2009-12-20: Flaws In A Flawed Plan





Date: December 20, 2009


The scene of the crime…

"Flaws in a Flawed Plan"

Mall, New York City

It's cold in the mall.

The crime scene has been sectioned off, draped in plastic for a good radius, and yellow 'POLICE LINE - DO NOT CROSS' tape has been placed just about everywhere. The mall still isn't open, but when it is, this particular food court won't be available for quite some time.

Far above, there are police on the roof, taking stock of what they've found up there. Someone else is moving another sheet of plastic over the gaping hole in the skylight to preserve the crime scene inside the mall. Overnight, snow managed to drift inward, though it's not extensive. At least it doesn't smell in here; with the cold air preserving the dead body, he's not quite ripe yet. Poor guy.

As of yet, nothing's been touched. He's still lying right where he fell, sprawled on his back across the table. Blood has formed macabre stalactites from the edges. There are, of course, footprints leading away from the body, but that's only logical in a crowded mall.

The man's exposed skin is a patternwork of burns and gouges, purposely traced there - and recently, too, by the look of them. The deep wounds barely had time to bruise before he died - it's also pretty well-known that the man was alive when he hit the table, but expired shortly afterward.

One piece of evidence has flittered to the floor, and has been taken a few yards by the wind from above. It's a scrap of paper - slightly bloody, but it would be readable if found.


Witnesses have already been questioned, though some of them might receive more questions later on; the obvious details have been gone over, but now, Detective Maggie Powers has been called in for her chance to get a good look at the scene — up close and in the light of day. What a difference a day makes; minus the panic of the Christmas shoppers, it's a much calmer, if just as macabre. If not more so in the cold and the silence.

The woman makes her way in with her hands in the pockets of a long coat, a navy shade of blue, a white scarf about her neck, waving blonde hair over that. She doesn't strike the most imposing image at first, but it should be clear to the various officers gathered around that she means serious business. Some recognize her, but she takes out her badge anyway. "Detective Maggie Powers," she says as she steps across the crime scene tape toward the body. "What happened to forensics?" She crouches, not touching a thing but looking. She looks upward through the skylight, as if following the path of the falling body in her mind, She frowns; glances around the food court.


A woman, wearing a black dress and high heeled shoes, with a little purse hanging off her left shoulder, walks through the mall toward the crime scene. How did this person, Sierra LeBlanc, get in? Well, as it so happens, occasionally a reporter's badge does occasionally have it's fringe benefits. As she makes her way toward the actual scene of the crime, she pulls out a pen and a small pad of paper to make notes on. She only stops when she comes to the sanctioned tape that prevents a person who isn't a police officer to get through. With that, she starts taking notes. What the place looks like, what appears to have happened. All that jazz.


"Hey, I'm just makin' sure no one gets in what shouldn't be in," some cop says with a shrug. Forensics? Well, someone's probably been here. It's been hours, after all, but the site is still pristine. Odd. But the cop in question can only impart one piece of wisdom. "They's gonna have the cornoner here 'round seventeen-hundred. Least, that's what they're hopin'." …At least there's that. The guy's poor family must be pretty worried. Wherever they are.

There's a stack of numbered tags away from the body. It looks like there's at least some sort of intent to catalogue the evidence.

But why hasn't it already been done? There's also a fresher set of tracks - ones that go through the light dusting of snow instead of over it.

In the shadows, contained within the tape, are the closed security doors of each of the food court's restaurants. The meager light shines from the surface; almost too bright, like something is frozen there.


As Maggie listens to the cop, she doesn't look at him; she leans back on her heels, hands moving to rest on her thighs. She likes to take in the scene as a whole at first. See the panorama. It's only after a few moments of getting the lay of the land that she stands up again, an unnerved squint to her eyes. Before she answers the officer, she looks over a shoulder to see the unfamiliar face of Sierra. It doesn't take a detective to figure out why she's here (though in this case it is a detective who figures it out). The reporter earns a neutral stare and none of Maggie's off-duty courtesies at first.

Detective Powers reaches into a deep coat pocket to retrieve a pair of protective blue gloves, pulling them on as she address the officer. "No, they should have been here as soon as the call came in. Do you know who was here first?" She stretches an arm out in front of her to force the sleeve of her coat up her wrist enough to glimpse her plain silver wristwatch … prompting another unnerved squint. She looks to Sierra; meanwhile, she reaches for a little scrap of paper by the body. "Who're you with?" Reporters, not her favourite thing at a crime scene.


