loric and Loghain both stood straight up. “No sir!” They said in unison.

“Good, I expect those files to be finished by the end of the day.” Reynard said, leading Edwin towards his office.

“Yessir!” They said swiftly, returning to work.

Edwin caught sight of the interrogation room that he had been led to the last time he was here. He thought he would be led into there again, but instead was led into Reynard's office. The Captain closed the door. The walls of the office were glass to look out at the other officers, but he closed the blinds that were in front of them. Edwin took a seat in front of the desk which was decorated in folders and papers that were stacked methodically. Edwin figured that Reynard had these files so organized he didn't even need to look to know where something was, just reach out and grab it. There wasn't much personal effects on the desk except a picture frame that Edwin could only see the back of.

“Alright.” Reynard said, taking a seat. He reached his hand into the stack of files and pulled out a small pile and presented it to Edwin with a pen. “These are standard release forms, basically just so that you are considered a member of the Peacekeepers during this internship so that you may act as an officer.”

Edwin began to read over the files. “So I can make arrests?” Edwin asked.

“Technically yes, though you have no badge. And I ask that you do not since you do not know our procedures.”

Edwin read through the files carefully, looking for any part that may screw him. It all seemed fine, so he signed it. Once he had signed his signature to the point of his hand cramping, Reynard took it back and signed his own name on several forms.

“Right, I will set you up with the desk across from Nova for the time being.” Reynard said, getting to his feet.

Nova’s desk was dressed with small puzzles that reminded Edwin of Rubix cubes. When they approached Nova was fiddling with a wooden puzzle box while looking over something.

“Kid taking that one?” Nova said without looking up.

“It's Edwin.” Edwin said.

Nova raised his eyes. “Right, sorry, I didn't mean to be rude.”

“Hey Captain, can Loghain and Edwin trade?” Loric complained from his desk.

“For what reason?” Reynard asked, already annoyed.

“I feel like I will make him feel more welcome than Nova will.” Loric said, dramatically waving over his chest.

“Liar.” Nova said, fiddling with his puzzle again. “You just want someone else to talk to.”

“What! I am a dutiful officer, I would never let myself get distracted in such a way.” Loric said as if offended.

“You have already wasted a minute on this conversation.” Reynard said. “You're already a day behind on your work, focus up before I move your desk into solitude.”

Loric made a look of fear, then turned back to his desk.

The door to the surveillance room opened, revealing a younger woman. She had light chestnut hair tied into a braid behind her head. She reminded Edwin of a hamster with how her face looked.

“Oh hello.” The woman said. “This must be Edwin right?”

“Right, you didn't meet her last time. Edwin, This is Gema, she is our eyes and ears.” Reynard explained.

“It's a pleasure to meet you.” Gema said with a smile.

“Same.” Edwin said.

Loric gave a sinister smile. “Hey Gema, how about” He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. It was almost as if he had eyes on the back of his head, because Reynard was glaring daggers into him.

“Hm? Got something to say Loric?” Gema said innocently.

“Uh, no nothing no worries.” Loric said hastily.

Loghain chuckled under his breath.

“Anything to report?” Reynard said to Gema.

“Hm? Nothing major.” Gema said, making way towards the break room. “The Fifth is dealing with a carjacker, Eleventh has a missing Mageye that isn't showing up on database, nothing we need to get involved with.”

Reynard nodded. Gema entered the break room and Edwin could hear the sound of a coffee machine running.

“I think I got something.” Nova said, drawing the group's attention. “A pattern to the ACO hide outs and appearances. Seems they are keeping close to the lake sides.”

“We figured that much out.” Loric sighed.

“But there is more.” Nova continued. “They all have been local to the southern areas, seems like a larger amount of them stemming from an industrial area and spread from there.”

“Meaning their main base is somewhere in that area.” Reynard said, moving over to look at the file that Nova was looking at. Edwin moved to look as well, Loric and Loghain following. “So where could we expect them?”

“Following the activity, it's hard to say.” Nova stated. “If we focus a search here we may turn something up.” he pointed at a section on the map where several dots seemed to surround.

