redrose999 (redrose999) wrote in fm_alchemist,
redrose999
redrose999
fm_alchemist

Fanfic

Convergence
A FMA, CSI Miami Crossover
What IF, the Rocket, Edward, Alphonse and Deitlinde were on Arrived in sunny Miami in the 20th century?
Rating: PG-13
Fic type: Crossover, Mystery, Adventure
Warnings: SPOILERS for FMA, and CSI Miami. Implied Slash, and het. Science technobabble and some gore. Starts out CSI heavy. It will go into being heavier with FMA once things get rolling.
Pairings: I don't plan them, but the characters write themselves, Ed/Hie past implied, if you read into things, kind of Elricesty, if you don't not Elricesty.
Characters: The Elric Brothers, Deitlinde Ekhart, and possible others and most of the CSI Miami cast with a smattering of Vegas.
Summery: A rocket crashes into the waters of Miami Dade, and it's up to the CSI's to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, Deitlinde Ekhart survived and plans on using the powers of the gate to change the world to her liking.


Prologue

The sky thundered with dark billowing clouds and black violet
lightning. It roiled, and flashed, rain pounding the rolling ocean
waves below and showering the earth with golf ball sized hail and
cold rain. It was a sudden furious storm, a miniature hurricane
that swiftly blotted out the sun and blasted the Bahamas with large
waves and tree bending winds. It howled like a caged animal, screaming
unearthly fury as thunder clashed and lightening bathed the air in
electric static.

Over the Bermuda Triangle, the blackness grew as clouds gathered up in
one place and a brilliant supernova of convulsing energy blossomed in
the center. It churned, and bubbled like a witches cauldron, and
heaved with stabs of lightning; whites, blues, purples, red, plasmic
knives that cut the sky with unkempt anger.

An unearthly scream pitched from the center, and a massive shape of
twisted winged steel and seething black tendrils escaped from the
center. Its rocket powered engines whined pitifully as it plunged
into the roiling sky.

The oversized body groaned as its frame hitched and tilted its
fractured double wings up, and turned, moving rapidly away from land,
and deeper into the gulf and down at an angle toward the sea. The
strained steel fragmented, sending large chunks of metal into the
waves below, and a fire blazed around its engines.

Still, it plummeted, leveling out, and breaking apart as it descended
over the horizon and into the ocean below.
*&*&*&*&*
Chapter 1
Nazis, Orphans, and Rockets Oh MY!

The sky was clearing; the dark clouds streaked with bright
purples and oranges; fading into blue. The rocket had left the
darkness of the gate, and Edward Elric felt a wash of relief fill him
as he braced himself for the inevitable impact.

The trip had not gone as planned, but it seemed these days, nothing
ever did. Edward Elric gave a pained sigh, hand falling on his bruised
shoulder as he scanned the rocket’s controls. From the feel of the air
turbulence and the bright crimson sky outside, he was certain the ship
had exited the gate. Yet the machine was very unstable, and he started
to worry when he felt it shutter and rock. Remaining calm, the young
man seized the control panel to steady himself, sharp scientific mind
racing. He understood from its basic construction how to guide the
machine. He and Alphons had worked hours in the evenings on blueprints
for similar machines and he was well aware the damage inflicted on
this rocket ensured its inevitable demise. It was just a matter of
how long it would stay airborne. What could he do to slow his descent?
He needed to survive, he still had work to do. Fiery gold eyes focused
on what looked like waves below. Now that didn’t look right. Edward
Elric cursed, half standing as he glared at the expanse of ocean
rushing up at him. Where was he? They were supposed to exit the gate
in Haushofer’s villa, not at sea. Was it the Baltic or even the North
Sea? He glanced at the flight instruments and compass, puzzled. The
dials spun and twitched out of control. Frustration and urgency
tightened his gut as he struck the control panel with a fist. “Schiest!”

Once more his entire life was at the mercy of the mocking forces of
nature and the god-like powers of the gate. There was no setting
things right as he planned, only the gut wrenching notion that he was
going to die at sea before he could do anything to stop the cosmic
forces he and his brother had set into motion by the errors of their
childhood.

The ocean stretched for miles. Edward saw a large ship chugging in
the distance and a few other vessels dotting the seascape. There was
no sign of land and the ocean was coming up fast.

His computer-like brain swiftly correlated calculations that told him
his course would land him directly into the ship, killing everyone aboard.

The gate was mocking him.

The steel around him groaned and buckled as he grabbed at the yoke,
and hauled back in a desperate attempt to hold the thing's nose up and
steer it away. But the machine protested. Its broken wing determined
its flight pattern, threatening to curve around toward its
predestined quarry.

A surge of adrenaline drove Edward’s stronger than human strength as
he clung to the control yoke and steadied the rocket’s descent. All
logic told him he would need to activate the stabilizing rockets to
slow its descent, but the design of the controls belonged to a tech
Ekhert hired and he was unfamiliar with them. Narrowing his gaze, he
studied the array of switches, levers and dials. Even if the task was
hopeless, it was something to keep his mind occupied. At least he
would know in his heart, that on the last day on Earth, Edward
Hohenheim Elric died for the people, like a true Alchemist should.

To the trained mind of the Alchemist, time moved in slow motion. The
ship was close, and his current course was still bringing him
dangerously close to it. It was almost like the ship itself was alive
and hungry for blood. The Alchemist clenched his teeth, leaning his
small body into the cushioned seat behind him. The rocket jumped and
trembled, threatening to toss him from the chair, but he was stubborn,
and clung with determination.

No more lives would be taken because of his mistakes…

A flash of movement caught the corner of his eye a fraction of a
second before a dark shape slammed into the controls before him. There
was a shower of sparks, and a blast of heat as the panel fractured
before him. With reflexes honed by years of training, Edward
Elric’s agile body sprang from his sitting position and out of the
scooped chair. He rolled to his feet across the cockpit just in time
to see a blackened knife-shaped arm extract itself from the controls,
leaving a twisted sparking tangle of exposed wires in its wake.

The floor beneath Edward creaked as it tilted heavily toward the
right, making him skid back into a bulkhead. Clear sky dropped away to
ocean and the ship loomed up into sight.

“You son of a bitch!” A thick German voice gurgled. “You have ruined
things! We will go back… Do you hear me? Boy! You will not stop me! It
calls! It needs lives! Don’t you hear it??” A large black human shape
half dragged, half walked toward him; blackened trendrilled fingers
probed the ground around its legs to keep it from losing its footing.

