Columbine Conundrum
A Shirley Holmes Fan Fiction

by Boo Rogue Amazon
November 15, 2000         25, 360 words



Disclaimer: Yet another disclaimer. I’m all out of witty responses for these. So no I don’t own Shirley; yes I am borrowing her and her friends from Credo and Forefront. Sue me if you want to. Do know, don’t care. This is my first story to take place after the end of fourth season. It is also my first story that is not a crossover.

Warning: This story does deal with circumstance similar to that, which happened, at Columbine High School. If this will upset you in any way I suggest, respectfully of course, that you find something else to read. I will assure you that I did not treat this subject lightly and I hope that I treated with the tact that it deserves. There is also a bit of language, nothing serious but necessary for the development of certain characters. Again I leave the choice to read this story to your discretion.

This story is dedicated to Damon, Leslie, Meredith, HA, Melissa, Courtney and everyone in this fandom that has made me feel welcome. You are the reason I keep writing Shirley stories. Thank you all.

Cast of Characters from tAoSH

Shirley Holmes (The great grand niece of Sherlock)
Heather Wallace (Bo’s girlfriend from the Case of the Dragon’s Breath)
Pascal Ramirez (First appearance in the Case of the Open Hand)
Parker Evans (That red headed kid)
Alicia Gianilli (Friend of Shirley and Heather)

Original Characters

Marshall Black
Susan Le Blanc
Carlton Rodgers



Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #1

The night of the full moon glowed with an eerie, sinister atmosphere. The back wooded areas of Redington Park were transformed be the pale light into a secret place of myth and mystery. If one were of an imaginary bent one could almost catch a glimpse of wood nymphs or perhaps fairies. There were also darker things lurking in the shadows. Goblins, Boggles, or perhaps even a shadowy demon or two. The night can lend itself to all these imaginary fancies. That is why the knights of Kaldas met here. In a small clearing shadowed by a ring of trees various hooded figures hurried to the meeting place. The group was small, around twelve or so members, each robed in a different muted color to represent his rank. All wore hideously painted masks and awaited the Game Master. In a cloud of Red Smoke he appeared, dressed in a black robe and wearing a grotesque red mask. The anticipation in the air was tangible as the members watched him sink gracefully on to a makeshift wooden throne. With an arrogant glare that was enhanced by the mask he wore the Game master waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. All the members bowed in unison and then departed. The Game had begun.

It was Wednesday and Susan was late…again. Heather Wallace sighed as she looked at her watch and waited for her best friend. A few Sussex Academy students filed past her and a couple of them even greeted her. She smiled warmly at them and responded with her own hello. A few months ago she probably would have been even too shy to do that but that was then. The pretty red head was fairly new to Sussex Academy having moved to Redington from Montreal. Her dad’s parents lived in Redington so he had moved his family and his small civil practice here so they could be closer to them. Heather had hated leaving the life she had known and moving in the middle of her high school year to what she had called the middle of nowhere. She had been miserable for the first month until she had met Bo Sawchuck, a really sweet, handsome guy that had been her boyfriend for about two months. She had become considerably more outgoing after meeting Bo and had found her own niche amongst the mostly well to do Sussex Academy students. Heather looked at her watch and scowled this time. She just wished that her favorite niche could be even remotely on time for once. Finally after checking her watch for the fifth time she saw Susan round the corner with a cheery smile pasted on her face. Heather had to fight hard to glare at her when what she really wanted to do was smirk. Susan Renée LeBlanc, the daughter of a French diplomat and an American actress, was perhaps one of the most colorfully people Heather had ever met. Despite the fact that their home lives were a millenium apart Heather and Susan had felt like they had known each other for ages and the petite blond had quickly become the taller, red head’s best friend. It was so like her said best friend to come waltzing in like everyone and everything should not have been annoyed for waiting for her. She did it with such class that you just couldn’t take it personally. The tall red headed, green eyed girl finally lost her battled and smirked at the shorter blond haired, blue eyed girl that was grinning at her.

"Only ten minutes late this time Susan. I think that is a new record," Heather teased.

Susan just smiled and waved her hand dismissively, "Oh well, it’s not like Mr. Phelps will ever notice. He is so scatterbrained I’m surprised he can remember where to find his head in the morning." Heather grinned at that. It was true that their new math teacher was a bit disorganized but he at least knew what he was talking about. Anything was better than having Ms. Fish, Ms Stratman’s secretary, read the math book verbatim and then try and attempt to do an actually problem.

"You have a point. Still if Ms. Stratman sees us in the hallways its detention for both of us," Heather replied. Susan was just about to reply when she saw another girl came running from around the corner and run up the stairs.

"Well it looks like we will have company if we do get caught. Hey Shirley late again?" Susan called out, smiling in the direction of the brown haired, blue eyed girl who was even now clearing the door. Shirley didn’t stop to answer she just grinned, shrugged her shoulders, and entered the building. Susan turned back to Heather only to find her staring at the entrance where Shirley had disappeared with a thoughtful look on her face.

"That Holmes girl is so weird. Nice, but definitely weird," she said to Heather. The tall red head refocused her attention on Susan and smiled.

"Yeah she is weird. I always wondered why her and Bo were such good friends?" she questioned and Susan groaned. This was an old area of conversation for her, one that they had yet to figure out and probably never would.

"I would love to speculate on that for the seven thousandth, three hundredth time but we had better get going," Susan said and started walking up the stairs. Heather smiled, rolled her eyes, and followed her.

"Do you see what I have to put up?" Heather asked the heavens on a good-natured sigh. Her best friend just glared at her.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #2

Heather, Susan and Shirley were extremely lucky that day because Ms. Stratman, the headmistress of Sussex Academy, was otherwise occupied in her office and unable to do her morning rounds. The source of her preoccupation was a very tan, scowling girl, with long dark hair and brown eyes. She sat slumped down in her chair before Stratman’s desk, looking like her Sussex Academy uniform was strangling her to death. The headmistress, in the meantime, was studying the new student before her and asking her self. "Why me." With a long sigh of martyrdom Ms. Stratman pulled out the folder before her, opened it, and gave the student her best level look. The girl didn’t even flinch, she just continued to chew her gum. Defiance was rolling off of her in waves.

"Well Ms. Pascal Ramirez, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Sussex Academy," Ms Stratman said. Pascal snorted but said nothing. The headmistress glared at her for her lack of respect. She had a feeling that this one was going to be a hand full.

"Yes well. It says here that the offenses that had you sent to juvenile hall, were breaking and entering and attempted theft. Those are very serious offenses would you mind telling me why you felt the need to try and steal from someone else," the headmistress asked as politely as she could. Pascal glared at her and then shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.

"Because I felt like it," she replied finally, and then went back to chewing her gum. This was the last draw for Ms. Stratman. She prided herself on her good manners, her intelligence and her breeding, but this girl was making a mockery of everything she stood for with her disdainful nature.

"All right Ms. Ramirez. Sit up this instant and get rid of that gum," she commanded with a layer or steel behind her words. Pascal glared at her but she complied and sat up straighter. She also spit her gum into a nearby trashcan. Ms. Stratman prayed for patience.

"Now I want to make something perfectly clear to you. This is not some back alley or biker bar. This is a school and you will behave yourself with the conduct becoming any and all Sussex Academy students while you walk through these halls. You are only here because your probation officer had a bit of pull with the board of directors. You are also here because you scored almost impossibly high on your entrance exams. I suggest, young lady, that you take this opportunity to rise above the lot in life that had been cast for you. If you do not behave, I will expel you. Have I made myself clear Ms. Ramirez."

Pascal’s scowl deepened, "Crystal," she said through clenched teeth and then stood up to depart. Ms. Stratman’s voice, however, stopped her at the door.

"Oh Ms. Ramirez, your class schedule, and do try to be punctual," the headmistress replied in a saccharine sweet tone. She smiled as the teenager snatched the piece of paper and stalked out of the door. As soon as she was gone Ms. Stratman let out a sigh of relief and sank into her chair. It was going to be a long year.

Mr. Howie was busy telling the class about World War II and Shirley was busy studying a piece of cloth she had found at a crime scene. Shirley Holmes, the great grand niece of Sherlock Holmes, had been greatly disturbed lately by the increase in petty crimes that seemed to have hit Redington of late. Next to the cloth she had an article that told of the Redington Cemetery losing several tomb stones to the work of vandals, some of which where irreplaceable because of age. Apparently the miscreants had used everything from sledgehammers to spray paint, making the old cemetery look like a New York City subway station, instead a hallowed place for the dead. This article was the reason she had been running late today. She had to stop by the cemetery on her way to school and since she was still riding a bike instead of driving a car it had taken her a bit longer than normal. The cloth was nondescript. A plain brown color that appeared to have been caught on the metal gate leading into the cemetery. This suggested to the detective that the garment it had been torn from was some type of coat or robe. Something that flowed behind a person when they walked. The young detective was so intent on her study of the cloth that she didn’t see the new person enter the classroom right away. Everyone stopped to look up and Mr. Howie glared at the new arrival.

"Is this History with Mr. Howie," she asked defiantly. The teacher scowled a bit but finally nodded.

"It is and who might you be?" he asked pompously.

"I’m Pascal Ramirez. I’m a new student," she said and sauntered into the room to find a desk. Upon hearing that name Shirley’s head shot up in surprise. She was shocked to find that Pascal was the girl she had busted for stealing Bo’s leather jacket a couple of years ago. The leader of that gang of Karate students. She looked the same, the detective thought in the next instant. That is when the girl also noticed Shirley. Her eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed in hatred. She remembered who Shirley was all right. In fact she was still pretty ticked at her for the way she had broken up her gang and made a mockery of what she had perceived as her power. Pascal glared at the junior detective who gave her a level look right back. If there was one thing that you could never do it was intimidate Shirley Holmes.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #3

Shirley walked out of Mr. Howie’s first period History class and headed toward her locker. There were some more articles stored in there and she needed to study them. The junior detective couldn’t help but feel that there was a pattern in the latest trend. The police were chalking it up to an increase in gang activity but Shirley wasn’t so sure that was all there was too it. It was true that in all the instances a symbol was left behind, but a Celtic cross with a sword through it was hardly your run of the mill gang insignia. Still lost in thought she had just about made it to her locker when she was viscously jarred from behind. Shirley lost her balance, which caused her to slam her shoulder into the hard metal surface in front of her. She cried out in pain and the turned to see who had hit her, only to run into a grinning Pascal.

"Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there," the other teenager taunted. Shirley turned to face her fully and gave her a bland stare. A number of other students had stopped to see what would happen sensing the tension that was between the two girls. Alicia Gianilli, Shirley’s friend and sometime roommate, was among them.

"Who hit you?" Shirley asked Pascal, which caused the other girl to start in surprise. She had excepted a smart-ass comment back not an observation about the black eye she had received a week ago. With her powers of observation the detective had noticed that a yellowish mark circled the other girl’s eye. It was the type of discoloration that indicated a bruise. It was about a week old and well covered with base.

"No one hit me," she replied angrily. "What you should be worried about is who is going to hit you." The junior detective didn’t even blink an eye at the threat.

"I admit that you have done an excellent job and concealing your black eye, but the slight discoloration around it indicates that you were hit. Knowing your prowess as a fighter I am surprised that you allowed someone to get that close." The junior detective’s tone was not mocking, just questioning. It was an inconsistency and Shirley hated inconsistencies. Pascal didn’t respond but a deep pain flashed behind her eyes only to be replaced by anger. Just as she was about to show this little upstart exactly what a black eye felt like she was interrupted.

"What is going on here?" An authoritative voice demanded. It was Ms.

Stratman, and she was pushing her way through the crowd towards the two girls.

"Ms. Holmes, Ms. Ramirez just what is the meaning of this?" she demanded of Shirley and Pascal. The junior detective took it upon herself to answer.

"Nothing Ms. Stratman. We were just having a small difference of opinion over Mr. Howie’s lesson today. We were just about to go to our next class when you arrived," she lied. Ms. Stratman gazed at the detective with a speculative gleam in her eye. She knew that she was being less then truthful but then again when had Ms. Holmes ever seen fit to be completely truthful. With a long sigh she knew that she would have to accept the story given.

"All right Ms. Holmes if you and Ms. Ramirez are done then I suggest that you proceed to your next class. That goes for the rest of you as well," the headmistress warned the rest of the gathered students. The groaned almost in unison but then started to depart. Stratman also left leaving Pascal still facing off with Shirley.

"This isn’t over," she told Shirley as she shouldered her out of the way. Shirley was jarred sideways but managed to keep her feet. Alicia, who had seen the whole thing, came up to stand next to her friend with anger flashing in her dark eyes.

"Want me to deck her for you," the feisty little Italian said, while glaring at Pascal’s departing back. Shirley just grinned at her friend.

"No that won’t be necessary. I can handle Pascal," she assured her friend. Shirley smiled at Alicia and turned to head toward her locker. Alicia followed. She hadn’t seen Shirley in awhile and she wanted to do some catching up.

"So have you heard from Bo lately," the little Italian asked nonchalantly.

Shirley gave her speculative sideways glance and then replied.

"Yes actually. I spoke to him on the phone over the weekend. He is doing really well and having a great time. He also misses everyone and told me to tell all of you hi," she said. They had just reached her locker and Shirley had to turn away from Alicia for a moment to open it.

"So that’s it?" she asked disappointed. Shirley allowed a ruefully grin to curve her lips before answering.

"If you are waiting for me to tell you that he declared his undying love to me and is going to be flying back home this instant so that we can spend the rest of our lives together then I’m afraid that you are going to be sadly disappointed." She was smirking as she said that. Her little Italian friend just glared at her.

"So I’m a hopeless romantic, so sue me. And believe me there was never a more hopeless case than you and Bo," Alicia teased. Shirley sighed and then laughed a bit.

"There never was a me and Bo. He was a good friend, and a good partner but nothing more." Alicia just got a sly look on her face.

