2010-01-17: Detective on the Rocks



Date: January 17th, 2010


Mandy and Maggie are on each others' minds. A murderer plays a game with a detective. There's only room for one winner.

"Detective on the Rocks"

New York

It's rare that someone with Maggie's job gets a break long enough to leave the city. Detective Powers is dedicated, besides; she hardly gives herself a break.

Every so often, though, a person just has to get away.

She couldn't sleep last night, a result of a mind on overdrive, running over the details of the series of murders that has had the NYPD both concerned and confused. The faces and acid-eaten bodies of the dead haunt her with the vivid detail of someone with the blessing and curse of a sharp and colourful memory: both a detective's eye and an artist's. She ought to call it a curse at times like this, when she can't sleep, but there's always the possibility that one of the many images burning into her brain over and over will reveal a new detail. Something to break the case open.

It doesn't happen.

In the light of a grey dawn, the off-duty detective rolls out of her tangle of sheets in an oversized NYPD t-shirt. It's not long before she's in her car, driving out of the city. A knit winter hat crafted in red, orange and peach yarn by the loving hands of a stranger from some market or another is pulled down over her head. Over waves of blonde hair, which are rather tousled and frizzing in her hurry and the cold, dry air. There's a park she likes. It's a bit of a drive, and it's a bit out-of-the-way… but that's why it's a good thinking spot. She has a pile of books on the passenger seat along with a leather satchel of art supplies. On the radio, a tinny rendition of "She's So High" plays, bouncy and optimistic in comparison to Maggie's darker thoughts.

Certain people have caught the interest of the killer.

There's a reason for that - one that she will only reveal when the time is right. Perhaps that will never happen, and that would be a sad day for Mandy.

She's been watching Maggie Powers for days. Ironic that the woman has such a last name, and doesn't seem to have any sort of ability within her. It's been a source of amusement for some time; how can Powers remotely believe that she's got any sort of chance against a killer when all she has is a gun and a pocket full of dreams?

It's not hard to steal a car. In fact, it's almost boring now; she does it right under the detective's nose, practically, following behind as they make their way toward the park. Ah, it's a good time, too. Few people around. It's the most ideal time to put her detective through the ringer.

Maggie's car — which happens to be a Nissan from the '70s, vintage but in need of repair, its silver paint scratched in more than one place — comes to a stop once she eventually makes it to the park. She shoves a few books in her satchel (they must have fallen out) and hauls the whole thing out with her as she moseys out of the car. Tossing one end of her soft white scarf around her neck, she hitches the bag over her shoulder. The woman's coat is long and a bright shade of Little Red Riding Hood Red — she's a beacon in the wide open, snowy field she's parked alongside, bright against the snow-dusted evergreens and monochrome birches.

As the car door slams, unfortunately loud enough to startle a nearby crow and set it to flying, Maggie takes a moment to just stand and look around. Despite the lurid maze of murder that her mind is set on solving, she actually appears peaceful for a second, a quirk to her lips. She starts out along the vague shape of a path that hasn't been ploughed for too long, leaving footprints in the snow. She can see the lake from here — a snow-covered expanse of ice with trees at either shore. Her smile purses and disappears as she heads over the small stone footbridge that crosses it; she holds tighter, instinctively, on her satchel's strap with a pair of brown gloves.

There's really no reason to believe that the car that pulls in a few yards away from Maggie's is anyone other than another citizen coming to enjoy the beauty of the frozen lake.

Mandy steps out of the car, bundled up against the cold. Her face is hidden by a scarf, and a heavy brown coat makes her look much larger than she actually is. Pulling her fingers into gloves, she looks around, a puff of breath escaping from under the scarf and floating into the cold air.

It's almost too easy.

She waits as Maggie crosses the bridge, looking back at the car, at the eyes watching her fearfully from its back seat. Mandy nods, and the eyes disappear under a tangle of blankets.

She feels the power surrounding her as she follows the detective. No footprints are left in the snow behind her. It's as if she's walking just on the surface of it, on the thin sheet of air separating her from the ground. Instead of following Maggie right up onto the bridge, she heads for the shore of the frozen lake, hands in her pockets, looking out onto it as if she's seriously thinking about taking a stroll on the ice. "Nice day, huh?" she calls to the blonde woman - mostly to get Maggie's attention.

