“We copy Link! We’re fifteen seconds out! Just hold on! Link! Do you copy!? Link!”
The flash filled the sky and all aerial craft shook. As things evened out, whispers of incredulity passed between the officers. The brilliant light shining from the ground below was quite intense. A tap of a console froze the image. Barnes reclined in his seat as he stared at the screen hovering in the air over his desk. The sensor readings accompanying the image showed energy levels were off the chart. Whatever that was, it was intense.
“Would you care to explain what this is we’re looking at here, Detective?” Barnes asked.
Link sat in a chair across from his Chief. He gazed at the flash filling the screen. He was still trying to come to grips with what he witnessed himself. Eventually, he just looked away and continued to rub the back of his left hand.
“I don’t know, sir.” he said in quiet astonishment.
“You don’t know,” Barnes echoed as he stood then walked slowly around his desk to look out one of the windows to the rest of the precinct, “You were the only officer on site. You had initial contact with the subject. You maintained contact with him almost constantly throughout the whole incident. You managed to bring him down. You called for backup frantically after you read him his rights. Your suit’s connection was spotty. There was a flash of light that knocked out power for a ten block radius for seventy-one seconds! For gods’ sake Link, we have a recording of you saying ‘there may not be much of him left’ by the time reinforcements arrive! Backup arrived to see you, on your feet, riot baton in hand, your riot suit looking like it had gone through hell, and you don’t know!?”
“Yes sir… that’s right. I don’t know.” Link said quietly.
The Chief turned to face the Detective, leaning in close. He was extraordinarily unhappy.
“You were wearing your com even after I ordered you off duty! You pulled your sidearm! You weren’t even supposed to have it! You pursued a suspect while on bereavement suspension! You were involved in an incident that almost cost the life of one of your fellow officers! The cost of the damage caused by all of this is totaling in the hundreds of thousands of credits! With all that you’ve put us through today, you had better damn well figure out what the hell happened down there!” Barnes roared.
This wasn’t the same sort of raking over the coals as Link had gotten just before being promoted. This was deeply serious. Something had happened that the Detective could not explain, and he was going to be grilled over it until he was a blackened Hyrule bass. Barnes growled as he backed away, finally reigning himself in. He sighed and fell silent. He’d already taken a blood pressure pill. He didn’t want to have to take another.
Link looked down at his hands, trying to piece together what he went through. It was so much to process. He couldn’t make sense of much of it. His memory of the event was spotty at best. There was this moment where everything just went hazy and he couldn’t push through to see what was at the center.
“I… I don’t know. I just… I was scared. Those things were everywhere. They were coming up out of the ground. I saw what they did to the perp. It was horrible. I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want that to happen to Lilly. And then… something just… snapped. Everything after that is just… fuzzy.” the Detective explained.
“Well that was one hell of a snap! Analytics is telling me there was enough energy flowing through the area to power the whole city for a week!” the Chief shouted.
He sighed again and plopped back down into his chair, rubbing his eyes before gazing at the still shot again. It looked like a bomb had gone off, but there was no actual explosion, just raw power flowing out in every direction. The readings displayed were hard to believe.
“That’s all I know. I can’t explain the light or what happened to those things after,” Link said, “Believe me, I want to know as much as you.”
“Just-” Barnes said, interrupting the Detective with a lifted hand, “Start again from the moment you moved to arrest the perp. Go slow and try to remember everything, every little detail. I’ve got people on my ass to get an official story of what happened.”
“I wish I could offer you more. I just… I can’t get it all straight.” Link replied.
Barnes looked back to the Detective.
“Well I hope you start soon. The Regent is pressuring me for information. He’s bringing in his own men. Says this is going to be classified a matter of national security. When that happens, we can’t touch the case. I don’t want to be completely in the dark on this, Link. If I’m going to help you, you’ve got to help me.” the Chief said.
Link huffed a little. He hated hearing that the TSDF was muscling their way in on this, especially with Regent Aaron Yates at the helm.
“I don’t see what gives them the right.” the Detective muttered.
“Link! The perp you were chasing is dead and you’re the only officer that was on site! They could take you into custody for manslaughter! Maybe worse! Whatever that burst was and the trouble it caused, they have the power to easily pin that on you!” Barnes shouted, his blood pressure starting to go up again, “You have got to give me something!”
