Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Message from the Underground · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Dead in the Water
Lynaellia sighed as she crouched on the edge of the platform and stared into the vacant, bulging eyes of the promised corpse.

“Found him,” she called to the three guards accompanying her, voice calm, level, and professional – even as her knuckles whitened with the effort to crush the wood between her fingers.

It was pure dumb luck that his clothes had gotten snagged on the sharp shells of the razorclems that coated the ballasts that legs of the pier – and even moreso that they’d been good enough to hold. He couldn’t have been in the water long.

Young man. Strongly built. Dark skinned – just a shade lighter than her. Ragged hair. And the distinct violet tattoos on his face that marked him as—

“An arther,” her partner, Raegin, grunted as he joined her at the edge of the pier.

“Yeah.” One of the folks who’d been ripped out of their world and dropped unceremoniously in this one. The victims of a bit of divine mischief. It felt like a lifetime ago, but it’d barely been a year and a half since they’d just appeared.

Thousands of people who were still struggling to find their place in a new world with new bodies and new rules and, well, new everything. Not to mention a world still trying to figure out what to do with them.

And now there was one less.

Beside her, Raegin whistled for the rest of the squad to join them. “Fish it out of the water and do the initial examination. Then get it back to office ”

She ignored the noise, instead focusing on the scene, trying to form her initial impressions.

A possible cause of death was obvious – a deep gash along his neck. Certainly deep enough to have done the job. Not conclusive, though. Seemed unlikely he’d been killed here though. No blood splatter anywhere on the wood that she could see. Again, inconclusive, but it would be risky to kill someone here. This was a pretty busy and popular portion of Heshfel’s waterbound district. The Fire and Forge was just a platform over, and the Split Land Inn overlooked the spot. Plenty visible from other jetties, too.

Not impossible, of course. But risky.

“So who reported it?” Raegin asked.

“My sister.” She finally stood up, shaking out her hand.

“Arinae okay?”

Lyn snorted. “Nae’s fine. She wasn’t the one who actually found the corpse anyway. Tobias did.” Another arther. The first she’d met, before anyone had even realized they existed. “Apparently swam straight into it while bringing back a netful of geistfesh.”

“Oh.” He chuckled. “Bet that was unpleasant for her.”

“Him.” She corrected sharply.

Raegin shrugged, stepping aside as the remainder of the squad set to work recovering and bagging the body. “For him,” he conceded without much grace.

She eyed him hard. “Work on it, Raegin. The arthers have enough problems already. The least you can do is give them that.”

He held up his hands. “I got it. Just hard to remember sometimes. I barely know h- him.”

“You want me to take care of the interview myself?” Lyn asked.

“No, like I said, I’ve got it. I’ll be on my best behavior.” He casually rested his hands on the blade at his side. “Besides, you know both our witnesses. Better we keep someone objective around, just in case the captain has any questions.”

She punched him in the shoulder as she passed by.

Nae invited the two of them around to the back of The Fire and Forge. Despite being a busy evening, the atmosphere in the place was rather subdued, people huddling around tables and talking quietly. Segregated, too.

No doubt the news had already gotten around. She’d led the charge on helping the local arthers connect, and her sister’d been kind enough to welcome them at her place and even lend them space for meetings. So the community here in Heshfel was strong.

And she could feel their eyes on her and Raegin as they passed through the main room.

Yo, Lyn,” one of them called out in English, standing up. William. A friend of Tobias. And an absolutely massive man. He eyed them sharply, a look slightly undercut by swelling around his right eye. “The fuck is going on?

Raegin tensed up next to her, and she could see his hands drift towards the handles of both his pistol and blade. Didn’t need even a passing understanding of the language to tell William was mad.

Elbowing him, she stepped forward. “William, hello.” She spoke slowly, offering the bare smile that the circumstances warranted. “I am trying to find answer. The body is being looked at. We will ask more questions after. Now I wish to speak with Tobias.

The three of them had the whole of attention in the room, air thick with a barely restrained energy. William was well-liked, and people would follow his lead.

Crossing his arms, the giant man stood his ground. “None of us did it. I know how y’all like to talk about us settling old grudges.” William focused on Raegin.

“Lyn,” Raegin started, but she gave him a look that, in no small terms, told him to keep his mouth shut. William couldn’t speak Taillean worth a damn, but she knew some of the other people in the room weren’t bad.

