Findlay didn't like the Tower. Too shiny, too bureaucratic, too official. He always tried to avoid places like that. Even in the middle of the ever present drizzle, it looked far cleaner than a cop shop should look. He shook himself and stepped out into the rain. He was dressed in his usual off duty clothes, gang leathers, jeans, and heavy boots. In deference to XSWAT procedure, he pinned his badge to his jacket and tossed his cigar away as he stepped through the door.
The officer at the desk gave him an odd look when he asked her for directions to the morgue, but told him the best way there. He fumbled through his pockets for his lighter as the elevator doors slid shut, grateful for the lack of other passengers. This little errand didn't make him happy, coming on the heels of three missing months. Somehow he felt that the message he was given was nowhere near as innocuous as it seemed.
The doors slid open with a soft chime, and he stepped out, leaving a cloud of smoke and the confused stares of two technicians waiting for the elevator behind. The morgue itself was clearly marked, and Findlay strode in, determined to get this over with as quickly as possible.
There was only one person inside, a young woman that appeared to be elbows-deep in someone's chest cavity. Takes all kinds, Findlay thought to himself.
"Hey doll, I'm lookin' for an Angela Winterfox, any idea where I could find her?"
The woman glanced up from under inky-black bangs before producing an unidentified organ. Placing the dripping mass of flesh in a stainless steel tray, she stepped back from the dissection table to lean against the counter. “You’re not from IA are you?”
"IA? Now that's one I haven't heard before. They're usually the ones lookin' for me." He gave her his best disarming grin, not bothering to remove the cigar.
“Oh… good. ‘cause if you were I’d probably have a lot of explaining to do to my mom. Anyway, I’m fairly sure you can find Angie Winterfox in the path lab cutting up some corpses so the path techs can run analysis on the tissue samples.” With that she leaned back over the body on the table, probing with a long-handled hemostat.
"Pathology lab, gotcha. Where in this antiseptic smelling hell is that exactly?" Findlay leaned over the cadaver's open ribcage and frowned. "And which one's the spleen? I've always wondered about that."
Motioning with her hemostat, the lab tech pointed at a brownish organ resting just under the ribs. “That.” She then slid a metal pan under Findley. “And don’t go dropping ashes into my corpse. I’ll catch all sorts of grief if it gets contaminated.” Continuing to probe the open abdomen, the woman plucked out something squishy and placed it in a second tray. “And to answer your first question, the path lab is through the door you came in by.”
Jack was slightly at a loss. He could clearly see the girl's nameplate said Winterfox, and she was not at all what he'd expected. However, she was going out of her way to be a smartass, which was a game he knew well how to play. Time for "stupid redneck stereotype #3". He grinned again and picked up a long metal probe of some sort.
"You could always call it the worst case of post-mortem smoke inhalation you ever seen." He prodded the alleged spleen. "What's it do? I mean, it don't just sit there bein' squishy, what's it for?"
“It cleans the blood. Sorta like a lymph node.” The girl eyed the wandering metal probe with an air of annoyance. “And if you drink like you smoke, you probably need a new one.” Snapping the hemostat closed, she deftly caught Jack’s appropriated tool. “Okay, enough. You were looking for Angelina Winterfox and you’ve found her. And it better not be for anything funny, otherwise my mom’s gonna kick your ass from here to Roar Sector.”
"Heh, you give up too easy, I coulda done this all afternoon.”
“Yeah, well I have stuff to do.”
Jack shrugged. “Besides, I've had worse captains than your momma, and if she don't wanna do that anyways by the end of this little conversation, my name ain't Jack T. Findlay." He leaned back against a nearby table and eyed Angie. "You know, you're a lot less... furry... than I was expectin'. Probly a decent story in that."
Angie’s reply was a narrow-eyed glare. “That’s cause my mom got me pre-owned.”
Jack paused and drew on his cigar for a moment. "Anyways, I got a message from somebody to give to you. Why they had me deliver it instead a comin' here and tellin' you themselves is beyond me." He paused again, to fix the scene in his mind. "Was in the sewers, durin' all that mess. Ran into a tall fella, black uniform with silver trim. Wore a silver cross. Told me one of us shouldn't be where we was, and said to tell the young Winterfox that everything will be okay. Then I swear he turned into a cloud of bats or mist or somethin' and disappeared down the tunnel.”
Setting her hemostat down, Angie stood up, at which point Jack realized she was a lot taller than he’d initially expected. “That is the worst pick-up story I’ve ever heard.”
Jack's brow furrowed at this. This was not going anywhere near how he'd expected, but so be it. "Ah well, if I'd known that's what you was expectin', I'd have been more prepared." He smiled a bit. "I do know this nice bar if you ain't busy later."
“Sorry, I’m seventeen and far, far too young for bars. Even nice ones.”
Jack straightened up to leave, then hesitated. "You sure you don't know this guy? Helluva time and place for a practical joke. I've done worse, but that's me... this guy seemed a little too serious for that sorta thing. There any other Winterfoxes in this unit?"
Now it was time for Angie’s brow to furrow. “You mean in XSWAT? Or Path? ‘cause there’s just me and my mom in XSWAT and just me down here in Pathology.”
"Well darlin', I don't know what to tell ya. I assumed he meant XSWAT, since he was in uniform and all, and you in particular since yer momma don't exactly strike one as young… kinda goes with the having' a kid thing." Jack walked towards the door, then half turned. "But if you figure out who that fella is, you let me know. And give him a slap for sendin' old Jack on a wild goose chase." He smiled and let a final cloud of smoke out. "The drink offer still stands… when you grow up some."
"In this line o' work? Not likely."
“Hey,” Angie said as Jack turned to leave. “If you do get killed, don’t forget to look me up.”
Jack responded with a cheery wave as he walked through the door. It took about ten seconds for the meaning of her words to sink in, and he slowed to a stop. "Now what in the hell did she mean by that?" He shook his head and jabbed the button of the elevator.