The Marble Maiden
Detective Hastings stepped out of his vehicle and approached the officer in charge.
“What do we got?” he asked.
The officer, named Brant, was old but not grizzled. He’d taken it easy his whole career and was usually found behind a desk or doing community outreach. The fact that he was here meant the precinct was really short handed.
“Gang, possibly Spiders, holed up in the piano room. They have hostages and are making a lot of demands and threats. Don’t know how long we can keep this up,” Officer Brant replied.
“SWAT’s almost here. Just keep them talking,” said Hastings.
The home was a three story beauty, with pillars bookending the front door, a balcony on the side and a pool and Jacuzzi out back. Two Porsches were parked out front. It was the product of new money. The nouveau riche flocked to Tanglewood, giving it a much needed wealth injection courtesy of Silicon Valley. The old families responded by putting up hedge fences around their properties. Even among the rich there were divisions.
“Can we get an eye in the sky over here?” Hastings asked.
“There are five other… incidents, events, whatever, going on right now all over town. Until back up arrives this is all we got,” said Brant.
Hastings grumbled. JCPD was stretched really thin these days. The police department purge currently underway was no help either. Almost all of the city’s resources that wasn’t going toward the Centennial Celebration was tied up in the new mayor’s anti-corruption crusade. Not that he didn’t agree with it, just that the timing was terrible. Biggest scandal in decades, hundreds of cases now up in the air. Phrases like “police conspiracy” and “death squad” were being tossed around now. He’d heard rumors. Stories about cops moonlighting as vigilantes were as old as the city itself. A name, the Order, popped up from time to time, like a ghost, haunting police investigations all across the Evergreen State. No Mask Laws were going to help if even half the things he’d heard were true.
The police were basically crippled. They needed boots on the ground. They needed better funding. They needed a lot of things if they were going to keep the tide of Spider activity from boiling over into, why sugar coat it, nicer parts of town. Seattle didn’t have this problem. They had officers and funding to spare. They even had a damn drone. It’s 2010. Where was their police drone? Wasn’t Jet City supposed to be a bastion of futurism or something?
“We got movement, second story window,” Officer Brant said. Hastings felt his heart jump right into his throat. One of the thugs had a hostage at gun point.
“We want five fucking million fucking dollars and a mutha fuckin plane to Mexico in five fucking minutes or I’m killing this bitch!” Hastings heard the thug demand over the phone.
“That kind of thing takes time. We’re doing the best we can,” the officer on the phone said frantically.
“Five fucking minutes!”
The woman sobbed as the thug tightened his grip on her throat. Hastings had to look away. Working the freak beat, he’d seen his fair share of hostage negotiations gone wrong. These days he showed up for the aftermath, when the bodies had cooled and the forensics team were busy collecting evidence, but back when he was still a rookie he’d been on the bull horn trying to talk scum bags like this down, buying time until hostage negotiators or superheroes showed up.
He tried to keep the memory at bay. Jewelry store heist gone wrong. It was a sunny day. Barely a cloud in the sky. The smell of corner market produce clung to the humid air, fighting through car exhaust and hot pavement. Three men in ski masks vaulting over cars, waving guns in the air, sacks full of diamonds trailing behind them. Shopping cart barricades. Saturday afternoon shoppers turned human shields.
Hastings shook himself out of it. This wasn’t going to be another Andy’s Market. Tonight would be different. He called dispatch and asked for an ETA on that SWAT team. Eight minutes out, they said. Shit.
“We got guys out back, right?” Hastings asked.
“Um…” Brant hesitated.
“Tell me we got someone round back.”
“I… I think this is everyone,” Brant said. There were four officers there, including Brant. Hastings racked his brain. Too many unknowns. Not enough information.
“Okay we need eyes on the backyard. Two of you get on that. The rest of us can handle the front,” said Hastings.
“But there’s only…” Brant began.
“You don’t need five people if all you’re doing is waiting for SWAT,” Hastings said gravely. “Three is plenty. You, me and phone guy will stake out the front and you two will at least try and start establishing some kind of perimeter. Come on, let’s go!”
The two officers sprung into action. The officer on the phone seemed to be getting more flustered as the seconds passed.
“Three fucking minutes and this bitch is dead!” the thug screamed over the phone.
“We need more time. We’re still trying to get in touch with the right people,” the officer replied.
“Graaah!” the thug screamed.
“What do we do? SWAT is still five minutes away,” Officer Brant said.
“Just keep ’em talking. All we’re doing is running out the clock,” said Hastings.
“Yeah but, what happens then?” Brant asked.
“What do you want to do? Kick down the doors and run in guns blazing? Right now, we’re just sitting in cover and waiting.”
“It kinda makes you miss the old days, huh?” Officer Brant asked after a bit. Hastings shook his head.
“Men in tights? Please.”
“Say what you want about their fashion, but they got results,” said Brant.
“Were you around for Andy’s Corner Market?” Hastings asked. Brant thought for a moment.
“Yeah. Lemme see. ’96? ’97?” Brant thought aloud.
“July 1996. My partner and I were first on scene. A trio of jewel thieves had the unfortunate luck of robbing the place with me just a block away. We chased them. They got into Andy’s before we could catch ’em. They took hostages. We had to back off and wait for back up to arrive. All we had to do was wait them out. Everything would have been fine if we’d just done that. Waited. Then he showed up.”
“He?” Brant asked.
“A Mask in a leather get-up wielding a chain like a whip. Called himself Street Justice. He dove right in there. Tried to save the day. Eight people died, including him. It was a massacre. He had no idea what he was doing and eight people died because of it.”
“They’re not all like that, Hastings,” Brant said.
“Okay, that’s it! I’m counting down!” the thug screamed.
“No wait! Please!” the officer on the phone yelled.
“Shit! What do we do?” Brant asked.
“I-I-” Hastings stuttered.
“Oh God!” the woman screamed.
“You need to stop this! There’s another way,” the officer on the phone pleaded.
“We have to… tell them we…” Hastings stumbled over his words.
“Help me please help me,” the woman sobbed.
The thug disappeared from the window. The woman scurried away in a panic.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” the officer on the phone asked. Someone bellowed in pain on the other end of the line.
“You guys aren’t Spiders. What is this, amateur hour?” a female voice said.
There were flashes of gunfire. Men flew across the room, breaking through walls, shattering chandeliers, one even crashed through the window, landing on the Porsche.
“What’s happening?” Hastings asked.
“I… I don’t know,” the officer said.
“Sir, I think we’re about to witness a bit of the good old days,” said Brant.
“Not again. Move. Move in! Everyone move in!” Hastings commanded.
They covered the distance in seconds, adrenaline propelling them forward. They entered the front door, which was unlocked, and followed the sounds of struggle upstairs, passing several unconscious thugs on the way. Hastings took the stairs two at a time and rounded the corner to a scene of chaos. Men were sprawled everywhere, sticking out of walls and crashed through furniture in an almost cartoonish fashion. The perpetrator, what appeared to be a statue of a young female made out of marble, stood in the middle of the living room, slapping the last of the thugs away and knocking them out.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hands in the air!”
The statue looked non-plussed. “We got wounded in here so if you could get some EMTs that would be awesome,” she said.
“Get on the ground,” Hastings ordered, almost snarling.
“You’re welcome. Sheesh,” she said, turning to leave.
“Who are you?” the hostage from before asked.
“What are you?” Brant asked.
“Just a concerned citizen trying to help out,” the statue replied.
“She’s incredible. She’s some kind of marble maiden,” an older gentleman said.
“Yeah. Yeah! You’re right. I am… The Marble Maiden!” she said in a triumphant pose.