ParaVice: Chapter 4
This story features mature content and disturbing artwork not suitable for all ages. Read at your own risk!
What’s in the box:
The DCW is the last line of defense for the innocent in our beleaguered city of ParaVice. A counter terrorism agency specializing in domestic crisis and criminal conspiracy. They investigate, they analyze, they extirpate actors of great evil within their assigned jurisdiction. But now they are running out of time. Corrupt Politicians are using their resources to demonize them, and their constitutes are starting to listen. With the murder of one of those malicious wolves left in their own back yard, Taron Odale and his Chief Assistant Dr. Apprielle Manx must scramble to try and diffuse a divisive time bomb that has just been activated. But first they must quell a war within.
A demon was descending from the heavens.
The local weather was making national headlines as its forecast promised hell in the days to come. Taron gazed dreamily at one of the television monitors that surrounded a dense maze of cubicles at their main command center of his downtown office. He hadn’t noticed much more than alarmed gossip spreading from man to man throughout the busy streets on his way in, but the anxiety was high at the DCW building. His colleagues were running about, streaming in a fury from cubical to cubical, calling out fast developments burgeoning from the crisis. They were like white blood cells rushing this way and that in a frenzy to confront a sudden infection.
Taron was momentarily incapacitated by the weather report. Though there was a ticker detailing some information about the murders at the bottom of the massive screen on a bright-red banner, the reporter was on another matter entirely. An impending super-charged, colossal storm was roaring straight for The Kaia Islands and the forecast ahead was looking quite grim. Somehow a killer tempest was easier to swallow than the geopolitical fallout looming over the corpses of two rich assholes sojourning in a place they had no good business being at. The anchorwoman was divulging something about the record-breaking heat, and how it was fueling the storm, and what hell might wrought should the activity brewing in the North Alasia Sea continue gaining strength.
“This storm is growing,” she warned her viewers, showing a hint of concern on her well-trained plastic countenance. “We could be facing a devastating, record breaking Category 5 hurricane that could touch the coast of Neuterra sometime within the next week… this could result in a humanitarian crisis for the city of Tikawacha…”
Taron couldn’t help himself. He guffawed at the spate of plights targeting ParaVice. All business around him halted. Bewildered eyes fell on him in uncertain silence.
“You hear this,” he said out loud, and the room remained still. “They say a storm is coming.”
“It’s here!” Apprielle’s voice boomed with fire and passion, salted by her signature austerity.
Taron offered her a contrite grin and nodded. He joined her side at once, walking in a marching pace. The tall, solemnly dressed brunette with the dark eyes made of the stuff that birthed universes had the most perfect posture the world has ever seen in a human being. She moves like a robot, Taron mused.
“Everyone, back to work,” She demanded. Nothing more was needed said to get their staff back on it, whatever their clockwork chaos was trying to achieve. Apprielle was often the feared muscle in Taron’s administration, where he simply signed off on the orders with a business-as-usual ambiance. Taron preferred to be present on the scene and out of the office, but the job was the job, and in it he was its prisoner.
She was indeed pissed. Of course, she was always pissed, but the current situation struck a fierce nerve in her that not even coffee could ameliorate. She gnashed her teeth as she stomped beside him, stiff as a tree, handing off a folio filled with the information they were able to gather thus far. She said under her breath so that only Taron could hear, “Where the fuck have you been?”
Taron groaned as he flipped through the incident report in with a perfunctory interest. “Trying to remember why I let my constitutes tap me as Director of Operations,” he boasted his job title with a sting that was meant to say, ‘Remember, I am still your boss.’ “Especially when my assistant keeps barking at me, instead of with me.”
“I’ll bark with you when you are actually in the kennel with the rest of us.”
Taron groaned. “I hate cages.”
“We have a crisis here, which may threaten the very peace we are sworn to protect.” They stepped into his private office. Apprielle closed the door behind her and drew the blinds so none of their staff could look in on them through the ostentatious glass walls. It never looked good for an under-associate to lecture her superior, but the passion of impulse was what made Apprielle so good at her job. Taron simply asked that she shut the door if she was about to take a shit on his desk.
