(2018-12-16) Naughty or Nice
The new M.E. is called to a festive murder scene.

A cool Sunday evening. Scattered snow on the ground in the hills that surround Calaveras. It's to those hills that Sully has been summoned. Down the end of a road that becomes a dirt path frozen hard by the cold. She will see the CPD car first, lights flashing, a policeman waiting for the doctor's arrival. There is also a battered Land Rover parked there but no occupant.

The policeman, Officer Hill, will lead Sully deeper into the wilds. Frozen plants crunching underfoot as they descend into the creek valley. Another two people ahead. One, another CPD Officer - Street. The other, a woman dressed casually though for the weather. The latter looking up to watch Sully arrive and offering her a professional smile and a gloved hand. "Special Agent Olivia Lopez. You're the M.E.?"

When the M.E. van arrives, it's with a lowly assistant driving, the blond young man looking a bit twitchy after the ride in with the new Medical Examiner, who hops immediately out of said van with a latte in one hand, and a chocolate croissant she's nearly finished in the other. Doctor Sullivan Tremble finishes her croissant on the walk, dusts her hand off, and pulls out a pair of medical grade black nitrile gloves from the pocket of her leather jacket.

"I am. Dr. Sullivan Tremble." She isn't quite dressed for a lengthy stand out in the cold, but for the moment seems fairly unaffected by it. "Our radio is full of crackle. I didn't catch the details. My pleasure, SA Lopez." She props her coffee in the crook of a branch just off the path they're traveling, pulls on her gloves, then takes the offered hand. Her shake is exceptionally brief, more of a light squeeze of the hand.

"A pleasure, Doctor Tremble. Sorry we have to meet under such circumstances. Please, come with me." Olivia starts leading the M.E. further down into the gully. Street stays where he was. "Body" the Fed explains, though what else would require the M.E. out here? "Mutilated. Posed. But I don't think it is related to the Guardians of the Light." She glances over her shoulder. "Are you up to date on that case?" Then back to watching where she is going.

Olivia stops at the entrance to a small cave, taking a flashlight out of her jacket and turning it on to shine into the darkness. The smell is what hits first. Rotting meat and waste. Enough for Olivia to rub some scent blocker under her nose before offering it over to Sully. "I /think/ it is a woman in her early twenties but you're the expert."

Though Sully's handshake is less than spectacular, she does give good eye contact through the introduction. Medical professionals can be a little odd about their hands. When hers drops to her side again, Sully's fingers flex and then close into a loose fist before she reaches for her latte, which remains more or less upright in the V of the branch there. "Unfortunately, this is the circumstance under which I make most of my professional acquaintances."

Sully's hazel eyes sharpen as Olivia explains the circs. "Somewhat. I looked over the files my office has, but the photos seem to have been misplaced." Probably nestled into another case file. "I've been elbow deep in a filing cabinet most of the day pulling everything referenced in the last two months. Calaveras isn't so sleepy for such a small town."

The new M.E. comes up a little short, slowing when it becomes obvious exactly where they're headed.

"It's a sleepy town, it just has a lot of nightmares" Olivia deadpans before looking a little confused between Sully and the cave mouth. "Everything okay, Doctor? The cave is quite safe. Graffiti everywhere suggests that kids hang out here during the summer." Sully is only worried about safety, right? Nothing like claustrophobia.

Olivia steps into the dark, light upon the rocky ground. At least it is only about ten feet in before they get to something nasty. Blood spattering that Olivia does her best to step around. The dirt dark with the liquid. They lead to a body upon a stone wall, nails driven into the wrists to make it hang above the ground. Naked save for a Santa hat. The torso mutilated to the extent that the flesh at the front has been peeled away to reveal the innards…though some organs have 'flopped' out to hang from the body.

Sully takes a moment to adjust her gloves, and slip out a small, high-powered LED flashlight from her pocket. She finishes her latte and pops the cup onto a craggy outcropping. Could be that the Medical Examiner just moves a little more slowly than others, or she's getting her sea legs under her here, as it were. Once she's caught up, though, she waves off the offered paste. So, no, not the smell making her hesitate at the entrance, then.

"Kids today," Sullivan murmurs, making her way in deeper, the beam of her strong flashlight on the cave floor, first, to be sure her footing is even. She rolls her neck a little, then resumes what appears to be a mostly collected exterior. She's fairly good at leveling back into professional mode. So far. "Everything's been photographed?" She steps in closer, also careful to avoid any obvious physical evidence. Also, these are new boots. The beam of her flashlight crawls the surrounding area, then slowly travels up the body of the young woman, over the torso, and finally to the head. The beam pauses, for at least seventeen seconds, and she finally says, "Suddenly regretting my festive choice of a gingerbread latte." And then she moves in closer.

"Photographed" Olivia replies in the affirmative as she steps aside to let Sully do her thing. Her own beam sweeping the rest of the cave for anything she may have missed before. It does go deeper but not too far. And there is graffiti on the walls - mostly tagging.

