The once empty, weed covered storage lot, that belonged to the long abandoned neighboring steel factory that occupied an entire block of the now heavily shelled out industrial sector of Pharaohs Keep, was now buzzing with a level of activity it hasn't seen in years. Not since the day the emergency crews where valiantly battling to contain the roaring fires that tore rampant through the industrial and poor districts, when the invaders sent dozens of heavy mortar rounds over the top of the ancient, and once believed impregnable barbicans that surrounded the beleaguered metropolis.
Even as their battered and exhausted forces mounted a last ditch defense. An all out headlong charge, with whatever strength remained to them. Right into the teeth of the invading army as they tore through the small outlying village that rested in the shadows of the Keeps massive walls, in the vain hope of keeping the invaders off those same, rapidly crumbling barbicans.
The invaders shelling claimed thousands lives that day, both civilian, first responder and soldier alike.
Now a days, when the shells come screaming over the walls, the fires are just left to burn themselves out. In all honesty, there is nothing out beyond the circular safe-zone, marked by the high, rough limestone walls of the once opulent market and middle district. Few buildings, a few homeless or ownerless slaves. Not really a damn thing worth saving.
Today, is a good day out there. The shelling occurred early this morning, a rude awaking for some, albeit that did not mean they were out of danger yet. The invading rebels could sent more shells into the city at anythime. Hence the obvious anxious undertone to the movements of the uniformed police officers as they hurried to secure the scene and to the movements of the criminal investigators as they scurried about, cameras flashing, as they rushed to collect any valuable evidence from the site. Eyes constantly flickering skyward as if expecting, at any moment, for the heavens to open up with their deadly, explosive rain.
Mikhael watches all this with an air of indifference from where she leans against the sun warmed hood of their black, unmarked patrol unit.
Feeling the car shift beneath her, as her partner opens the car door, she turns and watches him struggle to lever his large frame from the small vehicle. A large part of her wanted to rush forward and help him, but her sense of outrage prevented her as it mercilessly recalls the events of just moments ago.
"Bint-il kalb!" He roars....
Deep down, a part of her knew that the so far gentle giant had not meant to speak to her in such a way, but still. It hurt.
She remains where she stood. Turning her head away from him and wipes away a single silent tear as he limps past, not even sparing her a glance. Ducking in behind his hobbling form and using his broad back for cover, she quickly wipes away all traces of her salty tears from her slender cheeks as she pads along silently behind him.
Pausing at the perimeter of the scene, Mikhael moves up to stand at her partners left shoulder and gaze out over the chaotic scene before them. Glancing up towards his leonine face, she notices him squint beneath his dark shades. His thin lips working silently beneath his thick, scruffy, salted beard before releasing a heavy sigh.
"Alright kid. What do you see?" He rumbles as he gazes across the scene. Resting his left hand atop his right as he leans forward heavily on his cane in an attempt to take some of the weight off his leg.
Sighing, a snarky reply flashes across her mind as she briefly entertains the idea of telling him off before fading to the background. Released upon a heavy sigh of her own and disappearing on the barely felt, gentle breeze.
"Okay..." She says as she takes a slightly shaky breath. Buying herself time to not only control her off balance emotions, but to also switch gears into a more professional mode.
'Just like at the academy...' She thinks to herself as she glances about quickly. Taking in all she sees and readying herself to transcribe it into words for the test.
"As you can see," She breaks the cardinal rule of the test, intentionally, just to be an ass. Earning her a silent, yet thunderous frown from her partner. Smiling at her ability to get under his skin, she continues confidently. "It is a gravel and weed covered lot. Obviously it was used as a storage lot for that old burned out steel factory there."
She points out across the lot with her left hand to the aforementioned factory. Earning her a silent nod as he turns his head, ever so slightly, but in the wrong direction.
It is her turn to frown as she wonders just what it was he was looking at. Breaking off her transcription, she poses this question aloud.
"Huh? Oh, nothing." He replies. Sheepishly ducking his head before turning his gaze towards the factories shell.
Shaking her head with a slight roll of her hazel eyes, she once again scans her surroundings from left to right and takes up her description again. But not after ribbing her partner for his lack of attention.
"If you want me to do this, then you have to pay attention."
"I am now." He growls, although she notices the corners of his beard twitching slightly in the beginnings of a faint smile before being secreted away beneath his large left hand as he rubs at his beard.
Scanning her surroundings from left to right, she continues.
"The lot must be, oh I don't know, 25,000 square feet. Thing takes up the whole block."
