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S.E.C.R.E.T. Chapter 6

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Author's Notes

"I haven't forgotten this. Sorry for the long absence."

The tech lab shares a wall with their workstation, yet they need to take the long way around. Captain Euryale has mentioned adding a door in the detectives' station that would connect to the tech lab, but it would have to go in her office or they would need to rewire the entire room. Valerian's uncertain as to what she has decided.

He doesn't bother knocking, just enters Devan's lab. Knocking doesn't make much difference, anyway. If the selkie isn't wearing clothes he'd still tell them to come in.

Devan is a tall man, a little over six feet, with well-toned muscles. His skin is pale, having little body hair though dark locks fall from his head to dance across his shoulders. As usual, he's not wearing a shirt. At least this time he has pants on. Valerian would be content for the rest of his existence if he never has to witness Devan nude again.

He sits in a chair, tapping away on a keyboard in front of several large screens, his eyes bouncing between them as he bobs his head to some obnoxious heavy metal. He stops what he's doing and spins the chair to face them, dropping a foot to halt his momentum. A seal's skin is wrapped around his waist.

"Evening, beauties. Took you guys long enough to get here." He has a slight Irish accent.

"Well, good evening, Devan," Calypso returns, sauntering over to him. Valerian follows. "Apparently, the captain was napping in her office. She just now told us," Calypso explains.

Devan shrugs. "What can you do? Now that I think about it; does the captain ever leave the precinct?"

Calypso chuckles.

"What do you have?" Valerian interrupts.

Devan sighs, a smirk lifting a corner of his mouth, and he twirls his chair back around to face the screens. "You're always all work and no play, Val. Doesn't that get boring?" His tone holds a hint of innuendo. He taps against the keyboard, bringing up a black window.

"The smell of fish kind of kills any sexual desire," Valerian retorts.

Devan barks out a laugh. "Yeah, well, I always imagined sleeping with you would be like sleeping with a corpse."

Valerian ignores Calypso's cackling in favor of trying to burn a hole through Devan with his scowl. The fact that the selkie has even imagined it. "And you can keep imagining because that's all you're going to get."

Devan tosses a leer over his shoulder. "That's okay; I still have Calypso to keep me company."

The succubus snorts. "You'll have to wait. I'm all out of Febreze."

The selkie coos. "I knew you loved me!"

"Horizontal and vertical," Calypso replies.

Valerian wrinkles his nose—though it was hardly anything, it was still more information than he ever wanted to know about their private affairs.

Devan winks at her. "I'm always happy to provide a meal, darling."

Now would probably be a good time to steer the conversation back towards the case before they start reminiscing. In detail. And scar him mentally. "Can we focus? What do you have, Devan?"

Devan flicks his hand out to some chairs, and Valerian drags two over. Once he and Calypso sit, Devan pulls up some documents: an address, tax information, and what looks like a school photo of a teenage boy; red hair, freckles.

"Not much. There were a lot of furry memes, though." Devan turns a serious expression on them. "And I do mean a lot."

"Oh, my," Calypso says around a chuckle.

"A lot of what kind of memes?"

Devan blinks at Valerian and stares for a few seconds before turning back to his screens. "You probably don't wanna know."

Valerian raises an eyebrow. Fine, he'll Google it. "Did you find anything useful on her laptop?"

"She was face timing somebody right before the murder. I tracked the IP and got an address." Devan gestures to the screen.

"That boy?" Valerian inquires.

"It was either him or his mom," Devan replies. "But Chad Wilkins here is closer in age to Samantha than Mrs. Wilkins, so I'm gonna say he's a safe bet. I did get some audio." He pulls up a sound program.

Valerian sits up straighter in his seat. "How?"

"Samantha was recording a lecture in the background. When the lecture finished the program didn't shut down." Devan starts the audio file.

It begins with a man explaining a science project. Devan fast forwards through that. The program catches Samantha in the middle of a sentence discussing some plans for the weekend. Someone responds but her laptop doesn't pick it up clearly.

