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Where was all the blood?
That was the first thought that raced through Caine Valorian's mind as he entered room 210 of the Black Heart Hotel in downtown Necropolis.
The young woman on the bed had her throat slit from ear to ear. Besides the blood splatter on the graying wall behind the bed, there wasn't another drop on the green shag rug or the mustard-colored comforter. Not on first inspection anyway. Maybe with the ALS, alternate light source, he would find traces of it here and there. But for some reason that bored into his mind like a thumbtack, he doubted it.
Immediately, Caine could tell that this case was going to be different. After attending hundreds of cases over the past ten years, he knew when some-thing was amiss, something odd and out of place. For a murder in the undead city of Necropolis, that was definitely saying something.
Popping a breath mint into his mouth, he ap-proached the bed and nodded to Dr. Givon Silvanus, the medical examiner for the Otherworld Crime Unit, OCU, as he wrote notes in his logbook.
"Lividity is fixed, rigor in her jaw, neck and shoul-ders. I'd say she's been dead from six to eight hours," Givon stated in his matter-of-fact way without look-ing up from his notebook. "She's all yours."
Caine glanced back at his team, who were anx-iously pacing behind him, waiting for the go-ahead Jericho had already taken multiple pictures of the hotel room from every angle, and now he was eager possible bite marks, his specialty. Someone didn't live their entire life with lycanthropy and not know about the damage a set of teeth could do.
Lyra Magice had just finished inspecting the magical symbols etched on the door frame to the room. Herfirst inspection ascertained that there were no harmful magical blocks on the door to prevent them from entering, so the team had been allowed in. She also found bloodstains about knee-high on the doorframe and swabbed it for later analysis.
They were told there were more symbols written in a red substance, most likely blood, on the young woman's chest. Having a full-blooded witch on staff had its advantages, especially in cases like these. Caine was eager to see what his youngest team member could do.
Having been together for the last six years, a brief nod from Caine was the only indication Jace and evidence collection.
"Lyra, make sure you look for trace evidence first before you inspect the symbols. I'd hate for us to miss something important."
She nodded and took out a magnifying glass from her stainless-steel crime collecting kit.
Mahina Garner of the N.P.D., one of Necropolis's finest, strode into the room with the swagger of someone very comfortable in her five-foot-ten, 160-pound muscular frame, made even more powerful by her lycan shape-shifting abilities.
"The hotel attendant is an idiot," she remarked as she sidled up next to Caine. "He's a dumb blood-sucker that doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground." She smiled at him then, straight white teeth gleaming. "No offense."
Caine smiled back, accustomed to Mahina's gruff manner and her prejudice against vampires. "No offense taken. I know my ass from a hole in the ground."
She laughed and patted him roughly on the back. "I know. That's why you're the only one of them that I like."
"Any witnesses?" "Nope. No one heard anything. No one saw anything."
"Not surprising in this neighborhood. The Digs is not the most pleasant of places to be living and working."
She nodded. "True, but for once it would be nice to be able to start with something."
"No." She opened her notebook. "The attendant phoned 911 after he realized he had no more rooms to rent for the hour, and noticed the do not disturb sign on 210. So he used his master key and opened the door to find, quote, "the bitch lying on the bed dead,'unquote."
"Did he notice her when she went into the room?"
"No. He said he went on a blood break at around 10:00 p.m., and didn't notice the room's do not disturb till around 5:00 a.m., opened the door, saw the notebook. "So far his story checks out."
Caine glanced at his watch. It was 6:00 a.m. Ac-cording to Givon's estimation, the girl had died around midnight. Therefore, if the girl and her assail-ant had come to the room during the time the clerk was on a break, they would have been busy for two hours before she died. What would you need two hours for? Sex? Likely, as the girl's shirt and bra were torn apart and her skirt was hiked up to her thighs. He didn't need to possess extreme sensory skills to smell the scent of sex as it still lingered over the bed.