Its breathing rasped and he heard Eckert’s hate filled voice as she
whispered. “Equivalent exchange boy, equivalent exchange… I understand
now, I have never felt such power. Lives, lives, many lives, it calls,
and you will not stop us!”

Edward barely recognized the woman. Her armored body was covered by a
black substance that made her look like a monstrous blob with waving
tendril like hands. Edward recognized it from the Gate. Though he
himself was not sure of it, he could only deduce the material was
composed of the vicious black matter from the gate itself; the very
substance that allowed her to do magic in his world. It gave her the
ability to wield it as a weapon against him as well, acting as a part
of her body, giving her impossible reach as well as minor shape
shifting abilities. But now it had taken her completely over, leaving
very little humanity for the former Nazi scientist.

Her steps were slow and it gave Edward enough time to find his
footing. The floor was at an incline, but he was more than skilled
enough to race past her to reach the yoke. The control seat was just
seven feet away. He gripped a handhold on the wall, aware he could
easily lose balance and tumble with the rocking motion of the
unstable floor, but his time was running out.

The airship pitched, and Edward scrambled to spring past the human
monster and grab the copilot’s seat. But she spun on him in an attempt
to grab him as he darted past her. Tendrils whipped out and coiled
toward him like a spear.

He braced, hands just closing around the arm of the chair. But the bow
stopped short and he heard her give a curse as something barreled into
her, knocking her into the control panel, and springing back.

Edward’s heart caught in his throat. Standing perfectly balanced on
the tilting floor was the small nimble form of his brother, Alphonse.

Ekhert recovered swiftly and bounded toward the child. But he was
quick, flipping and bounding away from her blows like a drunken
jumping bean. “Brother! I’ll take care of her, ok!”

“God Damn it Alphonse!” Edward shouted, climbing into the chair and
grabbing the control yoke once more. “I told you to close the gate on
our side!” There was a thundering, and cracking from behind.

“Roy is! I couldn’t just let you go, and be alone, brother!” Al cried
out. The boy’s voice echoed over the thundering that rumbled though
the cabin. Deep down in his heart, Edward knew Alphonse was aware of
the situation, and willing to do what was needed to stop Ekhert, even
at the cost of himself. Edward, unable to look back, found himself
grabbing the control yoke once more and pressing every button in
reach. The yoke resisted, but he fought, hauling the yoke back and
feeling the muscles in his body scream as he braced his feet against
the control panel itself.

The ship loomed before them moments from collision, and he felt the
resistance in the yoke give. Sparks flared from the damaged control
panel. The metal frame around him gave a screech and something
exploded. Edward felt G forces pull at his body as he was slammed
backwards away from the yoke and into the remains of the pilot’s seat.

Behind him he heard his brother give a heart-wrenching cry, and the
sound of the hull straining from the new momentum propelling the
rocket up and away from the vessel below.

A crunch and the sound of popping rivets and bending plates filled the
cockpit. It was followed by the protest of steel as it tore apart and
the blast of hot air that threatened to tear him from his perch. But
he held fast, determined not to die, at least for Alphonse’s sake.

With the sputter and roar of the rockets, the ship hovered for a
moment, than rocked as it plummeted down, spiraling back to the sea.
Seizing the yoke once more, Edward felt his body jerk and dislodge
from its perch. He tumbled, slamming into the walls around him,
bouncing like a ball and hitting the floor of the ship like a pinball.

One thing registered as he slammed against the door to the rear cargo
hold. Al and Ekhert were gone, and there was a hole in the rear
bulkhead. A moment later, the entire cabin exploded, showering him
with glass and twisted steel as the rocket impacted with the cold hard
surface of the sea.

*&*&*&*

The Miami sun reflected off the glittering crystal surface of the
Atlantic Ocean. The sky was mostly clear with only the faint wisps of
fading white clouds and the sea was calm. It was fortunate for them,
reflected Calleigh Duquesne as she scanned the ocean with her
binoculars. The crime scene was HUGE, ten miles at least, and it would
take all week to compile evidence and determine exactly what happened.
Even though it was a federal case, the Coast Guard was not well
equipped for such a disaster; and since it was in Miami waters, she
and her team were called on scene shortly after it happened. As usual,
Horatio Caine wanted to process the scene immediately, even if the
Feds weren’t on the scene yet.

She, of course, had her doubts things would be easy. The storm the
night before had things pretty well stirred up. According to Delko,
visibility underwater was low, and the wreck itself was a twisted,
fragmented mess.

Still the day was young, and she was feeling charged from a strong cup
of coffee. As well, she'd had some interesting conversation from a
few of the coast guard officers on their way over to the scene.

“It’s hard to believe we’re standing on the edge of the Bermuda
triangle,” she said cheerfully. A faint breeze stirred her long blond
ponytail and cut some of the heat from the relentless Florida sun.
Even though she was dressed in light white slacks and a delicate short
sleeved lacy blouse, the heat was uncomfortable, and a breeze was
always welcome. “It seems just like yesterday, last week wasn’t it? We
were here looking into those cocaine drops.” It wasn’t unusual for
drug deliveries to be made from planes offshore and they had been
investigating a South American drug ring who delivered to fishing
boats in the area. It crossed her mind when they arrived the two were
possibly related.

Squinting though her lenses, Calleigh saw wreckage from the fishing
vessel and the downed plane floating on the ocean surface. There were
cushions and wood, as well as a cooler or two. They had already
removed four bodies from the water, and were still trying to discover
the identity of the fishing boat as well as the plane that struck it.
According to the airlines, there were no reported flights missing, but
that didn’t exclude foreign planes or potential terrorist attacks.

From the look of the wreckage, the plane struck the fishing boat,
directly from above, and shattered it, likely causing a
explosion. Further examination would give her more information. The
ballistics expert pursed her lips, brow narrowing as she carefully
examined the water, looking for anything that would give her a clue to
the fishing boat’s identity.

The radio crackled, drawing Calleigh’s attention. Captain Faulks, the
Coast Guard ship commander, crossed the polished wooden deck and spoke
into the receiver, his face a hardened and unreadable mask. He was a
tall, gray-haired man, and looked very sharp in the crisp white
short-sleeved coast guard uniform. His tan features were weathered and
hardened by years of experience and Calleigh could tell by the
surprised look on his face, he had just been told something he didn’t
expect. He signaled her boss, Horatio Caine, to come over as he set
the radio receiver down.