Maggie may not get out here often, but she's been here enough times in the past year or so to be accustomed to other people out enjoying the day. Walking, romping with their dogs. She glances back once at the (increasingly distant) sound of the additional car and continues on her not-quite-merry way until the friendly call prompts her to pause at the end of the small bridge. She blinks, at first; where did that lady come from? Her perceptive eyes deduce that she must have been walking in the other direction, naturally. "Beautiful!" She flashes friendly smile. In fact, it's freezing out here, but Maggie doesn't complain; like Mandy, she's bundled up, if not so hidden by her winter layers. "You should be careful around that lake though!" she calls out, good-natured advice from one stranger to another. "Ice isn't always sound."

"Looks pretty frozen to me," Mandy says, though she doesn't step out onto it just yet. Instead, she walks along the shore, coming closer to the bridge.

Her own mind is working in overdrive at the moment. Why would anyone advise someone else to be wary of the ice? It's not as if Mandy was going to run right out onto it. A master of fear, the killer can almost sense what makes people afraid. Drawing out someone's suffering always has its advantages - mostly for her, of course. It's just fun.

As she continues to walk along the lake's shore, she continues to leave no footprints. It's a very purposeful maneuver. Eventually, suspicions will be raised along with a whole lot of red flags. When she reaches the bridge, she doesn't step onto it… Instead, Mandy's direction changes, and she walks easily out onto the ice. "Like I said, it's pretty solid. I think it has been for awhile."

"Y— " Maggie's brow start to inch closer together, forming a concerned little V as she watches Mandy. She's not leaving any… footsteps? Instinctively, she glances back the way she came — where her own footsteps are visible as clear as day, boot indentations in the snow over the bridge. Trick of the light? Blue eyes search upward at the grey-white sky, too, but they don't leave Mandy for very long.

"I'm just saying, you never know," Maggie replies, very little of her confusion or suspicion leaking into her tone. Her voice is light; sing-song. She steps off the bridge entirely, but keeps watching the woman — trying to see her face. And, instinctively, despite the red flag she can't quite compute, making sure Mandy doesn't, in fact, fall through the ice.

"You never realy do," Mandy muses to herself, smiling underneath the scarf. "Maggie Powers, detective with the NYPD. You're not telling me you're afraid of a little ice, are you?" She stomps on it, and for all intents and purposes, it seems to contact the surface with a dull thud. The sounds of crackling that would suggest that the ice was too thin to be walking on are completely absent. Looking over her shoulder, she takes a few more steps outward.

"I like games, Maggie. So here's the deal. I'm the one who's been killing all those people. I'm the one you've been looking for. Right here, for you to take— If you can reach me." She slides back onto the ice just a few more feet, closer toward the middle. "I'm unarmed, so I know that rulebook says you can't just haul off and shoot me. They'd fire your ass pretty quick, I bet. And you know what? I'd say 'good fucking riddance.' Seriously. I mean, look at you. You're just going to let me get away, aren't you?"

With a shrug, Mandy turns her back to the detective, walking farther out onto the ice. "Still pretty solid out here, Detective."

Even before Mandy introduces herself (so to speak), Maggie's features are hardening, suspicion sharpening to realization. She takes few steps down the small slope off the bridge to the shore, her eyes as trained on Mandy as surely as the scope of a gun … but a stare, however intense with those bright blue eyes of hers, is less effective than bullets. But she can try. One step toward the edge of the ice…

"…How," the detective says, a quaver in her voice as it intensifies. Not how is she going to catch Mandy… "How did you kill those people? I'm not playing a game."

"You started playing as soon as you stepped off that bridge," Mandy says. She's pretty far from the shore now, and while she's not shouting, her voice definitely carries. "As a bonus, if you can reach me, I'll tell you exactly how I did it. Everything you want to know. You can take me into the station - or whatever it is you cops do - and I won't try to escape.

"If you can reach me. Seems like you're just gonna let me get away, though. Sad. Sad. You know, I really had high hopes for you."