Sierra moves about to get a better look at the body. She winces slightly. She's not used to having these cases to write on. She usually has more mundane tasks. But then again, she did ask for more responsibility. She forces a smile as Maggie talks to her. "I'm with a newspaper, mon cher policier." She gazes at the scene. "Is this thought to be an accident, or was foul play involved? Who was he? Could he have been just a janitor or maintenance person who was on the roof and slipped?" She points. "And why does there seem to be a more fresh set of prints leading away from the body away from where there are any police officers?"


A good forensics detective will do their job well, leaving the scene virtually undisturbed. This is riduculous, though.

There are little slot-like indentations in the snow and blood, as if something had been set there and removed. Each one sits next to a different item that would pertain to the investigation - the piece of paper Maggie picked up, for example. The body itself. Shards of glass that remain unmoved in the gore. The footprints weave in and out, though they never obscure these marks.

The cop shrugs again, turning his back to the crime scene. After all, he only has to look outward, right? There's absolutely no reason whatsoever to watch inside the tarp, and he doesn't want to see that, anyway. It's gross. "I'm just guardin' the place. You wanna know, I'd see who was on shift just b'fore me. Some trainee. Dunno his name or I'd say."

The footprints that Sierra pointed out trail off, the dampness eventually subsiding, but their direction clear.


A quiet "mmn" is given to the officer. Detective Powers will certainly be checking to see who was in earlier. "Which newspaper?" Detectives and reporters; they're both about the details. Maggie is distracted as she answers, distant, examining the paper she holds up before her. "Anything is a possibility this early in the investigation, Mme Journaliste," she says with a good handle of the French language. "And that's a good question."

She bags the paper as evidence lest it blow away in the wind before forensics can get here… because something is not right. Blue eyes linger on the tiny indentations in the snow and blood, but she dare not voice her opinions aloud in the presence of a reporter and this know-nothing cop. Pushing upward, Maggie is careful to disturb nothing as she leaves the main crime scene to follow the tracks through the food court. As she goes, she looks skyward, then back at Sierra, a hand held out. "Stay back— a good distance. Okay?" There it is, a friendly flash of a smile. Short-lived, though. Onward.


Sierra smiles sweetly. Almost too sweetly. "I work for le Queens Gazette. A small paper, but our readers like to know about all the goings on." She replies, watching Maggie do her job. "Well, certainly you must have some idea by now as to what happened. Some conjecture even." Yay for words like 'conjecture'! She smiles. "I am being a good little reporter and staying on this side of the tape, mon cherie."


The footprints eventually trail off. Still, they've brought Maggie closer to the security door under the mall's resident Chinese take out restaurant. The grey door has writing slathered on it in bright red blood, preserved by the cold. It's hard to see from a distance, since it's in shadow, but up close, the writing becomes clear.

It's the second half of the note. 'YOU CAN'T SEE ME COMING, A FLAW IN YOUR PLAN.'

Not really the way the rhyme usually ends.

As well as the blood, lines - similar to the ones that appear on the body - are traced into the door at random. It's like the metal itself has been eaten through and is severely corroded in places. In fact, a faint sizzling pop can still be heard coming from it.


"Conjecture doesn't make good detective work, Ms. LeBlanc," Maggie says, though her tone is more pleasant than truly scolding. Politely, doesn't add — or even consider adding — what she's thinking: 'it doesn't make for good reporting, either.' "All we know for certain at this point is that he fell through into the food court. It's possible he was pushed or dropped but like I said…" she trails off.

The woman's forehead starts to furrow out of the reporter's sight, wrinkles forming above well-defined brows— the bloody message is unsettling, not the kind of clue that leads to an open-and-shut case. But mostly… it's malicious, and Maggie frowns. It's the burned — melted? — eaten door that really garner her attention, however. She's forced to waste a few seconds swapping the gloves out for her pistol. That strange acidic sizzle is new— it's happening now. One hand is held out in warning for Sierra to stay back before she moves to cautiously tug on the security door.


Sierra shrugs. "Perhaps not, you are right." She has to hold her tongue, after all. Yes, the readers want stories, but she also has made a promise to herself to give the truth, regardless of how much or little there is to write about. "What's going on? Maybe I can…" She stops herself. What's she saying? She can't help! She's a reporter, the police wouldn't want her help in this matter. And she wouldn't want to put herself in any danger anyway. She squints. "What do you see, ma'am?"


The metal, already weakened by the acid, will simply collapse in on itself as soon as Maggie pulls on it. It doubles over, preserving the writing for the most part, but completely ruining the door. If the detective isn't careful, she's going to find herself burned, too.

The inside of the restaurant is exactly as it was left the night previous. It looks like it would at the end of a very long shift, with dinner plates left at tables and food half-cooked on the stoves. There doesn't seem to be anyone in there at the moment.


