Cape City Chronicles
v1: Today the City, Tomorrow...
#1: The Hunt Begins!
by Jennifer Kohl
Joe locked the door and pulled down the grating. It was a dark night, or at least as dark as things ever got in downtown Cape City. Between streetlights, storefronts, and animated billboards, that wasn’t much. Still, at this hour, J St was mostly abandoned below 53rd, so there was nobody there to see what happened, nobody to shout warning.
But then, a warning might not have been enough to accomplish anything. Joe was, well, an ordinary Joe, and he was up against someone who had brought a city to the brink of destruction.
Might-have-beens aside, the first hint Joe had of her presence was a throaty voice in his ear. “Hello,” she murmured.
Joe whirled around in shock, arms raised instinctively to defend himself—and then he froze, eyes wide with the shock of recognition. Run, he thought. But part of him wanted to stay, a part that had heard rumors about this woman, about what she might do. The prospect was terrifying, yet intriguing, alluring... Much like the woman herself.
She stepped closer, and the decision was made for him.
“All right, Deshawn, talk to me,” Lieutenant Alvarez said as she blew into her office.
Deshawn—Sergeant Dawson, her second-in-command—passed a file across her desk as she sat. She opened it, leaned back, and read while he gave his summary. “Electronics store robbery, manager called it in when he arrived this morning. Security cam footage showed someone the manager identified as Joe Jackson, the assistant manager, leave after closing the previous night, then come back in a few minutes later and steal some equipment.”
“Okay, so why not just pick him up?” Alvarez asked.
“We did. Officers from the five-nine grabbed him at home. He was completely calm, admitted doing it, but refused to say why or what he did with the stuff. After they brought him in, they did a standard work-up to rule out Special involvement.”
“I assume they found something?” asked Alvarez.
“Yeah,” said Jackson. “Check the blood test, last page.”
Alvarez arced an eyebrow at Jackson, then shrugged and turned to the end of the file. As she read it, her full lips thinned and her lightly tanned face turned several shades lighter. “Fuck,” she said. “She’s back.”
Jackson nodded. “Pheromona.”
The name hung over the room like the shadow of a thunderstorm, and the two sat in silence for long seconds after.
“No,” said Alvarez finally. “It can’t be her, we’d be the first to know if she broke out. And this is too small-time for her. It has to be a copycat.”
“Still,” said Jackson.
“Yeah.” Alvarez stood abruptly, her face turning steely. “I’m going to Miskatonic to make sure.”
Jackson started to stand. “I’ll go with—”
“No,” Alvarez replied sharply. “We know I’m immune to her powers. You’re not.”
“Still,” said Jackson. “You should take someone. Chan, or Kovlovski.”
Alvarez shook her head. “We don’t know they’re immune. Even latent, entirely subconscious attraction to women is enough for her. I’m the only person on the squad we know she can’t control.”
Jackson sighed. “All right. I just hope for all our sakes they’ve still got her locked up.”
Alvarez sat idling at the stoplight on 3rd and K, waiting what seemed like an eternity. Something hot was bubbling in her chest, rising, and she immediately recognized the feeling as one which had filled her for years, one she’d thought was gone forever. “Fuck!” she shouted, and slammed a fist into her steering wheel.
It was rage. Old rage, rotten and foul, bubbling and boiling as new anger poured into it. Fucking Specials, she thought.
It was their fault. Oh, it was Boom Mike that got charged with the murder, but as far as Alvarez was concerned, all Specials were at fault for her parents’ death.
Of course, she wasn’t one of those anti-Special bigots, or so she told herself. It wasn’t Specialness that was the problem, it was vigilantism—society turning a blind eye while people took the law into their own hands. People with no training, no sanction, no limits, recklessly battling each other—what difference did it make that some claimed to be on the side of the law? They were all criminals.
And no one actually knew whether the girder she watched crush her parents had been sent flying by one of Boom Mike’s sonic explosions or been thrown by Captain Shield.
For years, the rage of that moment had driven Alvarez. It had driven her through martial arts training, a forensic sciences degree, and the police academy. It had driven her up the ranks—always a challenge for a woman, let alone a brown woman, in the Good Ol’ Boys Club of the police—until she could finally do what she’d set out to do: SCI unit. Special Criminals Investigation, an elite team of ordinary people trained to deal with criminals who were anything but.
But even then, even when the pilot program succeeded and SCI units were formed in every precinct—even then, the rules were clear: Special thieves and murderers were fair game, but she was to leave the vigilantes alone.
Worse: they made her work with them. And every time she did, every time she had to bite her tongue and pretend to appreciate the help of some violent criminal wrapped in a flag, the rage flared up again.
Ironically, it was Pheromona who ended all that.
Alvarez pulled into a parking spot outside the Miskatonic Maximum Security Mental Health Care and Rehabilitation Center—but like most other people, she thought of it by its old name, the Miskatonic Institute for the Criminally Insane.
Her police badge had gotten her into the parking lot, and it got her through the entrance, but the bored-looking nurse at reception barely glanced at it before asking who Alvarez wanted to see.
