Having a separate room where she could actually lay out what she wanted like this was definitely something she appreciated. That aside, it was probably a good thing someone had the foresight to put the cube wall material against this wall too, or she'd have had to get creative with her markers. This was, it was nice and clear and she could see exactly what she was looking for.
And what she was looking at was a giant map of the greater Dallas area, and a second map next to it of one particular district in Dallas. The large map made why she had focused in on it clear. It had groupings of pins too close to tell apart. The blown up map of the district though, she could make out streets much easier. Maria looked it over one more time before she headed over to find her lieutenant and sergeant.
"Excuse me, lieutenant?" She had found Xiaolian first. "I finished with the incident map I was working on, and I think I've found something." She had mapped any incidents of aggression that had been reported to them, and mapped the unseen crimes as well. And judging by the number of green pins in the district that she had blown up, well. She had definitely found something.
Xiaolian blinked for a moment as her train of thought was suddenly derailed. "I'm sorry.. what?" She asked looking up from her computer and a stack of papers that had been hastily stapled together. Notes in a spidery hand had been furiously scrawled across paragraphs and diagrams on the paper. With various notes and highlights of Xiaolian's own personal, it was very likely incomprehensible system that only the lieutenant could decipher.
"Could you repeat that please... Zhang was it?" She asked again, Maria's name rolling off her tongue like it was second nature. In addition to her native Ba-Shu and the archaic, formal dialects spoken by the Guardians, Xiaolian also spoke Chinese; Mandarin and Cantonese. Her family had settled in China after fleeing war and destruction on her home plane, later they had come to the US easily hidden among the new Chinese immigrants who were also leaving China for similar reasons. It had been easy for the Ba-Shu to blend in, assimilate, and adopt much of the culture of their new home.
Eventually work with MCU and the Black Lotus program had found her back in China, much to her chagrin, and her knack with the languages had been put to work learning Hong Kong's dialect of Cantonese in addition to the Mandarin she already knew.
"You said something about an incident map?" Xiaolian offered trying to see if she really hadn't misheard their newest Specialist.
The other actually said her last name correctly. That was relatively rare. "Yes ma'am." They had only been introduced that morning. "Maria Zhang. I've been working on an incident map for the case, tracking instances of increased aggression from the reports we've gotten. To try and track down where the mask may be, since we think it may have an area effect." The other had apparently been distracted when she had said what she was going to try earlier. That was fine. It was an intense job.
"I mapped different incidents according to what the crime was. Aggravated robbery, assaults, conflicts between groups that led to blows, things like that. I tracked some petty crime reports also, to see if I could find some sort of epicenter. I pulled in some mundane data as well. I hope that was okay." It likely wasn't just affecting the unseen after all. "I'm not sure if its how you usually work cases as a specialist, but it worked when I was a detective, at least." And she stuck with what she knew.
"If I'm right, we have a pretty serious problem coming up on our hands. Especially after I compared it to the population maps we keep for the Unseen." Largely meant to track what areas they needed to see to themselves rather than anything else. But it also tracked what species was where which apparently had its uses.
It took a minute for Xiaolian's mind to switch gears from the problem with the Ratatoskr and Guardians to the job that actually paid her bills. "An incident map?" She repeated desperately scrambling to remember what she had told Tyrus. There were always things that lay just beyond the reach of her vision, which for the most part had been occluded by the veil of this plane. She had never been able to figure out just how to work with it specifically, as it was almost a living breathing thing. While she respected that it existed and was what allowed this world magic, it also made things slightly more difficult for her as a Guardian. It was difficult to control and tended to take offense at magics from other sources, even if Heaven allowed it.
"No no no.. that's not only fine, that's great Maria!" She finally sputtered anxious to look at what this new specialist had created. "Let's see it." Xiaolian added trying to curb her enthusiasm for the potential break through that a new set of eyes had provided.
Maria led the way to their evidence area and gestured as she spoke. "I went with red for assaults, white for burglary, and yellow for inter species conflicts. But I'm mostly concerned with the green. That one represents the aggressors, the person at fault for each incident. And it's pretty damning." She admitted. She ran her finger over the pin heads and frowned. "This is where the majority of the Cedar Ridge pack lives." And it had the highest concentration of green pins. "I can't pin point an exact location, but it looks like there may be a central area to the outbreak."
They were more tightly clusted in some spots, but some of those were apartment complexes. "When I repeated the reported assaults with mundane results, that's the blue, the clusters are even more clear." It wasn't just the pack that lived in that area though. Normal humans did as well. The mundane police had been called out to more domestic violence events in the area as well and she wasn't certain how to really show that. She only had so many different colors for the pins after all.