"Me thinks the lady doth protest too much," she replied.

"Shakespeare Alicia? I’m impressed, you’ve been paying attention in English class for once," the detective teased. The little Italian just glared at her and then replied contrite.

"All right, all right but one of these days I’m going to be proved right about you two." Just then the second bell rung indicating that they were both now late for class. Alicia groaned.

"Oh great that is the third time this week," she whined. "Hey I gotta go Shirley, talk to you later," she added and then ran off in the direction of Ms. Barnaby’s Ethics class. Shirley also quickly gathered her stuff and went in the direction of Mr., Phelps math class.

"Bye Alicia," she called over her shoulder to her departing friend. Neither of them saw Heather as she came out from behind one of the lockers. She was looking a little dejected as she walked off in the direction Alicia had just gone.

Susan LeBlanc watched her best friend play with the straw for her coke for perhaps the hundredth time in the last fifteen minutes. It was lunchtime at Sussex Academy and they were sitting outside on one of the many picnic tables that were placed outside of Sussex. Heather sighed and lifted her straw again only to put it back in the cup, and Susan snapped.

"All right just what is wrong with you. You are moping around like your puppy just died," her friend asked. Heather just glared at her best friend.

"Aw come on Susan lighten up, will ya," a male voice answered from Heather’s left. The red head turned to smile at the big guy sitting next to her best friend. Carlton Rogers was another one of the people that had made it into her tight circle of friends. He was a big, muscular, intimidating, blond, blue-eyed teddy bear. If the other football players knew what a big softie he really was then they would probably kick him off the team. Still he was one of the defensive lines best blockers so it would have been hard to replace him. The other thing about Carlton that amazed her was that he was perhaps one of the richest guys at the school but he didn’t flaunt it like most of them felt the need to. She really respected him for that. He also had enough fortitude to be Susan’s boyfriend for almost a year now. That was a feat that he should be martyred for.

"I will not lighten up. Not until she tells us what is wrong?" Susan said stubbornly. Heather groaned and rolled her eyes.

"All right already. I’m sure it is the only way you will leave me in peace anyways." Susan just gave her best friend an expectant look and Heather sighed, "I overheard Shirley and Alicia talking today in the hall. It seems Bo and Shirley are still staying in touch with each other. It just kind of got to me is all," Heather said glumly. Susan shot her friend a sympathetic glance.

"They were friends for a long time Heather. It is only natural that they would stay in touch," Susan said gently. Heather sighed again.

"Yeah I know. I just wish…" she said and trailed off. Carlton was the one that responded this time.

"Hey you know that me and Bo were tight. He really liked you Heather, and who knows if you two had had a bit more time together…" he said trying to make his friend feel better.

"But we didn’t Carlton, and there is nothing that can be done about that," she replied. "Look guys I have to go to the library and get a few things done. I will catch up with you later," she said and got up and left. Susan watched her leave, respecting the fact that her friend needed to gather her thoughts. Still she wished that there was something she could do.

"I wish there was something we could do Carlton, but she won’t even talk to us about it. It’s driving her crazy and she won’t even talk to us, her best friends." Carlton just gave her a sad look.

"Well you know Heather. She has always been a private person. Don’t worry honey she will come around," he said and gave her a kiss on her cheek. Susan didn’t respond she just watched her friend leave.

"I hope so Carlton. I certainly hope so," she replied.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #4

Later on that evening the great grand niece of Sherlock Holmes was pacing back and forth in her upstairs attic laboratory. Scattered all over the floor were newspaper articles from the Redington Tribune and the Redington Gazette. The two largest papers the city had to offer. On a nearby chair her Basset Hound, Watson, watched her with bored eyes as she would stop abruptly to read an article and then would resume pacing. She was extremely vexed by this new investigation. The pattern had started to emerge about a month ago with the symbols of the cross and sword appearing at scenes of what appeared to be random acts of vandalism and violence. A mugging here a defacing of public property there. At first she had paid little attention to the articles, figuring that they were within the area of expertise of local law enforcement, but like her great grand uncle she held on to the them and filed them away. Sherlock was said to have the largest archive on crime and criminal activities in the world during his time. Shirley’s was on the verge of rivaling her uncle’s. With her brow furrowed in concentration the junior detective knelt down to read another article. All her evidence pointed to a gang or group of some sort but what kind of group.

"Watson the pattern of violence is so random and inconsistent. I admit that most gangs are not exactly filled with rocket scientist but at least most of the violence they perpetrate has an ultimate goal. The people they rob are terrorized, sometimes beaten and then their wallets or purses are found in a nearby garbage bag, with the money still inside. The vandalism is random, sometimes in one territory, sometimes in another but it does not indicate that they are trying to start a gang war, at least not with any particular gang. It just doesn’t make any sense," she said to her dog. He gave her a bored look and then laid his head on his paws. She glared at him.

"You know that you are absolutely no help anymore," she said to him and smiled. She walked over to Watson and scratched behind his ears. "Having Bo around has made you lazy. You must have grown rusty over the years." This thought saddened her a bit and she sighed. She really did miss her best friend and not just because she didn’t have anyone to bounce her ideas off of anymore. When they had first started out it was an uneasy partnership at best, kind of like Watson and Sherlock, but it had grown beyond that and now, well she kind of understood how her great grand uncle had felt when his best friend had gotten married and returned to the real world. When it came down to it, however, she was a Holmes, and the mystery was all. She just hoped that she wasn’t too obsessed to have friends, as Alicia had once so bitingly told her. Throwing off this depressing line of thought she stood up and resumed her pacing. This was hardly the time to be feeling sorry for herself. She had a case to solve and the only clues she had so far were a piece of brown cloth and a symbol. She realized that she needed more to go on. The trouble was she didn’t know were to look. With a sigh she sank into her computer chair and log on the net. It was going to be a long night and she had a lot of research to do.

It was midnight and the moon was high in its zenith as it illuminated the small clearing in Redington Park. Again the wooden throne was set up and upon it sat the Game Master. The members gathered around him eagerly awaiting his pronouncement and judgements of the evening’s rituals. The knights had but one purpose in life and that was to serve Chaos. Each member had been taught that true power came from anarchy, panic, fear. They had the ability to instill fear and from the fear would come order. Most of them had bragged to each other before the Game Master had appeared. Almost all the members of the knights were feeling full of themselves and the work that had been done for the past month or so that is why their leader surprised them.

"I have heard that there are those among you who feel that what we have accomplished has brought the knights honor," he said through his mask. The mask had a built in computer voice modulator that distorted his voice. At his words the knights fell silent and awaited their master’s command. It was obvious that he was less than pleased with them.

"What have we done to displease you Game Master," a gray robed figure asked.

He was a Bishop, one of the higher ranks to be achieved among the Knights.

The Game Master turned his level gaze on the speaker and narrowed his eyes.

"I will tell you what you have done. You have allowed an outsider into our ranks." The collection of members gasped and people started to murmur excitedly. That is until the Master motioned for silence. Just then two navy blue robed members suddenly grabbed the arms of brown robed member that had been standing between them. The two in navy blue robes had earned the ranks of knight while the one in brown was still a lowly pawn. He struggled against his captors but it was to no avail. They dragged him through the crowd, which, parted silently and threw him at the Game Masters feet. In one fluid motion the robed figure on the fallen man’s right ripped the prisoner’s hood off. The man in the brown robe was sixteen if he was a day, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He glared at the enthroned figure before him in defiance.

"This my fellow knights is Ronald Cumberly, a well known narc for the Redington police department. He has infiltrated the knights under false pretenses. He is a traitor and it is pat time that you learn what is to become of traitors." With that he waved his hand once more and the blue robed knight on the boy’s left hit the prisoner across the face. A collective gasp arose from the crowd as the watched the two knights start to beat the boy mercilessly. Blood had started to flow as cuts and bruises formed on the prisoner’s face. Fifteen minutes into the beating the prisoner was begging them to stop, thirty minutes in he was barely conscious, and forty-five minutes in to the beating he would never wake up again. As the two blood covered knights removed the brown robe from the body and gave it one last kick a horrified silence had fallen. With ritualistic precision the two knights bowed to the Game Master and presented him with the bloodied robe. He accepted it with a nod of his head.

"That is what happens to those who would oppose us…or to those who would betray us. Learn this lesson well. Tomorrow the Knights of Kaldas will have a great victory over its enemies. Tomorrow it is time to show the world just how powerful we have become."

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #5

Shirley felt like the dancers from Riverdance had preformed the whole show on top of her head. She had been up most of the night looking for something that resembled the symbol that had been seen at all of the crimes. Unfortunately she could have saved herself the trouble. The whole search had been a waste of her valuable time. With a groan and a yawn the junior detective stumbled towards her locker at Sussex Academy with the intention of getting her book for Mr. Howie’s class. She had just started her combination when someone shouldered her from behind. Her head hit the cool metal with a thud. She turned toward her assailant her right hand immediately flying to the bump that was now rising under her flesh, only to come face to face with Pascal.

"Opps, so sorry rich girl. I didn’t see you there," she said and walked away. Shirley glared at her and rubbed her head. "This is going to get really old, really quick," she thought as she glared at the former thief. That is when Heather, who had seen the whole thing, came up to stand next to her.

"She doesn’t seem to like you very much does she," the red head said smirking a bit. Shirley smirked back at her.

"Well I never was very popular with some people," the detective said offhandedly, "If this keeps up though I’m going to have to think about padding the outside of my locker." As she said this, the detective was eyeing Molly Hardy who was also smiling in amusement at her as she walked past both girls. Heather also saw this exchange and raised an eyebrow in speculation.

"Another admirer of yours?" she asked. Shirley turned toward her locker and opened it before answering.

"Let’s just say that Molly and I have our differences. Just like her and Susan do," Shirley added and Heather started in surprise. It wasn’t common knowledge that Susan and Molly detested the very ground the other walked on.

"How did you know about that?" Heather questioned puzzled. Shirley just gave her one of her enigmatic smiles. She closed the door to her locker and started to walk away.

"Let’s just say that I know Molly a little better than most," she answered over her shoulder. Heather watched her leave completely taken aback. Susan was defiantly right in her assessment. Shirley was very weird.

It was lunchtime at Sussex Academy and a number of students had congregated outside at the picnic tables. Heather and Susan were sitting at one of the further ones talking about a test that they had both just failed in Ms. Barnaby’s class. It had been a surprise quiz and no one in the class had been prepared to take it.

"Ethics, like we really need this for our future," Susan grumbled as she poked at her sandwich. Heather winced as her best friend started ranting again. She knew that her friend could go on and on like this for hours and she really just wasn’t in the mood. For once Susan seemed to sense this as she gazed at her best friend speculatively.

"I saw you talking to Shirley today. I have to say that I was surprised," Susan said offhandedly. Heather just gave her friend a level look. She wasn’t fooled one bit.

"I saw the new girl, Pascal, shoulder her into her locker. I was just curious as to why." She said and pretended intense interest in her own sandwich. Susan just shot her a "Yeah Right," look, which caused her to groan.

"And maybe I wanted to talk to her about Bo," she added.

"Well did you?" her best friend questioned eagerly. Heather sighed and shook her head no.

"We never got around to it. It was strange though she seems to know things, like the fact that you hate Molly," she replied thoughtfully. Susan started at that.

"Really? I wonder how? Only you and Carlton are the ones that know that. If anyone else knew how much I hated her then the little witch would probably use it as a way to get me thrown out of student council," Susan said bitterly. In that respect Susan and Shirley were exactly alike. They both knew better than to give Molly a way to dispose of them.

Heather wrinkled her nose. "Molly really is a snake," she agreed. Susan however wasn’t paying attention. Her eyes had focused on a point behind Heather and her face had taken on a loathing look.

"Speaking of snakes," she said just as someone sat down next to Heather and draped on arm over her shoulders. She turned her head and recoiled from the touch.

"Heather," a silkily voice said. "You get more beautiful by the day." The red head groaned.

"Hello Marshall," she said and then scooted away from him, forcing him to drop his arm. Unfortunately when he did he made it a point to run his hand through her long hair and brushed the small of her back. Heather recoiled visibly and scooted further away. Marshall Black, with his dark brown hair, his chocolate eyes, and his sleek GQ style, was perhaps one of the most handsome guys at Sussex Academy, but he was also a conceited jerk. For some reason he had had his sights set on Heather from the first moment that she had walked through the front doors of Sussex. It was too bad that Heather had better taste than that. She really couldn’t explain it but cute or not he had always given her the creeps. Speaking of the creeps she repressed another shiver as he scooted closer to her.

"Marshall don’t you have a baby to rob or a puppy to kick," Susan said bitingly. It was no secret that her and Marshall hated each other. In fact the petite blond probably hated him more than she hated Molly.

"Don’t you have a boyfriend to whip or some balls to break," he retorted nastily. Heather looked from her friend to the guy sitting next to her. From the way Susan was looking she had a feeling she was just about to witness a homicide. That is until Heather saw Rebecca Loenstien stalking towards her and Susan’s table. The other thing that made Marshall the biggest jerk at Sussex was the fact that he had a girlfriend, a fact that he seemed to conveniently forget when it suited him. She, of course, never blamed him, but the blamed the object of his affection, which meant that Heather was in trouble. She groaned as the other red headed girl stalked closer. Marshall seemed to have a thing for red heads.

"Well, Heather just what do you think you are doing with my man," she said and thrust her face into the other girls. She just backed off and got up from the table to stand by Susan.

"I wasn’t doing anything Rebecca," she replied keeping her voice even despite the fact that she wanted to tell them both to go to Hell. The other girl just glared at her.

"Yeah right. Let me tell you right now that you better keep your low class hands off of my snookums." Susan and Marshall both rolled their eyes and then Susan gave the other girl a level glare.

"Look don’t you both have a date on Jerry Springer. Come on Heather," she said and started pulling her friend away. She followed her best friend gratefully.