“Phero—” she started, then stopped. Of course she wouldn’t be institutionalized under her real name. “Ferris. First name Desdemona.”
The nurse tapped a few keys at her computer. “Ah. Sorry, officer, but she’s not allowed visitors. You’ll need approval from Dr. Fuchs.”
“Listen, I’m not here for a chat. This is a criminal investigation!”
The nurse shrugged. “I’m sorry, but those are the rules. I’m sure Dr. Fuchs will be happy to help, but until he authorizes it, you’re not seeing her.”
“Fine!” Alvarez snapped. “Then where do I find him?”
Alvarez had to admit, they’d cleaned up Miskatonic a lot since the last time she was here. It had been a dark, dank, almost gothic place back then, full of the distant screams and maniacal laughs of the inmates. Now it was quiet, sterile, well-lit and painted neutral colors, like the hospital it claimed to be.
She had hated it back then. She liked it even less now.
She found the office she was looking for, labeled Dr. Simon Fuchs, Head of Psychology, flung open the door and marched in. The cop in her immediately assembled a terse description of the man she found inside: Caucasian male, mid-40s. approximately six feet tall, medium build. Brown hair, balding, brown eyes, no visible scars or tattoos. Tweed suit, brown; white shirt; no tie. Glasses, gold-rimmed. “I need to see Ferris. They told me I need your OK first.“
“Hello,” he said smoothly. “I’m Dr. Fuchs. Pleased to meet you.”
Alvarez rolled her eyes and shut the door firmly—almost, but not quite, slamming it. She tossed her badge on his desk and said, “Police business, and I’m not in the mood for cute.”
He picked up the badge, studied her ID briefly, and then said, “Ah, the elusive Alessandra Alvarez, in the flesh! May I call you Alessandra?”
“You can call me Lieutenant Alvarez.”
Fuchs gingerly placed the little wallet containing her badge back on his desk and slid it toward her. “You don’t like me very much, do you, Ms. Alvarez?”
“Lieutenant Alvarez!” she snapped.
He inclined his head. “Ah, of course. My apologies, Lt Alvarez. But that’s not it, is it?”
He was looking down at her. Of course, in the literal sense, most people did—when you were a hair under five-foot-one and too proud for heels or platforms, it came with the territory—but he was doing it metaphorically, too. Analyzing her, studying her like a specimen, a patient. “I don’t like people who waste my time.“
“Hmm. Is that why, despite you putting dozens of new patients in this facility in the time since I took over their care, you and I have never met? You felt it would waste your time?”
Alvarez rolled her eyes. “This shit is why no one likes shrinks.”
“Ah,” said Fuchs. “There it is. You don’t like me because you feel my profession is a waste of time.”
“Sure, whatever,” said Alvarez. “Now can I see Pheromona?”
“That depends,” Fuchs said, still maddeningly calm. “Why do you wish to see her?”
“To make sure the bitch is still here, not knocking over stores downtown.”
“Ah. Well, I assure you,” said Fuchs, “she’s still here. I see her regularly.”
“Really,” said Alvarez, watching Fuchs closely. “Tell me about her.”
“Well, I of course cannot betray the bonds of doctor-patient confidentiality. But I’m sure you know she is a very angry, aggressive, driven woman. Domineering, temperamental, but also highly intelligent and talented.”
While he spoke, Alvarez watched his eyes closely. “And don’t forget, completely psycho,” she said.
“Oh, not in the least,” said Fuchs.
“What,” said Alvarez flatly.
“Oh my, no. Egocentric and dominance-seeking, yes, but those are hardly disorders. Oh, legally she might be insane, but clinically speaking, she’s just someone with a lot of power who enjoys wielding it for her own benefit. Her past behavior, violent as it is, is well within the range of normal human functioning.”
Alvarez found herself on her feet, not entirely sure how she got there. The rage had made the choice for her, and now it was talking. “She killed tens of thousands! Just to prove she could!”
“Oh yes, she’s quite egocentric, dominance-seeking, even sadistic. So are many people—add a high level of conventionality and you have the typical psychological profile for a police officer, for instance. It’s just that most people don’t have the power or opportunity to act on such feelings on such a scale.” He sighed. “Contrary to popular belief, Lieutenant, violence and mental illness have little correlation. You don’t have to be crazy to be a killer, just angry or desperate.”
“How long have you been waiting to get that little lecture off your chest?” Alvarez asked.
Fuchs smiled. “Be sarcastic if you like, Lt Alvarez. My point is that there is no cure for Dr. Ferris, because there is no disease. My job here, at least for most of the inmates, is not as a healer, but a teacher.”
“Your job,” Alvarez snarled, “is to keep the people we send you locked up and full of drugs, so they can’t hurt anyone!”
Fuchs shrugged, then stood and walked around his desk. “The end result is largely the same in either case, I’m afraid. Regardless, I hope my assurances suffice regarding Dr. Ferris?” He held out his hand.
