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Chapter 07

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      Marlot knocked on the frame of the open door as he looked inside. "I hope you don't mind," he told the bear sitting at the desk, "I told the Lab at he desk I was an old friend of yours."

      "Marlot!" She exclaimed with a wide smile, "What took you so long to come by for a visit?" She stood up and hugged him, towering over him by almost two feet.

      He hugged the Grizzly back, his arms barely reaching around her back. "You're going to have to let go of me eventually, you know?" he said with a chuckle when she was still holding him after a full minute.

      "No I don't," she replied flatly.

      "Actually," Trembor said, trying not to laugh watching them, "I am going to need him back."

      She looked at the lion, studying him, "And you are?"

      "R.I. Trembor Goldenmane."

      "Goldenmane?" she repeated as she let go of Marlot, "don't I remember you mentioning that name when you were still visiting me on a regular basis?"

      "Yeah, we had to work together on that hunter case."

      She looked from him to the lion and back, "and you're still working together?"

      "We worked well together," Trembor said.

      "And we figured we could accomplish more if we polled out resources and territories," Marlot added quickly.

      She studied them both thoughtfully before asking, "so are you going to introduce me?"

      Marlot chuckled "Trembor, this is Bahamel Strongbone, she arrested me almost as soon as I set foot in the city."

      "For what?" the lion asked.

      "Participation in an unregistered house of pleasure," the grizzly answered.

      Trembor looked at his partner in amazement. "You never told me!"

      Marlot's ears went against his skull, "with good reason," he mumbled.

      She backhanded his shoulder lightly, "stop being so embarrassed about it," she looked at Trembor, "We had him in a cell for two days before we questioned him, and it was at least six hours before he mentioned he was a RI. He scared half the department when he said that. They thought he'd been hired by the higher ups to investigate us."

      "What were you doing in a pleasure house?" disbelief clear in Trembor's voice.

      "I'd gotten a tip Ruxul was hiding out in it." Marlot admitted in embarrassment.

      "Then why didn't you tell them that?"

      Marlot glared at him, "because I'd just arrived from a town were even the RI didn't make waves ok? They were the Law and I wasn't, that's all I knew."

      "Alright," Bahamel said before Trembor could comment, "Lets stop this before it turns into a full fledge lover's spat." Marlot spun to look at her, fear in his eyes, but she had her back to him, heading to her desk. "Now, as much as I appreciate that you dropped by, I doubt it was just to reminess," she sat down, "so what is this about?" She looked at them, either not noticing or not reacting to the Wolf's expression.

      It was Trembor who spoke, "we're wondering if you've come across a rape where the rapist didn't leave any sort of evidence."

      She looked at them seriously, "get in and close the door." Her tone didn't leave room for discussion. "What's your interest in this?"

      Marlot sat down in the only other chair; he'd decided that her comment had been innocent. "Have you heard about Aiden Spottedfur?"

      "She was Arcas' vice president, wasn't she? You're investigating her murder?"

      The wolf nodded, "Our examiner found evidence that she was raped, but the rapist didn't leave any traces."

      She drummed her fingers on the desk for a moment, "she doesn't fit his pattern," she said soft enough that she could have been talking to herself.

      "So you do have a rapist." Marlot stated.

      Bahamel nodded, "a serial rapist, we've been able to keep his presence out of the newsies."

      "Will you let us look at the file?" Trembor asked. The bear looked at him, surprised. "What?" was all he could ask, equally surprised at the reaction.

      "I was expecting you to demand to see our files." Bahamel said.

      Trembor shook his head, "I know the value of maintaining good relationship with the police."

      She smiled at him, "It's good to know that there are a few RI in the city who know that. Come on, I'll show it to you myself." She led them through the building, pass a row of interrogation rooms, all but one empty.

      Marlot did a double take as he walked by the large one way mirror showing the last room. He stopped and watched a male grizzly bear question a sleazily dressed badger. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but from the body language he could imagine the growling voice. "Ba, is that Belric?"

      Bahamel walked back and looked inside, smiling with pride, "Yes it is. I had to wait until my youngest, but one of them finally followed in their mama's footsteps." She left him to his work and guided them to another room.

      This one was a meeting room, with no windows to spy in. The chairs had been removed and writing boards brought in. On them were pictures of females, Marlot did a quick count, on the four boards there were over thrity pictures, each with a number corresponding to one of the files neatly laid out on the table.