From across the yard Shirley had been observing what had transpired between Susan, Heather, Marshall, and Rebecca. She was remembering the time when Heather and Bo had been dating and the little surprises Bo kept finding in his locker and his mailbox. The dead kitten had been the worst. Shirley had had a strong suspicion that Marshall had been behind the little sadistic gifts but she never had any proof. He had always been too careful. She watched them with a speculative gleam in her eye, not paying attention to what was going on around her until she was suddenly pushed off the bench and to the ground. Alicia, who had been sitting with her along with Bart, was up in an instant.

"Hey you can’t do that!" she heard Bart screech. A familiar voice responded.

"I can do anything I want poindexter," Pascal said and then stared down at Shirley. "Let’s see how smart you are now Holmes." She drew back her fist getting ready to pound the other girl, that is when Shirley heard the first pop and a bit of dirt was kicked up near her hand. In the next instant she realized what it was and did a sweep kick to knock Pascal to the ground. The girl was so stunned that rage suddenly overtook her and she was about to attack Shirley.

"No stay down!" Shirley yelled and that is when the next pop sounded. Pascal felt something graze her arm as she cried out in pain. Unlike Shirley she knew exactly what it was the moment it hit her. She exchanged a look with the detective who nodded. In the meantime Alicia was walking towards Pascal intending to do some damage.

"Alicia someone is shooting at us!" Shirley yelled. "Get down!" The little Italian, however, had no time. The next shot hit her in the chest, and blood started to well as she fell forward.

"No!" Shirley yelled and scrambled toward her friend. After seeing Alicia fall Bart also realized what had happened.

"Everybody get down. Someone is shooting at us!" he yelled. That is when the gunfire turned rapid and started mowing down students. Everyone started screaming and running for cover.

Heather ducked as another volley of gunfire kicked up dust by the picnic table she had ducked behind. Susan had pushed her there when the first shots had started to ring out. By getting her out of the way, however her friend had taken the bullet that had been meant for her. Tears welled in her eyes and started to fall as she held her best friend in her arms. She had managed to pull Susan under the table with her and she had her hands on the other girl’s chest trying to stop the flow of blood. There was so much blood. After a few minutes her uniform skirt was soaked through. Heather swiped at the tears cascading down her cheeks angrily leaving a red mark across her cheek. Susan’s eyes had drifted shut.

"Oh no you don’t Susan Renée LeBlanc, you stay with me," the red head said forcefully. Her friend’s eyes opened briefly.

"Heather," she said weakly. Heather applied more pressure to the wound trying to stanch the flow. "Yes that’s it Susan. I’m here. Stay with me, whatever you do." That is when Susan started to convulse. Heather tried to hold on to her but it was to no avail. After a few moments her best friend wasn’t moving anymore.

"Susan?" she questioned softly and then more forcefully. "Susan?" There was no response from the petite blond, that us when the realization hit her like a ton of bricks. Her best friend was dead.

"No, no, please dear God no," she said gathering her friend in her arms and

sobbing uncontrollably. "Dammit Susan!" she cursed angrily, half expecting

her friend to retaliate with a curse of her own. She didn’t. Heather started crying harder and rocking back and forth with her friend’s body in

her arms. "It’s not fair," she kept thinking while holding on to one of a handful of people that meant the world to her. Susan was dead and Heather knew that her world would never be the same again.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #6

Shirley had dragged Alicia under the picnic table and ripped a piece of her uniform to help stop the blood that was welling. The wound was just above her heart but she wasn’t coughing up blood, which meant the bullet at missed her lung. The junior detective was thanking God for small favors. Alicia was still alive but she needed a hospital or she wouldn’t be for long. She needed to get to her cell phone. The problem was that it was in her locker back inside the school and from the direction and the area covered by the bullets she was almost sure that there where three shooters covering the open picnic area. What she needed was a distraction. She turned to Pascal who had also sought cover under the table with her and Alicia.

"Pascal we have to get an ambulance here, not to mention the police. My cell phone is in my locker, if I can just get to it then we can stop this madness, but I need a distraction," she said. Pascal just stared at her like she had grown three heads.

"What are you nuts? This is a firefight and you want to go play hero?" she said incredulously. Shirley just glared at her.

"Someone has to get the word to the outside. Besides if we don’t then Alicia and a lot of other people could die. I’m not about to let that happen," she said with steely determination. Pascal could only stare at her dumbly.

"Shirley, if you go out there then the only one who is going to be dying is you," she replied gravely. The detective just gave her a stubborn look and the other girl sighed. "What can I do?" Pascal asked in resignation. The junior detective started in surprise.

"You mean your going to help me? I thought you hated me?" she asked puzzled.

The other girl glared at her.

"Yeah well I think the present situation overrides my personal feelings. If it makes you feel any better I will still hate you when this is all over." Shirley just grinned at her.

"Good. I wouldn’t want you to become soft or anything. Now what can we use as a distraction?" the detective said almost to herself. Her features had taken on a thoughtful look but it was Pascal who came up with an idea. With a naughty grin she dug into the backpack that was still with her and pulled out four packs of firecrackers, she also had a half full metal coke can with her. Shirley just grinned at her.

"Now that is not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all," she said to Pascal, who grinned back. Shirley’s face then turned serious and Pascal poured the remaining coke out on to the ground. With a little maneuvering she was able to shove two packs of firecrackers inside the can. She then dug around her bag again and pulled out a lighter.

"It’s a good thing I didn’t quite smoking this week," she quipped, which earned her another of Shirley’s infamous glares. She chose to ignore the comment and turned to address Bart.

"Bart I need you to take over from me with Alicia," she said. The detective had been putting pressure on the wound and Alicia’s blood loss had slowed to a trickle. Bart nodded and scouted closer to the detective.

"What do you need me to do Shirley," he asked quietly. Shirley was amazed at how calm he was. She shouldn’t have been. One thing about Bart was that he could be counted on in a pinch.

"All right when I say go I want you to put your hands on Alicia’s chest exactly the way I have them now and apply constant pressure. Are you ready?" she asked and he nodded.

"Ok then. One, Two, Three!" Shirley yelled and her and Bart switched places smoothly. Both breathed a sigh of relief when the saw that the blood flow was still under control.

"All right now for the really hard part," she said turning to Pascal. "Are we ready to go?" The other girl nodded and poised the lighted at the wick that was sticking out of the mouth of the can. "Ok then, when I say go, light it and throw it into those trees over there. Can you throw it that far?" she asked questioningly. Pascal just gave her a level look.

"Can Jet Li do a three hundred RPM roundhouse kick?" she quipped. Shirley smiled.

"I’ll take that as a yes. Ok, then, ready Go!" she said and Pascal lit the fuse and threw it. Shirley got ready to sprint out from under the table. She had already gotten rid of her tie and loosened her shirt so it wouldn’t get in the way. When the first pop sounded she was off. Just as she predicated, or hoped would actually be more accurate, the gunfire started to focus on the area where the firecrackers were going off. With good reason, it sounded like someone was returning fire on the snipers. Their split second mistake was all the time she needed to reach the front steps of Sussex. She took them two at a time and just as she reached the doors she felt a bullet whiz by her head. She ducked, opened the front door and dived inside Sussex Academy. She had made it. Quickly the detective gained her feet and went to her locker. She opened it with her combination and got out her cell phone and dialed.

"Hello 911 emergency," the operated answered on the other line.

"I need an ambulance and the police at Sussex Academy. A number of people have opened fire on the students in the quad. Please hurry," she said and without waiting for a reply she hung up. She knew that it would be the quickest way to get the police here. She then hurried toward Ms. Stratman’s office. She needed to inform the head mistress.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #7

Heather walked by the ambulance with a look or stunned horror upon her face. She was watching the load the body of her best friend into the ambulance for her trip to the morgue. At first, when the paramedics had arrived, they had come to her first until she forcefully told them she was all right. She didn’t look all right covered in Susan’s blood but she hadn’t even been grazed by the sniper, her best friend had seen to that. Susan wasn’t the only casualty among the students of Sussex. Out of the corner of her eye Heather saw a young man that she knew as Tim begging the paramedics not to take his girlfriend, Barbi Cali, away from him. She had been one of the first to be shot when the chaos had erupted. With a course blanket wrapped around her shoulders she surveyed the scene like a survivor. That is what she was, a survivor, an angry, lonely, numb, guilt ridden survivor. She would rather be dead, but for some reason she was chosen to live. Chosen by a higher power over one of the most amazing people she had ever known. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair. Softly someone called her name, but she didn’t hear them until they called a second time. She had been too lost in her grief. She turned slowly, coming face to face with Shirley Holmes.

"Heather?" the junior detective said softly. Pascal was standing behind Shirley looking very uncomfortable.

Heather looked at Shirley like she wasn’t really seeing the detective, when it did register that the other girl was standing if front of her she said the first thing that came to her mind. "You saved our lives." Heather had seen what the detective had risked to call the police. The minute the sirens could be heard the snipers stopped shooting.

"No the police saved our lives," Shirley protested and then added gently, "Heather I need to ask you some questions." The other girl just stared at her dumbly, like the concept was beyond her right now.

"Questions? About what?" she finally asked.

"I noticed that two of the snipers were pinpointing on your location. I need to know if there was a reason they focused on you." The detective said. It took Heather a moment to digest this but when she did her face became contorted with rage.

"They were shooting at us specifically weren’t they?" she said but it wasn’t really a question, it was more of a revelation. Pascal in the meantime was growing irritably and blurted out.

"Look, Anne of Green Gables, we don’t have time for this. Why were they shooting at you." Shirley shot her a warning glare and Heather turned on the other girl in rage.

"My best friend was just gunned down in cold blood, you give me a reason for it because I sure can’t think of one," she said through gritted teeth and then stormed away. She was shaking so badly with her anger that it looked like she was having a seizure. Shirley watched her go with sympathy and then turned on Pascal herself. She grabbed the other girl’s arm and pulled her away from the gathering crowd.

"What were you thinking? Don’t you have an ounce of human compassion in you anywhere?" she growled. Pascal just jerked free of her and glared.

"Human compassion? Where do you get off rich girl? You were the one that started to grill her right after they loaded her friend’s body into the back of an ambulance. Besides I think I know what she is going through better then you could even imagine. The anger will keep her from going home and slitting her wrists tonight." Pascal said. Shirley gave the other girl a level look.

"How?" she asked. Pascal suddenly became uncomfortable and Shirley repeated herself.

"How? How do you know Pascal?" The other teenager refused to answer until Shirley’s hand shot out and turned over the other girl’s right wrist. There was a long thin scar there that proved her suspicions. Pascal jerked her hand back in anger.

"Don’t ever do that again," she warned and Shirley didn’t even blink.

"Last year in the Lower South Side of Redington two teenagers were found dead

from gunshot wounds a third was seen fleeing the scene. They had been

victims of a drive by shooting intended to cement Victor Hernandez as the

head of the Lost Angels. The two girls who were killed where named Michele

Woo and Danielle…" Shirley started to say but was interpreted by Pascal

"Ramirez, Danielle Ramirez you uppity know it all," she growled. Shirley suddenly became quiet.

"I’m sorry about your sister and your friend," she said finally. Pascal didn’t say anything so Shirley added, "What did your father end up doing about the perpetrator?" The other girl grew angry again.

"Nothing, he just gave me this for failing to protect my little sister," she said and showed Shirley the cigar burn marks up and down her left arm. She turned horror filled eyes on the other girl. She now knew where Pascal’s black eye had come from. Pascal just sneered at her.

"Go back to your cotton candy world rich girl. There is no room for you in mine." She then turned and walked away leaving Shirley they way she had been for most of her life, alone.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #8

It was much later on that evening when Shirley was gently awaken by a hand on her shoulder, she wiped her hand over her bleary eyes to see her mother standing above her. She smiled at Dr. Joanna Holmes, the woman that had been missing from her life for almost five years and was now back. It was strange in some ways to have her back and wonderful in others.

"Shirley you need to get some sleep," she said to her daughter and sat down on a barstool at Shirley’s lab table. Her daughter had fallen asleep by her vast collection of chemical equipment.

:"I was sleeping mum," she quipped and then smiled. Joanna smiled as well but there was a tightness to it that was leaving the junior detective a bit uneasy.

"What is it mum? What’s wrong?" she asked. Ms. Holmes just sighed. She sometimes wished that her daughter didn’t notice so much, but of course then that would take away too much of the person Shirley was and would become.

"Your father and I just got a phone call from Ambassador Gianilli. He wanted us to thank you for what you did for his daughter and for risking your life to bring help to the school. I think you left a few details out of your narrative for us," she said. By us she was referring to herself and Shirley’s father, Robert Holmes. Shirley sighed. She should have figured on her mother and her father finding out all the details of today’s shooting. They had been frantic with worry when they had arrived at the school. Both of them had almost collapsed in relief to see her alive.

"I just didn’t want you to worry about me," she replied apologetically. It was Joanna’s turn to sigh.

"Shirley, we are your parents. It’s in our job description to worry about you," she said and then added, "What you did was an unnecessary risk…" she started to say but was cut off.

"But Mum…" she tried to say but Joanna put up a warning hand.

"I’m not finished yet. Shirley, what you did was an unnecessary risk, and your father and I are very proud of you," she added and her daughter stared at her stunned.

"Really?" she questioned and her mother gave her an amused smirk.

"Just try to not make a habit of those heroic gestures. I feel like I have aged ten years since this afternoon," she added and Shirley smiled.

"I promise to try," she said, "and mum, how is Alicia doing?" When she had went see her friend at the hospital they wouldn’t let her in. Since she was in intensive care and under guard because of her father’s rank at the embassy only those on a pre-approved list could visit her.

"The ambassador said that she was doing as well as to be expected. All the doctors agree though that she is alive because of how quickly she received medical attention," her mother said, smiled, and then got up, and turned to leave. Shirley was lost in her recollections of what had happened, and her mother knew that she had a lot to think about. She reached out and gave her daughter’s hand a comforting squeeze before leaving. When reached the doorway, however, she turned back to Shirley.

