Usagi Weller handed a paper handkerchief to the uniform standing in the room with her. It looked like he needed it more than she did. She didn't want him to be sick in her crime scene.
“The neighbor found it like this when he went for his morning jog,” said the uniform. “He says he didn't come inside further than the door. He called Emergency from the yard.”
“Verification?,” asked Weller.
“Forensics took his aura,” said the uniform. “He has old traces here, but he says he and his wife were friendly with the victim and her current significant other. He said the victim didn't date a single person long before moving on.”
“Jealousy might be a reason to kill her,” said Weller. “Not like this.”
She waved her hand at the destruction around them. She hadn't seen a human do this much outside of a drug bust she had gone on when she was still in uniform. The suspect downed three vials of Frank Blood. He began to throw furniture at the arresting police at his doors.
She never forgot the refrigerator being ripped up and flying across the house at her.
“Did Forensics give us anything else besides ruling out the neighbor?,” asked the detective.
“We have some kind of weird aura going on,” said the uniform. He handed her the tablet with the readings on the screen. “They don't know what it is.”
“I don't either,” said Weller. “Some kind of power curve?”
“They couldn't say,” said the uniform. “It might be. Maybe a transformation of some kind. This might be a werewolf problem.”
“It's been a long time since a werewolf went bad like this,” said Weller. She eyed the curve. “Has anyone called the tribes yet?”
“No,” said the uniform. “I asked Forensics. The technicians said it would be up to the detective in charge, and they couldn't confirm it was a wolf.”
“So when I call, we won't have anything to base our questions on other than the damage we see here in this room,” said Weller. She shook her head. “That's great.”
“The rest of the place is trashed, but not as bad as this,” said the uniform. “This is where we think he caught her and started eating her.”
“I definitely can't call and ask if one of their members came home from a large midnight snack,” said Weller.
“I can see where that would be a problem,” said the uniform.
“Is everyone done with the scene?,” asked Weller. “I would like to take a look at things if they are done with their own magics.”
“I'll ask,” said the uniform. He took the tablet back and picked his way outside. He seemed to be less green once he was out in clear air again.
Weller hunkered down in place and looked around with her hands in front of her like a frame. She turned one way, then the other. She decided she wished she had Cam's case so he could deal with this mess.
Calling the tribes would be the last resort if she didn't turn up anything on her own. She wouldn't be welcome on the Reservation, and she didn't need more friction in her case. If it came up, she would ask Hamelin to try to run interference with the brass.
She didn't know him that well, but he had a reputation among the other detectives. Hurry Hamelin closed cases, and he didn't care how he did it.
Weller reached into her inner power, pulling it out in the real world. She wasn't a generalist like most of her colleagues. She specialized in one source of magic channeling. Calling on the aether simply added to her inner spellwork instead of letting her shape it like she wanted.
Glowing light dripped from her nose as she called for something to help her with her case. If she couldn't turn up something on her own, she would think about calling for an expert inside the department, or from the Reservation.
She didn't like that it looked like she couldn't handle her own cases, but she decided that the faster she could close this, the safer the city would be. An active were threat in the city would just ramp up prejudices and cause people to fear for their safety. The tribes would take some heat for not keeping their villains at home.
If she could prove what they had was not a general threat, that would eliminate a host of problems.
On the other hand, if they did have a were on their hands, it was better to let people know they should break out anything silver they might own.
A hound dropped to the floor. It glowed the same yellow light as the fluid dripping from Weller's nose. It sniffed the scene with its large nose before bounding to the back of the bungalow. Weller stood and followed it, walking around the bloody patches.
Weller opened the back door for the hound with a gloved hand. The dog scented the air as it roamed the back yard. Finally it headed for a part of the low wooden wall leading to the neighbor's place. Claw marks ran along the top of the barrier.
Weller frowned. She couldn't remember any story of a were climbing over something. Usually they tried to smash their way through whatever was in front of them. Their great strength made that easier than just climbing.
Maybe she wasn't dealing with a real were after all. What did that leave her?
“Let's look at the other side of the fence,” Weller said.
The hound followed her to a wooden gate set in the fence. That intrigued Weller. She had a suspect that would climb a wall, but not try to get in through the gate. She checked it and found it was locked.
That was even more proof that she wasn't dealing with a real were. Why hadn't the monster just punched the gate down instead of climbing the wall? She doubted that the murderer hadn't checked. He was showing himself smarter than the average wolf on the prowl.
She needed to know if the wolf had checked the gate to verify her theory.
She decided to walk through the house and come around the front. If the hound picked up the trail from the gate, then that would be proof enough that the killer had checked it before climbing the wall.
It wouldn't give her anything specific to point to someone, but it was proof that the suspect could change his body, and potentially his aura. And if he could change his aura, there would be no reliable signature she could find inside the house.
It wasn't a great way to start a murder investigation, but it was the best she could do at the moment unless the killer lived within walking distance of the bungalow.
Then her hound would have given her the easiest arrest she had since she caught a thief trying to flee on foot while she was still in uniform. She had a smaller reserve to draw on then, but the Pomeranian she had used had done the job well enough.
Nothing said police dog like a yellow fluff ball with a squeaky bark of determination.
Weller followed the hound to the gate. It sniffed the mechanism before heading down to the claw marks in the fence. She nodded. That was what she thought would happen.
“Where did he come from?,” Weller said.
The hound sniffed the ground and headed back across the yard. He paused on the sidewalk, before sitting. Weller looked up and down the road. Her killer had driven to the address.
So he could drive before he turned into a werewolf, and after he changed back. That wasn't the usual werewolf behavior in her opinion. The killer should have been wiped after changing back. Driving would have been difficult from the cases she had seen and personally worked as a uniform and detective.
She had some lines of investigation, but they weren't great in her opinion. The fake werewolf bit was something she expected from a movie and not a real case.
She recalled her hound as she thought. What could she expect to find in the neighborhood that would help her?
Weller looked up and down the road. She saw uniforms canvasing the neighborhood. She would have to wait to see what they found before she could think of following up.
She touched the aether. The uniforms stopped as they listened to the call she was about to send.
“We're looking for any strange car in the neighborhood,” said Weller. “Our fake werewolf drove away after the murder.”
Checks came back as the patrolmen noted the information down.
“Detective Weller, this is Patrol Thirty Five Forty,” said one of the uniforms. He raised an arm to show which one he was. “We have a camera here on the porch.”
“I'm on my way,” said Weller. She smiled. This could be the break she needed. If she had a picture of the killer, she could put it out across the city. Someone must have seen him at one time, or the other.
She hoped the camera had picked up something she could use. She didn't want to face a ton of legwork and maybe another killing before she caught this guy.
She decide she should inform Hamelin about the possibility that her werewolf might strike again. He was the inspector. Maybe he had something she could use.
“Inspector Hamelin,” she said into the aether as she walked down to the camera house.
“Go,” said Hurry. He sounded bored and ready to jump at anything that moved.
“I might have a serial here,” said Weller. She informed him of all the details she had gathered so far with the help of the patrolmen and Forensics.
“Great, another one,” said Hamelin. “And working it as a stray were attack is smart in my opinion. How do you want to go with this?”
“I need to check the footage on this camera,” said Weller. “If there is nothing there, I'm going to have to go over the reports and see if I can find something I can use. Checking into the victim will have to come after that.”
“I would trade with you in a heartbeat,” said Hamelin. “Let me know how things go. Maybe we can free someone to work some of this with you. I'll check with the captain. I have to get back into looking for circle making ingredients.”