A distant sound, like glass breaking, interrupts their conversation. Sammy is silent. The person she was speaking to asks something, but she just tells them she'll be right back. Springs squeak before a door opens but doesn't close.

Calypso and Valerian both lean closer, trying to make out the sounds.

A woman screams. The person Sammy was speaking to, most likely Chad, raises his voice loud enough for her laptop to pick it up as he yells her name. There is some panicked screaming in the distance, possibly the word 'run'. Chad yells for his mom.

Something shrieks, shrill, and drawn out. Chad's voice grows louder, hysterical, alternating between screaming for his mom and yelling Samantha's name.

Valerian twists his head to the side, listening to the creature shriek again, trying to recognize it. "What does that sound like to the two of you?"

"I don't know," Calypso replies. She flicks her finger at the screen. "Devan, rewind this and play it again."

The selkie does as asked. They both lean forward as the sound plays again. Valerian shakes his head. "I can't tell what it is through the speakers."

Devan hums, taps a few keys, rewinds the audio, and plays it again. The noise comes through cleaner.

Valerian shakes his head again, leaning back in his chair. "My hearing is too sensitive. I can't make it out through the feedback from the speakers."

Calypso taps her nails against Devan's table, crossing her legs. "It sounds like a banshee almost. But we know that's definitely not what killed them."

"Maybe this will helps." Devan closes the audio file. "I got your text," he glances at Valerian, "and cross-referenced all the criminals Prosecutor Willoby put away with any that might have gotten released recently, and I got one match." A mugshot pops up of a thin, lanky man, short greasy hair thinning on top and sunken cheeks.

"He was put away for killing two girls, seven and nine," Devan explains.

"Marvin Vickers," Valerian interrupts. "I remember skimming his file. There was evidence of more victims but no bodies."

Calypso sighs, resting her elbow on the armrest of her chair and placing her fist against her cheek. The movement causes her chair to spin slightly, and the toe of her heel rubs against Valerian's shin. He moves his leg out of her way. "That's the problem with the human justice system; if there isn't a body, then it's not a murder," she states.

"Cut 'em some slack." Devan pulls up a few more pages showing two female children and some details of Vickers' charges. "They don't have wereanimals or vampires to sniff out the corpses."

"That, and most of what they deal with don't eat the bodies," Valerian adds. "If we followed the same rules, most of our cases would be thrown out for insubstantial evidence."

"True that," Devan agrees.

"I'm sure they have ways around that. I just feel it's slacking on their part," Calypso states.

Valerian shrugs. "Perhaps." He gestures to the mug shot. "This human was put away for forty years only two years ago. How is he already free?" Valerian turns to the selkie.

Devan shrugs. "He got himself some fancy lawyer he shouldn't be able to pay for to go on about how the evidence was contaminated, planted, or irrelevant. Load of bull if you ask me."

"And a judge let him go?" A note of anger is hidden in Calypso's tone. Valerian wouldn't be surprised if she decided to hunt down the judge.

"Probably paid off." Devan spins his chair to face them, leaning back.

"Why?" Valerian huffs out an annoyed breath when the arm of his chair cracks in his palm. Both Devan and Calypso cut their gazes to him. He relaxes his grip. The one thing he will not stand by and allow is the harming of children. He wouldn't even tolerate it from Kaileena, but she didn't stop. It's what helped open his eyes to her, and one of the reasons how he finally found the strength to leave. When he finds Vickers, he's going to string the bastard up by his own entrails. That lawyer, too.

"Good question," Devan replies. He pats Valerian's hand in a comforting gesture but ceases at the scowl he receives. "Money, power, the promise of immortality? That last one gets humans a lot."

Valerian stands. "Find his lawyer, figure out who it is, who footed the bill, and what their endgame is. No one fights to release a criminal like this without wanting something in return."

Devan nods, turning back to face his primary monitor to presumably do just that.

Calypso stands as well, dusting off her skirt.

