This story was originally online at Avengers 2000 site.

This is my very first original story. The concept behind C.A.S.E. Files came from a roleplaying game that I was involved in many moons ago. There were only two players and the gamemaster and everything revolved around a detective agency specializing in the paranormal.

My character in that game was Dr.Marcus Maxwell Danielson, and the other player character was Michelle Jones played by my very good friend Anne Marie.

So why didn't I write these stories about M&M Investigations? Well mainly because I couldn't remember the complete details of the stories we played out and didn't feel that “coming” close would be fair. So I took the characters and moved them forward in time to become part of the pan-European security agency C.A.S.E.

This first “file” serves as an intro to the characters of Max and Michelle. It also introduces several of the supporting characters and one of the major villans of the series.

There is nothing too gruesome in this tale of murder and mayhem. Rather, the intent is to build up the suspense and keep you wondering who is going to survive.

Hopefully it worked.

C.A.S.E. Files - Theatre of Blood

CHAPTER ONE

 

“What's the situation Trevor?”

“Dr.Danielson we have a potential situation at the Civic Theatre in Walthamstowe. The police were called to the scene about twenty minutes ago, and about the same time I got a message from T.E.N that we might want to take a look at this one.”

Trevor Dickman watched as his boss reached into the rear of his dark blue Jaguar XJS and pulled out a black woolen overcoat. The late winter evening was cold, although fortunately the rain was holding off so far. He slipped into it as he talked over his shoulder. “Who else do we have on site?”

“I was the first to arrive after putting out calls to yourself and Ms.Jones. Hope I didn't inconvenience you too much. The police are pretty shook up over what they found sir.”

“Well Melody wasn't too happy about me having to leave in the middle of the second act but I've never been a great fan of the opera. Just don't get in her way for a few days and I'm sure everything will be fine.” A slight smile tugged the corners of his lips upwards. “Shall we go talk to the police? Who's in charge?”

“Inspector Boot sir. He's right over by the red Vauxhall Omega. The guy with the shabby raincoat and fag sticking out of his mouth.”

“Do I get the impression from your tone, Trevor, that the Inspector has not been very cooperative?”

“Not very sir. He said something along the lines of 'don't bother me sonny unless you have something more than a prize from a cracker to flash at me'.''

As they approached the man in question, they had a chance to notice the angry line of his body as he shouted at another officer.

“Inspector?”

“What?” he snarled as he turned around. Both men noticed the look he sent in Trevor's direction. “You again! Can't you see I'm just a little busy here?”

“Inspector, my name is Danielson. Dr.Marcus Maxwell Danielson. I'm the head of the London branch of C.A.S.E's S.I.X department. I'm afraid that you will need to hand this investigation over to my staff.” Danielson held up his hand to forestall whatever the inspector had been about to say. “I do have jurisdiction in this case inspector and I'd be happy to give you a name and number to confirm that.”

“Why have I never heard of C.A.S.E or S.I.X? What gives you the right to step into a murder case just like that?”

“Inspector, I would truly prefer to work with you on this and not have a fight. S.I.X is a department of the European Union's Central Administration of Security in Europe, or C.A.S.E, directorate with full cooperation from the British government. You could talk to my immediate boss if that would help, but as of now I need to get into the theatre and take a look at what we are dealing with.”

Trevor Dickman was impressed. His boss, Max Danielson, was not the largest of men standing at five foot eight, or there about. He was slender and tonight, dressed in a fashionable black tuxedo, he was the very definition of elegance. Max carried a presence that meant that he rarely had to shout to get his requests carried out. He looked back at the tall, thickly-set Inspector Boot and noticed for the first time that the man looked nervous. He was surprised when the Inspector nodded tersely and grunted, “OK, it's all yours. What do you want from us simple policemen?”

“First I'd like to go inside and then I'll let you know more. If you could have your men keep an eye open for another of my associates, a Ms.Michelle Jones, I'd be very grateful.”

Max waited for the Inspector to nod his understanding before turning and looking at the outside of the building that was the cause everyone's attention. “Come along Trevor, let's see what we have this time.”

Boot watched as the two men strode towards the building. He wondered briefly which of them would be the first to throw up when they saw what the building contained. “I've been in the force a lot of years now, but this one beats everything else I've seen,” he muttered under his breath.

He was about to turn back to the young policeman he had been talking to when he saw Dnaielson and Dickman stop. From long experience he could tell that Danielson was drawing rapid breaths in an attempt to avoid throwing up. He was surprised when both men turned around and began to return to him. When they were close enough he noticed the change in Danielson's appearance. There was tightness around his eyes and mouth and when he spoke the rich tones were now suffused with iron.

“Inspector get everyone out of that building now. I want your men to create a perimeter of,” he paused to look around the street, “thirty feet around it. No one. I repeat no one, unless I have given my express authority, is to go anywhere near that building. Do I make myself clear?”

Without hesitation Boot found himself calling over his partner and relaying the instructions he had been given. The sergeant looked like he was about to argue but changed his mind when he saw the inspectors expression. As the sergeant began moving everyone out of the building Boot turned back to the two men who were conversing in low tones. He caught the words 'felt nothing like this since the incident in Iceland' but they cut off as they realized that he was listening.

“Inspector I need to know in as much detail as possible what you found inside that building. Trevor, I'd like you to make sure that Michelle is on her way and also call Doig and let him know what we've already discovered. Tell him we might need to have T.W.O on standby if this turns out to be as bad as it appears.”

“Yes sir. Should I bring Ms.Jones over as soon as she gets here?”

At Max's distracted nod Trevor turned away and headed to his own battered blue Citroen ZX estate.