“Pheromona, you mean?” asked Alvarez, taking his hand—and then spinning him around, yanking his arm behind his back, and slamming his face into the desk.
“Lieutenant! What’re you—”
“Shut up,” she said. “I wanted to be sure so I didn’t grab you the first time, but your pupils dilate every time one of us mentions her. Telltale sign of her victims.” As she spoke, she pulled out a pair of cuffs and swiftly chained Fuchs to the desk, then pulled out her phone.
“Yeah, it’s me,” she said when Sgt Dawson answered. “Pheromona’s shrink’s under her control, who knows for how long. Call County General and tell them to send someone over with the antidote. Tell ’em they’d better start making more—she’s on the loose.”
She hung up on Dawson and quickly dialed another number. She needed to warn her sister.
Alicia Alvarez sighed and leaned back in her tall leather office chair, stretching. She knew there had to be a case here somewhere, some key bit of evidence in the legion of crimes suspected of being linked to the mysterious figure known as Tarantula, some clue that would justify going after their organization... But whatever it was, she hadn’t found it yet.
Alicia’s phone buzzed, and she answered. “ADA Alvarez.”
“It’s me, Allie.”
“Alex!” Alicia replied. It was a nickname her sister allowed only family to use—which for a long time now had meant only Alicia. “What’s wrong?”
“Pheromona,” Alessandra replied, her voice clipped. “She’s out and back to her old tricks.”
“Oh my god! Are you okay? Are you safe?”
“I’ll be fine,” said Alessandra. “I’m worried about you.”
“Me?” asked Alicia. “You’re the one she hates. I doubt she’s going to get us confused.” And it was true. Genetically, Alicia and Alessandra were identical twins. Both had their mother’s auburn hair, her full lips and fuller figure, and their father’s dark eyes, round face, height (or lack thereof), and narrow waist.
But no one had ever had any trouble telling them apart. Alicia had a ready smile that radiated warmth, while Alessandra was all cold glares and scowls. Alicia hadn’t cut her hair since she was six and took meticulous care of it; Alessandra chopped it off at chin length on a regular basis and combed it most mornings. Alicia wore glasses, Alessandra contacts; Alicia wore pencil skirts and tailored suits for work and shiny little dresses for fun, while Alessandra wore blue jeans and a battered old leather jacket basically always. They were even different heights, most of the time—Alicia usually wore heels, giving her a couple inches on Alessandra’s utilitarian boots.
“That’s not what I’m worried about,” said Alessandra. “But she might go after you to get to me. Just... Watch yourself, okay?”
“Okay,” said Alicia. “I’ll be careful.”
After the call, she tried to go back to her work, but couldn’t concentrate. How could she? Organized crime was nothing compared to what Pheromona had done to the city in just a few short weeks of terror. Alicia would never be allowed to work on the investigation or prosecution—it was textbook conflict of interest—but there was more than one way to help catch a crook.
She leaned forward, pulled up Pheromona’s case file on her computer, and got to work.
Pheromona looked around her new apartment with a broad smile. Her friends had provided exactly what she asked for. Compared to her cell, it was a palace—a one bedroom apartment with a large kitchen, granite countertops, and a view of the city. More importantly, it had soundproofing in the walls and electronic countermeasures against bugs and wiretaps. Her friends were used to clients that valued their privacy.
And sitting on the bed was a large package, the most important thing of all—and again, it was exactly as she’d specified: a skintight green leotard with built-in support for her sizable chest, cut low to show plenty of cleavage, sheer leggings in a slightly darker green, and shiny black thigh-high boots with four-inch spike heels.
With a gleeful, surprising girlish squeal, she stripped out of the rather drab outfit she’d work out of Miskatonic and pulled on her costume.
There was a full-length mirror in her new bedroom, and she examined herself in it with delight. It fit perfectly, hugging and accentuating her curves, emphasizing her long, slender legs and pert ass, and adding extra inches to her already impressive height.
She was back in costume, her powers were back, and she was free. She felt amazing—and horny as hell.
That had been the hardest part of hiding that her powers were back. The same accident that had given her control over her pheromones—and with them, the feelings of anyone with even a latent sexual attraction to women—had also supercharged her libido. When her powers came back, courtesy of her new friends, that came back, too.
Fortunately, she had regular, private sessions with Dr. Fuchs. That had been enough to scratch the itch—and then, once he was thoroughly, worshipfully hers, it was easy to snare a handful of others. A nurse here, a guard there, and a few days later she was able to just walk out the door.
She lay back on her soft new bed, reveling in the feel of silk sheets. She was wet just thinking about what she was going to do now, and there was no reason not to enjoy herself. She began rubbing herself through her new costume, expertly teasing herself with long, slender fingers.
All her new friends had asked for was a quick favor, and after that, she was free to do as she pleased. She didn’t ask why they wanted that electronics store robbed; she didn’t care. They’d kept up their end of the bargain, she kept up hers, and now she could finally finish what she started: the total destruction of Cape City.
Starting with Lt. Alessandra Alvarez of the CCPD’s SCI Unit.