Xiaolian frowned as she looked at the map, and knew full well that Maria was right. The inter-species conflicts had been by and large aimed at the Dragon Court, which up until now had been doing its best to ignore the wolves. She suspected that Catherine's patience and distaste for conflict had something to do with that, but it also meant that Grigore had agreed to take a route that would make the court look good. Ruling out their involvement was nigh impossible, and given that she was currently enlisted to serve them, even more difficult.
"The area is largely middle to lower class in socio economic status, so that might be data we can throw out. Cedar Hill PD also has frequent fliers that are gang related that are solidly mundane we can also toss." Xiaolian commented taking a pencil and circling areas on the map. "If we eliminate these areas.." She said, thinking out loud before pulling her phone out of her pocket. She had one thing she wanted confirmed though, something she had suspected since she had read O'Hara's tea leaves a few weeks back.
Pulling her phone out of her pocket, she stepped off to the side as she dialed the number by memory. "Hey it's me. No... but I do have a question for you." She rattled off in language that sounded like Chinese to the unfamiliar ear, and to others just another dialect. "You saw the leaves right? What did they tell you?"Xiaolian continued, speaking with a close familiarity to the person on the other end of the line.
Tinny strains and snippets of the same language escaped from the lieutenant's phone. Sighing with annoyance as the conversation continued, "That's not what I'm asking... I'm asking about the idiot wolf." She clearly wasn't hearing what she wanted. "Yes.. Z... that. Thank you, that's what I thought."
Hanging up, Xiaolian slid the phone back into her pocket, her frown deepening. "We might want to discuss this with the Warden. I suspect O'Hara has been sending us in circles, and has something planned."
That sounded like Chinese, though a dialect she didn't recognize. No wonder the other could actually pronounce her last name. Though she supposed the name was a decent give away. There wasn't much of an accent though so she hadn't expected it. Maybe they knew some people in common outside of work? The community was a decent size yeah, but it was only so large. Then again, if their paths were just only crossing, maybe not. Bà would know. Then again, there was every chance that outside of work she'd get heckled for only being half Chinese and her Bà not marrying a good Chinese girl.
"Alright. Do you want me to give you the run down first, or should we wait for the Warden?" Either way worked. She was a little nervous at the idea of doing it in front of the warden for the first go round, in case there was something she had missed, but she was going to have to get used to that, wasn't she?
O'Hara was the local alpha wolf. If he had been sending them in circles, like the other suspected, it was for a reason. The question was, what was the reason? As it was, the wolves had it alright here. Most of Dallas did, despite the insanity that came from being on ley lines. It could be a little chaotic, but no more for any one group. At least, that was the impression Maria always had. Dallas was dangerous, and had its downsides, but everywhere was dangerous when it came down to it.
Xiaolian thought for a moment, crossing her arms and looking at the map as if it were one of her divination tools. But there was no magic imbued there, nothing that told her anything other than something about O'Hara's story stunk. The man was getting older, and not everyone could ride the wolf as long as he had. Sooner or later he would have to appoint a new alpha and retire, but it looked to Xiaolian based on what the reading at told her that the danger hadn't been for O'Hara but for them. What she had told Tyrus and what her brother had told her only confirmed it.
There had been a reason she had insisted on that particular place to eat, not only was it generally quiet, but if anything went wrong her brother would have her back. Even though her job with MCU wasn't exactly well regarded, it paid her bills, where as being a Guardian didn't. Heaven didn't exactly provide so well for it's servants these days.
"Give me the run down first. I'll see if I can't condense it for the Warden, she hasn't exactly had an abundance of time lately."
"Right. I did an analyse primarily of the unseen portion of the community. In comparison to previous months, and even this time of year last year, there's been a huge increase in aggressive incidents." She explained. "Arrests have remained about stable despite this." Arrests were always stable. There were quotas and half of Dallas wouldn't lift a finger above the quota. Maria knew perfectly well when the safest time to commit a crime was. The second week of the month. All the over achievers would be done with their quota and the underachievers wouldn't have started theirs yet. It was something she didn't speak about, and took pains to never acknowledge.
"Or at least, unseen arrests have remained stable. Mundane arrests for this area have gone up, largely domestic violence, but also crimes of passion. The epicenter appears to be this apartment complex." She tapped the head of one of the pins. "It's werewolf owned and werewolf heavy in populace. There's some mundanes there, but never for long, according to its reputation. They discourage renters from the unseen from sticking around also, but have a bit more patience with them." Not enough to let them stay long, but enough that any calls of discrimination were tricky to prove. Maria had dealt with that shitty hand before and had been able to spot that trick a mile away.