I will find who did it. Now I may continue?

Don’t give Tobias any shit. Fucking dealing with enough already without y’all hassling him.

It took her a moment to parse, but, despite her annoyance, she kept her expression from changing. “I will not.

That at least got him to sit back down. She’d need to get a few guards down here who were a little more familiar with English to help take statements.

“I hate that guy,” Raegin mumurred as they stepped out of the main room and onto the back platform.

“Not the time,” she snapped. She was going to have to have to have words with him after this. He was getting harder and harder to work with on arther cases. “He’s just watching out for his people. You take notes”

Nae was taking a break from tending the kitchen, instead sitting on the edge of the platform, legs dangling into the water, as she spoke animatedly with Tobias, who’d hauled himself out of the water to lay on the edge of the wood, his tail hanging over the edge, its normally vibrant scales dull and grey.

A lot of the arthers had been lucky enough to stay human. A lot hadn’t.

“Nae. Tobias.” She offered a small wave as she caught their attention, before she sat down next to them on the edge of the platform, while Raegin stood slightly back.

“Hey sis!” Nae leaned over and wrapped an arm around her. “Thanks for coming out here. It’s been quite the afternoon for us.”

“Anything for you, sis.”

Tobias pushed himself up and forced a smile – a gesture that looked even more forced with the sharp teeth of a syren. “Hello, Lyn,” he said, his already soft spoken Taillean even more faint than usual. “Thank you.”

His accent was getting better. It probably helped that he practically lived here – and that Nae’s mouth ran like the Jaenien River. “No worries. Are you doing okay?”

“Yes. In increments I am feeling better.”

Lyn smiled – for real this time, not the professional expression she used to try and defuse tension. “I’m glad. You up for talking about what happened?”

Tobias nodded. “Derek his name was. Worked at Forge.”

His Taillean was worse than her English, but he was putting in the effort to improve. And he obviously wanted all three of them to understand him. In this case, she was pretty sure what he meant, but checked anyway “Here?” she asked, pointing at the building, “Or the steelworks?” She pointed out over to the mainland and the towering construction in the distance.

“The steelworks,” he corrected. “I had gone to catch the fish to bring back for Nae.” He stammered as he struggled to find the right words, his developing vocabulary and the fact that he still seemed a bit shaken working in concert to stymie him.

“Take your time, Tobias,” Nae said. “Sis isn’t going to rush you.”

“I won’t,” Lyn agreed, ignoring an exasperated look from her partner.

He nodded, taking a breath. “I thought one had fallen in the water. I went to assist them back up. I reached them and they were dead. I became panicked. I brought myself to this place to get help.”

“And after Tobias let me know what was going on, I told Jilean to take over, went to check it out myself. When I found there was a body d and then got you,” Nae agreed.

Raegin tapped his foot impatiently. “And you’re sure they were dead when you found them?”

The questions startled Tobias. “What?”

“Did you check to see if they were actually dead? Touch the body or anything?”

“He looked dead. His throat…” Tobias hesitated, looking a bit ill as the memory no doubt surfaced. After a moment, he just shook his head. “No. I am very much sure he was dead though.”

Lyn jumped in. “Did either of you know him well?”

“He was a regular, but pretty quiet,” Nae offered. “Stopped by for dinner a couple times a week? Never really got the chance to talk with him though. He mostly stuck to William’s group.”

Tobias’s nod was slight. “We were early met. Before everyone could gather. We played games sometimes. We talked about home much. Did not talk about being here much. Will…” Tobias trailed off. “When we group, Will wants us to talk about home.”

Raegin snorted, but kept his mouth shut.

“Still not a fan of talking about just settling down and accepting this is how things are now, is he?” Lyn said, drawing the sole of her boot across the surface of the water.

“No. If I– If people talk about living here he becomes angry.” Tobias’s gaze settled somewhere into the middle distance. It did not escape Lyn’s notice the way her sister put a hand on Tobias’s tail. Or the way he leaned back into her.

“I think he may have…” Tobias continued, and then hesitated. “I do not know the word.”

“Try English, then.”

I think he was seeing someone.” He must have seen her expression because he added. “Romantically. Dating.

“Ah,” Lyn said. “Dating.”

“Dating,” Tobias repeated. “He may be dating.”

“And you don’t know who it was?” Raegin jumped in again.

Another head shake.

“Did William ever fight with him? About that or anything?” he grumbled.