In that instant, a moment of clarity struck the Detective. He froze as a single detail crystallized in his mind. It was impossible to deny. The shocking revelation left him unable to consider the politics involved in the admission escaping his lips.
“It… it was me,” he said and looked up as Barnes locked eyes with him, “Chief… it was me. I caused that flash of light. I don’t know how, but I did.”
The older man just stared at him for a moment before finally sighing. He rubbed his eyes and reclined in his chair again.
“I can’t protect you, you know. Not after you’ve admitted that.” Barnes said unhappily.
“I know, Chief. You have to arrest me.” Link said.
“No, not arrest you. On the record, we’re bringing you in for questioning. An official investigation will be launched and you’ll have to be removed from active duty pending the result. I’ll need your badge and sidearm, Link.” the Chief said.
The Detective stood and reached up to the metallic broach hanging on his uniform. He ran his fingers over it, specifically over the word detailing his rank. There wasn’t anything he could do. Resisting was foolish and it would only cause more problems than it might solve. He unfastened the badge and rest it carefully on the Chief’s desk. It was painful losing it.
The pistol Link had carried during every patrol, during the pursuit of the ‘wizard’, was placed on the desk next to the badge. As he tried to figure out what he could have done differently, he could only come to the conclusion that it happened the only way it could have happened. It didn’t give Link much comfort.
“You have my word we will get to the bottom of this and you’ll have this back in no time. Whatever happened out there… you aren’t guilty of anything criminal. You’re the best we’ve got.” Barnes said.
Link nodded and sighed, his eyes still focused on the symbol of his rank. Even as Barnes took it and moved it to one of the drawers of his desk, he followed it.
“I understand sir. I’ll be in the operator bay if you need me. I want to see if they managed to recover anything from the suit’s black box.” Link said.
“I don’t think that’s a wise idea. You can’t be involved in your own investigation. Whatever they find, I promise you’ll get a copy. For now… just… go check on Lilly.” the Chief said.
Lilly. Link had almost completely forgotten about her. He nodded to the Chief and turned to leave, walking out of his office only to receive a number of stares from those outside. They all froze as he appeared, whispering amongst themselves. He frowned, not liking being the subject of rumor or something to be feared. The Detective pushed it out of his mind and quickly moved down to the station’s medical facility. Lilly’s injuries had proven to be virtually ineffectual so a trip to the hospital was unnecessary.
The young lady sat in the infirmary sipping a styrene foam cup of coffee with a blanket draped about her shoulders. As the suspended officer entered, she stood, setting the drink aside and moved to embrace him.
“Link! Finally! I was worried they wouldn’t let me see you before they sent me home! Are you alright!?” she asked.
The young man returned the hug tightly. He was glad to see his ‘little sister’ was unharmed.
“I’m okay. I’m relieved of duty for now but none the worse for the wear. How about you? You’re not hurt are you?” Link asked.
He couldn’t help himself. He could see she was well enough, but her wellbeing was paramount. It tended to drive the asking of unnecessary questions like that.
“I’m fine, a few scratches but nothing serious. Why’d they relieve you of duty?” Lilly asked.
“It’s nothing. Just procedure after something like this.” Link explained.
That was half true. The force had never encountered something like this. It was entirely new territory for them. However, being investigated did demand suspension so he wasn’t telling a complete lie.
“Something like this!? They have procedures for what happened!?” the lady asked.
Link frowned. That suggested she was aware of more than just the inciting attack.
“What all do you remember?” the Detective asked.
“I remember getting attacked by that creepy bastard. He stole Colin’s necklace. I tried to get back up and take it back but then I was pulled down into this black pit. I couldn’t see anything. I could hear this awful wailing, like there were people being tortured. I couldn’t understand any of it and there were hands grabbing at me all over, trying to pull me down even further. I screamed and fought but it didn’t do any good and eventually just passed out. When I woke up, we were in the abandoned lot with all those cops around us.” Lilly explained.
She had slept through the incident for the most part. That was probably for the best. Link wasn’t sure he was ready to share the heavier details.
“They’re treating it like a straight abduction. Someone will be by soon to ask you a few questions, get your official statement, that whole song and dance. They’ll be taking one from me as well so I probably will be busy for a while.” Link said, trying his best to make everything sound routine and ordinary so she wouldn’t worry.