"Oh and Shirley? Try and remember that little conversation we had about keeping secrets from each other." She then turned and walked back down the steps. Shirley smiled for perhaps the first time since the shooting. It was a shame that she was all ready going to break her promise to her mother. With a practiced hand she went to her desk and turned off the alarm clock that was about to go off in five minutes. She then grabbed the already packed, backpack off the floor and headed for the window. She opened the window on the far side and proceeded to use the trellis to shimmy her way down to the ground. Once there she gave one last look at her house, silently apologizing to her parents, and then took off in the direction of Sussex Academy.

Shirley silently crept down the darkened halls of Sussex Academy. She had put on a pair of latex gloves before breaking in and she still wore them as she made her way to one of the oldest parts of the school. The east wing of the school was seldom used anymore and it was also the location of one of the snipers. He had been in a long abandoned classroom shooting down into the quad. The police had long since gone over the area with a fine tooth comb but Shirley wanted to see if there was something that they might have missed. Before coming she had hacked into the police department’s files and found the crime scene report for the ongoing investigation. Apparently the place was clean, no prints, no hair, no fibers, and most bizarre of all, no spent shell casings. Who ever had been doing the shooting had a rigged it so the spent casings were collected in some sort of pouch during the firefight. The other thing that had Shirley snooping around in the middle of the night was the fact that the police had found the Celtic cross symbol with the sword through it. It was starting to look like the same people that had been responsible for the petty theft and vandalism in the past month had been responsible for this. The junior detective was cursing herself for not seeing it coming. Shaking off that thought she entered the old abandoned classroom slowly, only to duck a punch that had been aimed for her head. She retaliated with a kick to her attackers midriff that sent whoever it was to their knees and shone the light on his or her face, only to find Pascal staring back at her.

"You’ve improved since last time I fought you," she said trying to draw breath. Shirley sighed and helped the other girl to her feet.

"Pascal what are you doing here?" she sighed. She should have known that she hadn’t seen the last of her. Pascal sneered and was about to come back with a smart-ass remark when someone else turned on the light and entered the conversation.

"I could ask both of you that question," someone replied from the doorway. They both turned to see Heather glaring at them. Shirley also noticed Heather’s hands, she groaned because the other girl wasn’t wearing gloves. A quick glance at Pascal confirmed that she was wearing gloves, of course, Pascal was a semi-reformed thief so it would obviously occur to her to wear gloves.

"I’m here to look into the shooting as it is obvious that you and Pascal are," Shirley replied and then started going through her backpack. Shirley wasn’t really surprised to see either of them here, Heather because Susan had been her best friend and she would feel the need to find out something and Pascal because the former gang member did not like being shot at. There was also the little tid-bit of information she had dug up on Ms. Wallace while she had been dating Bo that also lent to the detective’s lack of surprise. With a long-suffering sigh the detective withdrew a pair of latex gloves and tossed them to Heather, who caught them.

"Put those on." She added and returned to her bag. Heather grudgingly did as she was told and then came to stand by the detective.

"You know I have heard the rumors about you. I had even asked Bo once if they were true. He wouldn’t tell me of course," she said looking directly and Shirley. Pascal just looked from one girl to the other in confusion.

"What rumors Pippy Longstockings," she said to Heather earning her death glare in return.

"My name is Heather, I would appreciate if you would use it," she said stiffly. Pascal just shrugged her shoulders in a yeah whatever gesture and then turned to Shirley.

"So rich girl what are these rumors she is talking about." The detective didn’t answer she just continued to pull things out of her bag.

"It appears that Shirley has been following in her ancestor’s footsteps for awhile now," she replied cryptically. Pascal just glared at the red head.

"Ok red, enough with the cryptic, why don’t you just spill," Pascal said angrily. Heather forcefully kept herself from glaring at the thief for the use of yet another asinine nickname.

"She is a detective like her ancestor Sherlock Holmes. I just want to know one thing Shirley. Would you have stopped the shooting had you have know it was going to happen." Shirley finally looked up at the other teenager and said very sincerely.

"If I would have had any proof that this was going to take place then yes I would have turned the case of to the police and stopped it before it started." Heather gave the detective a critical once over before assuring herself that she was satisfied with Shirley’s answer. She had not really been surprised to see Shirley here, not really. Pascal was another matter; she wasn’t really sure why she was here especially since Pascal seemed to hate the detective. The pretty red head sighed. She knew that she had a decision to make on whether or not to trust her instincts about Shirley. With a long drawn out sigh she came to her conclusion.

"What can I do to help," she asked.

"Are you really sure Heather," Shirley asked her. The detective knew what Heather had lost in just the last twenty-four hours and she didn’t want her to feel pressured into helping. The other girl nodded and the detective sighed. "All right then. I need you to help Pascal look around the room for shell casings while I dust for prints. Also if you would take a picture of that symbol on the wall over there," she added and handed Heather a Polaroid camera.

"Wait a minute," Pascal said and scowled, "I don’t remember anyone putting you in charge rich girl." Shirley finally stood up and faced her.

"Have you ever been on a case before? Solved a crime? Gathered evidence?" she asked the teenager. Pascal shook her head no.

"Then I’m in charge because I have done any and all of the above, it’s what I do, it’s my life," she said and turned back gathered her equipment. It was Heather who spoke next.

"Sounds lonely," she said. Shirley glanced at her but said nothing. She finally had everything she needed and started dusting for prints. Heather just turned towards Pascal who shrugged and started looking for shell casings. Heather joined her but not before glancing at Shirley one last time. There was an intensity coming from the detective that was unlike any she had ever felt. She was starting to understand why this strange girl had been her former boyfriend’s best friend for so many years. Shaking off this thought Heather scanned the far side of the room while Pascal worked near Shirley. The red head found nothing and gave a frustrated sigh that is until she saw the symbol Shirley had wanted her to take a picture of. With a puzzled frown she approached the mark of a Celtic cross with a sword through it. She then took four pictures, each one from a different angle.

"Shirley is this the symbol you were talking about?" she questioned the detective. Shirley looked over her shoulder to see what the other girl was talking about.

"Yes that’s is it. I have been investigating the rash of vandalism and petty thefts that have been taking place over the last month or so. That symbol has been left behind at all the crime scenes. It was left in the places were the other two snipers were as well. It looks like, whoever, is behind this has decided to up the odds." She said gravely.

"You’re telling us that this gang or whatever, is gonna start killing people now?" Pascal asked.

"I don’t know." Shirley admitted in disgust. "I have been on this case for a month and never have I had such a problem finding evidence. These people are ghosts. The key is in the symbol but I have never seen anything like it before, and neither has anyone else for that matter."

"I have seen something like it," Heather said quietly. Shirley’s and Pascal whipped around in surprise.

"Where? Do you know what it means?" Shirley asked excitedly.

"I’ve seen it in a History book, but I don’t recall what it means. I can find out though," she added quickly upon seeing the detective’s face fall. Shirley sighed.

"All right then. We have covered every inch of this place and found nothing. Let’s meet at my house tomorrow morning around nine, that will give Heather some time to find out it she can find that symbol," Shirley said. She also wanted to have another look around one of the older crime scenes alone.

"Are you sure that your neighbors won’t take one look at me and call the cops rich girl," Pascal taunted. Shirley just smirked at her.

"I’m sure if they do you will be able to get away before they arrive," she added and went to her pack to start. Pascal glared at the detective’s back while Heather put a hand over her mouth to cover up her own grin.

"All right rich girl, I’ll play it your way for now. Tomorrow at nine," she said and then disappeared out the door and down the hall. Heather also turned to leave but then noticed that Shirley wasn’t coming. She turned to the detective.

"You’re not really going home, are you." It was a statement. Shirley smiled one of her enigmatic smiles.

"No, I have a couple of more things to check out before I do that," she replied and hoisted her backpack onto her back.

"Do you want some company?" Heather asked. She was feeling a bit uneasy, letting the detective go off on her own.

"That’s ok. I have gotten use to going solo again. I would hate to backslide," she said with a grin. Heather just gave her a puzzled look and then realization hit her.

"Bo use to do this with you, didn’t he," she almost accused. Shirley sighed.

"Yes he did," Shirley replied and then walked past her into the darkened hallways. "I’ll see you tomorrow Heather," she added over her shoulder and then disappeared into the shadows.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #9

Detective Tremian sank down into his desk chair with a disgusted sigh. Another day another dirt bag, he thought as he sipped his coffee. The problem was that this particular dirt bag had gone and gotten himself iced. He had yet to look at the file on the body they had found this morning thanks to all the press outside hounding every officer that entered the building about the Sussex Academy school shooting that happened yesterday. He was getting real tired of having to say no comment every time he walked into the station. With a long weary sigh he opened the folder in front of him and took a sip of his coffee only to spew it back out again.

"Ah Hell," he cursed, "Jackson!" The moment Tremain bellowed a young uniformed cop came running.

"Yes Detective?" he asked. The detective gave him a level stare.

"Jackson who handled the initial crime scene on the John Doe this morning?" he asked.

"Um Detective Willis did sir," the officer replied puzzled.

"Son of a…" he started to say and then got up taking the file with him to the chiefs office. Jackson just watched him go completely confused. Tremian didn’t even bother to knock he just walked in on the chief and Detective Calvin Willis. The older Detective glared at the younger man and then turned to the chief.

"What’s going on chief. I open up this file and expect to see some punk who got on the wrong side of his gang leaders instead I get one of ours." The chief sighed and motioned for the Detective to sit down. Tremain grudgingly did so.

"Detective Tremain I’m sure you know Detective Willis," he said introducing the two men.

"Yeah we have met," he said refusing the young man’s hand. Detective Willis had just started on the force yesterday and Tremain had hated him on sight. "What’s going on chief?" he asked.

"Look Tremain I’m sorry I didn’t warn you but it was necessary. Why don’t you fill him in Agent Willis." Tremain started at that.

"Agent?" he questioned and the young man grinned.

"Yes Detective, Agent Willis of the Untied States Federal Bureau of Investigation," he said.

"What’s an American Fed doing in my jurisdiction," Tremain asked his chief of police, "under false pretense I might add. This has been my case from the beginning and Ron was one of my guys. Why wasn’t I called when his body was found? I don’t like this chief." The Detective hated it when people from his own precinct interfered with his cases and now this snot nose Fed was here.

"I was called in because of my experience with the Columbine High School incident," Willis answered.

"Chief," Tremain started to protest but was cut off.

"Look Tremian I don’t like it either but the higher ups wanted someone with more experience, that is why they choose Agent Willis here instead of one of our own Federal guys. Besides we have a leak," the chief added quietly. Tremain started at that.

"That’s why your officer is in a body bag at the morgue," Willis also added and Tremian glared at him.

"So what’s the deal then chief?" Tremian asked.

"Willis here thinks he has a lead on who these people are and he also thinks he knows where to find them. The evidence he presented me is compelling enough to send in a team tonight, to finally break up this mess. You and Willis will be going in with a small backup team," he said. "Now you are both dismissed," he added and went back to his paper work. Both the detective and the agent got up to leave but the chief’s voice stopped them at the door.

"Oh and one more thing gentleman. Play nice." They both nodded, Tremain looking as if he wanted to beat Willis to a bloody pulp, and left the office; neither of them saw the shadow of the man that was lurking nearby. When Tremain and Willis were well out of sight the other figure emerge into the light revealing the youthful features of Officer Jackson. The young officer then made his way to the pay phones out back and dropped in some change.

"This is Jackson. They are coming in tonight," he said to the person on the other line.

"No I won’t it is getting too dangerous," he added and then paused while they replied.

"All right but I want more money. Instead of the usually five make it a grand," apparently the reply was in the affirmative because Jackson smiled.

"It was a pleasure doing business with you," he said and hung up the phone. It was going to be a good day he thought as he crossed the street to a local coffee shop whistling.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #10

Heather stood in front of the front door to the Holmes’ residence feeling very out of place. A quick survey of the place confirmed why Pascal called Shirley "rich girl." Her parent’s entire house could probably fit in the Holmes’ living room. Well, that was probably a bit of an exaggeration, especially since she had yet to see the living room. With a bit of trepidation she rang the bell, only to have the door answered by a distinguished looking gentleman in his early forties.

"Hi I’m Heather Wallace. I’m a friend of Shirley’s; she had told me to come over. I’m sorry for the early hour," she rambled. She was nervous and she tended to ramble when she was nervous. The man, however, just smiled and motioned her in.

"Heather is it?" he inquired in a clipped British accent. "Well Heather it is nice to meet you. I’m Robert Holmes, Shirley’s father," he added. She smiled at him.

"It’s nice to meet you Mr. Holmes," she said.

"Let me see if Shirley is around," he said and called "Shirley."

"Coming Dad!" was the detective’s reply from somewhere in the house. A moment later Shirley came bounding into the kitchen. She was dressed in overalls and a long sleeve shirt, with her hair falling loose around her shoulders and parted down the middle. She smiled when she saw Heather.

"Hey Shirley. I brought over the results…" Heather started to say but Shirley quickly cut her off.

"To that chemistry problem I was struggling with. That’s great!" she said a bit too brightly and cast her a warning glare. "Let’s go up to my room and test it out." A bit confused Heather said goodbye to Mr. Holmes and then followed Shirley. She thought at first that they were going to take the stairs to the second floor so she became even more confused when Shirley walked right past them and went to stand in front of a bookcase, her confusion turned to surprise when the bookcase opened.

"You have a secret room. That should surprise me but for some reason I don’t think it does," Heather said and smirked. The junior detective smirked back at her and then started up the stairs to her attic lab. Heather followed half-afraid of what she might find. What she did find surprised her. The room was full of unusually objects but the thing that intrigued her most was the lab set up and the computer set up complete with fax machine. There was also a portrait of a man who bared a great resemblance to Robert Holmes but was dressed in the fashion of a late nineteenth century gentleman. Heather assumed that this was Sherlock Holmes. She started to wander around and take in her surroundings. She had to admit that she was impressed. Shirley had a set up here that would make the FBI jealous.

