Michael Vescovi started his plan off with an explosion, one of four set charges of C4 detonated in the underground parking garage of an apartment high rise, the intense blast taking out one of the concrete support pillars and shaking the foundation of the building. This was only a distraction, a lure to pull all available officers to this location and leave the precinct which held his arm minimally defended. On a nearby roof, he waited. Patiently watching for the cry of dozens of sirens and flashing lights he knew would come. Even now the call should be coming in, one of his own playing the pre-recorded message of Green Man issuing his ultimatum, threatening that unless he received five million in the next hour he'd bring the building down, killing everyone in it.

Joanie Quest was sitting and chatting with Detective Chan when the call came in to the precinct station. She listened to the message along with the detective. "You're not going to pay him are you?" Charlene Chan shook her head. "We can't even if we would..." Chan sighed. "Anyway, I'll leave you here in the lab to do your analysis while I go evac that building, Joanie!" Joanie nodded soberly as the detective stood and walked briskly out, adding over her shoulder. "I want you to tell me who this bastard is when I get back..." And with that Chan was gone, ordering all standby units to come with her.

Michael Vescovi didn't move until the last of the squad cars were away, allowing himself another minute just in case before coming down off the roof. Even with the distraction Michael knew he wouldn't have much time and if a call managed to get sent while he was inside he'd have even less, so this had to be done quick and brutal. He took everyone by surprise as he smashed through the front double doors into the lobby, the officer at the reception desk taken out first with a single shot to the chest, the impact of that one round sending him toppling back over chair. "Nobody fucking move!" Michael's distorted voice ordered as he charged forward, firing off additional rounds as barrel of a massive handgun was trained on other officers, one crying out in agony as a round tore through his shoulder, blood splatter staining file cabinets beyond as female officer dove out of sight, narrowly avoiding losing her head as a third high caliber round whizzed by.

Joanie Quest was still preparing the lab and had not even taken the arm out of storage when she heard the shots downstairs on the first floor. Her mind raced, although unlike most this did not mean it was confused or spinning. Indeed in the blink of an eye, whether by intuition or subconscious calculation, perhaps both one in the same, she had put all the elements together. Joanie concluded the Green Man or his proxy was here now for one reason. And that reason was to retrieve the arm in the forensics lad where she now stood to prevent his identification. Joanie felt her nipples tighten against her white blouse as she opened the locker to take out the armored arm.

Michael Vescovi leapt over the counter to where the female officer was laying in wait with weapon drawn, smiling as he looked down at the wounded officer who may very well bleed out right there on the floor. His attention quickly shifted to the female officer cowering against the wall, no hesitation shown even the spark of a bullet ricocheted off his armor and dug into the wall mere inches from the woman's head. Slapping her weapon away, Michael pressed his own against her temple. "I'm only going to ask you once..." Clicking back the hammer for added intimidation factor. "...where is the arm?"

Joanie Quest moved the arm as quickly as she could to the examination table, scowling as she was forced to waste precious seconds using a bone saw with a special blade to cut away the armor. She spoke as she worked, "Agent of retrieval in building as I work... removing armor around arm... flesh pale... draining blood into flask... about a pint... now to get skin and nail samples..."

"I don't k..." BLAM! And it was over, no need to go into details of what happened, though the tears streaming from the face of the wounded officer spoke volumes. "Wrong answer." Michael offered as he stood, smiling beneath silver faceplate in morbid amusement at what he'd just done. "...and one more for you." Michael added jovially as he turned, gun jerking again as a second round was fired into the dying officer's chest, sealing his fate. Then he just kicked at the counter, smashing it to pieces and walking through the debris instead of leaping over again. Once more the gun barked, destroying the phone on the wall someone had been brave enough to try reaching for. "Sorry, no more free calls. Now you all behave while I peek around upstairs." And up he went, occasionally glancing at the helpful signs placed on the wall. "Ah...forensics. I think I'll go check there."

Joanie Quest continued her work despite the random shots from below, echoing up stairwells, reverberating in the floor beneath her heels even as she picked up a device to swab skin samples onto a slide. Joanie found herself oddly terrified and focused by the shooting, her heart and respiration rates her elevated, but still her mind was clear. She took the slide quickly to the microscope that switched on as she approached.

Michael Vescovi wasn't there yet and there were still a few noble defenders to deal with, one unloading a shotgun round against Michael's exposed back as he stepped into the second floor hallway, yet even that showed to have little force behind it for the armored figure didn't even stagger a single step. Instead, Michael just fired blindly as he walked, pointing that terrifyingly large hand cannon toward where the shot had originated and emptying the rest of the clip, tearing head sized holes in the walls as he used the signs to guide him on the proper path to forensics.