"And find the judge," Valerian continues. "Figure out what he got bribed with. Let's see if we can get this sheep back behind bars."

Calypso hums, sounding humored but pleased. "You don't usually interfere with the humans."

"If we can lock the human up, I don't see why we shouldn't."

"If he's still human," Calypso adds.

"There are only so many things a human can become. I'm leaning towards a rougarou. They are not as common as werewolves, but their teeth are larger, might fit the bite marks." Valerian kicks his chair, and it slides across the floor, coming to a stop near where he grabbed it earlier.

"True, the tooth we recovered was too large for a werewolf," Calypso murmurs, following him as he heads for the door.

"Hestor is still examining the bodies. We'll wait to see what she comes up with. We might have more to go on after her examination." He holds the door open for Calypso and she slips by him, tossing him a sly look.


Valerian sighs. "He. He said he might have absently licked his gloves."

Calypso snorts. "He should be back to normal in a couple of hours. So, what now?"

"You can get some sleep. I imagine you've been here all day."

Calypso nods, biting back a yawn.

Valerian leads the way back to the detectives' station. "I'll dig through Vickers' file, see if there's anything I missed now that we have evidence linking him to the murders. When you and Melissa come in, I want to question Chad. He might be our only witness."

Calypso raises an elegant eyebrow, her heels clicking against the tile. "You do realize it will have to be done during the day? Melissa and I can handle it."

"I'll bring an umbrella."

Calypso laughs, shaking her head. "As you wish."

The detectives' station is mostly empty when they enter, most of the zelan that sleep during the day already gone, Melissa included if her missing helmet is anything to go by. Cadence is still present, being a werewolf, but he's yawning through a cup of coffee. Probably got woken like Valerian. Unlike vampires, werewolves are capable of remaining awake during the day although they're nocturnal. Some even choose it, which means Cadence gets called in sometimes to cover the day shift.

Selena is also present. Being a spirit sleep is not required, therefore she tends to work the night shift, their nocturnal detectives being short-staffed. Her skin is pale, almost translucent. Shoulder length midnight black hair makes it more prominent. Her dress and hair always flow like she's moving through water.

She busies herself with setting up another pot of coffee, hovering a few inches above the ground. The gray, tattered dress she wears swirls around her ankles. She's unable to speak, only able to wail, so sign language is her most utilized method of communication.

Valerian has heard rumors that banshees are the souls of human women. It's said a banshee comes into being when a woman is violently murdered, which is why their screams herald death. He's asked her about it, but Selena doesn't remember how she came to be, barely remembers being human.

She offers Valerian a friendly smile when he passes. He returns a nod.

Calypso snatches up her jacket and her purse. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

"Hopefully, we'll have something by then." Valerian puts a hand on his desk, leaning his weight on it.

"I'll keep my fingers crossed." She twirls around, heading for the exit while covering a yawn with her palm.

Valerian's gaze shifts to Cadence, the dog's head drooping where he sits. Valerian steps closer and kicks Cadence's chair, jolting the wolf out of his doze.

He rubs an eye with his fist, eyeing Valerian with the other. "Geez, what did I do now?"

"Go home and get some rest," Valerian replies. "At the moment we're at a standstill, and coffee can only do so much, no matter how many pots Selena brews for you. You're exhausted."

The wolf stares, blinking up at him. "Okay, sure." He tidies up his files, leaving them in a neat pile atop Valerian's desk before standing.

Valerian doesn't watch the wolf leave, instead sitting at his desk and rifling through the files, trying to find Vickers.

"What's up with him?" Cadence's voice is whisper-soft, but he's too close for Valerian to not hear. "He's being nice." Selena giggles and silence lasts for a few seconds before the wolf snorts. She must have replied in sign language.

Clothing rustles behind Valerian. "All right, I'll see ya tomorrow," Cadence says. He slips through Valerian's peripheral, coat donned and boots thudding against the tile as he heads across the room.

Vickers' file isn't on the desk. Valerian drags over a box, digging through those files.