“Now inspector, tell me what you found inside.”

“It's not a pretty sight. It appears that whoever was inside is dead. Each and every one was either stabbed through the heart or they had their throats cut. We don't know exactly how many as yet, but I'd guess somewhere around sixty. All the bodies had been dragged into the center of the stage and heaped into a pile.”

“How did the police find out about it?”

“There was a 999 call made. The caller was female and almost hysterical. It was cut off but we traced it back to the theatre. A car was dispatched and when they got here, they called in backup.”

“Any signs of the blood being used to write on the floor or walls? Any messages?”

“Well, its funny you should mention that. I'd say there is nowhere near enough blood given the number of bodies and the way they were killed. There were no obvious messages that we saw, of any symbols. You thinking this might be part of some type of black magic cult?”

“Anything is possible Inspector. We shouldn't rule out any possibilities until we have all the facts. Was there anything else?”

“There were candles all over the place. And boy, they sure did stink. I had the boys blow them out.”

“Sounds like we have an interesting case Max.”

The inspector nearly jumped out of his skin at the voice from behind his left shoulder. He whirled around ready to tear a strip off the person and found the words dying in his throat. The lady that had approached him unheard was simply breathtaking. She must have stood an easy six foot three or four and underneath the long leather jacket she was obviously solidly built. Her long black hair was pulled back into a braid which hung half way down her back. It did not appear that she had any make-up on, but she did not need it. Flashing blue eyes surmounted a slim nose which in turn hovered above full red lips.

“Inspector Boot, this is my associate, Ms.Michelle Jones.”

She stuck out a hand which he took gingerly and then was surprised by the strength in her grip. He winced inwardly, although avoiding rubbing his hand when they disengaged.

“You heard?”

“Pretty much. When are we going in? Looks like everything's been done out here.”

“Just as soon as I get my equipment from the car. Do you have everything you need?”

“Yeah, Chris dropped me off. He wasn't happy with me running out in the middle of the night again. He wants to know when one of these cases is going to happen in the day. Looks like Melody isn't going to be happy with you either.”

She grinned as she spoke and Max grinned back at her. “No, I'm afraid I had to leave her at the opera. Let's go over to the Jag and we'll get ready. Trevor is here too. I think we'll all go in and Trevor can act as our anchor if we need one.” Max saw Michelle's eyebrow rise slightly at his last comment and he knew that she now understood how dangerous he thought the situation. He gave a few last instructions to the inspector before turning to lead Michelle away.

“So what are we looking at?”

“I have very little idea as yet. All I know is the stink of evil that place is giving off is enough to make me want to throw up before I get within ten feet of the place. I've not tried opening myself completely to the sensations yet because of that.”

“Any ideas on the bodies? It sounded like some sort of ritual to me, but where are the symbols? What do you think we are dealing with?”

“Well, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself with speculation, but I have to agree that everything points at a ritual. With the sense of evil that's around here I'm seriously thinking that we are dealing with a summoning. I'm just hoping that it's not going to be as bad as Iceland.”

Michelle interrupted, “You are seriously telling me that the evil you are sensing is as powerful as that thing we dealt with in Iceland?” When he looked her directly in the eyes and nodded once she continued, “Max, we need backup on this. Look what that thing did to us in Iceland. Terry is going to be out of action for months. We couldn't find enough of Pierre and Lily to have a decent funeral.”

“And you are afraid that you'll need to call on higher powers again,” Max finished for her. “Before we call in anyone else, we need to get inside and take a look for ourselves. I've already had Trevor call Doig and alert him. Until we know more, I'm not calling in more troops.”

Michelle Jones took a deep breath and searched her friends face. There was no sign of the fear that she was feeling. Confidence lay on Max Danielson's face as though they were about to take a simple hike. The fact that their journey could take them up Ben Nevis did not seem to bother him in the slightest. She smiled as she felt her own confidence bolstered by his. She could feel the adrenaline beginning to flow through her body as she thought about the adventure that awaited them.

The changes in Max when they had a challenge in front of them never ceased to amaze her. At all other times he reminded her most of a college professor. He was forever digging through books and making notes. Instructing the other team members about some odd piece of lore or spending hours on the phone working on acquiring financing. Now, with a new puzzle in front of him, Max had transformed into a latter day Indiana Jones. There was a light in his eyes that said, 'I'm coming and I'm going to find out what's going on.'

As they got to his car, he reached into the pocket of his trousers for his keys and then proceeded to open the boot. He shrugged out of his overcoat and then his tuxedo jacket. Undoing his bow tie he dropped that on top of the two coats before pulling a threadbare sports jacket out and slipping into it. He grabbed the long bag that lay there and closed the boot again.

He looked his companion up and down noting with approval the loose pants she was wearing and the tennis shoes. When you had been in the business as long as they had you got used to preparing for the worse he mused silently.

They stood together, talking little as they waited for Dickman to join them. A few moments later he jogged over from his car. In comparison to Max's slender average build and Michelle's powerful athletic frame, Trevor Dickman was small, standing about five foot five and whip thin. He had pulled on a leather jacket over the faded blue jeans and sweatshirt he had been wearing.

“Let's go everyone.”

“Max have you tried pinpointing the problem?” Michelle asked.

“I did as we were waiting for Trevor. I can't get a single location. It's as though the entire building were evil and if you don't mind I'm not going to do that again in a hurry.”

Michelle and Trevor noted the pallor of Max's skin and knew that whatever he had felt it had not been pleasant. He swung his bag onto his shoulder then walked between the two of them. They fell into step, one on either side, and headed for the main door to the theatre.

To Chapter Two...