“Did you get Colin’s necklace back?” Lilly asked.
Link thought back to pulling it from the ‘wizard’s pocket and watching it glow. He had conveniently left that little detail out of his report thus far.
“It’s being held as evidence,” he answered quickly, “They’ll release it after the investigation is over. I’ll make sure you get it back.”
Lilly nodded and picked her coffee back up to take another sip, still trembling from the experience. She had been the target only because of the necklace. What was so special about it? Was it a wise idea to give it back to her? Maybe it should stay in the evidence lockup.
“Detective Link?” came a new voice from behind the young man.
It drew his attention to a newcomer garbed similarly to the Regent. That brought back the knot in the Detective’s stomach that had been there pretty much constantly since the start of the incident, just to varying degrees.
“That’s me. Who are you?” Link asked.
“I’m with Royal Intelligence, here on behalf of Regent Yates. If you could come with me please, we’re ready to begin.” the formal-looking man said.
The young lady frowned as she gazed at the man in his cleanly pressed suit, noticing the emblem on his coat that verified the branch he worked for.
“Hold on… why’s Royal Intelligence involved in this?” she asked, suddenly terribly concerned.
“Leave it alone, Lil,” the Detective said, “Just cooperate with them. They’re upset over something I did.”
She blinked, taking half a step back from Link.
“Something you did? Did you… kill him?” Lilly asked.
“No,” Link said, then paused and corrected himself, “Well… the perp’s dead, that’s true, but I didn’t do that. This is… something else. Like I said, they’re gonna take my statement and get one from you. It’s not a big deal. I’ll see you later, okay?”
Lilly wasn’t exactly satisfied by his explanation but she relented for the time being. Sooner or later, she’d get answers out of him. No point in delaying him in meeting with the Regent’s men. Link turned and took his leave with the clean-cut man, following just a few steps behind him. The agent’s posture and stride nagged at Link. It seemed like everything about those who worked for the central agencies were just trained–maybe even bred–to be obnoxious and pretentious. He pushed the thought away. This wasn’t the time to be judgmental.
“Thank you, Detective,” the man from Royal Intelligence said, “I understand how difficult it can be to tend to these unpleasant matters when your mind is so heavily focused on someone you care about. Especially when they need you. We will try to make this as swift as possible so you can return to what matters.”
“Her name is Lilly. Just in case you were curious.” Link said, trying not to be rude.
“We know who she is, Detective. A lovely young lady with a most unfortunate recent history. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish she has been going through.” the man said.
He almost sounded sincere. Since when did the government types get emotions installed? They continued down the hallway until they reached the interrogation room they had commandeered for their purposes. The door opened and in they walked. It wasn’t what Link expected to see. The interrogation room had been a stark, bare, featureless room with a single table and three chairs. Now it was far more than that. Bigger too.
Somehow, they had managed to alter the floor plan of the precinct without letting on there were any renovations in the works. The floor was covered in maroon carpet. The basic table had been replaced with a much larger one made of dark-stained wood surrounding the vast, dark computer interface panel in its center. The chairs were more comfortable, lined with plush velvet. The far wall carried the royal crest prominently in the center and two other emblems on either side, smaller and further down to show that nothing was more important than the Hyrule royal family. It suddenly felt like he was actually in the royal palace.
Regent Yates sat in the center chair opposite where Link would be seated along with one of his aids. Barnes was already there, taking the chair adjacent to the stunned and confused officer. Link slowly took his place, finding the change in venue quite distracting.
“Hello again, Detective. I’m glad you could join us. I do apologize for any inconvenience we might have caused you with this hearing but it is necessary so that we might get to the bottom of what happened.” Regent Yates said.
The man who escorted Link moved around the table and sat next to the Regent. Barnes leaned over to his officer and whispered softly to him.
“This isn’t an actual interrogation. You don’t need a lawyer. You’re not under arrest,” the Chief said, “At least that’s what they told me. If you don’t feel comfortable answering something or I don’t like where this is going, I can put a stop to it. Just say the word.”
Link nodded quietly back to his commanding officer, comforted that Barnes had his back.
“I have with me today Agent Auru and you’ve already met Agent Chudley,” Yates said, “They’re joining us from Royal Intelligence as my counsel. We just want to ask you a few questions regarding last night’s events.”
