(Authors Note: I realize that this story is everywhere, but I tried to include as many genres as I could (sticking true to the genre blend prompt) Thank you for taking the time to look at my first story. Enjoy!)
This week it was arson; the week before was poison; the week before that was murder. All of these near impossible cases only had one thing in common, they were all solved by Ace Artino. Artino was a master at his craft, able to sniff out crime like a bloodhound. He was confident, even cocky, his smooth sure movements attracting all of the women and even men in New Gatlin City. That is, until he seemingly evaporated into thin air.
A Few Years Later:
A small, eighteen year old girl stared out a dirt streaked window, her eyes tearing up a little. She winced quickly, almost unnoticeable; but nothing goes unnoticeable to Ace Artino. He stared at her, contemplating her, taking her in. He noticed the yearning in her eyes. Missing a loved one? He thinks. He noticed her hands, knotting together, than untying. Worried about something? Lastly, he looked at her full body, putting it all together. Her father must be the man on trial. An uncanny resemblance, really.
Calix Anston. Anston had been all over the news lately. Being accused of murder was not a quiet thing and even Ace Artino knew that. Ace figured that Anston was framed, but he didn’t get involved. Artino never got involved when he wasn’t supposed to or when he wasn’t paid. Loyal only to himself, Artino was drawn to money like a moth to light.
The girl looked up at the funny-looking young man outside. She tilted her head, confused about why he was looking at her with such intensity.
She blinked once and the man disappeared. She turned back to her father’s trial, praying that he would win.
However, not every story has a happy ending, and that is why Echo Anston sobbed into her hands as the judge cried out that her father was guilty two minutes later.
“Papá is innocent!” she screamed, “He would never do that!”
Beside her, her embarrassed mother tugged on her arm, trying to pull her back to her chair. However, Echo yanked her arm away.
“Stop it! Let me go!” she yelled bitterly.
Her mom reached for her again, but she swatted it and ran towards her dad. She collapsed right into his arms, giving him a tight hug.
“P-Papá, I love you.” she said.
Her dad stroked her hair, “Me too, mija.”
She hugged her dad once more before being pulled away by two stoic guards.
They grabbed her arms, immobilizing her until they dumped her in the streets.
“Bastards!” she screeched, kicking the now locked door.
She screamed and kicked and punched the door until all of her rage was out and only sadness was left.
This wasn’t a good way to deal with this, Echo knew. Anger was explosive, but sadness was more dangerous, sneaking up on you and swallow you whole, one limb at a time.
A sly voice said behind her, “Need some help?” A lanky boy leaned against a trash can behind her, smirking.
“Actually Trash Boy, I’m good.” she breathed, “Unless you’re a magical detective who could solve my dad’s case and save our family.”
The boys smile just grew larger, despite Echo’s attempts to discourage him.
He walked up to her, wrapping an arm around her waist “You can call me Ezre, beautiful.”
“Yuck,” Echo said bitterly, pushing him
“Wait!” he said.
“What, you pervert?” she said, seething.
“I might know the man for you,” he said.
“Really?” Echo said eagerly, “Who?”
He held up his hands, “Woah, woah, woah, sweetheart,” he asserted, “There is a price, you know.”
She rolled her eyes, “I was about to call you a good person.”
He walked over to her again. She turned away, but he grabbed her, staring at her her lips.
“Let me go per-” she started, silenced by a kiss.
He grabbed her waist, pulling her in. They kissed for seemingly an eternity before breaking apart.
“WHAT THE HELL, EZRE!? WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!” she said.
He wiped his lips, “You liked it, sweetheart.”
She blushed, “Maybe, but that doesn’t give you the right to kiss me. Have you heard about consent, Trash Boy?”
He shrugged, “Yeah, but I don’t care much for the rules, beautiful.”
“That’s not my name!” she said, while pushing him.
“Ok,” he shrugged walking away.
“Wait up you jerk,” she said furiously, “I want the name of the detective.”
He leered at her, “Wasn’t the kiss enough for you, Echo?”
She struck him with her hand, “No, it’s not. Don’t tell me that I kissed a jerk like you for nothing.”
He winced, “Fine. Ace Artino. That’s who you're looking for, Ace Artino.”
“Thank you,” she said stiffly.
She whipped out her cellphone, searching up Ace Artino. As she clicked enter, about a million links showed up. Jackpot! She thought, blinking.
She narrowed down her search selection and searched Ace Artino office. When she hit enter this time, nothing showed up. She changed her search again to Ace Artino address. Only one result showed up, a single phone number. She called the number, wondering where it would lead her to.
“Ciao?” a gruff voice said.
“Uh, ciao,” responded Echo, “Lei parla inglese?”
“Sí,” the voice said.
“Is this Ace Artino?” she asked, a bubble of hope welling up in her chest.
“Ay, no,” the voice said.
“Oh. Do you know him?” she answered, the hope deflating.
“Sí,” they said.
“Do you know his current location?” she asked cautiously.
“Sí! He lives in Apartment 5A on 151b Baker Street.”
“Grazie, grazie, grazie!” she exclaimed, hanging up.
She jumped up and down, excited until a voice soured her joy.
“Happy now, Princess?” Ezre asked.
“Yes I am,” she answered, not allowing the mangy hobo to ruin her mood.
“The one problem is that 151b Baker Street is in the bad part of the city,” he said, watching her face fall.
“And it seems like you need a guide,” he continued, “So I volunteer myself.”
She quirked an eyebrow, “You seriously think that I’m going to “the bad part of the city” alone, with you?”
“It was worth a shot,” he said, smirking again.
“I’m good,” she said forcefully.
She stalked away from him, hailing a taxi when she was far enough away.
“Take me to 151b Baker Street,” Echo said, ignoring the questioning look that she received from the driver.
The driver dropped her off on a dirty city street a few minutes later.
“Ezre, if this is a prank, you’ll have hell to pay,” she swore to herself.
She climbed the steps to the crumbling building, her hopes getting bigger with every step she mounted. She surveyed the doors, finding a faint, Apartment 5A written on one of them. Her hands shook as she hit the door three times.
As the door opened a crack, a heavily accented voice said, “Yes?”
“Um, yes, hello...” she said, her voice cracking.
She cleared her throat, ”Is this Ace Artino?”
The door opened wider as an arm snatched her wrist and pulled her inside. She screamed and closed her eyes. When she opened them, a small, tired looking old man stared at her.
“Where have you heard that name?” he hissed.
“S-someone told me?” she said quietly.
“No, no, no, no, NO!” he yelled, pulling his hair and rocking on his feet.
“I’m sorry sir,” Echo said, backing up slowly.
“He’s taking over. You have to help,” he screamed, “You have to help!”
“Sir, I don’t know what you’re saying,” she said, trying to leave.
He grabbed her, “Ace Artino,” he rasped into her face.
“Yes! Ace Artino! Where is he? Are you him?” she said eagerly.
“No! I’m Alistair Wiggins.” he said.
“Where is Mr. Artino then?” she asked, looking around.
“Right here,” the man said, his expression changing.
Echo watched in horror as Alistair Wiggins morphed into a suave young man.
“What are you?” she asked, frightened.
“We are Ace Artino.”
“The government inserted me, an artificial intelligence into Mr. Wiggins. This turned him from a nobody into Ace Artino!”
“But why?” she said.
“To better evolve human life! We will help humanity! Itś our mission!” the thing said.
Echo turned the doorknob, but the thing was faster, "Actually, we are in dire need of another test subject. Care to help us?" it said.