He nodded to the water and debris field. “That was Cutter2, they’ve
found a survivor. He is in critical condition. He’s being airlifted to
Miami Dade Memorial as we speak.”

That was unusual. Calleigh scanned the debris field deep in thought.
In her assessment, forensically speaking, it was very unlikely for
anyone to survive from the plane itself. A fisherman perhaps, who
jumped ship before the collision.

“A survivor?” Horatio Cain removed his glasses, features
expressionless. He was dressed impeccably in a dark blue pinstriped
suit, blue button up shirt and black tie. A slight breeze tousled his
ginger hair, blowing his bangs from his brow and away from his
reflecting dark mirrored sunglasses. “Now that is unexpected. Good
news for us, we have a witness. I’ll send a team over to process him
when he gets there.”

They had left early, leaving only Natalia Boa Vista at headquarters.
The DNA specialist was working the lab that morning, and Horatio
thought it was best she finishing processing her case load before
going out in the field. Well, that was going to change, Calleigh
reflected. Natalia was more than capable of processing a victim.
Calleigh watched her boss call in to headquarters on his cell. Most of
their team was there. Delko was on a dive, and Ryan, Tripp and Alexx
were on Cutter3, processing bodies found on a sandbar near Key Largo.

So far the crew of Coast Guard Cutter1 had hauled in two charred
bodies from the fishing boat, and a ton of debris.

“Jesus, H! You wouldn’t believe this!” It was Delko. The tall dark
haired Cuban had surfaced and was swimming over to the side of the
boat. Grabbing the ladder on the side he pushed up his scuba mask.
“This is gonna take forever. This thing didn’t just crash, it
exploded. People on the cruise ship heard the blast, saw pieces
scatter for miles.”

Behind him, two divers surfaced, having hooked lines to a piece of
debris. The onboard winch began to hum, drawing it to the surface. As
the metal plate broke the surface, water streamed down its face, mud
from the sea floor sloughing away, revealing what had been hidden
until now. Calleigh stared in complete disbelief at the simple black
symbol, chills going down her spine. Delko paled, meeting her gaze
with dark puzzled eyes.

Caine looked up at the metal plate and the four twisted arms of a
German swastika as it rose higher into the Florida sunshine. “Exploded
is right, Eric.” He said, still following the impossible with an
impassive gaze. “It’s definitely,” he said, replacing the sunglasses
as backlighting turned the enigmatic steel black as coal, “a blast
from the past.”

*&*&*&*&

The tide lapped lazily at the edges of the clean sand as it rolled
steadily in. Its crystal clear wavelets sparkled in the warm morning
sun rays, reflecting glare across the tiny, soon to be completely
covered, sandbar.

A crab scuttled out from the remains of a suit of medieval armor and
across the beach, circling around shells and poking at one of the
large chunks of metal siding half buried in the sand. It climbed over
the object, claws raised as it explored its new territory.

The Coast Guard ship Cutter3 was anchored several yards away, and a
small outboard boat had taken the CSI team across the shallow waters
to the temporary shoreline. It was pulled up on shore not far from
some twisted and scorched hull wreckage that was tangled in netting
and a small body sprawled on damp sand.

It was her first body on the scene, though Alexx had seen three others
on the skiff ride over, two in the shallow water and one on the
sandbar, about ten yards from the victim she was now looking down at.
Unlike the three others, this body was small, clothed in black slacks
and top with a red long coat and had adolescent proportions. It was
twisted in an awkward fashion, with its legs and hips tilted to the
side, and face turned against the sand. One of its arms was underneath
its torso, while the other was bent near the head. Long wet dark blond
hair framed the pale childlike face and clung to the damp clothing and
bare skin of the body. It was tangled and falling out of a hair tie
that was against the back of the young person’s head. “Dear lord, what
a shame,” Alexx said, looking down. The paramedics had declared the
boy dead shortly after they came on scene, and it was always
heartbreaking to find children victims of violent deaths. “You
shouldn’t be here, Dear.” She told the corpse. “You should be at
school with your friends, or playing baseball.”

“It appears, our Vic used that chest there as a flotation device.”
Ryan's voice said, causing Alexx to turn her heard. The young dark
haired man clicked a picture with his digital camera. He was dressed
like the rest of the investigating team, white waterproof biohazard
coveralls, and rubber boots. He finished photographing the body, and
was now circling it and taking pictures of the sand and shoreline. A
large wooden chest sat half in the water, about five feet from the
boy, and there was a bloody trail of sand leading to the body. “The
kid dragged himself up before he collapsed.’ Ryan explained, pointing
to the sand.

Detective Frank Tripp put his hands on his hips, sharp blue eyes
focused on the sand and rivets scattered around the sandbar. He bent
over, studying the items, brows knit. “These here rivets are scorched,
looks like the plane caught fire, and broke apart as she went down.
Any scorch marks on the body?”

“Not that I can see, not even his clothing is singed.” Alexx
informed him, scanning the boy. Yes it was a boy, she could tell by
his shoulders and hips. But he was young, 11-13 maybe.

Ryan nodded, moving over to Alexx’s side. The Medical Examiner put
down her kit and carefully knelt next to the body. “Poor thing.” Alexx
cooed. She always spoke to the dead with compassion, especially in
cases like this. Even the dead deserved kindness; and as a coroner, it
was up to her to find out what killed them, and do so as gently as
possible. “What in god’s name was this child doing here? Hmm, lets see
what we have.” She spoke gently, reaching out and touching the
victim’s legs and hip. “I thought as much, the poor baby is all
twisted up, his hip is broken and this leg is fractured, I’d say in
three places. Impact injuries, he must have hit the water from quite a
height.” She glanced up at Ryan. “A passenger on the plane? Not the
first time I’ve seen this.”

“Possible. He doesn’t look like he’s from the fishing boat, and the
cruise liner hasn’t reported any disappearances.” He stepped to the
side, clicking another photo. “Could have been sucked out when it
broke apart.”

Alexx nodded, recalling similar calls in the past. When a plane broke
up, bodies had a tendency to land in various states of dismemberment
and with an assortment of breaks; some of them completely crushed in
impact. This boy had been lucky, he had landed in water and, from the
look of it, his fall was a matter of a few stories rather than
thousands of feet. She felt along his small form, noting how toned his
body was underneath the shredded clothing. There was swelling and
broken ribs. By some miracle, he survived impact, and survived long
enough to drag himself ashore. “You were a strong young man, weren’t
you, baby?” She said gently, turning him over. She checked his arms,
noting under the torn clothing he was covered with small burns, and
his hands were bloodied with deep scrapes along the palms. His
knuckles were bruised and covered with abrasions, and his fingernails
were broken and dirty. The arm underneath him was broken as well. “Now
that’s strange? Defensive wounds? You were fighting someone honey?
This changes things, doesn’t it? We could have a murder on our hands.”
She looked back to the two men, who were now studying the wreckage
tangled in the netting.