“Those are areas that they were reported to be, but the police were unable to catch them right?” Loric questioned.

“Right, we figured they would move on from that spot, but there was recent reports there too.” Nova explained.

Edwin looked at the map. The dots seemed to follow the lake with very few breaking into the deeper part of the city. He spotted the mark that was for the group Edwin helped dispatch, it was near farther away then the bulk of the dots they were looking at.

“How many were reports with no results?” Edwin asked.

Nova looked at Edwin. “Let me find out.” He said, beginning to search thru his files.

“Oh I see.” Gema said, appearing with a coffee in her hands. “Hey Nova, I think you missed a part of the puzzle.” She sipped at the drink without a care, then began the walk back to the surveillance room.

“What you mean?” Loric asked.

“She means Edwin spotted what I did.” Reynard said. “These clumps of dots, how many of them are actual sightings and not just tip offs?”

Nova flipped through his files rapidly. “All are callins, all from different times.” Suddenly he stopped. “They were fake call ins.”

“Bingo.” Reynard stated.

“But why?” Loghain said, thinking deeply. “Why would they call in fake reports in this area?”

“To cover what they were doing in other areas.” Nova said, pulling free several files. “Find anything on these dates and times, see if anything comes up.”

“Right!” Loghain said, taking a few of the files.

Loric took some with a grumble. “Man.” He returned to his desk to begin his task.

Edwin and Reynard continued to look at the map as Nova began to search on his computer for information.

“Nova, get me the details on which were actual reports and which were fake.” Reynard said. He put the map to a standing dry erase board, using magnets to keep it attached.

“Right.” Nova stated.

Edwin was impressed by their efficiency once they had a goal. Nova calling out fake call ins, Reynard correcting the map by labeling the fakes with a blue mark and real ones with a red mark. Loric and Loghain searched for anything, but seemed to be coming up short. It left Edwin standing in amazement.

“Right, so what we can tell is most of the ones to the far south are fake.” Reynard said, looking at the map.

“Seems like they are avoiding the highly populated areas like the Navy Pier area.” Loghain said, looking at the map.

“Yeah, and they are way more focused on the eastern part of the city.” Loric said. “Seems counter intuitive, avoiding highly populated areas even though the east side is the most populated.”

Reynard was looking it over. “How have they gone unnoticed for the most part?”

Edwin looked it over. His school was near the lake, but not that close. Yet, he had the bank robbers, and Justin was recruited even though he lived close to campus. Edwin paused his thought, those two incidents were isolated to a branch of the group, they were looking for the main group.

With that in mind, Edwin refocused. He ignored his area, as that was covered by the group they had already taken down.

“What about these?” Edwin said, pointing at the dots towards the western spots.

“Those were smaller branches we took out.” Nova said.

“Reynard.” Edwin said. “Could I mark this?”

Reynard gave Edwin a look. “What you got in mind?”

“Well, I think we can eliminate certain areas based on where you found smaller branches. Since we are looking for the main branch they wouldn't be overlapping in territory right?”

Reynard looked over the map and gave a sly smile. “Clever, you could be right on that. Okay, lets check the areas that have had smaller branches and remove an area. We can say a five mile radius?”

“That is about the distance from my school to the warehouse.” Edwin stated.

Reynard marked the map, leaving most of the city marked off.

“Great, that leaves so few areas to check!” Loric said happily. “Let's get the Seventh and Tenth to check these areas since it's their jurisdiction.”

“Hold on.” Nova said. He was back to fiddling with his puzzle. “We're missing something.”

“I agree.” Reynard said, pondering the map.

Edwin looked it over as well, most of the city was colored in, leaving only the lake side areas left. They all had fake reports that seemed to line the lake.

“Nova, let me see all these reports.” Reynard said, pointing at the dots lining the lake.

Nova looked at Reynard with quizzical eyes, then followed orders.

“Also, bring up the ones from that large grouping we had.” Reynard said.

Nova did so, and Reynard read them over. “I knew it.” Reynard said. He went back to the board, and began to recolor several dots to a green color.