The woman walks parallel to the shore, eyes never leaving the detective. It's not as if this if going to end well for Maggie Powers, but that's all part of Mandy's game. "Hell, if you step out onto the ice - all you have to do is leave the shore, Maggie, I'll even tell you why I'm doing it. Blah, blah, blah, Villain speech. While I'm talking to you, you might even be able to distract me long enough to take me down. I don't know, though. I don't know you, and you don't know me. This should be pretty interesting."

She's a smart woman, Maggie Powers, and she can see that Mandy really does like playing games. That means a number of things, none of which add up to Mandy being remotely truthful in Maggie's surmising. She watches the murderer's every tiny move. The detective's face hollows, cheekbones sharp as her jaw sets, her lips purse in restraint. It takes more focus than she'd like to rile up the courage to take a step forward. It's silly, her fear, she should just quash it down. One boot strikes the snow-topped ice, then the other. "We can take it slow. Tell me your name. Just your name."

Why would Mandy lie? She's got the whole world in her hands, honestly. She's untouchable. No, she'll tell the entire truth to someone who'll never be able to use it. After all, isn't that what's expected of her?

When Maggie just asks for her name, Mandy allows a chuckle. Really? Of everything the other woman could ask, she asks that? "I'm not Rumplestilzkin, you dumb shit," Mandy replies. "But if knowing my name is gonna make you feel better, then sure. Why not. It's Mandy Larson."

Not that Mandy intends to let Maggie look up her record at any point in the future, but if she was able, she'd find that it's pretty much shrouded in mystery. That tends to happen to people who've spent years on Level Five.

She takes another step backward.

"Oh, damn! I'm getting away!"

Maggie's view is a very different one. With Mandy's name, she at least has something else to go on. Something to give Laurie, if the woman has any kind of a history. Because Maggie expects to get out of here. A flash of anger contorts her features, but remains in check. She takes one step forward, sliiiding a touch over the slippery snow. Slowly, her hand creeps down to the satchel hanging at her side, fingers creeping past the worn, paint-splattered leather to the contents. "I get that you like to play games, Ms. Larson… but you're wrong. I'm not playing." She eyes the significant distance between them and makes a grab for the glock she knows is nestled between the novels and tubes of paint. It is, despite the "rulebook", pointed at Mandy, mid-level, with both hands firm around the metal. "You followed me here… I was getting too close."

"Don't make assumptions. You have promise, but you're not getting close. Here's the deal, Powers. I'm sick of assholes like you following me around, trying to 'get me.' Make a name for themselves. Protect the world. God, do you even look at the world? It's a mess. These people don't need protecting. They need to be culled. I'm sick of it.

"But if I'm going out - and I am, soon - I'm going to take as many people with me as I can. You? I'm just seeing if you're gonna be the one to do it. And hey, you might." When the gun appears, Mandy puts her hands up, as if in surrender. "Looks like you win, Maggie. Come on out here and arrest me."

Maggie could argue. On just about every point, she has something to say. But it's all kept in her head, and her eyes, like her aim, is kept locked on the talkative murderer. Mandy looks unarmed now, but there's no telling what's under that coat. It helps, as the blonde woman steps across the frozen lake, to focus on Mandy along the length of the weapon in her hands, instead of thinking about the frigid waters she's walking across. Nice and slow… "Hands all the way up. Behind your head."

"You really don't know anything about the world, do you?" she asks. Her foot shifts, just a little, as she complies, putting her hands behind her head. It's not any sort of feat for Mandy to melt through the sole of her boot as she ever so slowly walks in a circle around the detective. The ice on her bare foot is cold, but it's all worth it - or it will be, to see the look on her latest victim's face when the time comes.

The variation in the ice is subtle at first. Something no one would really notice. Tiny tendrils creep through the surface of the frozen lake as the acid weakens the molecular bonds underfoot. Every step Mandy takes triggers just a few more of these miniscule cracks. When they meet, they form larger fissures just under Maggie's position. Soon, the sound of cracking is pretty obvious.

