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Posted: Jan 30 2015, 09:03 PM
11:14 PM, several miles outside of Baltimore
The field is varying shades of silver-gray and shadow in the moonlight. The body is gone, the blood's been washed away--but that was only a week ago. Calla barely needs to stretch to see the echoes of it. The corpse was there, just at the edge of the packed-dirt road, throat ripped out, the bottom half of her face gone. "Liu," says her employer from she stands just beside the car. Emma Ripley. A witch of some importance in Baltimore. The dead woman was her niece.
"Starting," says Calla. She pops in her industrial-strength earplugs. "Aly."
The kid, who's standing beside Ripley, gives her a thumbs-up, which means she's in. She can never feel her apprentice's empathic feelers latch on--a good thing, or she wouldn't be able to take it. Aly makes it easier to close the cases; she can sketch well, unlike Calla, and she describes things better. So she folds herself into Calla's head and watches what she watches.
Calla kneels in the center of the memory of the blood spatter. Alright. That was last week. She reaches back, and back again, just a little bit more. There. The body is gone, and she sees the summer sun high in the sky and hears a woman swearing, a constant stream of low-level profanity. Lucy Ripley, coming closer. Calla sees her, in the layered memory of noonday sun and the happening-now moonlight, whole and alive, stumbling through the grass. Twisted ankle. Running anyway. Stubborn, brave girl. Pity it wasn't enough.
But that's not important right now, because Lucy's in the past tense. She knows where Lucy is--drawer #27 at the city morgue. Probably her ghost is there too. What matters is the person behind her. Not a vampire, not in that light. They're coming up over the hill.
Tall. Muscled. Probably a man. Light-skinned, probably white. And masked. They raise a hand; the memory of magic booms through the vision and knocks Lucy Ripley down. The air of the field remembers it, and so Calla can see it too, the heavy curl of light leaning over the young witch. (Later, Aly will describe it as hungry and sharp. Calla never gets things like that, even when her power picks up on them. It's the same way that her eyes see body language but her brain doesn't connect it to anything.) The spell coils, shifts, shapes itself into something bladelike and hammers down.
With a wrench, she disengages, falling forward and catching herself on her hands. She blinks fast, forcing the mass of memories away, and pops her earplugs out. A headache begins to bloom in her temples--watching the magic directly strained her. Not a migraine, but it coming on this fast means she'll need to spend a few days resting or one will show up. "Done?" asks Ripley. Aly says yes for her. Slowly, Calla climbs to her feet.
"A witch," she says, "Masked. But we can find them." In the old days, without Aly, she would have looked through imprints to pick the culprit out. The most distinctive thing about someone, for her, is the way they make their mark on the past. Much better than faces. She'll do that now. It works; no reason not to. But Aly knows how this one moves, and what their magic looks like. That should make it go much faster.
"I wouldn't charge so much if I wasn't good enough to be certain," Calla says seriously. "I need a list. People she knew. People you know. Anyone connected with the coven or the family. Don't try to hide anything; I don't care and I'll need it to get the job done. Yes?"
Ripley's lips thin. Ah, she's been rude again. "Yes."
"Good. Aly, let's go.
Aly stops by Ripley, says something quiet and polite, and then catches up with Calla. They go home.
Her psychic scale score is: an 8 in retrocognition, a 7 each for psychometry, clairvoyance, and clairaudience, and a flat 1 across the board for everything else. This means she is at all times doing the "dear god don't touch anything" dance. Even in the hottest Baltimore weather, she's in long sleeves and long pants and gloves. Touch cuts through her shields like a hot knife through butter, so she always needs at least one layer of protection in place. When she was younger, she was constantly having breakdowns brought on by lack of control+touching things+the cognitive dissonance of trying to react to events that were in the past. Her aunt, also psychic, emigrated from Hong Kong to teach her control, which quite literally saved her life.
Other fun perks: nightmares and migraines and the occasional sensory overload meltdown.
Actual perks: Calla Liu is in high demand as a private investigator for certain discerning individuals. Under the law, what she sees is not admissible evidence--but this presents no problem at all for a vampire who suspects her second of betrayal, or a witch who wants to know who's been stealing his spells. She is well-paid in money, favors, and occasionally groceries. Lots of that money goes home to Mom&Dad.
Calla has never formally been diagnosed with anything (low-income background; her parents didn't have the money for a regular doctor, much less a specialist), but if she were, she'd have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Her natural tendency towards bluntness is exacerbated by a terrible sense of timing, though years and years of practice have given her something of a good idea of when to just shut up. She has a terrible time with physical cues and social subtleties and is very, very particular about things. Certain textures drive her over the edge (no avocados; no t-shirt tags), and she needs quiet to work. She has some pretty major flat effect going on--at times she'll think she's emoting something fierce, and her face will barely have moved. And she's incredibly touch-averse.
Posted: Jul 20 2015, 08:02 PM