Officer Tripp glanced up for a moment, features grave. “Why am I not
surprised?”

A part of Doctor Alexx Woods wished she was surprised, but over the
years she learned enough to know murder was never rare.
Sympathetically she looked back down at the boy, mind focusing back on
her work. Cause of death wasn’t drowning; shock might have been a
likely candidate as well as internal injuries. An autopsy would
determine it for sure.

The boy was lying on bloodstained sand, and blood seeped from cuts
and abrasions on his neck and chest. Under the coating of bloody sand,
the face was battered and bruised as if something had beaten him.
Small burns marked his neck and cheeks. They were identical to the
ones on his arms. She wondered if they were from the fire that
inevitably broke out over the plane as it went down? But certainly, if
that were the case, than why wasn’t there more, and why did the wounds
look more like acid burns than fire?

“Well, you’ve given me nothing but more questions, sweetheart. I think
it is about time we get you to the morgue, so we can answer some. I’m
sure you have lot to tell me, I promise, I’ll find out what happened.”
She lifted her hand, and brushed matted hair from the boy’s brow,
wondering what kind of person had he been, and whether his parents
missed him? It made her think of her own boy, waiting for her back at
home and suddenly the ache in her heart grew and all she wanted to do
was to finish work and go home to Bryan, to hold him, and to make sure
he was safe.

Alexx’s was drawn away from her thoughts suddenly as she became aware
of how warm and clammy the face beneath her fingers was. “No, no it
couldn’t be. Not again.” She said aloud, shaking her head. He had been
checked by the paramedic no more than ten minutes ago, and declared
dead, hadn’t he? Not that mistakes hadn’t been made in the past, she
come across two cases in which victims were misdiagnosed, but it was
rare. Alexx beat down her hopes and eased the bloodstained hair from
the boy’s throat, and felt for a pulse. At first she found nothing,
and had shift her fingers around, searching for it. But after a
moment, to her astonishment, she felt a very weak thumping against her
fingers. The child was alive. “Detective, you better call back the
paramedics, he’s alive!”

*&*&*&*&*

The sandbar around Alexx Woods was already starting to sink beneath
the waves and she had spent a great deal of time tending to the boy’s
medical needs, rather than working the scene and as much as she
regretted the waste of time, as a trained doctor, the child’s survival
was more important in the end. With the help of the paramedics,
they'd managed to splint and wrap the boy’s injuries, cover him in
blankets, and supply oxygen before the Medevac chopper arrived.

Alexx didn’t leave the child’s side until he was securely strapped
into the helicopter. Only then did she step away, feeling as if she
had done everything she could for the boy. He wasn’t stable by any
means, and was likely to expire on his way to the hospital, but at
least someone made an effort to make him comfortable. And there was a
part of her that felt the boy sensed her presence and appreciated the
effort.

Standing several feet away, she watched the helicopter lift off from
the water and rise into the clear blue sky, and then turned to face
Detective Tripp. He and Ryan and the other investigators had the scene
pretty much photographed, and were in the process of collecting the
evidence.

“I do hope I’ve made some difference.” She said almost sadly. “Well,
I’ll get back to work.”

“Nothing that Horatio wouldn’t have done. But the crime scene isn’t
going to wait.” Tripp replied. He gestured to the water and the body
practically submerged there. “Well, I understand they hardly couldn’t
have made the same mistake with these guys.”

“So I hear.” Alexx rolled up her pants, gathered a pair of gloves and
slowly waded into the rising water. By the time she reached the body.
The water was almost a foot deep. “All right, lets see what we have
here. The body was clad in a bulky suit of armor, medieval in origin,
with a barreled chest, gauntlets and thigh guards. The armor was
tarnished, with a strange black substance smeared over its surface.
“Now, what in heaven’s name were you doing in a suit of armor on a
plane?” She asked it, kneeling down. “He could have been involved with
the Society for Creative Anachronism.” She glanced over her shoulder
noting the second suit dry on the beach and the other submerged
underwater. Each one had a different helm, and their chest plates
varied. But their size was similar. This one had a small mark burned
into the plates around the neck. A circle, with lines that reminded
her of the witchcraft wards seen on the barns in the Amish country.
She made a mental note as she studied the suit and carefully eased
the helmet off.

A thick black goop lined the interior along with the battered remains
of a head and a crab scuttled out around the rim of the armor, and
down the side of the suit. “Ryan, could you bag some of this substance
for the lab.” She asked the dark haired Bostonian CSI. “How strange.
It’s not tar, and has a smell, like rotting leaves.” She wrinkled her
nose, making a mental note of the smell as Ryan, collected a specimen
of the substance by scraping it into a test-tube and bagging it.

When he was finished, she returned her attention to the body. On first
glance she could tell the bones in the face were broken, and the
skull itself severely fractured. Puzzled, Alexx studied the condition
of the skull and then carefully removed one of the plates from the
arm. The first thing that stuck her was the cream colored sleeve, and
the swastika cufflink. She lifted a brow. The man’s past didn’t matter
to her. Alexx had autopsied many cultists, junkies, gang members,
pimps, and criminals from all sorts of life styles. What mattered
was how he died. And what she was seeing didn’t make sense. She
frowned feeling the bones and muscles in the arm. The shifted under
her touch, like the man was nothing more than jelly and shattered
bone. Impact injuries often crushed bodies, so it was entirely
possible. With the tide coming in, she would have to finish the exam
on the coast guard boat.

Following procedure, she had it packed up, keeping it in its armor.
With the body in the condition it was in, it was best to take it off
in the lab. She followed the same procedure with the other waterlogged
body, and made a note that it was in an identical condition as the
first and the third was no different. Its body temperature set its
time of death about five hours ago, as did the other two. It coincided
with the time of impact, give or take a few minutes and eyewitness
accounts of the crash.

It was puzzling. Why on earth were all three men crushed when the boy
wasn’t? Alexx stood on the shoreline, watching the coast guard
officers and her assistants pack away the bodies on a boat and move
them back to the ship. It seemed to be just one of the many growing
mysteries connected with the plane crash.

