Sepia turned his eyes away for a second. Vulca was worse than he had anticipated. Blood was strewn everywhere. The bodies had been cleared away, but an executive order had declared that a clean up was unnecessary. As he stepped forward, feet shifting tiny pebbles on the dusty road beneath him, he saw the extent of the carnage. When he'd arrived in 2025, he'd awoken inside a factory. The only factory in town, he could now see. It was relatively carnage free, from what he could tell. A bit of blood, a body. Nothing like this.
"It was a festival." Red pulled out a notebook and read aloud. "The Bounty, where the town would greet the results of the first fishing expedition of the season." He pointed to Vulca lake, a large, sprawling mass of water. It was connected by more than a few rivers to the main ocean. "There to the north is the Vulca delta. They'd often trawl that region looking for Arlfish, a particularly fat, high-meat fish that would gorge itself on the mosses that grow there. Didn't taste of much, but it goes great in tons of stuff. It's pretty expensive. The fishermen make a killing out of it."
Blackwood shot Red a despairing look, causing him to turn away sheepishly.
"Bad choice of words."
Lucy clicked her tongue and started meandering forward, casually casting an eye over the surroundings. The scene was grizzly, but it didn't daunt her. Behind her sunglasses lay the eyes of a woman who had grown disillusioned with death.
"I'm thinking of writing a book." Lucy called back. "I'm going to call it 'Disillusioned with Death'. It's going to be about this woman who keeps being dragged to grizzly murders where's there's no clues so she just gets bored." She pulled her sunglasses down slightly, casting a disapproving look at Red.
Melee was chanting softly, under her breath, moving her hands slowly, Flecks of blood began to pull themselves away from the wall, slowly coming together to form what appeared to resemble human shapes. Not perfectly, Sepia acknowledged, noting the blood seemed to collect in particular areas on the shapes.
"What're you doing?" He asked, confused. "Is that what I think it is?"
"It's a form of time manipulation." Melee resumed her chanting and began to follow one of the shapes as it started walking, backwards, through the town.
"I knew it. It's Lucare's Orders, isn't it?" Sepia had a boyish look of excitement in his eyes. "I hear it's hard to do. Which, to be honest, is justified. You're actively putting the remnants of the scene back where they were."
"That's why the blood pools in certain areas. It doesn't quite work perfectly, it just puts it back where it came from, rather than where it should be. If it was perfect, they'd be working circulatory systems. Alas, they're not, so you get bloody limbs instead." She sighed. "On the plus side, I can tell you with some certainty that whoever did this really hated arms."
Sepia looked as more shapes began to emerge. The blood was indeed pooling around the arms. Varying places, but generally between the hand and the shoulder.
"Look, that one's cut through it's middle." Blackwood pointed to a shape whose blood was forming around it's torso.
"A discrepancy identifies the pattern." Sepia made a face as he pondered it. "Whoever did this really was going in for a hack and slash routine."
"What?" Red asked, confused. "Yeah, he cut people up. So what?"
"So, he literally slashed these people to shreds." He began gesturing to the shapes. "This looks almost like someone was swinging blades of some form. Maybe it was a machine."
"You think this is mechanical? But it's everywhere!" Blackwood objected. "It wouldn't nearly be manoeuvrable enough to get inside houses!"
"That's why I still suspect it was a person." Sepia said, resuming his pondering face.
"You have a fan, it seems." Lucy tapped Sepia on his shoulder and motioned for him to follow her. The group watched her disappear behind a building and, as they did so, the back of the Vulca Fisheries Processing Facility came into view. Their eyes traced the writing on it, a blood-writ message.
"Wh... what?" Sepia stuttered, confused. "Why wasn't this in the report? Why did no one find this?"
"Because it was left after the event." Melee muttered, resuming her chanting. The words peeled off the building, moving first into smears, moving through the air in a shape Sepia recognised as bloody hands. Next they returned to the body, entering through a cavity in the chest.
"So this was special. Why was it necessarily after the clean up?" Red wondered aloud.
"Because of the way it happened. Look at that wound. He was killed to mimic the Aollo deaths."
"I just got a message from my guy in the clean-up crew." Lucy pointed to her phone. "Said they sent someone down here to do one last sweep for bodies. Looks like we've just seen what happened to him."
"This was a message." Sepia kicked the ground angrily. He watched the pebbles and the dust fly away from his shoe, towards the wall, missing by mere inches. "This was someone who wanted my attention. This was someone who somehow knew where I was going to be. When I got distracted by Aollo, they knew exactly why I had been back and they did this. They did this knowing that Melee would show me, and now someone else is dead."
"This person knows a lot." Red mused.
"Then I say there's nothing we can do." Blackwood interrupted, placing a hand on Sepia's shoulder to reassure him. "They left you a message, not a calling card. They did this to mess with you. If you'd been back first thing, I can guarantee this message would have been here. Only difference would have been how it was written. For now, let's focus on Aollo. There's nothing here. Any witnesses we had have long since been cleaned up."