"This is an interesting room," Heather said sitting down gingerly on a nearby chair.

"It has it’s uses" Shirley replied and went over to her lab table to sit on a stool. "So what did you find out?" Heather had her purse with her so she opened it and removed a folded piece of paper, handing it to Shirley.

"Well, I told you that I recognized that symbol so I scanned it into my computer and ran it through my database at home. History is kind of a passion of mine. Well that is the results that it gave me." She said and went to stand over Shirley’s shoulder. The detective started to read.

"The order of the knights of Kaldas, started in the year 1451 under a nobleman by the name of Lord Thomas Black. The Knights were a secret society dedicated to the use of Chaos to restore order. England had fallen on hard times and Black and his nobles felt that the current ruler, King Henry the 4th was unfit to rule. In the year 1455 the knights sided with the Lancaster’s in what has become known as the War of the Roses. For almost thirty years the knights undermined the efforts of the House of York until their capture in 1627. Most of their numbers were beheaded or hung under the orders of King Richard the 3rd. Black himself was imprisoned in the tower of London were he, apparently hung himself. His last words scratched into his cell walls were, "from Chaos will come power, the knights shall rise again." When she finished reading a thoughtful expression came over her features.

"It kind of puts a new spin on things doesn’t it?" Heather questioned softly.

Shirley turned her attention towards the other girl and replied.

"I don’t know Heather it is a convenient theory, almost too convenient. Let’s suppose that the reason that this symbol is being found all over town is because someone has revived the Knights of Kaldas, let’s even suppose they are responsible. If the knights are responsible what do they have to gain by opening fire on a private school? The answer is nothing unless someone knows that they are responsible, which no one does. And why the other offenses. What do they hope to gain?" Shirley questioned. Heather threw up her hands in frustration.

"I don’t know ok. You told me to find you the meaning of that symbol so I found the meaning of that stupid symbol. All I know is that these bastards killed my best friend and I want them found," she said hotly.

"I know, and I’m sorry," Shirley said softly. Heather managed a contrite look.

"I’m sorry too. I don’t usually lose it like that it’s just…"

"Yeah I know," Shirley added sympathetically and Heather gave her a weak smile. Her eyes then fell on a picture of Shirley and Bo that was sitting on the detective’s desk.

"How is Bo doing?" she asked softly. Shirley smiled like she had expected the question.

"He is doing well. He’s really enjoying going to school over there," she answered. Heather gave her a thoughtful look.

"What was with you and Bo? I mean even when we were together he always seemed to be with you, not in the boyfriend, girlfriend way but just somewhere else. Sometimes he was with me but…well you know what I mean." Heather said softly.

"Yeah I do," Shirley replied, and then added, "Bo and I were just friends we never went any further than that if that is what you are asking." It was Heather’s turn to give her a knowing look.

"You and Bo were not "just friends" even if you weren’t ever technically boyfriend and girlfriend," she said smirking. It was Shirley’s turn to look thoughtful.

"Then you’re asking me what Bo and I were to each other. I’m afraid that I don’t know the answer to the question. He was my best friend and my partner. He stood by me even when he really didn’t want too. He understood me in a way that no one else really does. So I don’t know what Bo and I were and I don’t think I ever will," Shirley said softly. She then got up and walked over to her microscope and placed a piece of brown cloth under it.

"I found this at one of the crime scenes. The way it has torn suggests that it was part of a longer flowing garment. Do you happen to know what the knights of Kaldas wore in the Middle Ages?" the detective asked not looking at the other girl. Heather realized that this was Shirley’s way of saying that their previous conversation was over.

"Never let anyone get too close huh," she said to the detective who gave her a level stare. Heather sighed. "The knights wore robes. Different ranks wore different colors the leader always wore black," she added.

"For the founders last name," Shirley said thoughtfully. Just then the front door bell rang announcing the arrival of a new person.

"That is probably Pascal," Shirley said and started down stairs. Heather followed her.

"Are you sure it was safe to let her know where you live?" Heather mocked.

Shirley shot her an amused glance over her shoulder and replied.

"It was a calculated risk." The doorbell was ringing to the point of self-destruction so it was with profound relief that both teenagers reached the front door. What they opened it too was a shock. Pascal was, indeed standing there with a short red headed boy caught in a headlock. He tried to muffle a reply to Shirley but Pascal had also put a hand over his mouth.

"I found him outside snooping around rich girl. I thought he might be up to no good," she said and Shirley put her hand to her forehead in exasperation.

"Pascal meet Parker Evans, he is a friend from school," the detective said with a gesture to the incapacitated boy. Parker mumbled something and shook his head to indicate that Shirley was telling the truth. Pascal looked down at the kid, shrugged her shoulders, and then let him go.

"Sorry about that," she side to him not really sounding like she meant it. Parker just hastened away from the martial arts expert and went to stand by Shirley. That is when the detective noticed that something was very wrong with her friend. He was scared she realized with a start. He kept looking over his shoulder and jumping around like a hyper Chihuahua.

"Parker what is it? What’s wrong," she questioned concerned.

"I need to talk to you Shirley, Its important," he replied in a rush. The detective nodded and motioned them all back inside the house. Once there the all gathered in the kitchen. Pascal leaned against the counter with her arms crossed while Heather sat down in one of the kitchen chairs and crossed her legs demurely. Parker sank gratefully into the chair that Shirley offered him and Shirley went to stand in front of him.

"Ok Parker you have our attention what is it?" she asked and he looked up startled.

"I would rather just tell you what I have to say," he said a shot a nervous glance at Heather. The guesture didn’t escape the detective and she narrowed her eyes at the boy.

"Parker we are all in this together. What you have to say will be kept in the strictest confidence by all of us." The detective shot a warning glare at Pascal who sneered back at her. She turned back to Parker who still didn’t look convinced but finally gave in with a sigh.

"Shirley I…" he started and then cleared his throat. "I recently joined this group, a kind of boys club."

"The Knights of Kaldas," she said evenly and the red headed boy started in surprise as did Heather. Pascal just gave them a confused, questioning look to which Heather mouthed, "fill you in later."

Parker looked from the detective’s face, to Pascal, and then to Heather’s, and started to cry.

"I swear Shirley I didn’t know that they were going to start shooting at the school. I swear I didn’t. It all started out as a game you know? They made us feel respected, like we were part of something really great, but then the Game Master and his Knights they killed that Narc…" Parker said and it was Shirley’s turn to start in surprise she was about to say something when she noticed that Heather was shaking.

"It wasn’t a game when Susan stepped in front of that bullet," she said through clenched teeth and tried to launch herself at the other kid but Pascal was there holding her back. Heather tried to break free but the other girl was too strong.

"Heather you can’t help her this way. He wasn’t responsible and we need him to get the ones who are." Pascal said gently. Apparently her words got through to the red head because she stopped struggling. Angry tears were streaming down her face as she turned away from all of them and went to stand in the doorway to the living room.

"Parker why didn’t you go to the police then?" Shirley asked the boy. Parker lifted tortured eyes to her.

"Because the Game Master said he would kill anyone who betrayed the knights.

Just talking to you has made me very dead."

"Who is the Game Master?" the detective asked. Parker just shook his head.

"I don’t know. Only those in the highest ranks of the knights know. I was still just a Pawn when I got out," he said.

"Parker we need to know everything you know about the knights. Just start at the beginning," Shirley prompted him. Parker sighed.

"There are about twenty or so members now. There are four levels to the Knights the lowest level is the Pawn, then if you please the Game Master you can advance to Rook. Next is Bishop and then there is the highest ranking level of the knights and that is the Knight. There are only three blue robed Knights in the clan. They are the Game Master’s chosen ones. Each member wears a mask at the meeting so no one knows who is who. In fact all of he high ranking members identities are top secret, some of the Pawns know each other though," he finished. Shirley gave him a quizzical look and then asked.

"Can you get me in to a meeting?" she asked and Parker just stared at her like she was crazy.

"Are you nuts," he said at the same time Heather did. The red head’s greenish brown eyes were flashing like the fey spirit they resembled.

"We have enough to go to the police without you risking your life with these psychos," she practically screamed. Pascal was unusually quiet as she answered for Shirley.

"If they found the Narc then that means they have someone in the police feeding them information," she said and Shirley smiled at her.

"That is exactly what I was thinking," the detective said which caused Heather to calm down a bit.

"Still it’s suicide to try and infiltrate this group. Shirley they have killed people, without conscious and without remorse," she appealed to the detective trying to make her see reason.

"I’m the only one that can get in and get the information we need. Without the name of the leaders then the informant will just tip off the rest of the members to a police raid and the people who shot and killed our friends will slip away. This is the only way Heather I’m going in," Shirley said resolutely the red head glared at her.

"Hey rich girl what’s this "I" stuff don’t you mean we are going in," Pascal said to the detective.

"No it’s too dangerous," Shirley protested. "I have a better chance alone."

Pascal shot her an angry glare.

"A better chance at what? Getting killed? I don’t think so rich girl. The only person that gets to kill you is me so I’m going in with you whether you like it or not."

"I’m going too," Heather chimed in. Shirley just looked from one girl to the other. She realized that she wasn’t going to be able to change their minds. A long sigh escaped her lips and then she grinned.

"Sometimes I think you two are even more stubborn than I am." She said and both girls grinned back at her.

"You bet your ass rich girl," Pascal replied.

"I think I just have," she replied gravely, "And your’s and Heather’s as well."

"Don’t I have any say in this?" Parker finally asked.

"No!" all three girls replied in unison and then started to make plans for their mission. Parker just sighed. He was wondering what he had ever done to deserve this. He sighed and turned to get a glass of water when a breaking news report caught his eye.

"Um I think you all better see this," he said to the three girls. They all stopped talking and gathered around to see what Parker was talking about. Shirley grabbed the remote and turned up the volume when she saw the Knights of Kaldas symbol flashing in the corner next to the anchorwoman.

"…The Knights of Kaldas as these terrorists are calling themselves have issued an ultimatum to the city of Redington. The Knights, who are now claming responsibility for the school shooting that took place yesterday at Sussex Academy, are threatening to blow up one of the three major public high schools in the greater Redington area. The demand was sent in to this station in the form of an audio cassette which we will play for you now."

"Three blind mice, see how the run," a mechanical altered voice said. Shirley acted quickly and hit the record a message button on her answering machine and then motioned for everyone to remain quiet. "It is time for the cat to play, poor mice. They ran well at Sussex but the butcher’s wife still cut off their tails and one of their heads. The Knights of Kaldas have come for vengeance upon its enemies and for the spoils of this war. Five million spoils to be exact. We will receive our due tribute or the cat will deliver a very explosive present to one of the three remaining blind mice. Let’s see if the students of North, South, and West Redington can run as well as their snotty peers. Which one will it be? Only the tides will tell. You have until noon today."

The anchorwomen started to drone on but Shirley and her friends had tuned her out. Finally Heather spoke.

"Well it looks like we have found out what the Knights are really after," she said to Shirley. The detective didn’t look convinced. In one smooth motion she rewound the tape and started to play it back.

"They would really do it wouldn’t they? Blow up one of the schools?" Pascal asked Parker.

"Yes they would," he said quietly. "If the Game Master says there is a bomb then there is a bomb."

"It’s 10 A.M. now will the police be able to find the bomb?" Heather asked.

Parker just shook his head "no"

"Then we are going to have to find it," Shirley said while listening intently to the message. She couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a clue in there somewhere.

"What’s going on inside that head of yours rich girl," Pascal questioned. She was amazed to discover that she recognized that look in the detective’s eyes. Suddenly Shirley’s eyes widened.

"Only the tides will tell," she said to her self. "Of course!"

"Only the tides will tell what?" Heather asked. Shirley turned to Pascal and Heather with a smirk.

"That we can beat the Game Master at his own game," she said and headed toward her lab. The others exchanged confused looks but followed her. It was going to turn into an interesting day.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #11

Pascal found herself following Shirley Holmes to West Redington High School, all the time wondering just what she could possibly be thinking. A couple days ago the disgruntled teenager had wanted to do nothing but teach the detective new meanings to the word pain, and now here she was following her into the worst public High School that Redington had to offer in search of a bomb. Not only that but this was the school Victor Hernandez attended, which meant if Pascal was discovered here than she was as good as dead. Not only that but she was relying completely on the detective’s word that the bomb would be there. Still Shirley had yet to be wrong and she was willing to do anything and everything to stop the people that had opened fire on Sussex Academy. Pascal didn’t like being shot at; it brought back too many painful memories. The former gang member also admired the way Shirley handled herself during the shooting. The rich girl had some real guts. She had to grudgingly admit that she was starting to like the detective. With another sigh she pedaled faster on the bike she had borrowed and caught up to Shirley who was riding her bike just ahead.

"Hey rich girl you mind telling me why you are so sure the bomb is at this school?" she asked. Shirley never took her eyes off the road but she answered.

"Well I filled you in on the Knights and as you know they are led by a Game Master. Well he wants to play cat and mouse with the Redington P. D. so it was more than obvious that he would have given them a clue in his message. That clue was "Only the tide will tell," it was a play on the adage "Only time will tell." The tide as you know is controlled by the moon and during different times of the day it is either in or out. During the early morning hours the tide is just starting to go back out and by noon it is completely out for the day. The direction the currents are pulling the water is…" she started to say but Pascal filled in the blank.

"West, the tide is pulling the water to the west," she said in understanding. Shirley turned her head briefly to smile at her and then turned her attention back to the road. Both girls road silently till they rounded the next corner and what they saw surprised them both.

"Sweet Jesus," Pascal exclaimed upon seeing the cop cars and the fire trucks that were surrounding the school. A bomb squad truck was also parked out front and two or three police officers were leading around bomb sniffing German Shepherds.

