everything is connected
Town of Lies
The first man polished his gun, leaning against the white wall, almost oblivious to the crying of the second man sitting on the chair. The second man was tiny, especially compared to the first man, the man with the gun. His hands were bound to the armrests, his ankles tied to the chair legs. A bag covered his face but did nothing to contain the choked sound that came from it.
“I am going to ask you one more time,” the first man said softly. He was tall once, but weeks of dragging corpses to graveyards had injured his back, causing him to stoop. And he had done it all for his revenge.
He didn’t care. Because the first man, the man with the gun, had a purpose again. He had found his duty. And right now that meant...
He crossed over to the man on the chair and took off the bag. The man on the chair yelped and blinked, tears running down his face and snot dribbling from his nose. The first man recoiled slightly in revulsion.
The second man, the man on the chair - his name was Darren. Darren Poole. Darren was not an impressive man, to say the least. He had stringy brown hair and wet blue eyes. His eyes were too far apart and his nose was too big for his face. Darren had a weak chin upon which he was desperately trying to grow a beard, but to no avail. The first man glowered at Darren, who shrank back from him even though there was nowhere to go.
“Where are they?” The first man asked slowly. He was intimidating, he knew he was, and the fear in Darren’s eyes made all of it - everything - worth the trouble.
“I - I d-don’t know w-w-what you’re t-talking about,” Darren whispered. The first man came very close to rolling his eyes, but instead put one hand on the back of Darren’s chair and pushed back slightly. Darren squealed when his toes were no longer on the ground.
“Mr Poole, I came a long way to speak with you about these women. You were the last people to see them before they disappeared.” The first man took a deep breath and waited for Darren to respond. When Darren stayed silent, he continued. “I don’t think you understand how important this is to me.”
“I - I do,” Darren stammered, tripping over his words.
“Then where are they?” The first man growled, pushing Darren’s chair back.
“Port Deuxieme!” Darren wailed. “I swear, that’s where they were going! Don’t kill me, please don’t kill me!”
The first man smiled in triumph. He had gotten what he wanted. “Thank you, Mr Poole. You have been very helpful.”
Darren stared at him. “Are you... Are you going to let me go now?” he asked hopefully.
The first man’s smile widened and he put the cloth he’d been using to clean his gun in the pocket of his suit.
Darren’s watery blue eyes widened in surprise.
“B-but you p-p-promised...”
“I lied.” Sergeant Jenkins fired the gun point-blank, watched the light leave Darren’s eyes as the blood spread across his shirt. He inhaled the acrid smell of gunpowder as he tucked his weapon into the back of his trousers.
Port Deuxieme. France. He had read the papers, and couldn’t honestly say he was surprised. The bodies, the drugs, the theft... no wonder Detective Inspector Kathryn Pearce and Detective Georgia Crypt had gone there to investigate.
“I think,” Georgia muttered, dragging her suitcase through dock security, “that now would be a bad time to tell you that I don’t speak French.”
Her companion laughed. “Don’t worry. All you have to do is smile, nod and say bonjour. Just follow my lead.”
They went up to the gates and were about to walk straight through when a guard stopped them. He wore a grey uniform with gold buttons and the French flag embroidered on the left sleeve.
“Qu’est-ce dans ton sac, mademoiselle?” He asked suspiciously, gesturing towards Detective Inspector K’s brown leather sports bag.
“Oh, monsieur!” K said cheerfully, laughing. She proceeded to talk to the guard in rapid French with Georgia listening uncomprehendingly.
After a few minutes, the guard smiled and Georgia as he let them both through into the city.
“Welcome to France, mademoiselle and madam!”
Georgia waited until they were out of earshot. “What did you tell him?”
“Some cock-and-bull story about how we were museum curators,” K said dismissively. “How we were hoping to see “the beauty of France” in all it’s glory. Also, your husband works at the museum we’re visiting.”
“Is that why he called me madam?” Georgia guessed. K flashed her a grin.
“Oui,” she replied.
They made their way across the street and ended up at the rendezvous point for their new Chief Commissioner. Both women had been interviewed by him before they went, but Georgia didn’t know how well K’s interview had gone.
Detective Inspector K, three weeks ago...
When K walked into the office and saw the man leaning on the desk, the first thing she said was:
“Your wife is having an affair.”
The man laughed, not looking at all fazed by her sudden (not to mention blunt) approach. He held out a hand as she warily walked towards the desk.
“My name is Jonathan Moone. I take it that you are Detective Inspector K.”
