Working late Monday afternoon at Radiance Lisette and Miss Jeanette have a conversation about the local Loa. They have been agitated and erratic lately and, never very direct, have been vague about the cause. She says Marinette is particularly angered. The Loa say the danger is near, but cautions that could mean anything to the spiritual Loa. She also has learned that there is a growing danger and if not addressed it could rouse the sleeper in salt. The Vodou community is having a ritual in three days and Miss Jeanette is concerned that if the Loa are not appeased it could quickly turn dangerous. She invites Lisette to the ceremony but tells her she must prepare herself prior. She also suggests that perhaps Lisette’s friends could be useful in finding the source of the city’s spiritual disturbance.
Breaking news Tuesday afternoon on the radio. A body has been found smoldering at Historic Fort Wayne Park sometime late this morning. Unofficial sources within the police department leaked details of a 911 call an hour earlier of a white middle-aged man “acting strangely” at the park. It is believed the man and the burned corpse are the same. These same sources have leaked that this is the fourth burned victim in the past week with Detroit Police having dismissed the other three as routine gang violence. Action 5! News picked up the story and has been covering the local reaction. Initial response has been a mix of fear, business as usual, and outrage. Marcel Winters of the social justice group BAM!, an outspoken critic of DPD, has been particularly virulent in his response calling this the business of racial politics and demanding the resignation of the white police commissioner, Martin Weede. Commissioner Weede spoke to reporters later that night warning that rioting would draw a swift, stern reaction of commensurate force. He had no comment on the ongoing investigation, stating it was too early to release any information.
Officer Mike Peterson is pulled into a briefing on the murders at the close of his patrol. Ordinarily four deaths, even by such violent means, would be not far out of the ordinary for the city. The hot summer, sprawling poverty, scarcity of city resources including police officers and a few recent hot tempered incidents between police and the public has left the city a powder keg. The Commissioner wants every officer at least aware of the investigation. He learns at the briefing the dates and locations of the four burnings, all within or just outside the nearly abandoned industrial district of Delray in the Southwest abutting Zug Island. The first was filed as an accidental death in a house fire, the second a gang execution and the third was an anonymous tip of two hooded men circling and lighting an African American female on fire in the heart of Delray. A squad car did a drive by through the area and finding no evidence filed the call as a prank. At the fourth incident this morning a park’s groundskeeper had noticed a grey suburban with tinted windows in the park’s parking lot during the time investigators believe the assault had taken place. It was not there when police arrived on the scene. An autopsy is being done on the latest victim and the two other recovered bodies are being located for autopsy as well. The current theory is this may be a serial killer or team of serial killers and the Commissioner is eager to end this mess before it draws the attention of the Feds.
The group gathers together at Radiance to discuss the killings. After some discussion and dialogue with Miss Jeanette they leave to have a look through Delray. Leaving Gustav’s Prius and Peterson’s recently recovered motorcycle at the burger joint Little Dicks they head south on foot following Berkeley’s lead, most looking very overdressed for the surroundings. Delray is the undisputed territory of the Delray Imperials, an ambitious gang that has been on feuding frequently with the neighboring gangs the 7th Street Joys and Cuchillo in the last few years. Their leader Thorn is rumored to have supernatural powers and the gang is known to burn people to death to set an example. Gustav recalls that the gang has twice tried to buy weapons from his company Kel Tec and been denied as they are on the ATF’s banned list. The streets and buildings of Delray are a burned out wasteland but not abandoned. Every few blocks there are people gathered drinking, smoking, and arguing. Despite the summer heat small fires and even a rare working street light dot the neighborhood attempting and failing to ward off the thick darkness. Under suspicious eyes the group picks it’s way south until Peterson steers them down Vanderbilt St to check out a trash strewn lot, the location of the reported burning called in by anonymous phone tip. Inside a blackened roughly circular patch an ashgrey crumbling skeleton sits propped against a broken brick half wall. Some poking around discovers the corpse and surrounding cement was ignited with a flaming gel, probably a homemade napalm. Berkeley discovers an empty scorched canister which Mike identifies as a cheap smoke grenade. Dwayne and Lisette, who have been keeping watch, warn that trouble is coming and the five retreat as nonchalantly as possible back the way they came taking a left back onto West End St. Walking briskly they get a half dozen blocks north before their pursuers step up and call for their attention. Berkeley, Little and Lisette scramble for cover scanning the intersecting road expecting a driveby. Mike scans the approaching six Delray Imperials and firms his resolve but it is Gustav who answers the leader’s challenge. Surrounded by gang members making posturing threats with their motley assortment of firearms Gustav recognizes the imprint of Kel Tec’s competitor INTGRTY on the best gun among them and immediately insults it. Turning on his salesman slick he turns what could be a heated argument into a shooting challenge which he handily wins despite using half the ammo the gangbanger Ricardo does. Earning his respect Gustav and Ricardo negotiate an arms theft that would supply DI’s with dozens more of these guns. Gustav gives the thug a fake name and at his firm insistence, his own weapon, and the groups part ways without spilling blood.
At the burger joint the group agrees to meet up the next afternoon. Mike takes Gustav’s report for the stolen gun and the two separate to head home, both having been up since dawn. After a quick phone call Dwayne joins Berkeley and Lisette to take a look at the murder site from this morning in Fort Wayne Park. They find a scene similar to the lot on Vanderbilt St but fresher. Lisette discovers a fine grey dust coming splattered jaggedly at the edge of the blackened chemical burn circle and takes a sample before leaving. Dwayne drops off the two and drives out to Adult Content to meet Diggler for a late night booty call.
Wednesday morning Lisette spends the day studying up on Marionette and gathering supplies for the next night’s vodou ritual. Mike gets his patrol shift covered and spends the day making calls and digging through old police reports for anything connected to the burning murders. He finds a spike in missing person and kidnapping incidents on the west side. The group meets up again at Radiance in the early afternoon. Mike explains the disparate clues he has found ending with a dozen of missing person reports that have some connection to strange insect behavior, some seemingly supernatural. Lisette chuckles uncomfortably as Mike goes on to describe a connection to a briefly jailed suspect in a failed museum break in. The bail bond was signed by a Berkeley Lang. The group turns to Berkeley who manages to look both numb and horrified. Listening to the group talk of insects Miss Jeanette mentions that she used to supply a family owned business called Beesknees Farm. They tended and honored an African spirit of insects but she hasn’t heard from them since early last summer, around the time of the Berkeley’s problems with his friend trying to break into the DIA. The name is familiar to Berkeley but he can’t remember the connection.