"I think the professionals have this one Shirley," she said to the detective grinning. Shirley however wasn’t paying attention. She knew the Game Master would be smart enough to conceal the bomb in a way that the cops wouldn’t be able to find it. The Redington police were smart but they tended to think in a straight line. Shirley, however, was thinking about the Game Master and what he ultimately wanted. It wasn’t the money although that was probably a bonus, he wanted people to suffer, and he wanted them to feel pain. She knew that this bomb was going to go off regardless of whether or not the ransom demand was met and she also knew that she had to find it before it was too late. She checked her watch, which read eleven thirty. She had less than thirty minutes to find this bomb, that is when she noticed the gas truck that was driving away from the Elementary school that was across the street from the High School. Unlike the High School the Elementary school had not been evacuated. The teachers had just been told to keep their kids inside; with a growing sense of horror Shirley realized where the bomb was.

"No the professionals are looking in the wrong place," Shirley said to Pascal. She couldn’t quite choke down her terror. Pascal turned toward the other teenager and narrowed her eyes.

"What do you mean?" she asked levelly. Shirley turned to her with grave eyes.

"Pascal did your old school share gas lines with any other building?" she asked. Puzzled Pascal nodded.

"Yeah it shared lines with the bank across…the street," she finished realization hitting her. Shirley nodded her blue eyes wide. She then got off her bike and laid it on a nearby tree, Pascal did the same and the both broke for the back of the Elementary school at a run.

Tony Sanchez took another drag of his cigarette making sure that none of the police were paying any attention. Not that the cops cared now that they had a bomb threat to deal with. Tony was standing in the crowd of W.R.H.S students that had been evacuated along with his fellow gang members and their leader Victor Hernandez. Looking bored the handsome Latino took another drag of his cigarette and then almost choked on the smoke. He narrowed eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things and then a smile spread across his lips.

"Hey Victor it looks like Christmas has come early this year man," he said getting his leaders attention. Another Latino boy pushed his way through the crowd to stand next to Tony.

"What the hell are you talking about amigo," he asked and puffed on his own cigarette. Tony grinned and then pointed across the street.

"Isn’t that that bitch, Danielle’s, older sister. You know the one that cut you up?" he asked. Victor looked to where Tony was pointing and a slow smile curved his lips.

"You know what Tony, man. I may have to promote you. That bitch has a lot of nerve to be coming into my territory," he said. Another one of his gang member stepped forward to see what he was talking about.

"Hey Victor man, she is one hot little senorita. I wouldn’t mind getting me a piece of that one," the other gang member said with lust filled eyes.

"Did you see the one with her Diego, the little white girl. Now that is what I want to get a piece of. Bitch won’t be the same after my Latin lovin," Tony said referring to Shirley. Victor smirked.

"You two come with me. We gotta extend a welcome to these two. One they ain’t gonna ever forget."

Back at the Batcave, or more accurately Shirley’s lab, Heather was busy using her computer skills to hack her way into the Redington P.D. When Shirley had first asked Heather to dig around and find out what she could find she had pretended not to know what the detective was talking about. It was only when Shirley smirked at her and mentioned a little virus a couple months ago that had all but wiped out Y’s web page that she started to get uneasy. She didn’t completely cave though until Shirley had told her that she had always wanted to meet the hacker who called him or herself Nemesis, from the Greek mythological Goddess of punishment. Heather had blushed beet red when she realized that Shirley had known that she was a hacker, she also had been thinking of how stupid that name sounded when you actually paired it with her. She didn’t look like she could punish a small dog much less someone like Molly Hardy. The detective, however, didn’t ridicule her she just suggested that she could really use some more information and if Heather could happen to find Nemesis to help them she would be very grateful. So here she was hacking into confidential police files and drinking the coffee Shirley had left for her. The hacker had only stopped her search once since the other two girls had left and that was when Parker came by with the robes for this evening’s clandestine meeting. He had told them that he would meet them at the meeting place and given Heather the address. She thanked him and then immediately turned back to Shirley’s computer willing it to tell her what it knew. She was getting a whole lot of nowhere until something very interesting happened. Someone from the other end was about to log into the FBI criminal database. With a bit of maneuvering she was able to pull up what the person on the other end was looking at and she almost spewed her coffee. There in front of her was a picture of Marshall Black also known as Nathan Black the son of the notorious gun smuggler Lord Edward Black formally of England. Heather forced herself to swallow her coffee and smiled.

"Well, well…hello there Game Master."

Shirley and Pascal reached the main gas line and the detective pulled out her Swiss army knife from the back pocket of her overalls. She then gingerly unscrewed the grate and Pascal helped her remove it slowly. Both girls froze for a moment when they saw what they had uncovered. They had found the bomb all right it was set to bow in fifteen minutes. The timer was digital and the bomb had more wires than a super computer.

"Holy shit," Pascal cursed. "It’s directly on the main gas line and that is C-4, if that thing explodes it is not only going to take out the High school but the Elementary school as well." Shirley just nodded all of her attention on the bomb. She didn’t like what she saw.

"This is complicated Pascal. Whoever made this is a professional. I have just been looking at it for a few seconds and I have already found three dead end wires and two booby traps. Sneezing on this thing wrong could set it off," she said nervously.

"But you can disarm it right?" she asked when Shirley didn’t answer she added nervously, "Right!"

"I don’t know," Shirley said sounding unsure. Pascal just stared at her in disbelief.

"You have got to be kidding me rich girl," she practically screamed and Shirley winced.

"Maybe you should go track down someone from the bomb squad, and I’ll stay here and see what I can do," Shirley said calmly. Pascal just glared at her and then at the dial that said they had twelve minutes left to live.

"What am I suppose to do if I can’t find anyone," she said solemnly. Shirley met the other girl’s brown eyes with her own.

"Then you get as far away from this place as you possible can," she told her.

"You’re tripp’in if you think I’m gonna do that," she replied.

"Pascal Ple…" Shirley tried to say but was cut off by the strong arm that wrapped around her windpipe. She struggled against her captor but froze when she felt the knife blade at her throat. The sound of two other switchblades being opened caught her attention and she realized that they were in deep trouble. Pascal whirled around as well at the sound only to come face to face with Victor Hernandez.

"Victor," she practically spat.

"Hey Pascal. I hear that you’re hanging with a new crowd, very upscale for you chica. This little bitch one of your new friends," he taunted referring to Shirley.

"Hey Victor," Tony replied, "This ones even hotter up close man," then he addressed Shirley.

"What do you say baby wanna take a little ride with me." The gang member ran a hand down Shirley’s cheek and the detective stiffened.

"Sorry I don’t date losers," she said and the guy grabbed a handful of her hair and tugged. Shirley yelped in pain.

"What I had in mind for you don’t need no dating baby," he said with a lecherous grin.

"You always were a slimy piece of work Tony," Pascal said to the gang member who just waggled his tongue at her in a suggestive manner.

"Don’t worry bitch. Once I get done with your hot little gringo friend here you and me can have our own little party." The reformed thief sneered at him.

"In your dreams," she replied and then turned toward Victor.

"Hey Victor, why don’t you tell your lap dog to let her go. You ain’t got no beef with her, it’s me you want or are you forgetting where that scar on you face came from," Pascal taunted. Immediately the leader of the Lost Angels hand flew to the puckered pink flesh that marred his right cheek.

"I’m gonna cut you up real good," he snarled and lunged at the girl. Pascal dodged the knife thrust and retaliated with a hard kick to the leader’s stomach. He momentarily had the wing knocked out of him. Shirley, in the meantime felt the knife ease away from her throat, it was the opening she had been waiting for. The junior detective stomped down hard on the foot of her captor who yelped in pain, she then elbowed him sharply in the gut, which cause him to suddenly release her. She lost her footing and fell down on her knees near the bomb. They had five minutes left to live. She looked up to see how Pascal was doing only to see Victor Hernandez sink to his knees holding his groin.

"Now that had to hurt," her friend said and then kicked him one last time in the face, knocking him out. The other gang members took one look at their fallen leader and beat a hasty retreat. Pascal was grinning when she knelt down next to the detective, her grin faded however when she saw the timer.

"Damn Victor, he might just have killed us all," she cursed. Shirley looked at her calmly.

"We’re not dead yet," the detective said and studied the bomb. She was acutely aware of the timer going down.

"Ok I think it’s this wire," Shirley added and positioned the wire cutters over the blue wire.

"You think!" Pascal said nervously, crossed herself in the sign of the cross and began a Hail Mary mantra. The timer now said three minutes and forty seconds. Shirley held her hand steady and cut…the timer stopped and both girls sighed in relief.

"That was close," she said looking up to grin at Pascal but the other girl

wasn’t looking at her. Instead the former thief’s eyes were focused on the

bomb with a look of utter disbelief

"Shirley it’s going faster," Pascal replied and the detective looked down to see the timer was now going double time. Wasting no time the detective positioned her cutters of the green wire and then undecided went to the red. The timer was at ten seconds.

"Just pick one rich girl!" Pascal cried watching the numbers. Shirley nodded and placed the cutters back over the green wire and cut. The timer stopped with one second to go.

"I think you can go find the bomb squad now," the detective said to Pascal who crossed herself one more time and ran across the street to the school. Shirley just sighed in relief thanking whatever god was in charge of lucky guesses.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #12

In a warehouse down in Redington’s lower West Side a Gray robed Knights of Kaldas member prostrated himself fearfully before his black robed leader. The Game Master peered through his hideous mask at the sorry sight beneath him in contempt.

"Bishop Fairchild why are there not children and teenagers alike burning alive while their screams of agony reach my ears like a sweet Mozart concerto," the Game Master asked. The lesser of the member of the Knights was shaking so badly with his fear that he stuttered when he answered.

"I-I don-n’t k-know Master. I-I p-ut the b-bomb right w-where you t-told me to." The Game Master walked around him like a shark circling its prey.

"But you didn’t stay to make sure that no one disarmed it, did you," the Game Master screamed and then grabbed the other boy’s arm and forcefully threw him against a roll of chain ling fence.

"P-please I d-didn’t mean…" the boy stuttered and a clear liquid started to run down his leg. The leader of the Knights of Kaldas watched the other boy wet himself in disgust.

"You have failed the Knights. You will be punished," the Game Master said.

Just then two of the blue robed Knights appeared next to the frightened boy. One held a gasoline can and one held a lighter. "You shall suffer like they should have suffered," he said and turned to walk out of the large room.

"No! Please God!" he said and then he started screaming as he burned. The leader of the Knights went into his office and grabbed a beer as he watched his Bishop die. When it was over and the body that had once been Martin Fairchild, a quiet moody boy of sixteen that had been attending North Redington School for the Gifted, was charred beyond recognition. The Game Master turned toward his Knights.

"We have one more traitor to take care of before tonight’s meeting, but don’t kill him, I want him alive when our guests arrive. I’ll be busy taken care of a little unfinished business," he said and took another swig of his beer. The other Knight nodded and dismissed himself. When he was gone the Game Master took off his mask and pulled down his hood his blond hair gleamed in the artificial light. It was time for the world to stand up and listen to him he thought thoroughly satisfied.

Heather tapped her knuckles on the desk and checked her watch for perhaps the tenth time. She was worried. Shirley and Pascal should have met back here with her hours ago. With a long sigh the red head got up and gathered the print outs she had been studying. She had worked a bit of her cyber magic and come up with everything she could on Marshall Black for Shirley when she got back, that is if she ever got back. With a long sigh she looked at her watch again. That is when the phone rang. She stared at it a moment reluctant to answer it but then she thought that it might be Shirley. The detective had taken her cell with her. Reluctantly she answered.

"Hello Holmes’ residence."

"Heather is that you?" a familiar voice said sounding surprised.

"Carlton?" she questioned just as surprised. "Why are you calling Shirley?"

"Actually I was looking for you, your mother told me that you would be there

and gave me the number. Heather…I really need to talk to you, its very

important," he said solemnly

A half-sympathetic, half-guilty expression marred the pretty red head’s features. She had yet to talk to Carlton about what happened to Susan and she felt horrible about it. She just hadn’t expected to get sucked into this investigation with Shirley and Pascal.

"Carlton I’m sorry I haven’t called…" she said and was about to continue when Carlton cut her off.

"Hey don’t worry about it," he said forgiving her. "Although I can’t fathom what you are doing hanging with Shirley Holmes. I figured since the way you have been going on about Bo still…" he said trailing off. Heather smiled.

"Yeah well, Shirley turned out to be pretty interesting once I got to know her, besides she is helping me with something," she said into the receiver. In truth it was the other way around. Heather was helping the detective.

"Heather I hate to ask this but I really could use a friend right now.

Susan’s mom is flying in from Hollywood tonight and she wanted to talk to me. She wanted to talk to you as well can you meet me at the park in an hour," he pleaded. Heather looked at her watch uneasily. She really should stay and wait for the others, but it was already three and Shirley and Pascal should have been back two hours ago. Biting her lip the red head tried to make up her mind. On one hand Shirley and Pascal should be back soon, and she really wanted to go over what she found with the detective, but on the other hand Carlton needed her and he was one of her best friends.

"I’ll be there in an hour Carlton," she said deciding.

"Cool, I’ll see you in an hour then," he replied and hung up. Heather also hung up the phone and then got up to go to Shirley’s desk. She placed the information she had found on the Black’s there and then scrawled a hasty note telling her friends where she was going. Gathering up her stuff she gave Watson, Shirley’s lazy Basset hound, a pat on the head and then headed down the stairs and out the door. She wasn’t there to receive the fax that came in just after moments after she had left. It had been concerning a question she had had about some of the Black’s medical records. If she had seen that fax she would have stayed safely tucked away inside the Holmes’ residence. Heather was turning into the Queen of bad timing.

