Oak Park Avenue

Mason was late to the scene. The blues with their flashing lights and yellow tape were still in attendance, but they were few in number now. The crime scene techs drifting away to eat take away food and slink back to their air conditioned labs.

The bodies had been removed. By all reports there had been a good number of bodies. He removed his hat as he knelt at the edge of the police cordon and plucked a shiny bronze object from the gutter. He brought the spent shell to his nose and sniffed. Closing his eyes to savour the sharp edge of sulphur in the aroma.

An officer was approaching from a nearby squad car. He moved quickly as his hand drifted to hover in the vicinity of his sidearm.

"Sir I am going to have to ask you to step away from the barrier." the officer called ahead as Mason straightened, returning his homburg to his head. He reached into his jacket causing the officer to grasp his weapon and then raising his free hand in surrender he slowly pulled out a pack of cigarettes. The officer relaxed.

Mason raised the box and pinched out a smoke between his lips. He offered the box to the approaching officer who shook his head.

"You really cant be here sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave."

"This the work of a User?" he asked indicating the blood soaked lawn and the bullet strewn house behind it.

"I really can not comment sir. Now please leave the area before..."

Mason reached for his jacket again and paused as he saw the officer tense, "Just need to get a light, then I'll move along quietly officer. Scouts honour."

The cop gave a nod and Mason reached once more and brought out a small glass vial containing a bright white light that fluttered about like a trapped bug.

"What's that..." the officer began and then stopped transfixed, his mouth hanging open.

"This?" Mason mumbled around his cigarette as he reached into his trouser pocket for a lighter, "Is a wisp."

Still holding the vial he lit up and tucked the lighter away and peered at the cops name badge. "Now I am going to take a look around ok officer Stokes?"

"Huh huh."

"I am with the Feds and everything his fine."

"Everything is fine." repeated the cop his eyes transfixed on the wisp.

"Perfect." Mason replied as he popped the vial back into his coat and ducked under the police barrier.

Back at the squad car another officer poked his head out and called over, "Hey Stokes, Captain said to keep the area clear, who is that?"

"He's with the Feds, everything's find." Stokes answered dreamily.

Mason made a beeline for the house and entered. Best to get himself out of sight and out of mind. Once inside he surveyed the ruined interior and removed his smoke to give a low whistle. He popped on his glasses and activated the up link.

"We are online." came a young mans voice over the comm.

"Where's Crystal?" Mason asked, there was a moments silence.

"She has been reclassified." came the response after a moment and Mason paused for a moment to consider the implications.

"And you are?" he asked.

"Dino." came the response,

"Ok Dino what do we have here?" Mason made his way to the stairs.

"Appears to be an unregistered User, Olivia Warren, female aged 13. Mother deceased, killed earlier today in the incident outside. Probably the trigger for Corruption Cascade. Currently flagged as Euclid. Local assets report a secondary incursion of unknown origin but baring clear markers of inter-dimensional travel. Presumed aspect Shadow."

"So we are not the only interested party." Mason commented. "Government?"

"Doubtful sir, the US government does not have access to any registered artefacts of that aspect."

"A new player then." Mason entered what had been until a few hours ago Miss Warrens bedroom. Like the rest of the house it was a wreck.

"Poor kid." he murmured as he pulled a small iron pyramid from his jacket pocket and placed it in the centre of the room. He pinched the top of the device and twisted it four times to the left and released it.

The pyramid began to rotate slowly counter clockwise and as it moved it projected a soft light into the room. The ghost of a young girl listening to music through her earphones. Sounds filtered through the device now as well as the image became sharper..

She sat on her bed, her hands shaking, sweat beading on her brow. She looked at the posters on her wall. She looked at the books on her shelf. She looked at the shoes in the corner. She looked like hell! Mason watched the scene replay and wondered what had driven her to such distress.

The girl rolled off her bed into the floor and pulled a comic-book out of her bed side drawer. Mason looked around and found he same comic lying torn near the door he picked it up,

'Blood Captain' vol 6 number 221. His favourite. The kid had taste. He picked a random passage and read out loud as the ghostly images of the past played out around him in the room.

It was the dread pirate Captain Capra who spoke, “...Who are you, sailor? Are you the victim of these feral tides? Or are you the Sea-King, come sailing in with breast swollen and blade gleaming? Will you be conquered or will you conquer?”

"What was that?" Dino asked over the Comm.

"What? Oh nothing just reading somthing."

The image of Livy was back in the bed. He watched as her stuffed tiger fell to the floor.

“MISS WARREN. THIS IS U.N.S.F. USER ENFORCEMENT. COME OUT NOW WITH YOUR HANDS FULLY VISIBLE.”

Mason viewed it all with interest. She had seen her mother murdered out there and then as something had entered the room. Nothing visible but all of a sudden the images began to twist and warp. The device began to spin faster and faster and Mason could smell something burning, something sweet and...The light was shifting to a sickly green and Mason recognised the signs that shit was about to go sideways.

"Fuck! Dino call in a clean up crew I have a level two breach here."

"Ah what?"

"A tear. The fucking spinner has torn the veil."

"That is not possible." Dino replied. Mason could feel the air pressure building in the room his skinned prickled from head to toe as what ever was on the other side of the veil tried to worm its way through the breach. He glanced down at the spinner and decided in an instant he was going nowhere near the fucking thing. Instead he ran.

Outside the commotion had attracted the attention of the cops and they were marching forward to investigate. Mason burst out into the night air gasping for breath and wild eyed. If that thing was not stopped this entire neighbourhood was fucked. The cops had weapons out and were facing him. He raised his hands.

"On your knees." one of them roared and Mason glanced up too see green light escaping from the bedroom window. He dropped to his knees and placed his hand behind his head. One of the officers was pointing up at the window and the rest were focusing on him so they did not see the clean up crew arrive.

All around the yard men were stepping out of thin air. Dressed in black and armed to the teeth. One of the cops was reaching down to cuff Mason and he looked the man in the eye. Just a kid in his twenties, the ghost of a beard on his chin. He smiled sadly.

"So sorry." he whispered but before the officer could react the clean up crew opened fire, their weapons fire dulled by silencers. Within a few seconds the police were all down, their blood mingling in the soil with that of their colleagues from earlier that day.

One of the black clad figures stepped up to Mason and offered him a hand.

"Thank you." he said with a glance up at the window.

"Director Keller wants your report in an hour." it was a woman's voice behind the mask and with that she was inside the building with the others containing the threat. Mason looked around at the dead cops and shook his head. The death toll from earlier was convenient it would leave room for clerical errors. Mason stepped over the body of officer Stokes the latest in a long line of cleric errors.

"Damned shame." he grumbled as he plucked out a fresh smoke and lit it up. It was starting to rain.

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