The entire room went silent with the question, and both of them looked each other in the eyes. Both were trying to read from each other’s facial expressions, but neither seemed willing to show anything.
“... yes.” After a short moment, Marcus decided he should be the one to be more open: “My father won the lottery, a family ticket for the price of one adult. So we went on this cruise. And then, you know, the accident happened.”
“‘Accident’.” Gloria nodded: “That’s - that’s how you see it?”
“That’s the official story. My personal opinion has no bearing on that matter. ” Marcus shook his head: “May I know how you knew?”
“You kept calling out to your mother and telling her to swim from the ship.” Gloria sighed and leaned against the frame of the door: “What happened?”
“My father and I made it out, basically floated and paddled to the shore on a piece of broken chair.” Marcus sat for a few seconds, then finally stood up with a charged push: “She never made it. My father never told me what happened to her, if he found her at all when he swam back looking for her.”
“Did you try to figure out what happened?” Gloria asked, her eyes slightly narrowed, examining and observing like a predator in the dark: “Only a complete fool would buy the ‘official explanation’.”
“Not important.” Marcus picked up his jacket from the desk beside him and put it on, while holding his torn shirt with his hand: “Thank you, again. But I really gotta get going.”
“One more honest answer, cop, and I can provide you with one of my own.” Gloria stood straight and blocked the door: “Trust me, however familiar you are with this district, you’ll need my help.”
“Okay. Shoot.” Marcus was indeed in a hurry, yet he did not find this offer upsetting at all. Maybe it was because he felt he owed this young woman his life, maybe it was because something about her told him that she was not malicious.
“Did you see anything, during the Blood Rainbow?”
“No.” Marcus immediately said, but then scratched his head and added: “Not really - it was definitely something I could not explain …”
“Try then.” Gloria nodded with a faint smile on her face: “Whatever comes to your mind.”
“Okay, I - I saw the shadow of a woman, one with only half her body.” Marcus frowned and tried to grasp as much from the now fuzzy and dream-like memory as possible: “In the tunnel, she attacked those two perps. It seemed like - like she was looking for something…”
“Oh? What was she looking for?” Gloria’s breathing hastened slightly, a sign that she might know more than she was letting on.
“Her eyes.” Marcus scratched his face and rubbed his temples: “To be honest - I don’t even know if that’s real or not. I was attacked by those two men who put some kind of toxin on their weapons, so I wasn’t seeing or hearing straight - ”
“What else happened to the men attacked by her?” Gloria cleared her throat and asked.
“From what I could tell, and what I can remember, they might have been torn … apart.” Marcus sighed then looked at Gloria: “Do you happen to know what happened to them?”
“Are you ready to know?” Gloria sighed, then slightly tilted her head.
Marcus was stunned for a brief moment, then shook his head and tried to head out the door: “Sorry, my mistake. And please, if you have anything you could use my help with, please don’t hesitate to find me. You know my precinct.”
“Do you want an honest answer or not?” Gloria chuckled.
“I think I still need time to process.” Marcus shook his head then sighed as he approached the door of this tiny room with a small but clean sink and a portable microwave: “I need to head back, I must’ve stayed here the whole night, I’ve gotta report back to my captain - ”
“Okay then. Consider this a freebie.” Gloria’s voice followed Marcus out the door: “It’s been 15 years, Detective Cai. Try looking into what happened 30 years ago!”
The sunlight outside hurt like a few dozen needles jamming at his eyes at the same time, and Marcus had to hold his left hand before his forehead. It looked like it was already almost noon, and the streets outside were full of pedestrians and vehicles.
His stomach growled, so he took out his wallet and looked around for a street vendor or a clean-looking deli. There were a few bigger notes missing, but luckily, Gloria had left him enough to fill his stomach and catch a ride home.
Thin pieces of ashes fell off from the inner pocket of his jacket - it was where he kept the talismans gifted to him by Master Liaoran. He did not remember burning them. But then again, he did not remember many coherent details from last night - assuming it was still last night and not anytime earlier.