The question seemed to take Tobias by surprise. “Sometimes? But Will fights with everybody.”

Lyn didn’t much like the direction of the questioning, but Raegin wasn’t wrong to follow up on it. Personally, she’d learned enough about Will from Tobias – and from her own experiences with him – to feel that, even with his temper, him cutting the throat of another arther was off the table.

Of course, she’d been surprised by people before.

“Do you think he’d hurt Derek?” Lyn intervened before Raegin got to the question.

“No!” He shook his head furiously, wet hair slapping against his bare shoulders. Looking at her, he slipped back into English. “Look, Will can be an asshole sometimes and he’s being a real fucker about things lately, but he wouldn’t kill anyone.

Raegin snorted. Apparently he didn’t need to know the language to recognize the tone.

I am sure you are right, Tobias..” Stretching her legs as she stood up, Lyn continued. “I think that’s all the questions I have for the two of you, right now.” Leaning down, she put a hand on Tobias’s shoulder and squeezed. “And I promise, we’re going to find out who did this.”

Tobias’s nod was barely perceptible as he looked up at her. “Thank you. Thank you for many things, Lyn. I know you will do many things you can.”

Lyn and Raegin walked the platforms in silence, the setting sun casting long shadows as they made their way back towards land.

The body had been taken back to the offices where the doctor would get a look at it and hopefully be able to tell them more. Until then, all they had was speculating and planning their next move.

“So, what do you think?” Raegin asked, finally breaking the silence.

Lyn allowed herself a minute. “Not much, yet. But I suppose you want me to wildly speculate.”

“Better than just walking quietly.”

Clicking her tongue, Lyn continued, “Well, my gut tells me that the murder didn’t happen there. Too public a place. Plus the murderer should have seen that the body got caught. It is far more likely someone was trying to dispose of the body and the current worked against them. The lack of any sign of blood on the platform supports that.”

“So, what, someone just kills an arther for whatever reason and then tosses them in the lake?”

She nodded. “Might also mean it wasn’t planned. Lake Heshfel is deep enough that it’d be tough to find a body if they weighed it down. So if this were a murder plot, anyone with half a brain would do that. So that makes me think this was unplanned and sudden.”

“Or that the killer is stupid.”

“Or that the killer is stupid. But this at least feels right. Derek runs into someone who kills him without a real plan. They panic and dump the body. We find out that Dyliaen has blessed us by making the currents carry the body to where it can catch and we can find it. They might’ve ditched whatever they used to cut his neck the same way.” Her stomach growled, cutting the line of thought short.

“Want to get a bite?” Raegin asked, gesturing at the shoreside stalls. “Could go for something myself. Going to be a long night tonight.”

“I should’ve asked Nae to fix me something before we left,” she lamented. Truth to be told, with everything going on lately, she was starting to miss spending time outside of work. “But I suppose dumplings will do.”

Silence again as they fell into an easy stride.

This case would have to get pushed to the top of her stack. Things were still pretty rough across the Confederation. She felt that Taillea had been adapting well, but tensions were still high. And this would only make it worse.

Reaching the stand, they both ordered bites that would have to work for dinner – her a plate of geistfesh dumplings, him a bowl of razorclems. And together, still in silence, they sat on the sand near the lake’s shore.

“You’re quiet today,” Raegin broke the silence again.

“Just thinking about the case.”

“It’s another dead body, Lyn. They happen. I wouldn’t worry yourself too much about it.” Delicately picking up one of the sharp shelled creatures, he held out a hand to her. “Can I borrow your knife?”

Chewing a bite from the sweet and meltingly soft fried meat ball, she raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“I left mine in the office,” he said.

“Again?” She sighed and reached behind her pistol, producing the broad and flat-bladed tool. If it were her personal knife, she would have been a little more bothered as he wedged it into the small gap that steaming them created and twisted to pop the shell open.

Finishing her first dumpling, she stared out over the sprawl of human settlement that had spilled out onto the surface of the lake and now bobbed gently, kept afloat by ingenuity, grit, and the whims of the lake goddess. “It isn’t just a dead body. It’s another crack in the… the…” she paused, wondering where she’d meant to go with that metaphor. “It’s just gonna be another wedge between us and the arthers. If a local did it, they’ll think we’re all out against them. If one of them did it, then we’re gonna have people thinking they’re just a bunch of brutes obsessed with settling old grudges or whatever other nonsense it is people say.”