She glanced around to Tripp, who was standing some distance away, with
his bio contamination suit unzipped, showing his white shirt and tie,
as he and Ryan watched the salvage crews. A salvage team was working
diligently, removing wreckage. Bits and pieced of cylinder shaped
metal, along with what looked to Alexx like metal pipes and a fuel tank.

It didn’t take them long to reach them, and she was able to catch the
tail end of their discussion. “Now I’ve seen everything. You don’t
think they used that rocket engine? Didn’t they experiment with
rocket planes in WWII?” Tripp took a handkerchief from his breast
pocket and mopped his bald head. He looked worn, and his tan suit was
damp and smelled of salt and sweat. The detective ran the handkerchief
down the back of his head, through the tufted of hair ringing his head
above his neck and along his neck around his chin.

“That’s right. The Nazi’s ME 163, to name one.” Ryan replied, looking
down at the distorted hulk of metal. It was blackened and bulged
outward. “This engine was in use; it exploded from the looks of it.
They use them for racing, and XCOR is still being tested in
California. I’ve heard nothing about a rocket the size of a passenger
liner.”

“Are you saying, this wasn’t a plane crash? But a rocket?” Alexx said,
glancing at the two officers. It was hard to believe. She recalled the
swastika on the dead man’s sleeve and recalled how Ryan mentioned the
Nazis' use of rocket planes in WWII. “You don’t think we’ve got a Nazi
terrorist organization trying to smuggle in rockets? Or perhaps it was
a rocket that took this plane down…”

It was Tripp who shook his head, turning away from the salvage crew
and slogging across the ankle deep sandbar water. “Nope, from the look
of it, it was a rocket engine. Our teams will have to go over it
completely to determine how it worked, but I suspect it was on a wing,
from its size.” He glanced over to Alexx, a faint smile on his face.
“It might be linked to some kind of air show, or experimental rocket
from NASA.”

“With a 12 year old boy on board and three men in armor? Besides, if
it were NASA, they’d be all over this by now.” Alexx said, following
after the officer. She shook her head, noticing Ryan smiling as he
tagged behind them. “I’ll certainly be interested on seeing how this
one is resolved.”

“I don’t know, we’ve had some evidence that didn’t jive before.” Ryan
fingered the camera around his neck, gaze focused on the water as he
walked. “And it all comes together. It’s not rocket science.”

He almost sounded like Horatio. Alexx sighed, watching the wavelets
wash over the sandbar, rainbow slicks of fuel floating on its surface.
They had a big mess to clean up, and it would take weeks before they’d
salvage enough of the rocket to work out why it went down, unless
there was a black box. She was looking forward to getting back to the
morgue and shedding some light on the case.

“Don’t know.” Tripp replied as they paused before climbing aboard the
skiff. “But we may need a rocket scientist for this one.”

*&*&*&*&

Natalia Boa Vista arrived at Miami Dade Memorial mid-afternoon, crime
kit in hand, and made her way down the busy halls of the emergency
ward. People sat in clear windowed rooms, some in beds, others in
chairs. Some of the rooms had TV’s running, and housed more than one
patient separated only by a mint green curtain.

The walls were a serene pale rose with a variety of impressionist
prints hanging on them to give the hall a comforting appearance,
rather than the cold sterile impression hospitals often gave. The
occasional gurney, digital IV, or wheeled EKG equipment sat outside of
a room or two, and nurses milled about. Some moved from room to room,
or checked the charts hanging beside the room’s door.

Rounding the corner, Natalia passed the nurses station. It was a long
curved desk, with multiple separated sections, several computers,
monitoring equipment, corkboards, and various cabinets on the wall
behind it. A nurse lifted her head. She was pretty, dressed in a
purple kitty smock, and had short hair and sharp green eyes that
scanned the former DNA specialist. Gaze falling on Natalia’s camera
and silver kit, she nodded to one of the adjacent hallways. “Brought
him in about thirty minutes ago," She informed her. “The staff is still
trying to stabilize him, you might have to wait.”

Hospitals didn’t worry about evidence. They concerned themselves with
saving lives. If this one could be saved, Natalia would gladly wait.
She thanked the nurse and set off down the hall.

She wasn’t surprised to see two men in suits. All airplane wrecks were
under federal jurisdiction, and the survivor would be a valuable
witness. Miami Dade was accustomed to working with the Feds, and
Natalia was no stranger to having them look over her shoulder in the
lab, but here, the DNA specialist gone CSI was feeling a little uneasy.

She paused in front of the door, glancing to one of the suits. He was
talking with a doctor and Natalia only gleaned snippets of the
conversation. The survivor in question was male, had a skull fracture
and consequently, a severe concussion and was in serious condition. He
had several broken bones, including a leg, several ribs and cracked
vertebrae.

Which meant the hospital staff already went over him removing and
cleaning up whatever evidence he had on him in order to treat his
injuries. Sighing, Natalia shifted the heavy box and dropped her gaze
to the floor. It was going to be harder than she thought. Between the
ocean and the hospital staff, she’d be lucky to find anything on the
young man that would explain who he was, why he was on the plane,
where it came from and how the vehicle crashed.

“Ms. Boa Vista?” The man in the suit turned his attention to her. He
was dark haired with sharp blue eyes and pale features. His accent
held a hint of the south in it. He offered a hand. “Miami Dade sent you?”

Lifting her gaze, Natalia offered a smile, acknowledging his words.
She felt a little concerned, wondering if she looked professional
enough in her dark blue slacks, and green chiffon, butterfly pattered
blouse. “Yes, I got here as fast as I could.” She closed her hand
about his, bright eyes studying his posture and sharp features. “I
understand we’ve got an air accident. I was briefed before I was sent.
You must be Agent Barlow, the man I report to when I’m done with the
collection?”

“That’s right.” Barlow’s grip was like iron as he released his hand.
“According to Doctor Sullivan here, the patient is due for x-rays of
the head within the hour. Will that be enough time to get what you need?”

“Under the circumstances, it will have to be.” Natalia replied trying
to sound seasoned. It was difficult to hide the fact she was bothered
by the lack of time. This wasn’t her first solo, but she had a great
deal to prove to her colleagues, and the time constraints made it
difficult to be as thorough as she wanted. “Did they collect anything
from his wounds? If so, I’ll need to have them packed up for analysis.”

He nodded. “I’ll let the staff know. I believe they removed shards of
glass and metal from him when they cleaned his wounds.”

She’d have to bag what they found and take it to the lab later.
Airline accident victims were often punctured with debris, and, with
luck, with it they could find clues to how the accident unfolded.
“Well, no use wasting any more time. May I start now?”

