3-18-2002

Title : The Killing Tide 1/?
Author : Dalton (AngelDalton6@aol.com)
Rating : R
Category : AU only in the fact that this takes place 10 years after Endless Waltz
Warnings : Swearing, angst, violence and death.
Disclaimer : Gundam Wing is the property of Sunrise, the Sotsu Agency, and Bandai. No infringement is intended upon their rights.

*****

It had been ten years since the Eve Wars tainted Hilde's perspective on the world and her place in it and only two months after leaving the Academy where she thought she had found her niche when Hilde got a closer look at the world of non-military bloodshed.

She and Officer Hicks had been cruising the lower parts of Metropolitan's version of Chinatown when they got the call. A fellow officer had stumbled on a multiple homicide and was asking for assistance before he investigated further. Hicks jumped at the radio, responding with an over-ripe affirmative while blatantly ignoring the fact that he just turned the wrong direction down a one-way street. Hilde bit back the cautionary comment she wanted to speak. Having been assigned to this officer only three weeks ago, she quickly learned his particular habits - good and bad. Sometimes she wondered if she should have stayed with the desk position in the precinct where she finished her training, but after about a month of sedentary work, Hilde bid her appreciative farewells and moved to a more active place on the force. Hicks was not exactly what she expected when she transferred -- and, apparently, she was not what he expected either. For instance, having a fresh academy graduate telling him how to drive was a large no-no in his book, so Hilde only sighed, double-checked her seat belt, and flipped the overhead blue-and-white lights on.

Hicks smacked the lights back off with a snarl. "What are you trying to do? Keep them lights off."

"I was just...."

He bit her explanation off, "You was just gonna announce our arrival to the whole neighborhood, that's all. You damn academy brats come out thinking you know it all. Ever consider the perp is still on the premises? Your little light display could warn him that his shit most certainly do smell, and he'd be outta there before you have unbuckled your regulation seatbelt. The lights stay off. The horn stays off. And you don't do nothin' 'les I ask you for it. Understood?"

Seething in the passenger seat, Hilde could only stare straight ahead and hiss a rigid, "Yes, sir." She used the next minute to calm herself. It wouldn't do her any good to let the old fart ruin her first homicide by distracting her with his insulting behavior. She only had a few more probationary weeks with him, and if all went well, she'd be assigned a "real" partner. That time couldn't come quickly enough for her overtaxed patience.

They arrived at the location in the silence Hicks demanded. It was only six o'clock on a Saturday morning. Most of the residents were still asleep. The only person up and moving on the cold November sidewalk was the lone officer who had sent the call. Hicks pulled up next to the other cruiser and climbed out of the car, releasing the flap over his hip holster.

"Whatcha got, Brunski?"

The smaller man drew a nervous hand through his thinning hair. "I haven't gone in yet. I was waiting for someone more, uh, experienced with something of this, uh, magnitude. It's ugly, Hicks. It's really ugly in there."

Hilde shot a look over at her temporary partner, who seemed to be beaming with excitement.

"Well, we're here. Show us what you found. Where is it?"

Brunski tipped his head and thumb back at the restaurant behind him. Hilde chased a smirk away from her face. So much for Hicks's stealth approach. Unless the perp was deaf and blind, he wouldn't have missed the two squad cars and the three of them chatting just outside the window.

Hicks seemed to be ignorant of that fact as he pressed his fat nose up against the curtained pane; his hands curved about the sides of his face to see inside.

Officer Brunski stammered behind him, "It's...it's unlocked. I already looked in, but," here he made a mistake and set a restraining hand on Hicks's arm as he tried to open the door. "But I think we oughtta wait for special services to show up."

The older cop raised a displeased eyebrow at Brunski, "You know they won't be here for another half hour what with all the crap they think they need to correctly investigate a crime scene. Christ, half the time they destroy the evidence they're supposed to be collecting."

Hilde wisely stayed silent, though she sorely wanted to point out that it was usually the exact opposite. Unprepared police were the bumblers when it came to the fate of fresh evidence.

Brunski seemed to agree with her unspoken opinion, "I dunno, Hicks...."

"Then you can stay out here and wait for them." Hicks turned the knob and opened the door. "You coming, Baker? Or you going to help Brunski baby-sit the sidewalk?"

"It's Schbeiker, " Hilde muttered as she hastily stepped past the overcautious officer, "and yes, I'm coming." Hicks had given her permission to join him. That was a rare thing. Usually she was sent to sit in the car and wait with the excuse that the job was too simple for two officers. She was supposed to be getting on-the-job experience, but so far it had been nothing more than how to order coffee, fill out paperwork and answer the radio. Although protocol dictated they keep away from major crime scenes, she was willing to bend a little to get experience.

Hicks took two steps inside before he stopped abruptly. "Holy Mother of God."

His bulk blocked most of the scene from view, but Hilde caught a glimpse of glistening swatches upon the walls and she immediately backed out.