"There are people in this world with abilities, beyond what should be possible. I've met people who can heal, people who can fly, people so strong they could lift a bus with one hand while cradling an elephant with the other. Me? Well, you already know what I can do, don't you? All those people, covered in acid. Some of them didn't even have faces anymore. How'd that make you feel, Maggie? Were you afraid it would happen to you, too?"

Maggie isn't nave. She's a detective. But Mandy is right. She doesnt know as much about the world as she thinks she does. The tiniest of fissures in the ice are beyond her notice, but she certainly notices the cracks — seconds before someone else might, even. Someone who isn't hyperaware of being on top of a lake with a rather acute fear of drowning. What with the ice cracking, and Mandy telling her about people with abilities— flying, making acid… her eyes become more round, wider, fear rushing to the forefront like a horse about to rear — but Maggie clamps down with her teeth and stays firm. Ms. Larson has to be psychotic! Here and now, though, she second guesses it. "No. Not to me. To others." It's the truth. It's others she worries for, not herself.

Until right about now.

Maggie shifts on the ice, trying to carefully step back, eye the ice, keep her gun on Mandy and watch her all at once. Suffice to say, it doesn't work as well as she'd like.

"Oh, man, that is totally better than sex. That look right there, Maggie Powers — that's what I live for. You know what it's like to be able to make people afraid, just by being around them?" She raises her foot, waits a couple seconds, then slams it down on the ice. Very obvious cracks appear now, spreading out like spiderwebs across the surface. It seems like Mandy doesn't personally care if she's going for an icy dip.

In fact, the murderer is just smiling, eyes lazily narrowed. She's won. "You could try to shoot me. The noise would break the ice, though, I'm sure. You'd be a hero… A frozen hero, but hey. Most people are honoured more highly when they're dead anyway, aren't they? Funny how the world works. People who don't mean shit when they're alive are suddenly gods when they die. Well…" She crouches, jumps, and lands on the ice with a loud snap. The ice under her is simply gone, and Mandy…

Mandy's walking on water, or so it appears. "I'm a god now. Run, Powers. Run fast."

The cracks in the ice are going to catch her sooner or later.

That look Mandy so desires escalates on Maggie's face; everything around it just goes lax in horror. The world's logic suddenly seems to be breaking as fast as the ice underfoot. "You know— " For all her fear, she waits these few seconds, risking a chasm of ice just to speak to Mandy. "You're not a god! No one is a god no matter— what. You're psychotic," she forces out in an angry half-murmur, half-hiss. A determined look is given to the woman before instinct takes over, self-preservation that she'll maybe regret later if it means Mandy walks free but she's only human. She gives up watching Mandy altogether and starts to run, turning the way she came, as fast as she can — already the cracks in the ice reach her feet and her boots tread water and ice, trying to catch something solid. It's a race.

Mandy continues standing atop the water, eyes wandering back toward the car that she stole. There's seemingly no reason the killer should be able to stand there like she is, but even evil masterminds need minions, right?

The lack of a trail away from the crime scenes, Mandy's abrupt disappearances… Perhaps Maggie will be able to paint a clearer picture of just what she's dealing with here. Unfortunately, she's not going to live long enough to put the pieces together.

The ice finally breaks under the detective's feet, which will inevitably plunge her into the extremely cold water below.

"Hn," the woman says, pulling the scarf down. This reveals a small microphone. "Guess she's not gonna be the one after all, huh?"

There's a pause, before a voice replies, "Can we go now? I'm cold."

All Maggie can hear is the crash, crackle and snap of ice and what sounds, to her, like roaring, all encompassing water. She falls, screams for all the good it does, and every nerve in her body seems to blast awake with the needling cold. Her gun skitters along the unbroken ice just ahead of her as she reaches out to find purchase. It's too slippery, and the brown leather of her gloves only slide and claw. She slips further into the lake. The red tails of her coat flow out behind her, waving like a flag in the suddenly churning water. Maggie's face twists, grimacing and desperate and choking through the cold. "N— " she coughs, "N-no!" Swimming — or at least kicking ahead — she lunges ahead to try and climb up out of the water but, weakened, that ice breaks through.

Thus, so does Maggie. Scrambling, panicking, and being pulled down heavy as lead, she plunges beneath the surface of the frozen lake.


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