“Go ahead. Can’t say I remember everything terribly clearly. I’ll try my best to answer as accurately as I can.” Link replied.
“After what you’ve been through, it’s understandable that your memory may not be entirely clear. Just answer as best you can. Now… would you be kind enough to take us through a brief timeline of the events of last night?” Yates asked.
Link turned to look at the Chief. Barnes nodded to him as he reached forward, tapping on the panel within the table to bring up the recorded data necessary to corroborate the young man’s testimony.
“Well, I was walking Miss Malory home last night after the wake,” the Detective began, “We arrived at the street her building is located on and separated. I continued on down the larger avenue to head home myself. I bumped into the assailant as I walked before the incident began. I heard Miss Malory scream and I turned around, drew my weapon and ran to her aid. There I saw the suspect restraining her, trying to relieve her of a piece of property, a necklace.”
“Yes, the necklace,” said Agent Chudley, “This was something that belonged to your deceased brother, correct?”
The Detective didn’t like the interruption, nor what might be insinuated by it. He was feeling terribly exposed and such a detail ran into territory he didn’t want to go over.
“Yes… it was Colin’s. I gave it to Lilly the night I learned of his death.” Link said.
“Do you know why the perpetrator might have wanted it so badly?” Agent Auru asked.
Link sighed and rolled his eyes, already annoyed by this.
“No, honestly I don’t. My initial reaction was he was stealing it to sell for drugs or to get another euphoria session.” he answered.
Agent Auru leaned forward, interrupting him yet again.
“Forgive me Detective, what is a ‘euphoria session’?” he asked.
Barnes fielded this one.
“It’s a form of virtual reality we started seeing a rash of recently. The subject is provided an idealized world for themselves based on what they wish they could get out of life. It’s shown to have highly addictive properties and has even resulted in brain death in a few cases. We treat Euphoria as a class B illicit substance and its trafficking as a felony. It’s only been around for a couple of weeks.”
That satisfied the agent.
“I see, and you thought this assailant was one such addict looking to procure another… ‘fix’?” Auru asked.
“Yes, that was my initial reaction. I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.” Link answered.
“And what makes you say that, Detective?” Yates asked, finally chiming in.
Link’s skin began to crawl. Something was up. When they were asking fundamental questions, it meant they were wanting to trap someone in a lie or keep them from being able to cover or change the story. Still, he felt he had nothing to hide. He just hoped what he wasn’t hiding didn’t cost him dearly.
“The perpetrator made several comments that suggested he was part of the grassroots anti-technology movement. Among other aspects of his person.” Link explained.
“Could you clarify for me please?” Yates asked.
The Regent seemed to be shifting his focus back and forth between what was on the screen hovering over the table and two or three pads passing between the three opposite the Detective.
“The perpetrator had a previously unknown ability to control fire. Scans indicate he possessed no obvious devices or chemicals. Unusual energy signatures suggest the flames spontaneously combusted around his hands with no visible fuel or spark. Towards the end of the encounter, he referred to himself as a wizard.” Link said.
The three men whispered amongst themselves, leaving the young man rather uncomfortable. Barnes seemed similarly uneasy.
“A wizard you say? In your professional opinion, would you say that term is accurate?” Agent Chudley asked.
Link coughed lightly in derision. He couldn’t be serious could he? When the look he received told him the question was sincere, he answered.
“In my ‘professional opinion’,” the Detective said with barely contained sarcasm, “The perpetrator was deeply disturbed.”
“So you would not describe him as he called himself, a wizard?” Yates asked, similarly earnest.
By now, they were going around enough to get under the Detective’s skin. He rolled his eyes and groaned in frustration, before leaning in over the table, hoping to emphasize his point.
“This guy managed to shoot down an air-bike with a single shot, after creating a hole in the sidewalk that swallowed up an innocent woman. He did this without any known devices on his person. I don’t know how he did it. I can’t say for sure it was magic or that he was a wizard because, quite frankly, that subject wasn’t exactly covered in school or basic training. If you want a more official sounding answer, I’m reserving judgment until someone can teach me about magic,” Link said, trying to restrain his annoyance, “Until then, if you want to call him a wizard, knock yourselves out. You won’t hear me complain.”