The agent rubbed his chin and glanced over to the doctor at his side.
“He’s been stabilized, I see no reason for us to delay anymore, go
ahead. We’ve got another victim to process en route, when you are done,
I’ll need you to get to the ICU.”

Another survivor, Natalia mentally noted it down. It was going to be a
busy day. “Yes sir.” She shouldered her camera strap and started to
walk toward the hall. Ahead of her, were the steady blips and beeps of
the EEG, ECG and Digital IV.

The room was small, with one narrow bed and peach painted walls. One
painting of a beach hung on the wall near one of the medicine
cabinets, and a chair. A TV was fastened to the ceiling not far from
the door and a wooden locker, painted blue, was designed into the wall
parallel to it. Beside the bed was a blue panel, and below that a tray
covered with gauze and tape. The survivor was on the narrow railed bed
in the center of the room, with sheets pulled up around his chest and
hooked to the monitoring devices hanging on the wall behind him. An IV
was bound to his left upper arm, and head and torso were covered with
blood stained bandages.

He was blond, with long golden locks leaking from the tight wraps
bound around his brow and head. Though tangled, the hair was bound in
a ponytail, keeping the length away from his boyish face. On first
glance, Natalia thought the young man in question was a child because
he was incredibly short, but as she came closer, she noted his defined
cheekbones, and muscle tone under the bandages around his chest. He
was a teenager, but his size made her uncertain. She paused glancing
to the nurse who followed her in. “His height can’t be more than 5
foot, what was his weight at?” She asked walking over to his body.

“One hundred and eighty pounds.” The nurse replied, after studying the
chart in her hands. She looked up, blue eyes focused on Natalia as if
she was waiting for the CSI’s reaction.

Natalia frowned. That didn’t sound right at all. The young man was
slender, and couldn’t weigh more than a hundred pounds, if that. “You
must be mistaken.”

The nurse smiled slightly, but failed to reply, she only glanced down
to the sheets covering the youth. She shook her head and started for
the door.

Returning to her work, Natalia leaned over the boy’s head and studying
his hair. It smelled of sea salt, smoke, sweat and fuel. It was
clumped in places with drying blood, and bits of glass and fiberglass
tangled in the blond strands. It was singed as well.

“Well your people didn’t get everything.” She flashed several
pictures of the hair and documented her find in her notebook. Once all
recorded, she opened her kit, pulled on a pair of gloves, and located
her tweezers, test tube jars and plastic bags. Organized she set to
gathering bits of glass, and debris, as well as clippings of hair with
tags and all.

“Our staff will clean him up after surgery.” The nurse explained
pausing. “He’s scheduled for some skin grafting on his left arm after
the tests.” She watched over her shoulder, features expressionless as
she placed the young man’s medical report in a slot beside the door.
“His things are in the bag on the cabinet; a wallet, clothing, a
watch, and a notebook. If you need anything else, just call me.” She
said, first indicating the paper bag on the locker across from
Natalia, and then gesturing to the nurse call button on the keypad
hanging from the blond’s bed.

Natalia glanced up long enough to take note of what the nurse pointed
at and watched the woman leave and turned back to the boy. She snapped
several pictures of the bruises and scrapes on his face and carefully
studied his flesh for any missed debris. His skin was clear, save for
patches of dried blood and soot along his left cheek and neck. She
snapped several shots of the smudges, and made a mental note to meet
up with the scene CSI who photographed the boy’s body before he came
in to compare notes. So far everything was as she expected.

Burn wrappings were about his left arm with an IV but his fingers were
free. Carefully she scraped under his fingernails and dropped the
contents into a bag she sealed. She noticed a great deal of dirt and
some red smeared under the nails. His hands were heavily calloused,
telling her the boy used them a great deal.

“Well, you’re definitely not a child, Mr. John Doe. Late teens from
your build, and your hands say you’ve worked for a living.” She said,
moving to the next arm, and pulling down the sheet.

The sheets slipped down around a glinting metallic prosthetic
appendage. It was like nothing she had seen before. The limb was
constructed from a series of metal plates that were slotted together
almost like plate armor. The joints were filled with thin wires, and a
series of thin fibers woven together in a mesh of artificial nerves
and muscle.

Was it possible the limb was some sort of experimental prosthetic?
Natalia wrinkled her brow leaning closer to the limb. It was firmly
bolted to the shoulder, and to a secondary plate that was grafted to
the young man’s breast.

Where on Earth did he receive such a limb? The construction was
amazing, reminding her of something one would see in a science fiction
film. She wasn’t an expert in prosthetics -- in fact, she knew very
little about them save for the fact that designing functional digits
was close to impossible and the focus of current prosthetic research.
The arm and hand were mechanical and very advanced; a prototype by the
looks of it. She wondered how the fingers worked.

Natalia inhaled, as amazing at it was, second guessing the prosthetics
was not going to get her work done. She shook her head in an attempt
to refocus her thoughts. She needed to process the damned thing, and
with all its nooks, creases and layers, that would be time consuming.
“Damn, this is going to be a pain.”

Rubbing her forehead, Natalia abandoned her collection tools for her
camera, where she took several pictures of the limb, than started a
careful inspection of the appendage.

Giving it quick study, she lifted the limb. It was heavy, close to
thirty pounds. The limb could easily be what added to the kid’s
unusual weight.

Thirty pounds, but there was another forty to make up for, which gave
her a hunch, Natalia scanned the young man, and pulled up the sheets
around his legs.

His left leg was also prosthetic and just as advanced as his arm. She
whistled and wondered if the feds knew. With the unusual prosthetics,
the boy’s identity would be easily traced. She couldn’t imagine any
experimental medical equipment not being documented.

Covering the leg back up, she turned her attention back to the arm. It
was smudged by grease and smelled of saltwater. Seaweed was caught in
the anterior elbow joint and there were bits of glass and metal lodged
in one of the sliding plated seams. It was dented, and there was
scoring and cuts over its surface as well.

A treasure trove of evidence, Natalia reflected as she set out to
gathering the bits into sealed bags. She was just probing one of the
joints for a fragment of metal, when she noticed a sticky black
substance smearing the thin circuit-like fibers underneath one of the
plates.