"I don't have a list of who lives there, but I didn't want to tip off the complex that we need to look into them yet. I can pull the names from the unseen population database if we need to though."
Xiaolian nodded in agreement, the unseen community in Dallas often played their own version of the race card. Some landlords wanted absolutely nothing to do with the unseen, or went out of their way to cater to specific populations. It was aggravating to say the least, but there were no civil rights laws to provide protected status to the unseen yet. Surely some were working on it, but Xiaolian had yet to see anything other than what they currently hand. That wasn't to say that what they had was bad, just that there was still a great deal of work to be done.
"Cross reference that particular address within the population database, it won't tip off the complex. Also look for licenses for prohibited magics.. we've had some issues with those in the past."
Xiaolian knew how to get around tipping off the population, it just required being smart with the tools they had. Something that Molly often didn't think to do, and often resulted in them struggling to complete certain details before they were due on the Warden's desk.
"This is a great start, and I think the Warden will be delighted to have insight into a very big problem that's been plaguing her for some time."
"Yes ma'am. And thank you." The pleased smile was obvious and for good reason, as far as she was concerned. She had done good work and it apparently panned out already. Now to keep it up. That was something she was sure she could do. "What sort of prohibited magics should I be looking for? I know we're on the lookout for a rogue blood magic practitioner, but anything else?"
There were other options after all, though she was pretty sure she'd know if there was a necromancer in town. Nobody liked necromancers after all. That would have gotten out very quickly.
That was a loaded question if Xiaolian had ever heard one. "Necromancy, but only in that specific area." She finally answered. Planar and other magics could quickly be excluded as they were solely the realm of the Ratatoskr and Guardians. Even then, they did what they could to avoid it being on anyone's radar; although Molly had done a good enough job of blowing everything wide open. It seemed that the last few decades of work for Xiaolian had very quickly gone up in flames as soon as the Council decided she needed to babysit the other, or be partnered with her as they called it. Their logic was that their magics were similar enough, even though Xiaolian had done everything she could not to be pegged as a Guardian. The Ratatoskr didn't much care for them and the feeling was often mutual on the side of the Guardians.
"Although I will be very surprised if you get a hit for necromancy. There's only one known, licensed practitioner in the greater Dallas area." And he wasn't currently practicing. At least that's what Xiaolian understood, and she preferred to stay out of whatever it was the family was currently going through.
They had a necromancer in the area? Maria pictured a decrepit old man and shuddered. Creepy. And no good as far as she was concerned. "I'm surprised we don't hear more about them." They couldn't be well liked. "I'll check though." Necromancy was creepy and gross and she couldn't be talked out of that belief. She didn't even really think about the fact that a license could be given out for it. "Should I check for any registered blood magic users? With the death of the last court, there shouldn't be any though."
The last court had been licensed because it would have been a political nightmare for them not to be and everyone knew it. Of course, the only one left was Mr. Rahal and he had been human when the court was killed, so probably didn't have a license.
"There won't be, you're right. But just in case there's something we're missing add in the parameters anyway. The database should be smart enough to toss out anything that doesn't match." Xiaolian explained seeing Maria's discomfort. Necromancers were few and far between, the talent wasn't a thing that ran in family lines. Instead it was something that was required to be taught, and often twisted the user to the point of no return; both body and soul. "Blood magic users don't always register... but it couldn't hurt in case they were picked up on a bogus charge or it came out during questioning on something else." She added thoughtfully.
Xiaolian had worked with Brandon years ago back in Hong Kong on a rather nasty incident that had required the skills of a necromancer. They wouldn't have been able to question the victims otherwise or get anywhere if it hadn't been for his skills. The Council had extended it as a resource, and while most people had been loathe to use it, Xiaolian saw it as just another tool in her arsenal. But then again what she saw in Hong Kong often paled in comparison to what she had seen during her time with the Black Lotus program.
"Blood magic users don't register because of how regulated it is." It was completely illegal to learn and to teach without serious paperwork and people were discouraged from using it from a very young age. Unseen children were precious, yes, but they weren't shielded from learning the full truth about the nasty consequences of forbidden magic. Maria could remember certain pictures very vividly from one of her middle school classes. They were very serious about keeping children safe and that meant being honest with them, even on uncomfortable subjects.
As far as Maria was concerned, it made the unseen children more responsible and mature then their mundane counterparts. They'd still do stupid shit, of course, but they'd at least stick to less harmful stupid shit. "Alright. I'll check for any notable people who may live in the area as well. If one of the leaders of the various groups lives in the area, maybe they'll know more about it." If they could get them talking.
Getting politicians and leaders of any sort talking was the trickiest bit. They were entirely too good at weaseling their way around things.