Joanie Quest heard the gunfire getting closer and wondered if what she was hearing was the same sort of weapon Panda had in fact used against the Green Man in their battle. She took a look through the microscope as it powered up. "Very unusual... flesh display characteristics of the undead... combined with an apparent regeneration matrix of some sort... if only there were time for full DNA mapping..." Joanie operated the microscope without even touching it and the instrument flashed with light repeatedly. "Taking pictures for further evaluation..."

Michael Vescovi endured additional gunfire as he walked down the hall, bullets bouncing off thick titanium armor as he grew closer to the forensics lab. Then the gunfire stopped. Seconds later Michael opened the door, or rather smashed it open using the body of an unfortunate rookie foolish enough to take him on with only a police baton. "Knock, knock!" Announcing himself as armored frame filled the doorway.

Joanie Quest was back at the examination table with the arm on it, looking up over her glasses at the door as the door was smashed open. If noticed the microscope was still warm though off. Despite the look of concern on her face Joanie couldn't resist giving the required response as slender fingers with long nails reached for the arm on the table. "Who's there?"

Michael Vescovi stepped over the groaning man on the floor, glass crunching beneath his feet as he neared Joanie. "I'm here for a pick up." Distorted voice answered as he noticed the arm on the table. "And as it happens you've been nice enough to have what I came for ready, so I'll just be taking that arm and be on my way."

Joanie Quest eyed the gun in his hand cautiously as her fingers gripped the arm by the wrist. "Does it belong to you?" She picked up the limb in question as if to highlight her question and stepped back from the metal table, revealing long legs in beige stockings that disappeared under a short black skirt.

Michael Vescovi didn't have any rounds left in the clip but Joanie didn't know that, so he pointed the weapon at her. "That doesn't really matter, I'm taking it. So be a smart girl and hand it over, otherwise things could get... unpleasant." Thumbing back the hammer, he waited on Joanie's response, certain that the threat of death would be convincing enough for her to comply with his demands.

Joanie Quest was puzzled as to why he hadn't already tried to shoot her, pondering if she should risk trusting the conclusion her mind had already reached. The green eyes peering over the glasses examined him for missing arms. "What's to prevent you from shooting me after I give it to you?" Perhaps she could stall for time until Detective Chan returned, but would that simply get more officers killed?

"Nothing." Michael answered honestly and was indeed still missing his right arm, as the damaged Green Man armor he wore would attest. "I just thought I'd offer you a chance first, but maybe I've got the stakes all wrong..." Lowering the weapon as he spoke, taking it off Joanie and instead aiming at the rookie on the ground. "...so one more time, hand over the arm or this man dies."

Joanie Quest's knuckles whitened as her grip on the arm tightened for an instant before she began to come forward. "Very well." She studied his armor as she came around the table. There didn't appear to be anything electronic about it. Just simple body armor. "Here!" She held out the arm to him.

Michael Vescovi let out a prolonged laugh as Joanie held it out to him. "Ahhhhhhh...clearly it can't work that way. I'll need you to toss it at my feet and then back away up to the wall, turn and put your hands over your head. Don't waste time now, this man's life is depending entirely on you."

Joanie Quest blinked, then tossed the arm to the feet of the one-armed man as she backed away, skirt riding up enough as she bumped into the table to reveal that her stockings were thigh-highs. She circled the table and a few seconds later reached the wall, turning slowly to face it, her hands coming up to her head almost as if searching the wall or something beyond it.

"Smart choice." Holstering the weapon, for there was no other alternative, Michael knelt down to reclaim his arm, keeping eyes on Joanie as he did. Once the arm was in his grasp all that remained was escape, Michael speaking as he backed out of the room. "Now you stay right there, it'd be most unwise for you to come after me." No time to waste, by now somebody had probably called for help. Had to get out before he found himself surrounded, so once out of the room Michael would run toward the nearest end of the hall, intending to smash right through the outer wall to the outside.

Joanie Quest was close enough to the wall to read electronic signatures of the lines inside it. In her mind’s eye she watched the figure on security cameras as he picked up the arm and backed out of the room. She pondered cutting the lights and trying to take him, but only for an instant. She knew even if he was out of ammo she couldn't stop him. Seconds later she heard and watched him smash through the wall. Joanie slumped to the floor in a heap as she realized how easily he could have killed her. She was still trying to catch her breath when Chan returned moments later. "I'm sorry, Charlie. I just let him go. I didn't know what to do..." Joanie began to cry as the detective patted her on the back. "Welcome to my world."

(June 2011)