“I think that is acceptable,” the Regent said and whispered with his two aids again, leaving the Detective and Chief to wonder again, “Moving a little further along, I’m interested in the portion of your report where you describe how the perpetrator died. You have in your report that he began raving about a… ‘reclamation’ is the word you used.”
“That’s right.” Link said.
“We hear thugs talk about it around town sometimes,” Barnes said as he jumped in, “All the local troublemakers trying to push the anti-technology nonsense talk about ‘The Reclamation’, which I’m guessing is some kind of calamity that’s going to wipe out all our tech, send us back to the stone age. The station doesn’t take anything they say terribly seriously.”
Yates nodded, satisfied with the detailing.
“We’ve heard of the movement as well. But getting back to the perpetrator, you say-” the Regent said then paused, peering into one of the data pads handed to him to read correctly, “In your report, ‘creatures began to emerge from the shadows and attacked the perpetrator’ before turning on you. I noticed your report is missing details of how you subdued these ‘shadow creatures’. I was hoping you could provide us with those missing details.”
Barnes stepped in to try and direct the inquiry diplomatically around the delicate matter already discussed in his office.
“Since the Detective has already stated he could not clearly recall what happened in the moments before backup arrived, we’ve been trying restore whatever data could be pulled from his suit’s black box. It’s proving more difficult than we anticipated. The intense electromagnetic surge and the damage to his armor has rendered much of the data irretrievable.” the Chief said.
The Regent set his pad down, looking to the Chief as he spoke. Patiently he waited for Barnes to say his piece.
“And that is well and good. I would like the Detective to have a chance to answer for himself. I remind you both, we are not here to reprimand or press charges. We are simply here to gather what fragments are available to find the truth.” Yates said.
Link looked over to the older man as he was rendered impotent by the Regent’s request. He cleared his throat and looked back to the three across the table from him.
“I honestly don’t remember much. The details are just too fuzzy to make any real sense of.” the Detective said.
“Of course,” Yates said in a comforting, gentle tone, “As I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon for memory loss or degradation to occur after such an event. We also anticipated the difficulty in recovering the logs from your suit’s data recorder. Even the logs from your operator’s systems seems to provide only precious little information we can use. We have already gone to the trouble of downloading information from a tactical satellite that was orbiting overhead during the incident. The hope was that it might help you bring those dim memories into focus. Agent Chudley, would you be so kind as to bring those readings up?”
The aid nodded and reached forward, manipulating the details on the console within the table. The data pad he set down on the smooth black surface immediately began to upload its information into the display. The screen hovering between the two sides of the table quickly shifted to a high altitude shot of the town and the surrounding area. Near the center of the image was a glimmer of light.
Link shrank in his seat just a bit. It was so powerful it could be seen from space. Agent Chudley began zooming in on the glimmer, enhancing the image carefully. Each time it enlarged, more details became visible and the light seemed even stronger. Finally, the entire lot filled most of the display, and the once tiny dot of light was now an intense storm of energy. It was a solid golden hue, the glare blocking the view of what occurred.
“Forgive me,” Yates said, “We’re still analyzing the data it collected. Allow me to include the overlays from the other onboard instruments. What you will see is a composite of visible light spectrum, infrared, x-ray, and neutrino refraction. It should build a fairly clear image of what is obscured by the light.”
The glare quickly faded to a more reasonable, muted saturation. The first layer passed over the image, adding in simple, rudimentary shapes that could provide a vague sense of presence and posture. The next overlay slid down, the x-ray detector creating a very flat, two-dimensional scan from above. It was more detailed but it lacked any sense of depth, and it was clear that one of the figures was Link. He stood in the center, an expression of rage consuming him. His arms were flung back and down as he screamed at the sky. Already it was looking rather damning. And then the neutrino overlay completed the image. It didn’t provide any actual physically visible substance. Rather it provided the computer information to detect motion, including the movement of energy. The dynamic mapping made it painfully clear.
Link was the eye of the storm.
The Regent waited for a brief moment as the image sank in to both the Detective and Chief. He eventually cleared his throat, bringing their attention back to him.
“I am correct to assume you do not recall this?” Yates asked.
Link was hesitant to answer. He had a vague mental flash of something like this, but nothing so detailed. Big government at work again, shining light on that which would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
“No… I’m afraid I don’t.” the Detective said.
“And rightly so. I would be concerned if you could remember anything during something like that,” Yates replied gently, “Given how much power was flowing through you, I’m astonished the other officers found you still on your feet. It is truly remarkable.”
