The moon had already risen overhead to cast its gentle glow over Gallu. Chief Gnaeus looked past his cooling mug to study the curious reports that had begun to litter his desk. They had been slowly beginning to show up over the last few nights more and more. At first he could just shrug them off; some folks had a tendency to disappear from time to time out here near the rim. Often enough they would show up later but typically it never happened quite on this scale.
And then there was this one report of this one unfortunate soul, viciously assaulted on the streets. Heavily wounded and left for dead by something that according to the details it was claimed might have been trying to eat him. The victim was just some regular laborer on his way home from a job. But something about it didn’t feel right to the Chief. The man was alone; there was no one else to corroborate his tale. And furthermore, typically these types often frequented the local pub for drinks after work. The encounter allegedly took place long after the work day was over and a far cry from The Rat Hole. So what was he doing there at that hour all alone? There had to be more to the story than some fictional creature attacking without ever having been seen or encountered before.
“Dispatch,” Gnaeus called and his desks automatically routed the on-duty officer onto the built in screen. With a grumbled complaint the Chief had to remind himself to stop leaving things so scattered over his desk and pushed aside some of the clutter to better view his screen. Alert and awaiting his command was a young officer, who as far as he could tell had to barely be old enough to serve. It was yet another reminder that it had been so long since he himself was in front of the desk instead of behind it.
“I want an official request sent to Dr. Foxfire immediately for a complete incident report, including any records regarding her findings pertaining to the injured man.” Before ending the call Gnaeus decided to make clarify; he didn’t want this rookie to mistakenly fail to relay his intentions. “And Dispatch, make sure to emphasize to the good Doctor that currently we are still undecided as to whether or not to investigate the suspicious nature of this matter. As such it is in everyone’s best interest to be as honest as possible. If we find any reason to suspect any party is involved with some form of cover-up we will launch a full investigation.”
“Yes sir,” the dispatch officer replied gingerly and the screen went dark once more. The Chief couldn’t help but chuckle to himself, if he was not mistaken it had looked like the officer has written down everything he had said. “They keep getting younger and younger,” Gnaeus remarked to himself. He couldn’t help but wonder how even half of this police force of inexperienced peace-keepers would have handled anything like back when he served. “Those were the days,” he declared and then moaned as he realized his mug had gone cold. “A fire-fight every shift and you never had a chance for your mug to get cold – if you had a chance to grab a mug at all.”
“Come on Doc,” Gabriel pleaded once more. He was eager to get up and move for a change, being confined to the bed was beginning to feel like torture. “I’m telling you, I feel a lot better. At least let me get up and stretch my legs some.” Gabriel couldn’t explain it but with the day’s rest he found himself full of energy and ready to do something.
“I must insist that you not rush into this Gabriel, you have been through a very traumatic event and still need time to recover.” Dr. Foxfire still needed time to evaluate the puzzling patient further. The simple truth was that he was showing remarkable improvements. A little too remarkable, all things considered.
“I cannot consent to releasing you from care just yet, nor would I recommend you attempting to engage in overly exerting activity. We still need to run further tests and allow you to adjust to your new body. While your implants appear to be healing and show no sign of rejection thus far it wouldn’t be wise to tempt fate by stressing them. Right now, without them, you would have never survived whatever happened to you.”
“Here we go again,” Gabriel complained. “I already told you; I don’t recall very clearly what it was that happened. There was some creature; it attacked me on my way home from work. The thing was big, all I know is it was covered in fur; it had claws and was trying to eat me.”
Dr. Foxfire continued to make notes in her file as Gabriel once more recounted what had happened to him. It was beginning to infuriate the wounded worker. “Let’s be clear about this Doc; I am not crazy. I am not mistaken. Something tried to turn me into a chew-toy and if not for you would have done so. You had to see something!”
A beep alerted Dr. Foxfire and interrupted Gabriel. “It looks like I have an important transmission I need to take in my office, and you have a visitor. When I get back, if you’re still feeling up to it, how about we start your physical therapy and run a few tests to see how you’re doing. Then we can go from there, alright?”
“Sounds fine Doc,” Gabriel agreed. “But who could be visiting me here?” As Dr. Foxfire casually exited his room another familiar figure slipped in. “Sebastian, what are you doing here? Who is running The Rat Hole?” Without a word Sebastian strolled over pulling out a chair and proceeded to set down. He draped his muscled arms over the back of the chair and leaned forward to rest his scruffy chin.
“You think I wouldn’t come visit one of my oldest and best regulars as soon as I hear word that their on the mend?” Sebastian was the owner and operator of The Rat Hole, not to mention the closest thing to a friend Gabriel had. In a way the bartending buddy was as near a thing to family as Gabriel had left.
“I heard what happened, and as you know I hear lots of things. Which is why I am here; we need to talk.”