Maggie can't answer Sierra — she doesn't have time. "AH!" The shout is elicited before she can stop it, and the detective backpedals rapidly in utilitarian black boots, holding out the hand she opened the door with ("opened" being a loose term…) as if burned, though she's quick enough to avoid most of it. Is she going to have to make a call about hazardous materials? "It might not be safe here," she says over her shoulder with a hush to her voice.

Although the space beyond the threshold looks empty, she knows looks can be deceiving, and she advances — both hands on her gun, pointed expertly inward. Sorry, Sierra — you're on your own. She steps over and around the door with a few careful hops; there's no guarantee her boots and pantlegs won't brush the sizzling corrosion, however. She risks it. Her gun is gradually swerved from left to right as she scans the Chinese restaurant.


Might not be safe? Collapsing door? Cop taking out a gun and going into a room? Sierra is following! She doesn't care if other cops are going to try and stop her, this could be the story that makes her career! She ducks under the tape and hurries (as fast as she can in heels) to the Chinese restaurant, doing her best to evade the officers trying to stop her. Finally, she makes it behind Maggie, eyes wide open.


Within, Maggie will find nothing. Sure, looks can be deceiving, but it doesn't seem like anyone's been here recently. There's no blood, no wetness or slush to indicate that whoever left that message on the door actually would have come into the restaurant.

Poor Sierra, though. Suddenly, from just behind her comes the booming voice, "WHO THE FUCK TAMPERED WITH MY CRIME SCENE?!" just as she shimmies her way under the tape. Oh snap, you're in trouble now, Ms. Reporter!

With little regard to the caution tape - which he put there - the investigator barrels through it, seeking to grab Sierra by the collar. "You take my tags!? That's a federal offense— Holy shit, what'd you do to that door?"

His finger loosen on her collar; in fact, he all but tosses her aside as soon as he gets a good look at the writing. "Hey, Anderwaul. You missed somethin'!" Looking up, he notes the detective inside the restaurant, and he swears again. Profusely. "You move my tags?? What the hell is this?"


"I told you to stay back!" The voice of Detective Powers is capable of warm kindness and authoritative command in turns — guess which is in full effect right now? The blonde's words are on the heels of the investigator's. Half-convinced that there's nothing moving in the restaurant — though she's ordering someone to scour it later just in case — she turns around to rightfully face the others, gun lowering before she hop-skip-and-jumps past the door's remains once more.

"Hey Daniels— nah, Ms. LeBlanc's a reporter for the Queen's Gazette and… she shouldn't be here," A pointed glance with peaked eyebrows is sent to Sierra. "—but she didn't tamper with anything. It's like forensics was here and left…" Except by her dubious tone of voice, she doesn't believe that to be the whole story. "They weren't here when I arrived. Tags were gone. We've got some kind of corrosive material here besides, same us on the body. How long've you been here? You been up on the roof?"


Sierra eeps as her collar is grabbed tightly. She is actually frightened at the mixture of shouting and grabbing of her collar. She expected she might be escorted out as the worst possible thing that could happen. Not someone getting THIS angry! As he lets her go, she scurries back to the other side of the tape, rubbing the back of her neck. "Mon dieu. Crazy man!" She shakes her head. "No one'd dare move them, sir, unless they needed to be moved!" But really, she shouldn't speak. "Unless, of course, you cannot keep control of the people under your command, hmm?"

Sierra starts taking down some notes and his name.


"God dammit Powers. Gonna give me a heart attack." Detectives who swear more get all the hot babes. Daniels seems to have that part of the job down pretty clear.

Sierra wants to speculate? Well here's something to ponder over. "'course I was up on the fuckin' roof. There's blood writing in the snow. Right in the damned snow…" He trails off, making his way from the door back over to the body, passing by the stack of evidence tags that have been piled up on a nearby table. He seems to be calming down, until Sierra opens her mouth again. "HEY. You!"

The policeman who was supposed to be guarding the scene pokes his head through the plastic sheeting again, pointing to himself as if in question. "Yeah, you. Make your fat ass useful and book this woman for tampering with a crime scene," Daniels goes on, indicating Sierra. "And //you— //" He jabs a finger in the girl's direction, then says nothing, instead turning back to the blood, where he can see the little slotted grooves where the tags were lifted away.

The guard starts toward Sierra. He seems particularly uncomfortable to be around all this blood.


The guard starts toward Sierra. He seems particularly uncomfortable to be around all this blood.