Raegin shrugged, cracking another shell and slurping out the gooey meat inside. “It is what it is. A thousand chains on Xinae and the ghasts for putting us in this position, but nothing we can do about it. If the arthers can’t handle it, that’s not our problem.”

Another dumpling disappeared in a swift chomp. “You should -actually- spend some time with them. They’re good people, by and large. And they’re doing pretty damn well considering everything they’ve gone through.”

“Are you really okay with your sister hosting them like she does? You did see the way they were looking at us when we got there, yeah?”

“She’s an adult.”

“I’m just saying, if my sister were the one who ran that place? I’d worry a bit more. Two different worlds.” The next razorclem was shucked with some force. “Literally.”

Lyn bit back an oath, swallowing it alongside half a dumpling. This wasn’t the conversation she wanted to have. But apparently she wasn’t going to get the choice anymore. “You need off this case?”

It seemed to take a moment for it to sink in. “Come on, really, Lyn?”

“Yeah, really.” She stared down at the last dumpling on the plate. “Look, Raegin. You’re a good partner. Generally? I like you. We’ve done some good work. But this isn’t going to work if you’re going to keep treating the arthers like this. Get over it. Okay?” She thought back to her sister and Tobias. “This is life now. They’re part of it, like it or not.”

His nostrils flared as he breathed deeply, but then he subsided. “Fine. I got it.” Flipping the knife over in his hand, he offered it back. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

She sheathed with practiced ease. “Apologize by doing better. Come with me to a couple meets. Invite your sister and have dinner with me, Nae, and Tobias.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Picking up her last dumpling, she stared out over the lake again and then, with as much force as she could muster, threw it. For just a moment, as it arced smoothly down towards the surface, she wondered if the water rose up ever so slightly to claim it. “Thank you for sharing your bounty with us, Dyliaen. And for leaving the body to us.”

Raegin’s last razorclem followed her dumpling. “Thank you for sharing your bounty, Dyliean,” he echoed. “Now let’s go see if they have anything to tell us about our corpse, eh?”

“He definitely died recently. A day or two at most?” Duraigen mumbled, dropping a few sheets of parchment on Lyn’s desk. “The slashed throat looks to be the most likely cause of death, but it wasn’t his only injury.”

Lyn rubbed her eyes as she looked up from the rest of her work. “What?”

The mortician stuck his hands in the pockets of his jacket, looking at her desk as his voice dropped even lower. “His shoulder was a mess from washing up against the clems, but the socket was dislocated, which seems a lot less like. His skull was cracked too. Also not too likely an injury he got there. I found some small, stone grit in the wound. And some other scrapes and cuts that are a bit harder to decide when they happened. Maybe before. Maybe after. Oh, and two deep punctures on the abdomen”

It took all her lagging focus to hear him over the noise of the guard office, but she nodded along dutifully, trying to track the twists and turns it took for him to lay everything out. Ask him to speak up or get to the point and he might dart. The followers of the Dreamers were all a bit eccentric, but worth dealing with when it came to dealing with the mysteriously dead.

“So, a fight?” she asked.

“Um…” there was a long pause as his eyes scanned the space around her. “Yes. Maybe.”

A small part of her wished she’d followed Raegin’s lead and taken off for the night. She was too tired to deal with Dura. “Maybe?”

“I dreamed of flowers.”

She frowned. “Flowers? What kind?”

“Yellow ones?” he said after a moment of hesitation. “Kind of like this?” He cupped his hands together and spread his finger in a facsimile of a flower that Lyn was fairly sure could not possibly exist.

Raising her fingers to her lips, she gnawed on her the nails, needing something to focus on as she thought. What the Dreamers showed their followers always meant something, but what it meant was anyone’s guess. “I don’t suppose you could draw me a picture?”

“I’m not very good at drawing.”

To her credit, she didn’t roll her eyes. She liked Dura. She just liked him a lot less when she was tired. A flower could mean lots of things. Maybe he was killed by a lover. Maybe he’d been killed because of some plan or venture that was just coming into bloom. Maybe he just died next to a bunch of flowers. But a fight meant something, at least.

For starters, that odds were even better he hadn’t been killed where they found him.

“Any idea what kind of weapon?”

“Short. Wide blade. Not too sharp.”

