Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chill: Hazing

Sunday was Chill. I don't mean it was chill. It's chilly today. Moving on.

We open on a crisp fall Idaho morning at the University of Idaho, and Dr. Dylan Reeves, anthropology professor and SAVE envoy, has learned that a student was murdered on campus last night. The body of one Shawn Mendoza was discovered near his frat house (Alpha Gamma Rho), and the rumors Dylan is hearing is that the poor young man was beaten to death.

Dylan, not necessarily suspecting the Unknown, but horrified by the event, makes his office hours as a campus counselor known, and goes out to the house. He finds a police cordon in effect, and a campus security officer who tells him that the body has already been moved and the Boise PD are handling everything.

Dylan knocks on the frat house door and talks with a couple of brothers; they mention that Shawn may have had a girlfriend named Stacy, but state that between classes and practice (Shawn was here on a football scholarship), they rarely saw him. Dylan leaves and texts Auntie Dee...and then sees her walking toward the house, carrying a couple of casseroles. Dee goes to church with the family of Charlie, the AGR chapter president, and is here to offer food, support, and the services of her "therapy dog" Sweet Baby Jesus.

She and Dylan go back into the house and talk with the boys some more, but don't learn much more than they did (though the fellows are happy to take a moment petting the pooch, though they might not admit it). Dee texts Jordan and BB and has them come out and look around a bit. Jordan does so by way of an EMT friend of hers, who worked the case. The EMT says that Shawn was definitely beaten to death by multiple assailants, probably with clubs or wood - Shawn had splinters in his hands from defending himself.

The envoys get together outside the house and BB brings up the obvious point - why would SAVE get involved? Sure, it's weird, but it's not like this kind of violence is unknown (let alone Unknown), even in Boise. Dee takes Sweet Baby Jesus over to the police cordon and Senses the Unknown. The little dog goes nuts and Dee feels it, too - "Yep, it's a SAVE case."

The envoys still aren't sure exactly how the Unknown is involved, though. They get some dinner, and then decide to try and track down Stacy, Shawn's girlfriend; rumor has it she's a Tri-Delt. The envoys go to the sorority house and Dee pulls the same trick ("here's a salad, pet my dog"), but learns that there are no sisters named Stacy. In fact, talking to one of them, Dylan learns that the only Stacy they known is Stacy Diaz, a football player and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

They look through the house a bit, and realize that behind the houses there's a kind of "alley" that leads between the houses on Greek Row, but the windows are positioned such that the alley is one long blind spot. Apparently students go there to snog or get high. While the other envoys chat with students, Dee, figuring Jesus is telling her to check this out, walks into the alley. Sweet Baby Jesus scampers off, barking at someone, and then Dee hears him yelp.

Racing up to her dog, she finds Sweet Baby Jesus lying on the ground whimpering. She yells for help and the others come running. The dog's back leg is broken; Jordan restrains it the best she can and Dylan and Dee head for an emergency vet. BB and Jordan stay to look around. In the bushes, BB finds a length of wood with some dog fur on it - the weapon used to smack poor little Sweet Baby Jesus. But who would want to do that, and where did they run off to? Jordan Senses the Unknown and winds up with a Colossal Success (which means the Unknown senses her right back), but realizes that the wood wasn't touched by a creature of the Unknown. Rather, a creature might have been influencing or guiding the wielder.

They also meet a young man smoking a joint. A really good Interview roll later, they find out that he's Stacy Diaz, and he and Shawn were involved - they even went to the same high school in LA without knowing it. Stacy isn't sure if Shawn's murder was a hate crime, but he's obviously devastated. He mentions that the other day, he and Shawn saw each other on the way to class and Stacy noticed someone watching them - someone wearing a silver frat shirt, but all the frats have them and he didn't notice the letters.

After talking to Dylan over the phone while Dee is fretting at the vet, and Dylan mentions the steam plant. There's a steam plant on campus which takes and burns scrap wood from sawmills; it heats the campus cheaply and cleanly. That might have been the source of the weapon. Jordan and BB check out the plant and scale the fence, but all they find are big bins of wood before campus security finds them. Jordan improvises a story about losing her cat and convinces the cop; he tells them that security is liable to be tight for a while.

At the vet, Dee insists on sleeping in the same room as Sweet Baby Jesus. Told this is impossible, he gets hysterical, and find says, "the real baby is gone, so Sweet Baby Jesus is my baby." The vet tech, recognizing when something is above her pay grade, has them bring a recliner into the room where the dog is recovering.

Tomorrow, the investigation continues.