The first policeman on the scene noticed many strange things about the body.
For one, it was oozing green. Bodies rarely do that, not bodies this fresh. For another, there didn't seem to be a head involved. And while there were legs and arms – or at least arm-ish and leg-like appendages - he counted ten. Not the more usual four.
As more police swarmed the scene, taping off and photographing and putting things in little bags, they noticed stranger things. The dead Hydra – for Hydra it was (or had been) - wore a tailored suit. They found a Registered Mage card in a pocket. They assumed the card was his but he was hard to identify from the photo of his face, what with his entire cranium missing and all. The neck was a dead ringer, though. The unchewed bits. And this was the first Hydra anyone had ever seen wearing anything. Or carrying anything beyond bits of waylaid victims. Or who had not survived decapitation by growing two more, very annoyed heads.
The moment Inspector Willis arrived on the scene, she swore. The information she'd received from her superiors as to the body's probable identity she confirmed with a glance at the victim.
She knew what she was going to have to do.
And she didn't wanna.
This job needed expert consultants. Willis knew of only one firm with the murder investigation experience, the magical theory and any sort of security clearance to practice on a case like this.
She was getting used to them, she told herself.
She needed help, she told herself. She didn't know anyone more qualified or experienced.
The attempted rationalisation didn't help. Willis knew, deep down, that the pair of them were going to annoy her like the itchy nose of a manacled prisoner.
Willis wished she'd been wrong.
Colws the Halfling , founding member of 'Colws and Retraive: Magical Consulting', walked around the body with an intense expression on his face. He sang softly.
'We don't know why he ooze goo; But he do…'
His partner crouched by the body, staring at the Mage Registration card in its little plastic bag. The elf looked up and stared up at Colws. Willis waited - hoped - for the rebuke to come.
The elf grinned instead.
'It ain't because he choose to; He just do…' Retraive the elf sang back.
'I only know it's icky…'
'And that it's kinda sticky…'
And they finished together in frighteningly perfect harmony. 'We don't know why he ooze goo; But he do!'
The pair went into a refrain of 'dobedobee doos'. Willis sighed again. Yelling at the pair wouldn't help, though she really wanted to. Previous experience had taught that yelling would be taken as an invitation to weird her into submission.
The last time she had done so – during the autopsy of a murdered hobgoblin – it had started with an off-colour joke that she couldn't ignore. It had ended in an anatomy lesson of magical creatures, performed by marionettes fashioned from real organs. She shuddered, remembering the dance number : "I Feel It In My Guts : A Ballet Tribute to Appendicitis". The Coroner still kept a tape for training purposes.
Willis waited as patiently as she could for the elf and Halfling to finish. They noticed she wasn't reacting, shared a sardonic smile and ceased their crooning. The Halfling continued searching the scene. Retraive came over to talk to her.
'Sorry,' he said. There wasn't a trace of contrition that Willis could recognise.
'Forget it,' Willis replied. 'What do you think so far?'
'I have a few thoughts, but how classified is this?'
Willis's eyes widened for a second.
'I forget how quick you can be, sometimes. I was going to let you know after you'd had a look around. How'd you realise this was classified?'
'A few things,' the elf said, scanning the area for listeners. They stood in a cordoned-off alley. Some cops held back a very small crowd – it was early afternoon, but they were in The Rocks. This part of Sydney didn't get really busy until dark. Not on a weekday. More importantly, the crowd was some distance away.
'First,' Retraive continued. 'There are thirty, forty mages who legally require registration?'
'Thirty-seven at most recent count. I checked before coming out.'
Retraive nodded. 'Yes. But they're all famous and most are rich. They're almost all humanoid. This is like finding a horse with a pilot's licence.'
______end of 750 words_________
Oh, and because EVERYONE asks:
Colws is pronounced with the breathy Welsh w, more like a double o. Hard C, rhymes with caboose. Kuh'Loos would be pretty close. It's a short, hard and complicated name. Kinda like Colws himself.
Jesus Martinez on a raft, this is good.
I'd read 50 pages; if it didn't fall apart, I'd set a widget clock for Sydney time and call you up and ask for the full ms.
What works here: no backstory, just blam, right on in to the story. It's funny, it's VERY funny. It's cross genre (which makes my heart beat fast these days). There isn't too much going on, but there's enough to hold my interest AND entice me to expect more juicy stuff. It's fast paced, and ..can it be?...everything is spelled right!!