Something bumps against his desk, and he looks up, meeting golden eyes set into a pale visage made more pronounced by raven-colored hair. Some of it is cut to drape over an eye. The light cast from the bulbs overhead brings out the blue highlights.

Khalid Ascelin, a vampire with origins that date back millennia. Valerian heard once, that he was alive when the Bible was first being written. His name roughly translates to "eternally of the moon". Ironic considering he's a vampire. Calypso doesn't believe it's his real name.

Khalid has only been with their precinct for a couple of months, but from the few interactions Valerian has had with the ancient, he's concluded Khalid is a bit mentally unstable. Also, a little weird. Rumors circulate it's caused by his long years. Over time his mind started degrading. That's something Valerian can probably look forward to. Hopefully, he'll be put out of his misery before he ends up like the older vampire.

Khalid has a hip propped up against Valerian's desk, arms crossed. The older vampire tilts his head to the left, the bangs draped down the left side of his face shifting aside. The locks hand down to his chin. That would annoy Valerian.

His fangs flash into sight when he speaks, "What do you think?" His voice is quiet, soft, devoid of any inflection except a slight elevation at the end of his question. Though Valerian will never admit this, even on pain of death, the elder vampire unnerves him.

"About what?" Valerian tries to keep his tone neutral.

"This newest case," Khalid replies. He shifts his gaze from Valerian to look straight.

Valerian watches the ancient from the corner of his eye. Khalid never shows any emotion. It makes gauging his moods difficult. Those that are unpredictable can prove dangerous, and no one ever knows what he's thinking.

"I'm thinking a wendigo."

Most of the time no one knows what he's thinking. Valerian abandons his attempt to look busy, turning his focus to the elder. He obviously isn't going away, might as well pay attention. "Wendigos haven't been seen for centuries. They were all eradicated."

"True, but a human does not have to be bitten or infected to turn like with most contagious monsters. I apologize, zelan. 'Tis a reasonable conclusion. The only enemies this human had were other humans, and 'twas personal, not a random attack."

Valerian swivels his chair to face Khalid. "Wendigos are not the only creatures humans can become."

Khalid tilts his head, his hair swishing, and dons a look of disbelief almost, incredulous maybe. "Captain Euryale has me perform a walk-through of the scene. Wendigos are the only creature that can leave behind an odor of decay so mephitic it lasts for hours, even lingering on the corpses."

Valerian has no idea what mephitic means, so he's going to assume it means the thing smelled really bad. That could explain why Hestor's lab reeked worse than it normally does. Being undead herself—himself and constantly being surrounded by corpses, he might have never taken notice.

"Just something to consider." Khalid steps away, heading towards the evidence room before Valerian can ask why he was sent to walk back through the crime scene. Khalid must know something. Valerian doesn't think the older vampire would just throw out theories on a hunch. He's probably not messing with them, either. Khalid likes to toy with people, but not about a case. He's ancient, must have been around a lot, so maybe he's had a run-in with a wendigo before? Recognized the smell?

The captain's door is thrown open, and she glances around before finding who she wants. Valerian is surprised it isn't him. "Khalid, perfect timing! Grab me a cup of joe, no sugar!" she barks and ducks back inside.

Valerian turns a wary gaze to Khalid, the older vampire having halted mid-step. He places his foot back on the floor, his shoulders rising with an inhale before Valerian hears him sigh through his nose. He spins on his heel, his expression blank, and moves towards the coffee machine.

Not touching that. Valerian flicks open Vickers' court file. Now that Vickers is their prime suspect, he'll dig through this more thoroughly. Something might have been missed when he was just skimming.

The air around him shifts, and Selena stops beside him, setting a cup on his desk. Unlike Melissa's concoction, this one's more blood than coffee. He glances at Selena. "Thank you."

She signs 'You're welcome' and moves somewhere behind Valerian.

He turns his gaze back to the folder, picking up the warm coffee, and takes a sip. He might need more of these. It's probably going to be a long night.


Written by RowenAether
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