Barnes frowned and stood. The image they had provided had gotten under his skin. He was sure it was fabricated. Any or all of the overlays used could easily have been manipulated to show whatever the Regent wanted them to.
“If you’re going to charge my officer with something, I would expect the courtesy of making an actual, formal accusation. If you don’t tell me what it is you’re after, this investigation will end here and now.” Barnes growled, fighting to keep from yelling.
He knew better than to act like he was reprimanding one of his people. The three across the table from him each held enough sway to end his career if they so chose. Regent Yates sighed and lifted a hand, trying to calm the older fellow.
“We are not accusing the Detective of anything. We simply wish to gather as much information regarding this incident as possible. Please sit back down Chief Barnes. No one is in trouble.” he said in the same, calm, patient tone.
“You owe us an explanation for why his report is being questioned. We have a right to know why you’re so obsessed with him.” Barnes said, still on the edge of raising his voice.
The Regent cleared his throat, his aids biting their lower lips and leaning away from him ever so slightly.
“Chief Barnes,” he began, his tone changing to one that commanded obedience, “A large section of a city had its power knocked out for just over a minute. Our satellites and sensors detected a release of energy equivalent to a five ton gravametric bomb. And now we find that the source is a single man with no known outside technological assistance. When that happens, we sit up and take notice of that man. We find it necessary to scrutinize him and his actions should such an event occur again.”
Yates’ speech had gotten the attention of the two Faron police officers. It was certainly enough to silence Link’s aggravations. But then the image had been more than enough to do that.
Barnes meanwhile was still smoldering in his seat. He didn’t like being talked down to, even if he knew it was unwise to show his anger. He had begun trying to calculate his next statement during that little speech. Just as he was about to let fly with it, Yates continued, keeping his tone regal and commanding to make sure it was clear he was pulling rank.
“And… Police Chief Barnes… as a Regent of the Crown… I don’t owe you an explanation for anything I do. Consider it a privilege that I am being as forthcoming as I am.” the nobleman said.
The older fellow frowned, slowly slipping back into his seat having been snubbed by the high-ranking official. Link glowered, given yet another reason to hate the upper echelons of the kingdom. A privilege. Yates answering their questions about this little proceeding was a ‘privilege’. It boiled his blood. Yates cleared his throat and collected himself, returning to his proper conversational style.
“If we could continue, we don’t have much more to go over,” the Regent said, permitting Link and Barnes both a chance to collect themselves, “Excellent. Detective, could you please describe the nature of your relationship with one Lillian Malory?”
That came out of left field and struck the young man in the back of the head.
“Forgive me your grace,” Link replied, making sure to let the Regent know he recognized his authority, even if he didn’t fully respect it, “But… I don’t see how that is relevant.”
“You admitted in your own report that she was the civilian abducted,” Yates said, “She was present at the climax of the altercation-“
“Present and unconscious. I don’t see how this matters.” Link said.
“Detective, if we are to get an accurate picture of what happened, we must know the emotional states of all who were present. Since you stated that the perpetrator, this… ‘wizard’ was deceased and Miss Malory was unconscious, you remain the sole eye witness.” Yates said, gently pressing on the officer.
Link growled and slammed his fist on the table, insulted by the demand to know more than the objective facts.
“You want to know how I felt!? What was going through my mind!? I was terrified! I’m surprised I didn’t need new pants after that!” the Detective shouted.
Everyone at the table was taken aback by his outburst. It wasn’t until after he had silenced himself that Link realized how badly he had destroyed any good will he might have had. Yates however seemed unfazed. It was almost as though the Regent expected the outburst.
After a moment’s silence, the Regent lifted a hand and gestured it to encourage the Detective to continue. Again, there was a strange sort of emotional awareness about the nobleman that made Link wonder about him. No other highborn would ever have allowed that kind of behavior go unpunished in their presence. The Detective calmed himself and continued at the Regent’s insistence.
“I was thinking that this was it. This is how I’m going to die. I saw what those things did to the perp. I knew that was what was going to happen to me.” Link said, more gently this time.
Silence followed, but only briefly. Gently, diplomatically, the Regent urged him onward.
“But something happened, correct?” Yates asked, his voice matching the quiet tone of the Detective.
