Chapter 1: Connie Dusteon
It was before daylight when the sounds of a radio alarm clock pierced a certain woman's dreams and brought her into the real world. She reached out and hit the "off" button with her arm, then laid there a second in half-sleep.
Then she sat up and glanced at the window; a barely visible glow of blue was piercing the curtains. It was 5:45 A.M; the time she usually woke up to get ready for work.
Jumping out of bed, she prepared for her morning with the usual activities by brushing her teeth, then her hair. She went into her closet and grabbed the blue set of clothes hanging on the back of the door. The shirt was a long-sleeved blue shirt, its sleeves bearing a golden emblem with blue text. Two particular letters were larger and bolder than the others: 'M P'
When she put the shirt on, the name tag which bore the name Dusteon was pinned to the right side of her chest, while a shiny police badge hung on the left. Three small, rectangular metal plates hung above her nametag.
The pants she wore were jeans that were almost the same color as the shirt, but a bit darker. She pulled her medium-red hair into a ponytail and then stuck it through the back of her police capan accessory that wasn't required of her anymore, but she wore it anyway.
She slipped out of her bedroom and into the hallway, pausing just outside the door to look across the hall.
Her younger sister's bedroom was across from hers, and the bedroom door was closed, which meant she was asleep still. There had been times in the past when Valerie had woke up early to fix breakfast before Connie could leave luckily, she hadn't done so today.
She hurried downstairs, but didn't sigh a breath of relief until she had gotten into her police car and driven away. 'It's a shame you go through such extreme measures to avoid your sister like this.' She thought with a sigh. 'Then again, she goes through such extreme measures to force-feed you breakfast in the mornings.' Connie was really an independent woman, who had only agreed to let her younger sister live with her due to the perks. She hated it when people tried to care for her.
After picking up breakfastwhich consisted of a biscuit and orange juiceat a fast-food place, she drove down Avenue street until she arrived at a three-story-tall building made of slate-blue stone. Golden letters marked the front side of the building, making known to all what kind of facility this was: Police Headquarters. A helicopter sat atop the roof.
She parked her silver police car around back, amongst the other police cars, all of which were white and blue in color, unlike her own. Then she entered the back entranceonly visitors and civilians used the front door.
On the second floor of Police Headquarters was a large room that connected four separate hallways and two rooms. It tended to be the place where hall traffic intersected, people stopped to chat, and coffee was poured. It had come to be known as the Center Lobby, due to its position in the building.
Connie entered the Center Lobby and paused to look around, as she did every morning.
A desk sat in the far corner of the room, where the second floor's secretary usually sat. The secretary, a blue-haired woman who was unusually short, was leaning back in her chair with her head bowed and eyes closed.
Beside the desk, a short hallway led to the police chief's office. On the opposite side of that entrance sat a counter with a coffee maker, where five men were loitering drowsily.
A man with dull yellow hair walked out of the Copying Room holding a sheet of paper and reading as he walked. Catching sight of Connie, he lifted his head towards her, then glanced at the men at the coffee counter. "Good morning, Chief!" he greeted, making his voice unnecessarily loud.
The five menknown as the Coffee Huggers by other workersswung around and greeted her, but their blended words were unintelligible. A couple of seconds later, Georgiathe secretarystartled awake, sitting up abruptly.
"It's nice to see that at least one of my men takes their job seriously." Connie said in her military tone, while looking at the yellow-haired policeman. "6:05 in the morning and you're already working hard." She pointedly glanced at the others in the room, before turning back to him. "Good job, Luis."
"You didn't hire me to hang around and do nothing!" The man said with a laugh. "Speaking of which, there's a case to get working on." He hurried off into another hallway.
Connie glared at the five men still hanging around the coffee maker. 'If only ALL my men were like Luis.' She thought, subconsciously bearing disgusted expressions. "Get to work! I want no excuses! You can come back and get the coffee after it's done."
"Yes Chief!" The men responded with a salute before scattering.
The red-haired woman then walked into the shortest hallway and entered the sole door within. The desk within faced the door, and a stainless steel name plate bore her title: Chief Dusteon. She walked around to where the chair was but didn't sit down. Instead, she picked up a couple of the papers that were scattered across her desk.
One was a list of compiled data from all six police precincts, showing the number of crimes, murders, arrests, solved cases and prisoners each police station had. There were always a high rate of crime and at least three murders daily. The solved cases were fewer in number than the crimes and murders, but at least it wasn't as bad as it used to be! An evil organization had once had rule over the town at night, but not anymore. 'Thank goodness.'
She spent the next thirty minutes sorting papers on her desk; something she ended up doing every morning due to how careless some of her workers were. After that, she looked through the list of crimes in need of investigation. As chief, part of the job that fell on her was telling which detectives should do what cases. This wasn't a requirement, but she had learned over the years that her men were very disorganized. Great confusion happened when nobody was keeping things in check.
'Is Luis on a case?' she wondered as she looked through her list of detectives on her desktop scheduler. It said that he wasn't, but he had mentioned one earlier. 'I wonder if he assigned himself to one.' The man had always been renowned for his dedication to his work; it wouldn't be surprising if he hadn't waited on her order.
The next thing she knew, it was 12:15. Her first thought was that her sister usually calledor worse, actually came to Police Headquartersto remind the chief to eat lunch. It was embarrassing, so Connie usually tried to get away from the station at that time.
She grabbed a few important pieces of paper and shoved them into a folder. She closed the desktop scheduler, then walked out of her office, closing and locking the door behind her. She told Georgia to take messages while she was away, then headed out of Police Headquarters.