She took in many things at once, like she always did. His black hair was slightly on the long side, like he hadn’t bothered to have it cut. There were a few grey streaks, so she guessed he was around forty-five to fifty-five years old. He had big green eyes and good teeth. His grey suit had fur around the hem and the knee, so she reckoned he owned two small dogs; one that brushed around his leg and another that jumped up to his knee to get attention.
He had a weatherbeaten face and a strong tan. His cuff links were shaped like little silver anchors; tacky compared to the rest of his attire, so probably a gift from th cheating wife he was trying to impress. A gold wedding ring rested on his finger and judging by the way he stood he was ex-military; stiff posture, tilted chin, feet together, legs straight.
She noticed weariness around his knuckles, the slight abrasions that almost always pointed to fighting. She saw the unopened whisky on the table and nodded to herself as she took a casual glance at his tie, which was wonky and badly knotted.
“Am I correct in saying that you used to be in the Navy?”
“You are indeed,” Jonathan replied amusedly.
“And that you were kicked out? For assault, most likely. Your cuff links, a gift from your wife - you know about the affair, but haven’t confronted her yet, so you’re desperately trying to win her back. She probably wants to leave you because of the drinking. You own two small dogs, one short hair and one long hair,” K said.
Jonathan looked slightly taken aback. “Very good... but you missed one tiny detail.”
“Which was?” K asked.
He grinned. “I’m very clever, too.”
“You’re hiding something. Big secret. You don’t want to tell people because you think they’ll get hurt, which in turn hurts you. You have friends who are well-protected, and there’s something off about you. Something different. You’re a fighter - probably trained in multiple martial arts. A pianist, judging by the way you’re tapping your fingers against your leg. Nervous habit, but who am I to judge? You are probably older than you look, logically, I mean how exactly does a twenty-five year old become Detective Inspector? Doesn’t make much sense.” Jonathan paused, his gaze resting on her wristbands. “You have high self-preservation instincts but would sacrifice yourself for the greater good-“
“Stop.” K’s voice was icy cold.
Jonathan glanced at her, his eyes sad. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“You didn’t upset me,” K retorted.
“Was I accurate?” he asked hopefully.
She hesitated. “Very.”
He nodded to himself. “Right. I hope you’ll answer me honestly when I ask this next question.”
K waited expectantly.
“Are you Kathryn Pearce?”
Her fingers subconsciously picked up speed, moving from andante to allegro. “The Manipulator?”
“Indeed.” Jonathan didn’t look scared, or smug. Just curious.
“No,” K lied.
“I thought I said you had to answer honestly.”
“You said you hoped I’d answer honestly.”
“Even if you are Kathryn Pearce,” Jonathan continued, “I don’t actually care. I just like to know the members of my work force.”
“Then you can still address me as Detective Inspector K,” K said coolly. “It’s my preferred pronoun.”
“I wanted to give you this.” Jonathan rummaged around in his top desk drawer and gave her a passport, drivers licence and numerous other IDs.
She took them, peering inside each one. “Kelly Myers?”
“It’s a rock solid alias,” Jonathan said with a shrug. “I had an alias made for everyone in the force.”
“What’s Georgia’s?”
“Gina Carringham,” he replied. At the name Gina, she flinched. Jonathan frowned. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said quickly. “Am I dismissed?”
“I’ll tell you your next assignment first,” Jonathan responded quickly. “It’s out of the country.”
“Where?” She asked.
“Port Deuxieme,” he told her. “Georgia and I will be going, too.”
“Kelly, Gina,” Jonathan said, smiling as he walked up to them. He dragged his suitcase behind him with his right hand, his left in his pocket.
“Moone,” K said in a way of greeting.
“Hi,” Georgia said.
“We’re going to the local station,” he told them. “Unfortunately I can’t go with you, so you’re going to have to make something up as to why you’re there. No one at our station knows you’re here apart from Officer Poole, and no one at this station knows why you’re here. You can’t go in and say you’re police officers.”
“What do you suggest?” K asked icily.
He grinned hopefully. “A really good disguise?”
K excused herself and went to the restrooms. Georgia and Jonathan both watched her go.
“I think you should introduce yourselves with Gina Carringham and Kelly Myers,” Jonathan suggested.
“Okay,” Georgia agreed.
“Well? Are we going?”
They both turned around, surprised. K had completely changed - she was now a brown eyed woman with wavy red hair that was tied back in a ponytail. She put on a good Irish accent. Georgia realized she wasn’t wearing her wristbands or jacket, but had changed into a white blouse and a navy pencil skirt.
“That’s a good disguise,” Georgia said approvingly.
“I changed the photo on the IDs to fit it,” K said. “From now on... I’m Kelly Myers. Pleased to meet you.”
Jonathan’s green eyes twinkled. “What a magical transformation.”

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