As she ran to the car, she heard Hicks snort an offensive comment, "Too much blood for you, huh, rookie?"

Hilde ignored him and finished gathering the items she had come for. As her small body slipped in next to his, Hicks seemed surprised and nodded down at the things she held.

"Whatcha got there, kid? A barf bag?"

"Sandwich bags, actually." She set the small cardboard container on the window ledge next to the door and pulled out a couple of the plastic bags, which she slapped into the older man's hands. "You didn't have any gloves in the car, so I figured these would do."

Hicks blinked impressively as she slipped her own hands inside the square plastic. Then he shrugged and began to do the same. "I guess they do teach ya something in those schools. Hand me a couple more of them. Might find some evidence worth bagging."

Hilde had already thought of that, but she let the older officer think it was his idea. She had managed to gain some type of compliment from him and that was good enough for now. She gave him maybe twenty of the slippery bags, which he crushed into his pants pocket.

Taking a deep breath, Hicks reached out his hand and flicked on the overhead lights. The hanging lights were surrounded in decorative red paper balls to add mood and nuance to the oriental restaurant. Currently, it was succeeding in adding a fresher pink to the dark pools of blood splashed throughout the small dining room.

Hilde had seen some action during the war of 195, but she didn't remember it being as devastating as this. Perhaps because that was war, and death was an expected outcome. This was a simple Mom and Pop Chinese restaurant in the middle of "Normal Life."

Tables and chairs were upturned, a few of the red shades were tilted, silverware and cups were strewn haphazardly; and taking center stage was a mess of blood and pulp. How many bodies were involved; Hilde could not determine. In fact, it was hard to tell if the body parts randomly littering the room were human or animal.

Hicks was edging around an overturned table by the time Hilde snapped her eyes away from the undistinguishable mess. She saw what he was after: a large butcher's knife rising from the velvet plush of a seat cover. Before he could reach it, Hilde pulled out the second item she had collected from the car.

A bright flash startled the policeman, and he jolted back into the cashier's stand. His elbow met with a ceramic pig that threatened to topple from its perch on the counter. Hicks grabbed it with a curse as Hilde continued to flash her disposable camera around the room. "Dammit, Heidi! Warn me before you go do something like that! I coulda knocked something important over!"

"That's what I'm trying to avoid," she murmured from behind the little camera. "I wanted to get pictures before you touched anything; just to cover our behinds when CSS gets here. And it's Hilde, not Heidi."

"Whatever," Hicks grumbled as she caught a shot of him replacing the pig jar on the cashier's desk. "I shoulda let this thing drop. It's damn ugly...and they're not even keeping cookies or nothin' in it. Waste of plaster...."

She let him drone on because she knew he was feeling foolish for being caught jumping from a mere camera flash. She wasn't one to press a person's weaknesses, but she could relish this in silence.

She was just about to take a shot of a bloody print on the wall when a white face appeared through the door curtains next to it. The camera fell as Hilde's hand whipped to the pistol at her side. Her gasp roused Hicks from his bent position over the counter, and his gun swung out almost in time with Hilde's.

The person who had surprised them wavered between the floor-length curtains and set an unsteady hand out against the wall. Blood was smeared upon the white shirt and hand that rose shakily up to grasp the curtain for further support. It was then that Hilde recognized the person, and as the safety on Hicks's gun clicked off, Hilde swung her arm out to stop the intended shot. Seeing her movement, the older cop shifted his aim in time to redirect the bullet above his target. The dazed woman in the back doorway didn't seem to have noticed, but someone else did.

"What in Sam Hell is going on here?!"

The Crime Scene Service had just arrived, and the agent in charge seemed mightily miffed at the sight of two patrol officers standing in the middle of his area of expertise. Neither Hicks nor Hilde was given a chance to answer his question before the CSS team bustled past them and converged on the dazed suspect standing in the back.

"Wait!" Hilde tried to join the ruckus around the woman, but was pulled back by the man in charge.

"If you interfere anymore with this investigation, Officer Schbeiker, I will have your badge. Is that understood?!" His grip on her wrist was tight and the look on his face clearly showed he would keep his threat.

A familiar hand settled on her shoulder. "If there's any complaint, I'll take full responsibility. In the meantime, that is my partner's arm you're twisting, and I'll thank you to leave it be."

Hilde couldn't believe her ears. Hicks was standing up for her, and to a superior person! The man only redirected his wrath toward Hicks: "Then I highly suggest you and your partner get the hell out of my team's way!"

Hicks pulled Hilde away, but she swiftly bent, remembering her disposable camera, and retrieved it from the tiled floor. She let him commandeer her all the way back to the passenger side of their patrol car, where he gruffly opened the door for her. She couldn't get in, though. Her eyes were riveted on the manacled woman who was being ushered out of the restaurant amid a flurry of activity. Hilde had never seen anyone look so lost and out of place as the woman who was being taken under custody.

Sally Po's dilated pupils barely registered the familiar girl who watched her.