Hearing a heavy sigh from her right, Mikhael turns to see her partner pinching the crooked bridge of his nose. She questions what is wrong.
"Mikhael," He sighs as he slowly lowers his arm. "please try to keep the sarcasm out of your description?"
"Well if you don't like it. Why don't you describe it to me, then?" She snaps back as she crosses her arms tightly over her chest, cocking a hip.
"I...." Her partner starts before raising his hand and massaging his temples with his thumb and forefinger. With a sigh he pinches the bridge of his nose again and rubs the back of his neck as he growls. "Just get on with it."
"Like I said, the lots about 25,000 square feet. The whole thing was enclosed by a chain-link fence, but the mortars took care of that pretty good. It looks like it was used for storage for the factory."
"What does the terrain look like?"
"Well the whole thing is covered with gravel and weeds." She shrugs, earning herself another disapproving frown from her partner as he glares down at her.
Rolling her eyes at him with a sigh, she shifts her weight to her right foot and tries again.
"Left side of the lot has a lot of sheets of plywood that stacked up. Six rows across, three rows deep. Behind those are just stacks of empty pallets as tall as the fence, so that would make them about eight feet high." She says.
"North corner, that's closest to us,"
"I know my directions Ms. Uruvian."
"Oh, you do? I didn't know that." She replies in mock shock. Earning herself a growl as her repeated snarky replies are beginning to really get under his skin.
"anyway, the North corner has a dumpster in it. Lots of scrap wood and broken pallets in from what I can see. There's a couple of CI's going through it. Do you want to check it out?"
"No," Her partner replies with a shake of his head as they watch the pair of CI's work. One is inside the dumpster, photographing objects within before handing the object down to the second CI for the 'bag and tag'. "we'll leave the dumpster diving to them. What's next?"
"Well, we've got a half loaded tractor trailer and a forklift right in front of us. Both heavily damaged from mortars. It looks like they where in the middle of making a load when the shells started falling. Anyway, the trailers a standard length." She says, once again being cut off by her grizzled companion.
"What do you mean by a standard length flat bed? What does it look like?"
"It's a long flat trailer with steel on it." She says as if it where the most obvious thing in the world.
"Mikhael, there are many different types of flat-bed trailers. Now tell me. Is this trailer a step-deck? A double drop-deck?"
"Would it make any difference?" She questions.
"Yes, it would. Each type of trailer has a different standard length." He explains patiently. "A step-deck trailer usually has a well length of thirty-seven feet with an eleven-foot 'step' at the front. A double drop-deck has a bottom well length of twenty-seven feet with both a front and back step that measure eleven-feet, and a standard flatbed has a total length of forty-eight feet with no steps. Now, what kind of flat trailer is it?"
"It's the last one. just a long, flat trailer."
"Okay, is there a tractor attached?"
"No." she says with a shake of her head. "The poor bastards loading the trailer probably used to escape the mortars."
"Never assume anything Ms. Uruvian. Perhaps the killer used it to make their escape?"
"Yeah, what ever...."
"What else is out there?" He partner says with a deep sigh as he shifts his weight, leaning even heavier on his cane.
"Not much." She says with another shrug. "The rest of the lot is filled with bales of rebar, steel girders, guard rails and all kinds of steel pipes. Oh, and there is some concrete dividers over there in the Northeast corner." She says pointing.
"Alright, where is the body?"
"Over there where the medical examiner is?" she replies, smiling at her partners exasperated sigh and shake of his head. Having had her fun, she decides to let up on him a little.
"I was just teasing. The body is thirty yards to our right. There is a row of one-hundred and forty-four inch diameter steel pipes in that corner. That's where the M.E is heading and I can see a bare foot sticking out from the mouth of the pipe from here."
Turning, Mikhael watches as her partner takes in her amended description while stroking his beard with his unoccupied left hand. She releases a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding when finally, he nods his approval.
"Was that so hard?" He teases as a bright smile crinkles the crows feet about his hidden eyes.
"No, I just had to make it hard for you."
His deep chuckle sounds pleasant to Mikhael as he reaches out and lifts the yellow tape to his shoulder before dipping his head in a slight bow.
She nods her thanks and walks beneath the tape, surprised to find herself smiling as well. Still smiling she turns and waits for her partner to duck beneath the tape and lead the way to where the medical examiner was crouched next to the body.
As she trails behind him, she watches her partner stumble multiple times on the uneven ground. After hearing his pained cursing, for the fifth time. Mikhael trots forward and, without a word, gently takes her elder partner by the arm. Guiding him to more obstruction free and even footing as they make their way across the lot.