Maggie shoots a hard look at Sierra, but it's not outright hostile. She just wishes the reporter didn't have to go and say things like that on top of slipping into the crime scene. It's only going to rile Daniels. Cue the— yep, there he goes. She follows briskly to the crime scene, her weapon tucked away in a holster unseen beneath her coat. "Hey," she calls out in a much softer, still attention-grabbing, voice. "Hey, she didn't touch anything, give her a break. Just have someone escort her off premises, we don't know how much've this place is a crime scene anymore." Stopping at the edge of the shattered glass closest to the body, she looks down, grim-faced. "What the hell happened. Daniels, do you know what officers were on scene first? I'm going to call forensics before I go up to the roof, there's a step missing here."


Sierra gives Maggie a little shrug. She riles things up sometimes. She takes a few steps back. "Monsieur, I can find my own way out. Thank you but um…but…it is kind of you to offer." She gives a little giggles. "I shall see mon own way out, oui? Thank you for your time and I hope you all find who ever did this."


Daniels will never be described as a softie. However, he has much bigger things to take care of at the moment… Namely, the fact that someone messed with his crime scene. He swears again. "Fine. Just make sure she stays the hell out of here." The poor officer doesn't know that he's going to get a very bad report from Daniels later on.

"Got a list for you, but there hasn't been anyone here for, fuck, an hour." Daniels shakes his head. "Got a list of officers who were here— We know as much as you do right now. We got pictures of everything - with the tags - we can show you, too, once they're downloaded from the camera." Pausing, he looks back toward the melted door. A step missing, indeed. Mmmh.

The inept officer starts to say something, just before Daniels booms, "AND CALL THE CORONER AND TELL HIM TO KEEP HIS BUSYBODY ASS OFF MY CRIME SCENE."


Maggie's mouth twists into an unsatisfied, pensive frown. "Yeah— okay." A hand briefly goes to one hip — completely hidden beneath her long coat — before she turns her idea around. "Actually, you know what, I'm going to do a quick round around the mall, someone was here— recently. Whoever's responsible for ruining that door might've left a trail, they could still be here," Maggie says definitively, starting to jog off. She turns around, walking backwards long enough to shout, "Save me that list! Can you do me a favour and get me some help down here? Thanks!" before bee-lining toward the nearest side door out.




It's early morning. There have been people in and around the mall all night since the death inside, carefully piecing through and cataloguing the evidence. Forensics ever-so-carefully labeled everything and took pictures. Now, they're up on the roof further investigating their earlier appraisal, attempting to take more decent pictures of the message in blood now that there is natural light to see by. There's a guard down in the mall proper; he'll keep out everyone who's not supposed to be there.

Many sets of tracks led away from the window. Some were trampled, some doubled back, one in particular seemed to completely disappear. Perhaps the person who committed the crime just flew off?

There are small indentations in the snow, almost impossible to see due to the care with which they were placed. In fact, the snow has caved in on them enough by this morning that it would be nearly impossible to pick them out as evidence among the other drifts of snow on the mall roof. Someone used a rope to get to the ground; both the rope and the person who used it seem to be gone.


There's one person who isn't afraid of trampling footprints or anything else— and that's cause she doesn't really look like a person. New York, even in winter, has many, many pigeons. But none quite like the one sitting on the roof of the mall. Gillian can't really feel the wings or the feathers— or the cold, which is a blessing. Her real body is miles away, in the safety of her apartment now, but she couldn't help but try to come back to the scene yet again.

Taking off, anyone who watches closely would notice something odd with the movement that seems slightly out of place. Wings don't ruffle the air at all. There's no shadow. The perspective isn't perfect. But most people don't study birds that closely.

From the air, she looks down for signs of movement, further evidence, tracks that keep going rather than vanish.


Way below on the ground, a door opens.

It's early. Too early for anyone to be about in this back alley. It's why she selected this particular place; the cover was amazing. Turning around briefly, she listens to the booming voice of a forensics detective as she ever-so-gently guides the door closed.

She's not wearing much to keep herself warm in this cold. It's easy to see caramel-coloured skin covered in blood. A thin, yet sturdy rope is wrapped around her waist, holding up a pair of black pants.

Purposely, she leaves a pair of bloody handprints outside the door, before she takes off running. It was all too easy.


The spectral pigeon flaps wings a few times, but hovers oddly even then. Pigeons don't hover— but Gillian's not really a pigeon. At such a distance, she can't make out much, but perhaps she made out enough. Curiously, she starts to follow the running figure…

And then her cellphone rings, snapping her out of the projection. The bird vanishes.


Reaching the end of the alley, Mandy pulls a hooded sweatshirt and a pair of gloves out from between two dumpsters, tugging them on. A glance is paid behind her, though she can't see anyone coming. Good… She doesn't want them on her trail that quickly.

Smiling, she shoves her hands into her pockets and steps out of the alley, blending in easily with the shopping crowds.

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