Caine looked back at his crew working the scene. "What's the word, Lyra?" "I pulled some burgundy fibers from her shirt, a tiny piece of what looks like copper wire and a black hair from under one of her nails."
"Good work. How about the markings?" She glanced up from inspecting the woman's bare chest and the obscure symbols drawn there and met his gaze. Worry crossed her petite fea-tures. "Not sure yet, Chief. I don't recognize any of these symbols offhand. I'll need to get pictures and reference them to my textbooks." She held up a cotton swab, its tip tinged in pink indicating blood evidence. "It was definitely drawn in blood though. The vic's, I bet."
"Can you ascertain a magical signature from it?" She scrunched up her face and cocked her head.
"I'm trying but it's nothing I've seen before."
"Okay, just log it, and we'll search the signature log when we get back to the lab."
She nodded and went back to work on decipher-ing the symbols.
"I've got a set of bite marks on the neck," Jace said from his kneeling position beside the woman's head hanging over the edge of the bed.
"Are you sure?"
"Yup. The knife wound tries to mask it, but I can see a partial puncture into her carotid artery. There is no doubt that someone with fangs sucked on this girl's neck."
"Swab everything. Maybe we'll get lucky and find some DNA on that partial puncture. Hopefully our guy is a secretor." "Aren't they all?" Mahina remarked.
Caine ignored her and continued to watch his team, observing them and the scene itself.
"At the lab, after we clean up the wound, we'll try and get a bite radius. Maybe we'll find a match in the computer log."
Jace swabbed the victim's neck, wound track and the blood spray on the wall. He glanced back at the of dark-brown hair. "She was definitely bled out."
Caine took a step toward the bed and stared down at the rug. "But where's the blood?"
"Maybe the perp drank it all," he suggested. Caine shook his head. "No. The average vampire can only consume a pint of blood without getting sick or passing out. If our guy drank more than that, there would be vomit everywhere or he'd still be on the floor in a druglike coma."
"Maybe he took it with him," Mahina suggested from the sidelines.
Nodding, Caine had thought of that. The blood had to have gone somewhere. "That's a lot of blood to carry out. He would've needed a couple of containers."
"He used something from the room?" Jace pro-posed, as he glanced around the scene.
Caine also looked around the room. There was something out of place. He had noticed it on his initial perusal of the scene. Out of place, or some-thing missing.
He moved toward the little vinyl-covered table in the corner and its matching red vinyl chair. The table was suspiciously clean and devoid of any items that most used hotel rooms had. Ice buckets, used glasses, wrappers or other food items. He looked down at the ground beside the table. And what was in the room that a hotel guest would use to dispose of some of these items? The garbage can.
He rushed into the adjoining bathroom, which was more like a little closet with a toilet in it. No garbage bin there either.
"Garbage cans. They're missing," he announced as he came out of the washroom. "Someone check another room for the trash can."
"I have the master key." Mahina held up a key ring. "I'll go check."
Mahina came back into the room with a rectan-gular garbage pail under her arm.
Jace nodded then frowned. "How could one guy get two of those, full of blood, out of the room without anyone seeing him, and without him spilling it all over the place?"
"Maybe there were two of them," Caine sug-gested, his stomach twisting at the implications of what he just said. One rogue vampire killing people was bad enough, but two? It seemed unlikely as vampires preferred to roam alone rather than in groups. However, stranger things had happened.
It would be a huge issue in the community and could cause panic among the other races. Not counting the renewed panic in the human cities, if it leaked out that a vampire was on the loose killing people. The city was well guarded, behind the facade of a military base, but humans were a jumpy lot. It didn't take much for them to start a worldwide panic, especially when most of humanity had no idea that the undead city of Necropolis even existed.
"It looks like we have a problem," Mahina said.
"It's worse than that."
Everyone looked over at Lyra, who was still wonder. She had a small clear vial in her hand. The liquid inside was blue, a bright sapphire-blue.
A color Caine recognized instantly as a huge warning and a problem he thought he'd never see in Necropolis. One he hoped he'd never see.
"The vic's human."