Red and blue lights pulsed on the corner of Thirty-eighth and Main, fracturing the clear black night. Police tape fenced a wide perimeter around the jewellery store. Police chief Arnold Sheperd heaved himself out of his unmarked sedan with a grunt and adjusted his belt under his belly. Four police cars, two ambulances, a fire truck and a small crowd of disheveled onlookers, whose secret 2am activities had been disrupted by the blast. A uniformed officer held the police tape up for Chief Sheperd to pass under. Detective O’Malley approached, took the cigarette from his mouth and said with a swirl of smoke, “He’s inside.”
Sheperd nodded. He looked across the street; a television news crew was setting up for a shot. Scowling beneath his bushy moustache, he shoved his hands into his coat pockets and entered across a carpet of shattered glass into the jewellery store.
Two of the robbers had been treated for their injuries and then taken into custody. The other four lay motionless and disfigured on the ground; one would have to be identified by dental records. The floor sparkled in patches where smashed display case glass mingled with spilled gemstones. Cameras flashed, documenting the scene; bullet holes were marked and numbered; in the corner, a medic attended to a young constable, first on the scene, who now sat with a wide-eyed, distant stare, his face as pale as the sheets being draped over the dead bodies.
In a dark corner of the store, beneath a partially collapsed wedge of ceiling, a light flickered, revealing for a second a tall, dark figure. The figure was clad head to toe in thin, dark blue body armour. A sleek cape descended from his shoulders to his hard rubber boots; a patch on his chest bore a golden, forked lightning bolt; around his waist clung a bulky utility belt with enough gadgets and weaponry to take out a small platoon. Chief Sheperd took a deep breath and walked over, and the dark figure stepped out from the shadow to meet him.
“Blue Lightning,” said the chief, with a nod.
“Chief Sheperd,” answered the masked hero in a deep, gruff voice.
“What have we got?” asked the chief.
“At first glance, a simple diamond heist. But I think they were going for something bigger.”
Chief Sheperd raised an eyebrow.
“Take a look,” said Blue Lightning. His boots crunched debris as he stepped with a slight limp over to the nearest robber. He crouched and peeled back the sheet; the robber’s face was bloated and bruised, with dark streaks of drying blood escaping his nostrils and ears. Blue Lightning opened the collar of the man’s shirt, revealing a small tattoo of a red and white circus tent. “This wasn’t just some gang of thugs. They were working for the Ringmaster.”
“The Ringmaster?” said Sheperd.
Blue Lightning stood up. He leaned close to the chief. “I think they plan on assassinating Mayor McGrady.”
Sheperd stared at Blue Lightning. He turned around. “All right, everybody out of here.”
The police officers on the scene looked at one another.
“Now!” bellowed Sheperd.
Detective O’Malley cleared his throat. “You heard him. Let’s go.” The officers ambled out of the building. O’Malley looked at Sheperd. “We’ll uh, we’ll give a few minutes, huh Chief?” He gave a faint nod.
Sheperd returned the nod. He retrieved a small flask from his coat pocket and took a swig as he waited for everyone to clear the room.
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