      Marlot looked at the grizzly, "Just how long has that monster been doing this?" he asked feeling sick.

      "Officially, we're saying five years, but I think he's been doing it much longer." She moved to the second board and pointed to a picture with the number twenty eight, "She's the oldest case we've been able to find, but even with her his method was already established. She was drugged, raped and she doesn't remember much of it."

      "What drug was used?" Trembor asked, taking her file from the table.

      "Raspazill," she answered, "it's a Simian sleep aid," she added at his confused look. "It's available over the counter without a prescription. It's only used by them because with almost every other specie it causes mostly disorientation and drowsiness, and that's in small dozes. If you only triple the doze, it can stop the brain's ability to remember for a few hours."

      "So he drugs them, does what ever he wants with them and they don't even remember?" Trembor said disgusted.

      "Not everyone's the same, these females remembered something, at least enough to know something had been done to them. they had a higher tolerance to Raspazill, so we probably have a lot more females out there who don't even know they were raped, or are too afraid to come forward."

      "What are the Pharmas doing about it?" Marlot asked, finding it a little easier to remain detached than Trembor was.

      "They've put warnings on the packages saying there were serious side effects for non-Simians, but without outright telling them about the rapist we can't get them to pull the drug off the market, and if we did that the newsies would get wind of it and it would create a panic."

      Marlot nodded, and then turned when he heard Trembor growl. The lion was looking at the picture of a young lioness. Marlot went to him and took his hand in his. "Trembor, she isn't our case." The lion didn't respond. "Trem," he tried again, his voice softer this time, "We can't help her."

      Trembor looked at him, anger in his eyes. "She can't be older than Alasa," he said sharply.

      "I know, but we're here for Aiden. Bahamel," he nodded in her direction, and she suddenly looked anywhere but at them, "is already doing everything she can for them. "

      The lion glared at him for a moment before the anger dissolved. "You're right, thanks." He said sweetly, his hand reaching up, almost cupping Marlot's cheek, but instead, after a moment of hesitation Trembor used it to rub his brow. He took a deep breath and looked at Bahamel, "Alright, tell us about his patterns."

      She indicated they should sit, "Let me start by saying that I really hope your body wasn't one of his victims, because as far as we know he's never killed before. he likes his females young, in their very early adulthood. He doesn't seem to care about species, except for Simians, of course."

      "He knows the drug doesn't work on them." Marlot commented, "what about his hunting grounds?"

      "That's been proving difficult to discern," she said tuning a board around to show a map of the city, with one pin in it for each victim. "Because of the drug, we can't be sure where the crime happened. But even with what we have you can see they cover almost half the city."

      Trembor looked over the table. "I'm not seeing any files on suspects, do you have any?"

      "We do. We pulled all the likely suspects we had, but realized we had to keep the files under lock when one of our regular officer decided to exact vengeance on the most likely suspect. Now only the task force has access to it." She punched a number in her pad and the file cabinet she was standing next to clicked. She pulled a stack of files out of the top drawer. "These are our current suspects."

      Marlot and Trembor split the stack, but it only took them three files each to look at each others, and then at Bahamel.

      "They're all reptiles," Trembor said.

      "Yes, they're the most likely specie to have done this, they don't shed like mammals do so they don't leave fur at the scene or on the body of the victims."

      Marlot's blood grew cold as the realization sank in. He slowly turned to the map and looked at it. The furthest north east the victims reached was the financial district. "Trem, what's the iguana's address?" he asked standing. Trembor looked at him for a moment and then pulled out his pad to look it up, giving it to him. Marlow started cursing under his breath as he traced the road. It edged the south west end of the victim's corridor. "Pull up a map and give me the closest intersection for his building." He cursed loudly when he found the intersection.

      "What?" Trembor asked standing up.

      "I've been blind, I never even considered reptiles."

      "What are you talking about?" the lion asked.

      Marlot turned to face him, "it fits; he doesn't shed, he knew Aiden. She would let him in since she had no reason to fear him, after all she used to dominate him. He's strong enough to break her neck. It has to be him." Marlot didn't wait for Trembor's reaction, he ran out of the room.

      Before Trembor could follow him Bahamel grabbed his arm. "Him who?" she asked him.

      "Cristan Hardtalon," he answered, "he used to be one of Aiden's boytoy."

      Instead of releasing him she pulled him close and looked him in the eyes. "You take good care of Marlot, do you hear me?" She only let the lion go one he'd had nodded his understanding.

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