As for the body - none of the organs are missing other than the appendix. They are all in the right place, save for dropping out a little with the removal of the skin. There is a tattoo on the woman's left buttock which reads 'Naughty'. It seems to be pretty recent. The cause of death is not immediately obvious, no knife or bullet wounds. The body has probably been there for a couple of days, but the cold weather could have kept it 'fresh'.

With the affirmative that the body's been documented, the brunette moves in to inspect the body, up close and leaned in. She tips the beam of her flashlight, then reaches up to put it into her mouth so she can go in with two hands on the body. She inspects it once over, top to toe and back, before she takes a long moment to study the wall where the body's suspended. The way she rolls her light around the perimeter slowly, like some kind of slow-moving chalk outline made of light, one might almost think she's checking for trip wires or something. "T.O.D.'s going to take closer inspection back at the shop." All that comes out a bit distorted, since she's got the flashlight in her mouth. She takes hold of the hip and turns the body a little away from the wall.

Sully steps back, slips off her left glove, and takes the flashlight out of her mouth with that hand. "She has fresh ink. Naughty on her backside. A little on the nose considering the display. I hope you catch this one fast. Aside from the obvious trauma…" Never mind the cold sweat starting at the back of her neck. "Did you say this isn't cult related?" She glances over at Olivia.

"It's not related to the Guardians of the Light" Olivia clarifies, "But it could be related to /a/ cult. Though, unless I can prove that, or it becomes a serial killer case, it's the locals who have the running." She shines her light on the tattoo. "Hmm. Christmas themed murder. How…jolly. I wonder if there is anyone out there with a 'Nice' tattoo who passed the killer's test." The light moves to the wrists. "Stone wall. Doubt it was hammered in by hand. The lack of blood suggests it was post-mortem. Think she was killed on sight though?" The evidence suggests not. The blood marks in the dirt probably from the mutilated areas being dragged over it.

"It's a little Jesus-y for my taste." Sully observes, peeling off her other glove. She nests them both and dumps them into a tiny Ziploc that comes out of her other pocket. That's sealed neatly and stuffed away. She pulls on a fresh pair, the beam of her flashlight zipping around the interior of the cave with each gesture. "The back of a cave. The position of the nails. The body position. Given she's a young woman, left nude, fresh tattoo, I'd lay odds on an angry man who thinks he's funny and very clearly is not. Unofficially, of course." She shakes her head and says, "Sweetheart, I am so sorry this happened to you." Oh, yes, she's one of those who talks to the corpses as if they can hear her.

"It's not easy to hammer spikes into rock. You'll want a blood guy testing the angles for a specific kind of order," Sully says. "We'll take some samples. She was opened and probably hung after she died; small favor if you ask me. Doesn't mean something else didn't go down here first. It's not exactly tidy."

"If it did happen here, and I don't think I did, then whoever it was took all her clothes. And weapons. And tattoo kit" Olivia muses as she sweeps the cave floor once more. "But if she was killed elsewhere and brought here, then we might be able to find some tire tracks. Probably a truck if it needed to carry construction equipment." She studies the tattoo once more. "Pretty basic but not drawn on in a hurry. Could be a tattooist." The Latina has no issue with Sully talking to bodies. Everyone has their own way of dealing. "The Crime Scene people have documented and taken samples. They're a bit overworked around here at the moment. She's all yours."

It's after the visual inspection of the body that Sully's jaw tightens, and during the post-exam small talk that she moves away from the cave wall, and more toward the open space. She paces a little, using the bean of her flashlight to inspect some of the graffiti interior, or that's what it looks like she's doing. She sighs out a breath. "A tattoo artist would be familiar enough with the anatomy of the body to do it." Olivia doesn't need that confirmation, of course, but the woman offers it anyway. "I've known a few tattoo artists." She glances back at the body, then says, "Pardon me. I'm going to make good use of the uniform to radio up for my assistant." The way she says that suggests there may be some friction between the pair, but that's death squad business. She flips a small white card out of her back pocket and hands it over to Olivia. "My number's on the back. Please use it anytime if you have questions or updates. I'm fairly hands on. If you'd like to be present at the post-mortem, I'll call you when I begin."

Olivia has no reason to think there is anything up with Sully. She's done her check and now wants to make sure the cave doesn't block her radio transmission. Olivia wanders back towards the entrance too. Death Squad business is indeed Death Squad business. She takes the card and looks it over for a moment before tucking it into her back pocket. "Thanks. And, yeah, I'd like to be there. If I'm not being shot at or otherwise on a case at the time. Don't wait for me though. Sorry to ruin your holidays."

"Bodies are my business," the M.E. says, stepping out of the cave's entrance. Sully's shoulders visibly relax once done. "I'm probably going to hesitate to listen to the Christmas music for a few hours, but, please, no apologies. I've seen worse." She glances back at the cave, eyes intent on the blackness within, then turns away from it. "I hope the rest of your evening is more pleasant, and that you don't have the misfortune of meeting a bullet. I don't want to see any cops on my table." Again, she means. She regards Olivia for a few beats, nods, and turns. There's the lingering impression that she was memorizing the other woman's face as it is, alive and animate. The ME hikes up the way to the uniform and speaks quietly with him for a moment.

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