“What is green?” Loric asked.

“Possibly correct reports.” Reynard said. “The ones in the grouping were call ins from anonymous callers, these ones have people who were recorded. Mothers, Dock hands, Machinists, all kinds of people.”

“Did they plan that?” Loric asked. “Using fake calls to make us believe all the calls were fake?”

“Possible, can't rule it out.” Reynard said. “With that in mind, it seems the lake side is still a hot spot.”

“But that doesn't narrow down anything, just means they could be in that area.” Loghain said.

“No, it means alot.” Nova said. “All those reports were investigated but with no success, why?”

“Because they weren't there?” Loric said.

“Because they weren't there..” Edwin repeated, his eyes following the dots.

“They had to move base quickly once they caught wind of Peacekeepers closing in.” Nova said. “But they stayed in these areas. So they have been moving up and down the coast.”

“But some of these reports are only a month apart.” Loric said. “Moving base that much that quickly and establishing themselves enough? Seems way difficult.”

“What if they aren't setting up base, just moving it.” Edwin said.

“What do you mean?” Reynard asked curiously.

“They have been spotted near the lake. I think you were looking for a building, but you should be looking for a boat.” Edwin said.

Reynard’s eyes widened. Nova’s mouth dropped.

“That's it!” Nova declared. “That would explain why we haven't been able to catch them, they are sailing away!”

“Gema!” Reynard yelled out.

The door to the surveillance room opened. “I am already looking, I heard everything.” Gema said. “Surveillance on docks, any ships spotted in those times, and any Mageye markings that are on water.”

“You're a goddess.” Loric said with admiration.

“You guys just point me in the right direction.” Gema said, waving her hand. “Come look, let me know if you spot anything of interest.”

The surveillance room was like a movie theater. A whole wall was just flat screens, each projecting a different scene. Apparently the screens could all focus one scene if need be. Gema’s desk was a mess of monitors and computers. Edwin took a seat in front of the screens and began searching with the others as docks were shown.

“Good thinking.” Reynard whispered to Edwin.

“Huh?” Edwin said.

“You figured that out, you got a good head on your shoulder.” Reynard said. “Was going to get you out to do some training, sorry that you are stuck here.”

“I don't mind.” Edwin said. “It's like a puzzle, it's kind of fun.”

Reynard gave a smile. “Yeah, I'm not sure how much we will find since any ship could be the one they are using.”

Edwin thought about it. “They would need equipment right? Computers and stuff?”

Reynard patted Edwin on the shoulder. “You should consider becoming a Peacekeeper, you got a knack for it.” With that he stood up. “Gema! We are looking for a ship that has been using a large amount of power, a generator most likely.”

“If it's a generator it will be harder to spot.” Gema said. “We can hope that they have been using electricity at docks.”

“Could we track fuel usage?” Nova questioned.

“Not likely. To many gas stations near that area.” Gema said.

“What if it's not a small ship?” Edwin asked. “We can start with larger ships who would have generators, then work our way down?”

“I can do that.” Gema said. “We have no cruise liners in the area, so we will have to go smaller.”

“Yachts?” Loghain said.

Gema was quiet for a moment. “We got several docked right now.”

“They would have to report to a dockmaster when they landed.” Nova stated. “Have any of them been docked at multiple ports in the area around the time of our reports?”

Gema tapped away at the keyboard, then stopped abruptly. “One. The Black Pearl.”

“Looks like we got a match.” Reynard said. “Give us details, lets move out.”

“Right!” Everyone said in unison.

They returned out to the main room, where everyone began to pull things from their desks. Reynard held out an open hand to Edwin, a small box in it.

“It's our com device.” Reynard said. “Put it in your ear, you press your finger to it to start the microphone.”

Edwin opened the box, revealing a small earpiece. “I am going?”

“Your abilities will be useful to this.” Reynard said. “We have to lock them in place, your task will be to trap the ship so they can't escape okay?”

Edwin was hesitant. “Okay.”

“Alright people, time to move!” Reynard said, with that, they all piled into the elevator. It was a tad cramped. 

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