Pascal collapsed in exhaustion on the chair that Watson usually occupied when he was in Shirley’s lab. The police had interrogated her for almost two hours and she didn’t want to hear another question as long she lived. Shirley had pulled a disappearing act that even Houdini would have been proud of, and Pascal was feeling less than charitable towards the detective because of it. A moment later the object of her annoyance came up the stairs and the former thief glared at her. Shirley had the grace to look a bit chagrin.

"I’m sorry I left you to answer all the question’s for the police, and I really do owe you one for not bringing my name into the matter," Shirley said while crossing to her desk. She could feel the other girl’s gaze boring holes into her back.

"I might collect on that one day rich girl," Pascal threatened. Shirley just nodded in acknowledgement and then turned her attention to the neat stake of papers on her desk. Pascal sighed and finally decided that was as much of an apology as she was going to get.

"I wonder what happened to red? She must have gotten tired of waiting for us," Pascal said asking and answering her own question.

"She left a note," Shirley replied and picked it up to start reading it.

Shirley,

I found some very interesting information that you might want to have a look at. It has to do with Marshall Black and the Black family. I think we might have found our Game Master. Also Parker came by will you were gone, he left three robes with me and said to meet him at the old warehouse on the corner of 5th and Martin. I’m sorry that I had to leave before you got back but something came up with my friend Carlton. I will be back in time though to go to the meeting tonight with you and Pascal.

Yours truly,

Heather

When she was finished Shirley picked up the information that Heather had left for her and methodically went through. The hacker had been very through and she had enough on the Black family to support her suspicion that Marshall was the Game Master. Shirley was thinking that it was time to put an end to the Knights of Kaldas once and for all, that was when she noticed the fax that had been left on her fax machine. With a puzzled frown she went over to the machine and picked up the piece of paper. What she saw there made her eyes widen in alarm. She went over to Pascal, who and fallen asleep, and nudge her awake. The other girl was a bit disoriented for a moment before focusing on the detective. She was about to make one of her trademark smart-ass remarks but then she realized that Shirley looked down right scared.

"What is it?" Pascal asked, "What’s wrong." Shirley’s blue eyes were grave as she handed the fax to the other girl. It was grave brown eyes that met blue when she was finished.

"Heather’s in trouble," they said almost in unison and went to gather the robes that Parker had left for them while they were gone. They only hoped that they would get there in time.

Heather had arrived at Redington Park a bit latter than she had expected. She looked at her watch and hoped that she hadn’t missed Carlton. Luckily she saw him and he waved to her to come over. They were in one of the more secluded spots near the more heavily wooded areas that surrounded the Park. A big smile crossed her features as she went to her friend and gave him a hug, which he returned.

"Hey Heather," he said and smiled. She smiled back.

"Hey Carlton it’s really good to see you. I’m sorry that I didn’t catch up with you sooner," she apologized.

"Hey don’t worry about it I know you have been busy looking into the shooting at Sussex," he said nonchalantly and Heather drew back from him puzzled.

"How could you know that? We haven’t actually been advertising the fact that we have been trying to find the killers?" she questioned and scrutinized her friends face. Carlton just smiled a very enigmatic smile and then ran a gentle hand over her cheek.

"Oh Heather how naïve you are. It is one of the reasons that I wanted you in my life. You are so trusting and loyal it was wasted on gangland scum like Bo. I figured that once he was out of the picture that I would finally have my chance with you but then you just had to go and get involved with Holmes. That little bitch never did know when to keep her nose out of things," he said. Heather’s green eyes widened as she back away from him. She was shaking with her anger and her denial.

"Carlton what are you talking about?" she asked half-afraid to hear the answer. He just threw his head back and laughed.

"Oh isn’t that rich? Since it won’t really matter in an hour whether you know or not I think I will tell you. I saw it the moment my brother and I had started at Sussex Academy. The people were sheep, mindless, useless, good for nothing but slaughter, at least then they could be used as fertilizer. All of them were contemptible but none so much as my very ex-girlfriend Susan." Heather was looking at him like he had grown two heads; this was not the Carlton she had known it was his evil twin, his doppelganger.

"Carlton you killed…" she couldn’t finish the sentence as her voice broke. "Why? I thought you were my friend… and Susan…How could you…Why would you?" she asked. Carlton’s face suddenly twisted in anger as he grabbed her arm and pulled her closer.

"It was you I had always wanted Heather. You, not that preppy little ball breaking witch, but what can I say she was good for some things and then you went and starting dating that lowlife thug. He was nothing, a nobody from the wrong side of the tracks but you fell for him in a way that you never fell for me," he said and twisted her arm behind her back she cried out in pain. The shock was wearing off and she was finally realizing how precarious her situation was. Carlton was out of his mind. That was when something he had said earlier clicked in her tired brain.

"Carlton you mentioned a brother but you are an only child," she said dread filling her. A grin split his features as he leaned in to whisper in her ear.

"You should have hacked a little deeper Heather and you would have found an illegitimate son in the Black family history born to Marion Rogers of England." Heather felt her blood run cold and she cried out in pain again as he twisted her arm even more. Tears were starting to well in her eyes, if he twisted it any higher then it was going to break.

"Shirley and Pascal have the same information that I had and Shirley will figure it out. She’ll bring the cops down on you so hard that you are going to have trouble remembering your own name," she spat in an instant of angry defiance. Carlton wasn’t even fazed.

"Oh don’t worry. I all ready have a little surprise planned for your friends," he said as he made a motion with his free hand. Marshall Black and a guy she knew as Brody Calhahan, another member of the football team came out of the nearby trees dragging between them a badly beaten and unconscious Parker. Heather felt like she was going to be sick.

"I’ll make sure to show your other friends the same courtesy," he said and started to laugh. Heather took one look at the guy she had considered one of her best friends and longed to strangle him with her bare hands. Instead she sent out a silent plea to God that Shirley and Pascal would figure everything out it time. She knew that all their lives depended on it.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #13

Shirley and Pascal had arrived at the meeting place but Parker was no where to be found. Dressed in the Pawn robes he had pinched for them both girls stared uneasily at the warehouse that was looming above them. Both the detective’s and the former thief’s trouble alarms were blaring.

"Shirley I don’t like this," Pascal said eyeing the building mistrustfully.

"I don’t like it either but what other options do we have. Heather might not have much more time," Shirley replied. She really hoped that their friend was ok. She would never forgive herself is something happened to the red head. She saw the same thought mirrored in Pascal’s eyes.

"Come on let’s go in the back way. Stay close and be quiet," the detective said.

"Yes ma’am anything you say ma’am," the former thief replied sarcastically earning her one of Shirley’s trademark glares. Without anther word though, both teenagers snuck around back and tried to find a way into the building. There was no door and the old warehouse looked solid.

"Let’s split up and try to find a way in," the detective suggested and Pascal nodded. The former thief went to the left while Shirley checked the right. While she examined the warehouse Shirley thought back to what the fax Heather had sent for told her. It was a tale that turned her stomach and made her blood run cold with fear for her new friend. The document had been a Psychological report on Lord Thomas Black’s illegitimate son. The state had taken the boy away along with his half brother when his father had been arrested. Nathan Black, his half brother had been claimed by his mother, Black’s first wife, while the boy was sent to live with his mother’s parents. Apparently the boy, because of the sadistic treatment his father afforded him, had developed severe multiple personality disorder. The doctor who had been treating him said that he had a total of twenty-six personalities but only two where dominant. One was Carlton Rodgers, football player and all around nice guy, the other was the Game Master. Problems had been evident from the start but his condition was controlled by drugs, at least it had been until he turned fourteen. It was during this time that the Game Master resurfaced and tried to kill Carlton’s girlfriend. That was the extent of the information the report gave to the detective but she was able to deduce the rest herself. She had searched for more information on the assault that the report mentioned but had been unable to find anything. It had been apparent that his grandparents must have covered the incident up. Even the FBI database that Heather had hacked into had nothing on the incident. Shirley figured that because of that Carlton’s grandparents had moved him to Sussex Academy for a fresh start, where he had run into his long lost brother now going by the name Marshall. It must have been downhill from there. With a growing sense of frustration Shirley doubled her efforts to find a back way into the warehouse when she heard Pascal call her name. She turned and saw the former thief motioning her to come over to her.

"What is it? Did you find a way in?" she asked. Pascal just gave her a very mischievous grin and pointed up. Puzzled, the detective’s gaze followed her friend’s hand only to see a broken window two stories up. Shirley’s mouth drew into a sardonic grin, while she raised her eyebrow.

"That’s great but how do we reach it," she asked. Pascal’s grin widened as she went to stand next to a drainpipe that went all the way up to the window and beyond. Shirley frowned.

"You have got to be kidding me," she said while taking in the waning light. It was twilight and the sun had almost completely set. They could barely see to walk much less climb a questionable drainpipe.

"It’s the only way we are going to get in undetected," Pascal said and then hoisted herself up onto the first bracket holding the pipe to the wall. Shirley watched as she made it about halfway and slipped the detective instinctively made as if to catch her. Luckily the former thief was able to regain her footing. With a dexterity that Shirley envied Pascal made it the last few rungs to the top and went in through the window. The junior detective hesitated only a moment before following. She figured that if she did fall at least it would save the Knights the trouble of breaking her neck.

A blinding pain burst through the back of Heather’s skull as she slowly oriented herself. The last thing she remembered seeing was Parker’s badly beaten form right before she had been hit on the back of the head and rendered into unconsciousness. With a groan the hacker tried to reach up and rub the bump that had risen under the tender flesh only to find that her hands were bound. It took her a moment to realize that she was bound to a chair, it took her another to realize that she was not alone. She saw Parker huddled in the corner shaking miserably.

"Parker," she whispered harshly but the boy didn’t respond. "Parker are you all right?" she asked, trying again. Her answer this time was the boy painfully lifting his head and giving her a brief nod. Heather sighed in relief; at least he was alive. A tangible rage overtook her as she thought of Carlton and his betrayal. The white-hot tears threatened to fall but she blinked them back. This was no time for her to get hysterical she thought and prayed for strength.

"Parker we need to get out of here before…" she started to say but was cut off by the door to the storeroom being opened. Harsh florescent light poured in and she squinted to keep the painful glare at bay.

"Oh good your awake," a familiar voice said from the doorway. She recognized it almost instantly as Marshall. She glared at him her eyes filled with all the anger and hate her soul possessed. He seemed to find it amusing. With a lecherous gleam he looked her up and down and then went and cut her feet loose. Her wary eyes followed every move he made.

"I bet you are wishing you had given me the time of day now aren’t you? I almost wish we had more time together but the Game has started. Time to come play," he laughed gleefully and wretched her out of the chair. She cried out in pain as he twisted the same arm his half brother had injured earlier.

"You’re not going to get away with this," she said still hoping that Shirley would figure things out in time.

"But my dear Heather, we all ready have," he said and started laughing. He was still laughing as he motioned to two other Knights, each dressed in green robes, which marked them as Rooks, to fetch Parker from the cell. The small red headed boy was so weak that he could only groan in protest. Marshall was still laughing when he dragged Heather down the hallway into the main part of the warehouse with the others dragging Parker after her. She found to her horror that the room was filled with robed figures and they were all waiting for her.

Detective Tremian pushed back another offending branch and sighed with his frustration. Willis had been leading their team through Redington Park on a search and destroy mission. Too bad there was nothing to search and destroy. The last correspondence that they had received from Ronald Cumberly said that the people that they were looking for always held there meetings in the Park at sunset and then met back later on in the evening to report. They had been there for almost an hour now and found nothing and Tremian was starting to think that someone was leading them on a wild goose chase.

"Willis there is no one here," he said turning towards the Fed. His statement was met with an anger glare.

"They have to be here. We took every precaution. The leak couldn’t have found out that we knew about this place," he said. The Detective just gave him a disbelieving look and pulled at his tie.

"Obviously someone did find out that we were coming in tonight or else they would be here," Tremian pointed out in annoyance. Willis was about to say something equally disdainful back but he never go the chance.

"Hey Detective, Agent Willis, I think we found something," one of the patrolman cried. Both men ran towards the officer’s voice.

"I think they found out we were coming," the officer said in disgust when the two higher-ranking officers came into view. What they saw made Willis bit out a curse and made Tremian smirk at the detective.

"Still think they are here hot shot," he taunted, which earned him a dark look from the American. Hanging there right in front of all three men was an effigy with a sign that said Special Agent Willis, hanging around its neck. Across the burlap bag dummy the word "Sucker" was written in red paint. Detective Tremian was about to say something even more colorful when his cell phone rang. With a sigh he pulled it out of his pocket and unfolded it.

"Tremain," he answered.

"Detective the ones responsible for the Sussex Academy shooting and all the rest of the gang crimes that have happened in the last month are at the old warehouse on the corner of fifth and Martin," the person on the other line said and hung up.

"Who is this," the detective tried to ask but all he got for an answer was a static. With a triumphant smile he hung up his phone and turned to Agent Willis.

"Tell me Agent Willis do you believe in luck?" Tremain asked. Willis eyed him mistrustfully.

"Of course I do…I’m Irish," he said.

"Good because you are about the luckiest S.O.B. walking the face of the planet right now." Tremain replied and grinned. Maybe they would be able to wrap up this case after all.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #14

Pascal hung up Shirley’s cell phone and grinned at the detective. Shirley didn’t grin back; she was too focused on the small device she was rigging up behind the boxes. As far as Pascal could tell it was a tape recorder rigged with a timer? Once they had gotten in the warehouse both detective and thief alike had concealed themselves behind some boxes. Once the Knights of Kaldas had started to arrive Shirley had handed her phone to Pascal and told her to phone Detective Tremain, she had rattled off his cell phone number from memory and Pascal had given the police enough incentive to come to their aid. Shirley finally finished what she was doing and looked up at the former thief.

"Time to join the masses," she said and pulled up her hood. Pascal did the same.

"What is that thing suppose to do?" Pascal whispered but Shirley waved her silent.