She got into her silver-and-blue police carthe only one in the cityand decided to drive to the second precinct; the west-center division of Miracle. A restaurant called Duntol's Steakhouse was built just within the precinct line. Though it gave her a discount, the police force itself didn't seem to be in the know of it. There were never any police here.
And she personally preferred it that way. As much as she loved her job as police chief, she got enough of the police force at Headquarters. When she was out eating lunch, she preferred to be undisturbed by her men.
She pulled her car into the parking lot and noticed how the place wasn't as full as it usually was. She still parked at the back of the parking lot and walked around the side of the store to the front doors. As she entered, a smell of grilling meat greeted her. There was a line, but it only had three or four people.
When she reached the podium where the waiter was standing, she was somewhat surprised to see the manager standing there.
"Chief Dusteon, what a pleasure to see you again." He greeted with a nod and smile. "It's been a while since your last visit. You must be a busy woman."
"This restaurant isn't exactly in my precinct, you know." She replied calmly, before intentionally changing the subject. "I'm surprised that the parking lot isn't full. I used to have no choice but to park in the back at this hour. Today I did it by choice."
The manager, Jim Duntol, sighed. "A new restaurant opened up across the street." He lowered his voice and met her eyes with his gray ones. "It doesn't help that the local area has been plagued by gangs recently."
She thought about his words. Had he mentioned it because she was police chief? 'No that seemed more like an admission of a troubled acquaintance.'
"Well, right this way." The manager picked up a menu and beckoned for her to follow. "You know, my daughter really admires you." He said, sounding somewhat pleased. "You're the city's first female police chief since its founding, and you're also one of the best in history."
"I am in no way the best." She corrected sternly. "I'm only doing my job."
Jim laughed. "Modest as always." He commented, before stopping at a table and turning to face her. "How's this seat? I know you prefer a well-lighted table, but all of the window tables are taken right now."
"It's fine. I can see my papers here."
"All right, enjoy your meal." The man began to walk back towards the entrance, but stopped to flag down a nearby waitress. He spoke to her in a tone too low for Connie to understand the words, but she could tell his tone was serious. He motioned towards the table with his head, and the police chief knew he was warning his waitress not to neglect the important customer.
The lemon yellow-haired woman nodded briskly, then walked over to the table. "Hello, my name is Erin. I'll be your server today. What would you like to drink?" she asked.
"Ice water. Make sure it's cold, and not just cool."
"Yes ma'am. I'll be right back." The waitress walked away.
Connie pulled out her folder and pulled the first couple of reports out. One was a crime and solved cases ratio for all six precincts. Miracle City was divided into six precincts: the two middle ones being first and second, the northern ones being third and fourth, and the southern ones being fifth and sixth. She had no idea why the ordering was so odd; it had been that way when she became a police investigator years ago.
The waitress came by and placed her drink on the table. She pulled out her "What would you like to eat?"
"Duntol specialty." The chief replied without looking away from her paper. "Well done, with green beans on the side. Nothing more, nothing less."
The waitress repeated her order for confirmation, then turned and headed away, completely ignoring the customer who was trying to get her attention.
Connie shook her head in disgust. It wasn't unusual for her to be given the royal treatment in public places; police chiefs were considered a city official by law. Though there were no laws to govern the actions of the citizens when it came to her, she was often treated with priority and respect. 'Which I wouldn't mind, if it didn't cause problems for the others.'
The next time the waitress came by, it was to place rolls on the table.
"Erin, was it?" The police chief asked. "You must be new here, so I'm telling you this: I don't mind you serving me with priority, but you are not my servant. You shouldn't be ignoring your other customers." She motioned towards the table where a male customer was waiting for a drink refill.
"R-right!" The waitress agreed, before hurrying towards the other table.
She looked at the paper again and noted how the crime rate in the second precinctwhere she was dining right nowwas higher than it used to be, yet the solved crimes hadn't changed from the last report.
When the food arrived she found that it had been prepared in exactly the way she liked it: no pink in the seasoned steak, and no animal fat had been cooked with the beans. 'Either you come here so often they know what you like, or the manager remembered you complaining that one time.' She thought, guiltily. Her complaints were almost always remembered.
After lunch, she drove down to the local police precinct to chat with the lead man there. Precincts two through six had leaders that maintained the forces there, known as sergeants. Connie was the 'sergeant' in her own precinct, though sometimes she wondered if was a bad thing; her job might not be so stressful if she didn't have to manage her precinct and the city's police force as a whole.
"Chief Dusteon!" Feddels exclaimed as she entered the building. "You didn't tell me you were coming for a visit."
The green-haired, blue-eyed leader had been discussing something with an employee as she entered, but he quickly abandoned his discussion to walk up to her. "What brings you here?" his statement was curious, yet worried.
"I was eating at a local restaurant when I heard about how this precinct has been plagued by gangs lately." She explained, having thought of her words carefully beforehand as to not give away the place where she ate.
Feddels' grim expression wasn't a good sign. "We've been working hard to apprehend them, Chief, but they act after midnight. My men have been unable to track them down or catch them in the act." He shook his head.
"Understandable." Connie commented. "If they're that elusive, they must be a Darkian gang, correct? Why not ask some of Miners' men to help track them down?"
The sergeant gazed at her thoughtfully. "Darkians are known for being able to see when we cannot." He stated. "Good idea, Chief. I'll call him and see what he thinks."
She nodded, and after discussing a couple of minor things with him, decided to leave and head back to Police Headquarters.
Darkians were a race of pale-skinned, black-haired and dark-eyed humans who were named more for their dark powers than appearances. It was a renowned fact that they could see better in the dark than Diantions, which were the pale-skinned race of colorful hair and eyes that Connie and most of Miracle City were.