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Chapter 4: Missing Person

From: Strong-arm Security Corporation

To: #1487

Subject: Probationary Assignment #4: Missing Person

The New Salem Police Department has been overworked and understaffed recently. They are requesting that we take certain cases off their hands.

Go to the NSPD headquarters and meet with Detective Mann. He will apprise you of the details of your new missing person case.

That is all. And remember, we have high hopes for y:eBiiL;!tLoia!!


Weird, Pierce thought, it's like the girl fell asleep on the keyboard or something.

When he got to the New Salem Police Department Headquarters, people were going in and out like ants. Once inside, he saw that some officers were trying to corral people into order, trying to form a line at the crowded front desk. Other officers were walking with purpose, ignoring the citizens trying to get their attention. Not wanting to wait for everyone who was here before him, Pierce got in front of a quick-walking officer: "Excuse me, I'm looking for Detective Mann."

The annoyed policeman gestured vaguely at the center mass of the crowd and replied, "Get in line," then pushed passed him.

Pierce looked around and saw a closed off hallway with a placard next to it that indicated the detectives were working beyond the doors. He walked up to the entrance that was guarded by two officers, one getting shouted at by a middle aged woman.

"Let me through!"

"Ma'am, you have to get in line, our people are doing everything they can to handle all complaints as fast and as thoroughly as they can."

"Well, maybe if you two lazy pigs stopped standing around and hassling citizens like me, you could go do some real police work!"

Pierce showed his probationary agent ID card to the other officer. "I have to see Detective Mann so I can help with a missing person case."

The policeman examined the card and checked Pierce's face against the photo. "Glad to have the extra hands. Go on through." He returned Pierce's card and opened the door.

As Pierce walked through, he heard a scuffle behind him. Looking back, he saw that the woman had tried to rush through after him, but the officer caught her by the waist and was pulling her back. The door shut them from view.

Pierce walked passed a couple of officers talking in the hall and came to an open room on the right. He saw it was filled with desks, a few of which were manned by detectives in plain clothes, some wearing firearms on their hips, others wearing them in shoulder rigs like his. Most of the men were going through paper files or using their computers.

He looked at the placards on the desks, then spotted the one that he was looking for. "Detective Mann," he said as he approached, "I'm Pierce, with SSC." He showed his ID card, but the man ignored both it and him. "I'm here for a missing person case."

"Why did those useless desk jockeys not just send it electronically when they forwarded your Corp the case?" he growled. He rummaged through a drawer in his desk and handed Pierce a file.

Pierce opened it and began to examine the details of the case. Aside from the heading "MISSING" and the case number, there was nothing but a physical description and photograph of the girl, along with her home and work addresses.

"Are you still here?" Detective Mann glared up at him.

Pierce looked back at him in kind, then walked out of the room and out of the building.

As he walked the busy streets in the autumn sunshine, he thought about the facts of the case. The missing person was a girl, Maryanna Rivers. Age, 18. Height, 5 foot 6 inches. Weight, 110 pounds. White. Reddish-brown hair, green eyes. Cute. Apparently she worked at one of the bars on the seedier side of the city, and she lived in an apartment near there. She had been missing since October 8th, a week ago today. That was all he knew. Nothing about her family, nothing about where she might have gone or why.

Eventually Pierce reached the apartment. It was definitely a nicer place than the one he was in on his extra assignment on Sunday, but it was nothing fancy. The door to the building was locked. It had a key-card lock on it. He tried a maintenance entrance on the side of the building, but it was locked the same way.

He walked across the street and bought a paper from a news stand. A front page picture of a familiar grotesque statue caught his attention, and he briefly read that the Cathedral of the Resurrection had recently become the flagship congregation for the New Church throughout the continent. They were going to make a very big special announcement soon. He sat on a bench, pretending to read his paper, but watching the many people as they walked by, hoping to spot someone with a key-card in hand approaching the building so he could get in behind them. But an hour passed, and nobody with a card showed up. He decided to get up and take the ten-minute walk to the bar.

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