Her short nails bent a little under the pressure of her teeth. It was a long shot, but if person who’d killed Derek had tossed his body in the lake to get rid of it, Maybe they’d done the same with the knife. Hundreds and hundreds of feet of water for it to vanish into, far beyond the reach of anyone here.

Unless they knew a syreen.

“All right. Thanks Dura. That’s something, at least. Light some incense for me when you get back down there.”

Lacing his fingers together nervously, he made a little distressed noise. “I did before I came up. I knew you would want me too. Should I do it again?”

“Once is fine,” she said, trying to work as much reassurance into it as possible. “I’m sure they got the idea.”

Raegin matched her swift stride as they continued down the road from the steelworks, heading towards the arther shanty town that had grown along the river and in the shadow of Heshfel’s most convenient employer.

“So, yeah. I got it from three different sources that Derek and William had it just a few days ago. Unfortunately for us, none of them speaks English, but it was pretty obviously heated. Had to be pulled apart before it came to blows.”

Lyn sighed. “So you’re thinking they fought again and it escalated? Slitting his throat seems a bit far to take it.”

“Doesn’t have to have been the plan,” Raegin offered, miming the confrontation as he drew her up short so he could reenact it. “Say Derek’s the one that throws the first punch. William comes back at him, knocks him down, cracks his head. He gets up, attacks again. Maybe he’s got the knife. Things get out of hand.”

“Still seems pretty far fetched.”

“I’m not saying it’s a sure thing. Just that it’s a possibility. It certainly fits the facts.”

A lot of work had happened in the little shanty district. Some of the buildings even looked like they had been rebuilt from the ground up with something more sturdy than the dregs from the steelworks. There were more little gardens too. And folks set up at the side of the river with buckets to try and catch crawlers.

Someday she hoped it would be a real part of the city. But for now it at least worked.

William was off-shift today and easily found shouting directions at another up and coming garden. A young man was struggling a bit with turning the soil.

Come on, Beth. Do I need to go over this again?

Um, hey, Will. It looks like you have a guest.”

Raegin stopped a few feet back from the work as the people in the field turned to acknowledge them. “All your show, Lyn.”

“Thanks.” She offered as friendly a wave as she could, ignoring the glare from William. “Speak with me, William?

What the fuck do you want, Lyn?

No sense beating around the bush with him. “To speak. You and Derek fought. Why?

Because he’s an asshole. He was the one who started it. But let me save you time by telling you I didn’t do it. I’ve got an alibi.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “I did not say when he died.

William crossed his arms tightly in front of his chest. From what Tobias had told her, he’d been a pretty small guy back on Earth. But here, well. She certainly wouldn’t want to have a fight with him. “And you don’t need to, because I’ve been working my ass off. Doing the gardens and construction here. My shifts at the steelworks. Rounds at the meetings. You tell me when he got killed and I’ll have been somewhere, unless you can narrow it down to one of my pissbreaks.

Most of that made sense. And the bits that didn’t she had enough context to guess at. “Tell me more about why you fight.” No, that sounded wrong. “Fought?

He ignored the question. “Fine. You want to know?

The one he’d called Beth raised her hand. “Are you sure—

Yeah, whatever. Maybe they’ll at least pretend they're going to do their job.” His focus returned to her. “It’s why I said one of y’all did it. He was telling me he was gonna move in with someone he’d been seeing in the city. I told him he was a fucking idiot who was going to get in trouble because we can’t trust any of you fuckers to help us.” He threw his hands out. “And look what happened. Seems like a bit of a coincidence, huh?

Now wasn’t the time to pick this fight either. But hey, at least there was a word she’d just learned. “Do you know who he saw?

No fucking clue. He didn’t tell me.

It wasn’t much of a question as to why. And she didn’t doubt that they’d be hard-pressed to find anyone able to contradict his statement. Like him or not, there was no question that he kept himself busy. So they’d need something solid to get anything to stick.

Do you know anyone who may know?

Nope. Derek’d basically been ignoring us lately. Stopped talking about going home, hung out with more of y’all…” Williams knuckles tightened as he broke eye contact. “That all?

Yes. I thank you.” Returning to Raegin, she offered one long look back at William before she started back down the road.

“Went well?”

She breathed out heavily. “We can ask around, but I think it is going to be hard to pin him down for a time where someone wasn’t watching him, and I don’t think Dura can give us a better estimate.”