It looked like tar, yet something about its uncongealed consistency
told her it wasn’t. After taking several pictures, she probed the
joint with a swab and noticed the substance was not clinging to the
soft cotton. “What they hell?” She used the tweezers from her kit
next. Carefully she poked at the fibers, moving them aside and
grasping the material. It stretched becoming thin and clear like silly
puddy or canned slime. After a moment of gentle coaxing, the stuff
popped free of the wires it was connected to. To her disappointment,
There was a slight spark, and buzzing from the wires.

The arm twitched, jerking away from her probing fingers and the young
man’s eyes flared open as his metal hand clamped around her upper arm.
It was strong, and cold as it pinched her bare skin between hard
mechanical fingers. “Damn it! That hurts!” Came a gruff accented voice.

Startled, Natalia stumbled back, and twisted her arm in an attempt to
break the young man’s grasp. “You’re awake?” She tried to keep her
voice steady. Natalia didn’t like being seized. It reminded her of her
ex-husband. How many times had he grabbed her so he could beat her? It
was an effort, but Natalia Boa Vista maintained a cool professional
exterior and focused on the young man and keeping a grip on the
tweezers in her hand. Despite being grabbed, she managed to extract
the black substance.

Pain reflected in his gold eyes, and Natalia wondered if she had
damaged the limb. The arm moved like no prosthetic she had seen, and
her toying with it caused the young man pain. Which meant the
connections were neurological and likely thought controlled. From what
she had seen, the boy had the full range of motion of a flesh arm and
hand. Natalia felt a flood of concern, know wonder he reacted so
violently, her actions must have caused a great deal of damage “You
can let me go,” she told him. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Those eyes shifted, scanning the room. Shock and surprise filled them
as they settled on the IV drip, the EEG and other medical equipment.
The hand on her loosened, and dropped down to his side. “Too late for
that." He informed her with dry sarcasm. He scanned himself, face
troubled. “But from the looks of it, damage was likely done before.”
He meet her gaze, golden eyes drooping as he spoke. It appeared he was
having a difficult time concentrating. “Where am I?” He finally asked
after several pained minutes of thinking. His brow was wrinkled with
worry.

Natalia’s concern grew but it failed to wash away her sense of awe.
The young man had an impressive constitution. From what she heard
earlier, his head injury was severe and it amazed her he was even
capable of speaking, let along acting. “You’re at Miami Dade Memorial
Hospital,” she told him, voice gentle. She dropped the sample into a test
tube, and sealed it. She placed it in her crime kit and returned to his side.
Technically she couldn’t question a witness without a police officer
around, but she didn’t see the harm in trying to comfort the young man with
some distracting conversation. “My name is Natalia Boa Vista. Your plane crashed
in the Atlantic, I’m working the investigation. It’s ok, you’re safe
now.”

She lifted the nurse’s station keypad, activating it. With the kid awake,
gathering evidence had to wait and the boy seemed tense, almost
skittish by the way he glared at the room around him. She placed a
hand on his shoulder, avoiding any bandages and gave him a gentle
squeeze. “You’ll be fine. What’s your name?”

He lifted his prosthetic to his face and ran his fingers down his
bandages. It appeared to be an effort, and his hand dropped back to
the sheets. The boy rolled his head to the side, eyes closing. “Name?”
He had to think. “Edward Elric… Miami? This is America? How the hell
did I get here?”

“You crashed.” She received a name and he spoke like he expected
himself to be in another country. His accent sounded European. That
was a start. They could begin searching airline records for the boy’s
name and if that came up with a blank, then missing persons. They
might have to contact the International MP database. “Edward? Yes,
this is the United States, where did you think you were?”

Glazed, he looked to her. His young face became distressed as his eyes
fought to stay open. “Munich.” His voice cracked, and is head rolled
to the side. For a moment he focused on flashing screen of the his
heart monitor, and he became very troubled. “Alphonse, where is Alphonse?”

“I don’t know.” Natalia said. She honestly had no idea how to comfort
the boy. She knew there was one other survivor, but she didn’t know if
it was this Alphonse. “Was he with you? Who is he?”

The young man sank his head deep into the pillow, eyes closing once
more. “Yes, little brother. Al… What the hell?”

The words trailed from his lips as Edward’s eyes widened. Following
his gaze, Natalia realized, he was looking down at his wrapped arm.
His fingers and hand trembled, and the shaking slowly climbed up his
arm, to his shoulder, chest and lower limbs. Within moments he started
to violently convulse.

Without thought, Natalia grabbed the boy’s shoulders in an attempt to
hold him still with her weight. The body beneath her bucked, and
twisted and his eyes rolled. Her experience in the field was limited,
but she recognized a convulsion with a head injury was serious
business and needed to be treated medically, swiftly. “NURSE!! Someone
help!”

Three nurses and a doctor raced into the room. While one nurse
ushered Natalia out, the others surrounded the bed, blocking her view
of Edward. It happened so fast, Natalia barely had time to grab her
crime kit, camera and the bag of the victim’s belongings before she
was standing out in the hall, staring at a closed door.

The CSI’s heart thudded against her chest as she shakily stepped away
from the room. Turning around, she ran her hands through her
highlighted blond hair and fought the familiar wash of distress as it
filled her mind and pounded at her reserves. She hated feeling helpless.

Behind her, she heard the hurried voice of the Doctor and his staff.
The young man in question was in danger of losing his life, and
Natalia felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. She couldn’t do anything,
and even if she wasn’t a doctor, she felt she should have been able to
do something.

Moreover, she failed to complete her examination, and didn’t know if
her actions with the strange prosthetic were responsible for the boy’s
sudden attack.

Breathing deeply, Natalia tried to force away her worries. Her
concerns were clouding her mind, and a good CSI didn’t let their fears
and resulting thoughts to get in the way of investigation. What she
needed to do was stay on target,and finish her examination of Edward’s
things. She dropped her attention to the paper bag in hand, and
Edward’s belongings. Outside of the boy himself, they were her only
clues to who he was and the accident. She had to process them when she
got back to the station, but for now, the only thing she could do was
report to Barrlow, and the next victim. With luck and time she could
at least give the boy some closure concerning his brother and assist
in finding out what caused the accident. The thought made her feel a
little less helpless. In the past, it was investigators like her that
saved her from an abusive relationship and gave her the strength to
stand up against her ex.

Gathering her thoughts, Natalia Boa Vista started her long trek down
the hall. Depending on what Barlow and her boss, Horatio Caine said, she
suspected she’d be back with Edward in a few hours to finish
processing him, but until then, she could only hope processing the
next victim would be easier.