“Dude, you’re okay?” The taxi driver frowned and waved his hand before his face: “You smell terrible. Don’t dirty my seat, okay?”
“17th Precinct of PCPD, please.” Marcus grunted in pain as he sat down in the back.
“Okay, will do.” The taxi driver shook his head and adjusted his rearview mirror.
The taxi ride took around 40 minutes, the traffic was more sparse than usual, just that there seemed to be more community watch team members patrolling the street. He was not sure if it was because of the “Blood Rainbow” last night, and he hesitated on whether he should ask the taxi driver. He eventually decided not to - he needed to ask someone he could trust, and someone he could be more certain could provide him with more informative answers.
“Oh my god, what happened Marcus?” Kevin was just near the entrance when Marcus came in: “You look injured - are you okay?”
“Forget about me, Kevin.” Marcus immediately grabbed Kevin’s left arm and pulled him to the side: “I have some questions I would like to ask you.”
“Okay, about which case?” Kevin looked up and down at Marcus, still looking worried: “You got injured - and you’re wearing your jacket only, aren’t you?”
Marcus insisted: “Nonono, not about me. What do you know about the Blood Rainbow?”
“Blood Rainbow?” Kevin seemed quite perturbed: “What - where did you hear that?”
“Cai!” Just this moment, Captain Ko yelled at Marcus from the deeper part of the precinct: “My office! Now!”
“Sorry, Kevin.” Marcus sighed: “Will get back to you as soon as possible.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Kevin took a deep breath: “Find me when you’re done…”
Marcus nodded, then dragged himself along the interior of the precinct and into Captain Ko’s office.
“I’ve been waiting for your report on the follow up visit, Marcus, and I heard that you made a deal with the perp.” Captain Ko sat behind his desk, frowning and staring at Marcus: “Now, where’s the perp? I thought he’d come back with you.”
“I’m - I’m afraid he’s dead, sir.” Marcus sighed and slowly sat himself down in the chair to avoid the soreness and pain from his muscles due to excess movement: “And before you say anything, I take full responsibility for what happened. I will put everything down in my report. I - ”
“No need to do that, Marcus.” Captain Ko shook his head.
“What?” Marcus’ eyes opened wide: “What are you saying, Captain?”
“This case will be out of our hands soon.” Captain Ko shook his head: “Try to focus your energy on the case of the reparations team. Shrevas and Lance had made some progress, but not enough to keep the folks from the city off our backs. Plus the PIs hired by that Benson kid’s parents are just snooping around harassing potential witnesses and acquaintances of the victims. We can’t allow that to continue - ”
“But, what about the abduction of the kids, sir?” Marcus interjected.
“It is the city’s position that any case involving serious crimes like murder, false imprisonment and kidnapping should be handled by law enforcement agencies.” Captain Ko pulled two folders from the shelf on his side and handed them to Marcus: “But realistically, there’s only so much of our resources and manpower. So, I think we can let the local community handle the case, can we not? It’s not like they’re going to stand by anyway. The only thing we can do right now, is follow up - ”
“But Captain - ”
“We’ll let you know what happens next. For the time being, stay away from the case until further notice. This is an order.” Captain Ko looked at Marcus’s face, then his shoulder and waist: “You look injured - did the locals attack you?”
“Uh - no, Captain, just got into a small accident.”
Captain Ko looked Marcus deep in the eyes for a short moment, then chuckled: “The Steal Tiger still has his soft spots, huh? I don’t suppose your police cam has any record of the accident?”
“It wasn’t on at the time, sir.”
“Okay. Then there’s nothing we can do.” Captain Ko shrugged: “Then don’t jump into action until you’ve recovered. I can’t give you a time off, but I can let Shrevas and Lance know that you’re gonna be - well, desk-bound for the moment.”
“... thank you captain.”
“And even if the case is not ours anymore, I’d still need a report. It doesn’t have to be too detailed. Just enough to answer any potential inquiries from the community collective should be fine.”