Raegin rested a hand on his sword’s pommel. “Well, we can press and see what we get.”

“Definitely angry, though. I guess he’s feeling like Derek betrayed him.”

“How so?”

“He was trying to settle down more, apparently.”

Raegin nodded. “So, betrayal. That’s a pretty strong motive.”

She wanted to contradict him but she really couldn’t. Everything about William right now screamed that he did feel betrayed. And that sort of feeling could run very hot. And if there was one thing everybody knew about him, it was that he had a temper.

“Your friend should watch out.”

“Hm?” she glanced over at her partner.

“Tobias, right? I mean, I’m not blind. S- he was pretty cozy with your sister. And is one of William’s friends from their home, right? Not saying he did this, but you know? Might just be something to keep an eye out for.”

Lyn didn’t respond. It was stupid, of course. But it was hard not to let the doubts weasel their way in sometimes. Especially given how many times killers had been people their victims had never expected it from.

Raegin cleared his throat. “We headed back to the office?”

“You can,” Lyn said. “I wanted to talk to Tobias about helping us out anyway. Now’s probably as good a time as any.”

That brought Raegin up short. “Helping us?”

“Yeah. Odds aren’t great, but I figure since he’s down there fishing anyway, that he might get lucky and find us a murder weapon.” She shrugged. “Unless Dyliean really loves one of us, I don’t think it’ll do much good until we know where Derek was killed. But I figure it’s worth a shot.”

The look on Raegin’s face said all she needed.

“It’s better than nothing. And it isn’t like it’d cost us anything if he kept an eye out. Unless you’ve got a new idea.”

Lyn speaks with Tobias and Nae
-Tobias seems doubtful but is willing to help.
-Lyn notices that Nae has put a yellow flower in his hair and recognizes it as a flower often used in courtship. Also realizes that it, at least broadly, matches Dura’s description.
-Learns that they grow on the shore, not too far from where she and Raegin had gotten lunch.

Lyn discovers the flowers and with them evidence of a scuffle.
-Among the bushy flowers, she finds a letter has fallen out - seemingly from the mysterious love interest of Derek.
-Letter is a confession of love, and something about it doesn’t sit right. There is something familiar about it.
-Now they have a murder site though.

Brief jump to the next day. Lyn remains exhausted, so Raegin steps up to help his partner out.
-Some time after he is out, his sister arrives at the station.
-Lyn discovers that she was looking for Derek and finds out that she was the mysterious paramour
-She had no idea what happened, he just didn’t show up to meet her and then he seemed to be gone
-Considering the available evidence (his missing knife, his antipathy towards the arthers, etc), Lyn comes to a realization she doesn’t like - Raegin might also be responsible.
-She also realizes that if he was, there might be a problem if Tobias were looking for the knife and Raegin was there by himself.

Arriving near the shore, it indeed seems the goddess of lakes and rivers has a bit of a grudge against Raegin, as Tobias is just finding the knife.
-Conflict ensues wherein we fully confirm that it was Raegin because of some racism, with a story somewhat similar to the hypothetical he suggested earlier.
-Raegin is eventually taken down by Lyn (likely with assists).

Lyn confronts both hope and fear for the future, and promises to continue doing what she can to to make for a better world. Or something.
« Prev   1   Next »
#1 · 1
In which—boom.

Up front, I'll have to abstain on this one because the story is a work-in-progress. I like the reasoning in the outline for the latter parts of the story, but I think it would be unfair to judge those parts of the story as is.

From the parts of the story that are fleshed out: there is a good sense of worldbuilding without being too heavy that it bloats the word count, and there is good characterization (especially with calm Tobias and ever-angry William). The investigator paragraphs (talking about the murder) fit right in with a crime thriller: tight, logical, and rarely if ever going into useless tangents.

All in all, a pretty good story but sadly an incomplete one. I'll vote Abstain for now.
#2 ·
Author, I know your pain. I'm sorry you had to commit your fic in such a state.

My main critique in this state is that if you mean Raegin to be the killer, don't make him such an inviting target of hate from the start and choose a less sinister name. Or he could become a red-herring, with the takeaway that he may be racist/genderist, but that doesn't mean he'd stoop to murder... As it stands, he's sort of telegraphed as the person the author intends to make the scapegoat, and a murder mystery shouldn't foreshadow that unless it's a how- or why-dunnit.

Thanks for making the effort, and I hope to see you next round with a completed story.