"It is set to start tapping in five minutes. I want to have something concrete on these bastards. Now we need to find Heather and Parker and get them out of here," she whispered back, as her and Pascal steeped into the throng, keeping their heads low. Unlike the rest of the knights they weren’t wearing masks and they had to conceal that fact by keeping the hoods pulled down to hide their features.

"I don’t think finding them is going to be a problem rich girl," the former thief whispered and inclined her head slightly to the throne that had been set up in the middle of the warehouse. The members of the Knights were forming a circle around it. Shirley kept her face hidden as she looked up to see what Pascal was talking about. Her blood ran cold at the sight. Parker was in the middle of the circle of Knights, looking like he was on death’s door and Heather was tied to the throne with a white robe covering her body. The red head was looking on the tall black clad figure next to her in defiance. Shirley and Pascal made sure to stay behind the other members of the Knights as they all came to a halt and awaited their Master’s command. Shirley was getting a mixed sense of both fear and exhalation from the assembly.

"My fellow Knights today we come to witness a most singular event, and to celebrate our most recent victory," the Game Master said. The group responding in kind.

"Hail the Game Master harbinger of Chaos, most powerful among Knights," they all said in unison.

"Hail the Knights of Kaldas, Power through unity," he replied picking up the chant.

"Power through Chaos," they replied.

"The brotherhood demands all loyalty, the brotherhood is all," the Game Master said and his subject replied once more.

"Long live the Knights of Kaldas, Long live the Game Master," they said and fell silent. Pascal had watched the proceedings and felt a twinge of regret. This scene was achingly familiar and she started to wonder what she had been thinking starting the Karate Girls. Still she recognized the difference between this and the Karate Girls, she had just been angry and power hungry. The Game Master was just flat out crazy.

"Now to order," he said, "As you know the Knights have many enemies in the world, enemies that we must stand against as one. I present to you two such enemies now." Pascal and Shirley had been watching the proceedings silently when the suddenly felt their arms being twisted behind there backs.

"What the…" Pascal started to say but was suddenly pushed forwarded into the circle were she fell to her knees. The detective joined her on the ground. An angry growl escaped Pascal’s lips and she was about to show these guys what it really meant to manhandle somebody when the cool press of a gun barrel to her head gave her pause.

"I wouldn’t do that if I were you," Marshall said through his mask and laughed. Pascal looked up to see that Shirley was in a similar predicament.

"Got a plan to get us out of this one rich girl," the thief tried joking. It earned her a kick in her ribs, which had her on the ground panting.

"Pascal!" both Shirley and Heather cried in unison.

"Leave them alone Carlton!" the red head screamed which caused a few gasps to arise from the assembled Knights. The Game Master threw back his head and laughed. The realizing that his mask was useless now he took it off and pulled back his hood. Murmurs started to go through the crowded as they looked upon their Master.

"I should have know you wouldn’t respect my secret Heather," he taunted wagging a finger at her; she just glared back at him.

"Look upon me my Knights," he bellowed, "and know thy Master. These are the enemies of the Knights of Kaldas and they shall be punished for their insolence!" Shirley and Pascal shared a fearful look as the hammers on the guns that were trained at their heads were pulled back.

"No wait!" a weak voice cried. It was Parker. "Please you all have to listen to me. They were responsible for the shooting at Sussex. I heard them bragging about it when I stop bye to leave my tribute. We joined the knights for brotherhood not for murder!" he cried. His little spiel earned him a sharp kick in his stomach by a nearby Bishop. Shirley, however, noticed that some of the Knights were listening. It was mostly the Pawns but they made up about three forth of the room.

"You have to listen to him! If you watch us die and do nothing that makes you accessories to murder. He has already killed one person in front of you what is to assure you that you aren’t next!" she cried only to have the gun buried deeper into her skull.

"Shut up you little bitch," the person holding Shirley captive said. The detective winced and that is when she noticed something that almost caused a wide grin to split her features. Instead she bit it back and watched gleefully as Heather worked her bound hands loose. She was almost free. She met Shirley’s eyes conveying the message to keep them busy as she struggled with the remaining few loops. She also noticed that a lot of the Knights were shifting uncomfortably. Carlton turned to Shirley and regarded her with a keen expression.

"You know what Holmes you have been a thorn in my side since I started Sussex. You and that gutter trash that called himself your best friend," Carlton said coming to stand in front of the detective. Shirley just gave him a level stare filled with her defiance, all the while her nimbly mind was trying to come up with a way to get them out of this situation alive. A small smile quirked Carlton’s lips, like he could almost hear what she was thinking.

"Kill the Latin bitch," he said not taking his eyes off of Shirley.

"No!" the detective screamed in protest. There was, however, nothing she could do as she watched in horror as Marshall pulled the trigger. The gun just clicked.

"What the…" Marshall exclaimed and pulled the trigger again. Pascal grinned just before jamming her elbow into her captor’s groin. The gun on Shirley’s head wavered as she did a sweep kick and knocked her assailant to the ground. Carlton growled in rage pulling his own gun from the folds of his coat. He took aim on Shirley who was in the process of kicking the handgun away from her captor when his hand was grabbed from behind and knocked up. The shot went into the ceiling and Shirley flinched. The detective turned around just in time to see Carlton knock Heather to the ground and take aim at her.

"Heather!" she screamed and lifted an arm in the read heads direction. Heather’s green eyes met the detective’s blue ones silently saying goodbye when the doors to the warehouse suddenly burst open.

"Freeze Police," was cried and the Knights of Kaldas suddenly found themselves on the business end of swat team assault rifles. Carlton face’s twisted in rage when he saw that they were all captured but then just as suddenly his expression turned to one of confusion. Shirley and Pascal both rushed over to Heather and help her to her feet and all three girls looked on Carlton with contempt. The blond haired, blue eyed boy looked at the gun in his hand like he didn’t know were it had come from and then he noticed Heather.

"Heather where am I? What are all these people doing here?" he asked beseechingly of his friend. The red head stared at him in disbelief and outrage.

"What do you mean where are you? You were the one that brought us here to kill us you bastard," she spat. Shirley put a warning hand on her arm and Heather glanced at her in confusion. Carlton in the meantime just looked surprised and then he smiled a very boyish and charming smile.

"You’re kidding right? Nice joke Heather?" he said. Tremain in the meantime had been approaching him slowly.

"Son I want you to put the gun down," the detective said with his own gun trained on Carlton. The boy’s smiled wavered as he looked at the detective and then Heather, a sudden realization hit him as he watched his best friend huddle closer to Shirley and Pascal. He started to shake.

"Oh God he came back didn’t he! I told him never to come back! He swore! He promised me!" Carlton was screaming. He put his hands to the side of his head still holding the gun. Heather just looked on her former friend a suddenly realization coming to her, a quick glance at the Shirley confirmed her suspicions. It was all there in the detective’s eyes.

"Carlton," she said softly, "who promised." He looked at her with tortured eyes.

"The Game Master! He promised me that the killing would stop, he promised me, he promised me!" he said and sunk to his knees sobbing. Tremain watched the boy break down before his eyes and he cautiously approached the sobbing teenager. In one quick move the detective garbed the gun. Carlton let it fall limply from his hand. When he looked up he noticed everyone in the room had stopped to see the scene that was unfolding. It was heartbreaking as the young man started to rock back and forth. Marshall Black who had been cuffed by one of the swat team watched the whole thing in disgust.

"You worthless coward! Father was right!" he screamed his eyes wild.

Carlton just started rocking faster trying to block out his brother’s screams.

"Get him out of here!" Tremain bellowed. Marshall’s curses could be heard until he was dragged out of the warehouse. Heather in the meantime was looking at what use to be one of her best friends and tears were streaming down her face. In a rare show of tenderness Detective Tremain turned towards Shirley Holmes.

"Princess why don’t you take your friends outside," he said softly. She nodded gravely and took Heather gently by the elbow and led her out of the building.

"Come on Heather," she said softly. The other girl barely acknowledge her, even Pascal was strangely subdued as she followed them both outside. With a sigh Tremain watched them leave and then turned back to the young man he was about to arrest. He went over to him and gently pulled the boy to his feet.

"Come on young man we are going for a little ride," he said. Carlton just looked at him and then smiled. It was the expression of a small child.

"Are we going to the zoo daddy?" he asked. Tremain almost choked on his next words.

"Yeah we are going to the zoo," he said and lead the boy away. Somedays this job really sucked he thought. It was almost enough to make him want to quite…almost.

 

Columbine Conundrum : Chapter #15

Heather Wallace bent down and placed a single yellow rose on her best friend’s grave stone. It had been a week since her, Shirley, and Pascal had their brush with the Knights of Kaldas and she was somewhat thankful to be alive, at least she would be if it weren’t for the memories. A small smile touched her lips as she ran a hand over Susan’s named carved into the tombstone. It was a bittersweet acknowledgment that she hadn’t been having much luck with her friends. With a sigh she got up out of her crouch and started to head down the path the led from the cemetery. The burial ground was chilly this early in the morning so she pulled her coat around her tighter as she walked. She liked to come visit Susan early before anyone else arrived because she was usually the only one here, that is why the person who stepped out from behind a nearby tree surprised her. It surprised her even more when she realized it was Shirley Holmes. She hadn’t seen the detective since the case had ended.

"Shirley? What are you doing here," she questioned curious. "I haven’t seen you around," she added and the detective had the good grace to look guilty.

"I had a few loose ends to tie up,’ she replied and stepped closer. Silence descended for a moment as both girls searched for what they wanted to say.

"Heather I…" Shirley started to say at the say time Heather said, "Shirley…" They both laughed.

"Why don’t you go first," Heather suggested and Shirley grinned.

"I wanted to thank you for helping me with…everything and I’m sorry for how it all turned out," she said gravely.

"It wasn’t your fault. Nobody really knew how sick Carlton was, nobody could have known," the red head replied seriously. "If anyone is to blame it is me. He was one of my best friends and I can’t help thinking that I should have seen it coming." Shirley gave her a rueful smile.

"You know you can’t tell someone else not to blame themselves if you are blaming yourself," the detective replied this earned her a rueful smile in return.

"You make a good point Holmes," she said and another voice chimed in.

"She does have a bad habit of knowing everything." Shirley and Heather both turned around in surprised to see the owner of that voice walking towards them. Pascal just grinned at their stunned expressions.

"Come to finally give me the beating I deserve," Shirley, said to the former thief as she walked up to them. Pascal just gave her a very annoyed look.

"Maybe some other time rich girl," she said and then turned towards Pascal. "So red how are you doing?" she asked seriously. Heather scrunched her nose up in disdain at the nickname but she answered.

"As well as to be expected I guess, but at least we are alive," she replied. Pascal made the sign of the cross and said, "Amen to that." They all fell silent again each expressing more in body language than they could ever say in words. It was Heather who broke into their wayward thoughts.

"You know you promised to tell us why Marshall’s gun didn’t work when he tried to kill you," she questioned of Pascal. The former thief gave them both a sheepish grin.

"Yeah well, old habits are hard to break. I took the bullets out of his gun when he first grabbed me. I always was a talented pickpocket," she answered. Heather smiled but Shirley was looking at the other girl with haunted eyes.

"You still took quite a gamble. You were lucky he didn’t have one in the chamber already," she said and Pascal acknowledged that with a frown.

"You’re raining on my parade rich girl," she joked and Shirley sighed. The detective was about to say something else when Heather broke in.

"Hey I was just about to go to the Quasar for some lunch, do you both want to come?" she questioned tentatively not sure what they would say. She wanted to head off this argument before it had a chance to start. Pascal grinned.

"I never was one to pass up food, what about you rich girl," she said giving the detective a playful punch in the arm. Shirley glared at her but she then smiled.

"I could eat," she replied.

"Cool, then lets go," Pascal said and started walking towards the gate. Heather and Shirley laughed and followed her. As they left the cemetery Heather studied her two friends. What a strange trio they made the detective, the thief, and the hacker. In an uncharacteristic flash of insight Heather looked, really looked at Shirley Holmes. She had often wondered what Bo had seen in the detective and now she knew. There was just something about the detective that inspired people to follow her. Heather had a feeling that Shirley’s ancestor would have been very proud of her if given the chance. With one last look over her shoulder Heather glanced and Susan’s tomb stone. Thanks to Shirley she had found the person who had taken her best friend’s life. It had given her a measure of peace, she just hoped Susan had found the same.

From the Journal of Shirley Holmes

I have finish what, so far, has been my most disturbing case and in the process gained two new friends. I wonder how Bo would react to knowing that one of them was his former girlfriend. I admit though that if it wasn’t for her and Pascal’s help then the Knights of Kaldas might still be in operation. As it stands now all of them have been arrested. The lower ranked Knights, the ones that didn’t participate in the shooting are turning states evidence, Parker talked them into that, and most, if not all will receive suspended sentences and community service. Marshall Black is suspected of helping his brother’s alter ego, which had remained dormant for years, come back to life. It seems that he is more like his father than anyone could have imagined. Marshall and a few other high ranking Knights will be charged with murder and tried as adults. Carlton is perhaps the saddest case among the captured Knights. He was deemed unfit to stand trial and put away in a prison for the mentally insane. The news hit Heather hard considering how close she had been to him. The only good thing to come out of this case is that Alicia is alive and well on the road to recovery. She is still a little shaky and her father has her seeing a Psychologist to work through her survivor guilt but other than that she is her usually self. She is still asking me when I’m going to admit that I loved Bo, she better hope for someone to grant her immortality. Sussex Academy itself is still recovering from the horror of that day when the school was turned into a war zone. Many of the students were pulled out by their parents and now attend other private schools. Ms. Stratman and Molly have been doing a massive amount of damage control. Even I have to admit that I have been shaken by these events. It was that moment when the bullet that had been meant for my heart hit the sand beside me instead. It was the closest that I have ever come to my own mortality and I could almost here Bo inside my head saying that I take too many risks. Maybe I do…but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop solving crimes.