He slapped the file down and readied himself for the wrath of his brilliant Chief Assistant. He relaxed himself into his rotating chair and smothered his stubbly face into his open hands. “What peace?” he asked miserably through the thread of his fingers. “The Canian regime runs more than half the city, and the Government could not give a shit if the whole thing would fall through a sinkhole. In fact: they pray for that to happen. Why should I care that one of their pony-show politicians died here? Serves them well, if you ask me…”
“Lock that shit up!” Apprielle moved in on him, anger written on her long face; everything about her was so long. She flattened her grin and leaned in on his desk, peering at him with those sharp nothing-but-business eyes. She said, “It is your job to care. This murder has nation-wide repercussions that could topple what little stability we have been lucky enough thus far to establish in this city. Many people loved senator Moor, and many people hate ParaVice and their rat-bred denizens. We will be blamed. We need to find who is behind this. And we need to do it fast. If we are slow to act, the feds will pull the plug on us. We can’t afford that… this city can’t afford that. The police are compromised; you know it. We are all that stands for justice in ParaVice.”
He interjected, waving a finger at her as he tittered. He said, “You see that? There’s the problem right there. The fact that even we, even here at the top of command at the Department of Civil Wellness, call our city by its pejorative name. That’s why I feel this nagging sense of disillusion.”
She softened her tone, blinking away her frustration, and it peeled from her disposition with the grace of sandpaper. “It’s my city, Taron. I was born here; you know how I feel about it…”
“You were made a slave here…” he didn’t mean to say it, but the words slipped through his teeth like a bad joke in an uncomfortable conversation. She winced but took it with stride. A woman well used to pain, she let it roll off her skin.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
She held up a hand to stop him from saying more. Apprielle put those dark eyes back on him again, and he felt as though they were powerful enough to look right into his very molten core — he’d hate to know what that ugly elephant’s foot might look like inside.
“Yes, I was a slave,” she confessed. “I was born in The Allies, and I was raised by the streets. I fought to free myself from my manacles. You were there too, I believe. Do you still remember the Streets of ParaVice? The city we really live in. Do you remember Pioneer Alley?” That he did, all too well. He broke a grown man’s jaw there once… or maybe twice. He stole to eat. He hid under grates and waded in the sewers while other poor souls were being raped and murdered over him. “Imagine what I had to do to stay alive there. Those things, those terrible things…” she shuddered. “Nobody was there to be my champion. Nobody wanted to save me. I had nothing to get me by but for what was between my legs.
There are still others like me out there that must suffer the same fate. It’s the reason why I’m here; the same reason why you are here, in a sense. I fought to secure my current position in the world. Now I fight for them. I never liked one single word that fell out of Senator Moor’s fat fucking mouth on his political run, and I have my reasons for most of that as you well know. But his death… it threatens those girls we are trying to protect. Those girls who have no hero left but us. If we don’t answer this, they will be left with nothing. And worse yet, they will be left alone to face a greater war that will fall hard at the heels of this episode. We cannot allow it to happen. This is the Department of Civil Wellness, and the last line of defense for the weak and innocent. You are the captain of this ship. Will you let her sink? Will you fail them, the little girls like me… little girls like your daughter?”
That put acid in his eyes. He looked at her long and darkly, and he said, “That is quite enough, Miss Manx. You made your point. Now go. Leave me in peace.”
Apprielle frowned hard, but she turned to leave. As she set her hand on the doorknob to go, she paused. She looked back at him and said, “I still believe, Taron, I do.”
It was difficult for him to form a response considering how hard he was biting his lip, but he did. “I know, Apprielle… Thank you.” Then she left him alone in his office to brood.
Taron glared at the case file on his desk. He opened it and he read through the report one more time. The photographs provided were grueling and terrible, but the real thing waiting for them at the top of that tower was much worse. And there was something else there. Something only Taron could see. Something starkly familiar. Somehow the Toybox was open in his mind again.