“I… I looked down. I saw Lilly,” Link explained, “I imagined her withered and shriveled up like the bastard that had kidnapped her and… and it got to me.”
“So you admit to having feelings for her?” the Regent asked, not sounding as though he was fishing for gossip, but genuinely interested in the truth.
Link scowled, glaring harshly at Yates.
“She was my brother’s fiancée! Of course I had feelings for her! The only two people I’ve known longer than her were Mr. Parsons and Colin! She’s like my little sister!” the Detective shouted, then caught himself once again.
He averted his gaze, trying to compose himself. The Regent motioned for his aides to remain quiet as they attempted to pressure him further.
“Don’t run from it now, Link. Please. Go on.” Yates said, actually using the Detective’s name rather than his rank.
“I couldn’t take the thought of her dying. Not after losing Colin. I got mad. Furious. I just… snapped.” Link said quietly.
Yates nodded, watching him sternly, engrossed in what he had to say. Finally, he came out of his reverie.
“Thank you, Detective. I think that’s all you need to share on the matter. I only have one last thing I’m curious about,” the Regent said, “Your left hand, does it hurt?”
Link furrowed his brow and lifted one side of his upper lip in a confused and mildly insulted sneer.
“What?” he said as he balked, “No. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Well, you’ve been rubbing it as if it were in pain for at least five minutes now.” Yates said.
The Detective blinked then looked down. He had been. He could even detect a faint tingle, almost a dull numbness to his palm. Quickly, he pushed the thought aside and dismissed it to the Regent.
“Old habit. Better than chewing my nails I suppose.” Link said.
“True,” Yates said and nodded, “But I have to ask, did your hand hurt last night?”
Link grumbled internally at Yates’ relentless badgering. Especially considering the sensitivity of the subject. Bound by his personal code of honor, he couldn’t bring himself to withhold the truth in the matter.
“Yes,” Link said hesitantly, “It did.”
“Could you tell me when it started hurting?” Yates asked.
He seemed deeply concerned by this, as if the wellbeing of the Detective’s hand was of some great significance. Link wasn’t aware that the state of his hand’s health was a matter of national importance. The continued questioning should have only agitated him further. And still he answered calmly. Yates knew something deeper and that chilled the Detective.
“When I bumped into the perp before the incident began.” Link explained.
Whispers crossed back and forth between the trio of royal stiffs.
“Did it hurt at all again during or after the incident?” Agent Auru asked.
Link was growing uneasy with this line of questioning. There was something these irritating men knew that they weren’t letting on about. Barnes looked to the Detective, puzzled by all of this. It was the first he had heard of this issue with the young man’s hand. Link looked back at him, knowing he wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret much longer.
“The whole time,” Link answered, “Just before I snapped, it hurt worse than anything I’ve felt before, like it was burning me alive.”
More whispers. Yates finally stood and walked slowly around the table, not in any sort of a rush. He stopped next to the Detective and looked down at the man’s left hand.
“Do you wear gloves often?” he asked.
“Always… with very few exceptions.” Link answered.
The Regent nodded, extending a hand, requesting to have a closer look. The officer knew where this was going and gave up any efforts to resist. He might as well get it over with. He lifted his hand for the Regent to inspect, granting him permission to pull the glove back.
Spread along the back of Link’s palm was a mark. It was a light tan as if only that portion had received enough sun to darken. It was triangular, broken into three equal portions and a similar shaped void in the center that retained his natural skin tone. It was the Triforce.
“Well… it would seem we judged you wrongly, Detective,” Yates said as he pulled the glove back over the mark and released the young man’s hand then gave his aids a nod before turning to Barnes, “Chief, I must apologize for this but I have my orders. I hereby take Detective Link into the custody of Royal Intelligence for further questioning and protection. The matter investigated here, the events of the previous night, as well as any logs or records of it are to be considered classified as a matter of national security. I ask that you please make all specified records available to us by the end of the day.”
“What!?” the Chief shouted and leapt to his feet, glaring at the Regent, “You can’t just take him! This was handled by the Faron Police! We’ll complete the investigation! And just what does he need protecting from!?”
Yates’s face hardened as he stared back in earnest. There could be no mistake from the tone of his voice the seriousness he conveyed with his answer.
“From the same sort of wizard he encountered last night.” the Regent said.