*&*&*&

The next victim was a young boy. Unfortunately, he was delivered into
immediate surgery upon arrival and she was sent away with a bag of his
belongings before she could even see him. The age, and description of
the child lead her to the educated guess it was this Alphonse, Edward
asked about, but DNA would verify their relationship if neither of
them recovered to confirm it.

She spent the next hour, going through both bags, sealing their
contents in plastic and arranging to return to the lab. Already the
case was starting to give her more questions than answers. Items she
had bagged for Edward included a wallet full of German marks, dating
from the twenties and various slips of paper, a leather bound notebook
written in a language she didn’t recognize, a set of military dog
tags, an outdated suit composed of a pair of tweed slacks, matching
vest, a man’s top coat, a leather cuff of some sort, a white cotton
button up shirt without a collar and glass buttons, a belt, a gun, and
a pair of badly battered leather boots. If she hadn’t known better,
she would have been convinced the young man in question was on his way
to a costume party, posing as a refugee from the Titanic.

The boy’s things were even stranger. His red jacket had a black symbol
of a serpent and cross on the back. His slacks and shirt were black,
with white piping along the front of the shirt, collar and sleeves.
Like the jacket, they were bloody, damp, and smelled of ocean. In
the pockets of the jacket was another notebook with a leather cover
and a purse filled with gold coins. He had the remains of a soggy half
eaten sandwich wrapped in a cloth, and pressed in the notebook were
five pictures. Three of which were hand painted, the other two,
black and white. She didn’t take the time to examine the photos.
Rather, she bagged them and noted there was writing on the back of
each, all dated in the early 1900s. There was also a red stone, a
crystal she wasn’t familiar with. She also found a cloth bag on
marbles and a top shoved in the other pocket.

By the time she finished, Barrlow returned with word of Edward. The
teenager was now in critical condition, and in an artificially induced
coma to relieve swelling. There was no use hanging around waiting, and
both the feds and her department wanted her to return to the lab.
Someone would return later and process the child after he was stable.
For now, they had to be satisfied with the bags of belonging, and the
samples she took from Edward before his seizure.

Natalia gathered up her things, and placed them neatly in a plastic
box from her lab, and started out the door. There was enough blood on
the younger one’s clothing to run a DNA, and she could also extract
DNA from the hair tags she got from Edward’s hair to determine if they
were indeed related. All in all, despite the pitfalls of the day,
Natalia Boa Vista felt she had actually made progress.

Her drive to the lab was pleasant, and she savored the silence as she
went. It cleared her thoughts of the emotional stress of the day. The
seizure put her off, and she had been shaken even during her
processing of the bags, and more than once her mind wandered to Edward
and whether he’d survive the coma. She never saw a man die before, and
Edward’s suffering was sobering, reminding her of how fragile human
life was.

By the time she arrived at the lab it was late in the afternoon. She
dropped off the evidence to the appropriate sub labs and returned to
the DNA Lab to check over her notes. Horatio Caine, her boss, hadn’t
returned yet with his team, and she suspected she would be involved in
some serious overtime with this new case. But until they returned, she
focused on working the lab and running her workload of DNA requests
from the beginning of the week. Ever since she changed over from DNA
to investigations, she was split between jobs. Despite the grievances
for her mole work last year, Horatio, her supervisor, was hesitant to
let her into the field and away from the DNA lab. Her lab work was
exemplary, he said, and he was reluctant to have her leave what he
felt was her niche.

Natalia suspected her supervisor thought her leaving the lab was an
attempt to prove to his team she was valuable even if she had made
some questionable decisions in the past. She didn’t blame him; Horatio
Caine possessed impeccable people sense, and pegged her. She did
have a lot to prove, and she was trying to impress them, but she was
also determined to be of assistance to the lab in any way she could.

Fieldwork had been a curiosity that now turned into a passion, and DNA
analysis was just an impediment that chained her to the lab.

The woman sighed, leaning over her workbench. The DNA lab was a narrow
room with one glass wall and door. The other walls displayed shelves
with test tubes, vials of chemicals, and various electronic devices
used in analysis and collection. A spectrometer and genetic analyzer
were on one of the many workstations against the opposite wall as were
two computers, a few microscopes, including an electronic one, and
other machines necessary for Natalia’s work. Cabinets and storage
containers also lined the back wall. On first glance the room looked
crowded, but to Natalia it was ordered chaos.

She was dropping HaeIII enzymes into test tubes; DNA specimens
extracted from a crime scene. The process was tedious, and helped to
break down the DNA into uniform results that would help in typing the DNA.

It was just one step in a long complex procedure that would inevitably
assist the crime lab in narrowing down a suspect or identifying a
victim. She tended to more than one case at a time, labeling specimens as
she went, so she could file away more than one case as she went.
Sometimes, one case had more than one specimen and kept her busy
all day. But for the most past, Natalia Boa Vista ran multiple DNA tests
at various procedural stages in the lab during the course of the day.

Once the DNA was broken down, she would move on to the next step of
sorting the various fragments according to size. This was done with capillary
electrophoresis. She would load the sample onto a slab of gel, and expose it
to minute electrical charges in the CE machine. Once the machine finished,
the DNA was neatly sorted by size, ready to be denatured.

Denaturing consisted of taking the DNA and gel from the CE and
soaking it in alkali solution. Once the hydrogen bonds holding the two
sides of the DNA’s double helix were broken, leaving single stranded
DNA fragments, Natalia would transfer them to a stable thin nylon
membrane and begin the actual analysis. Southern blotting was a
process where Natalia placed a sheet of nylon over the denatured DNA
gel solution. The nylon is then exposed to ultraviolet radiation to
crosslink the DNA to the membrane.

Once prepared, the DNA fragments are ready for analysis.

Natalia wiped her brow, feeling the pull of aching muscles as she
moved from one station to another, checking the progress of her
machines and preparing gels. She would have to label her membrane
with phosphorus to make it possible to see the strands on X-ray film.
The results reminded her of a supermarket bar code and made it easy to
compare specimen patterns.

Rubbing her arms, the woman checked the clock noting her day was just
about over, and she was still behind. The thought of overtime
occurred to her. She was still waiting for the DNA she obtained from
the hospital to arrive at her lab, but she was exhausted, and still a
bit disappointed she hadn’t finished processing the Elric boy earlier
that day. It was likely Caine would send Wolfe or Calleigh to process
the young man, leaving her stuck in the lab for another day.

She was in the process of leaving instructions for the nightshift when
the glass doors to her lab opened and Ryan Wolfe entered. Of all
people. She paused, fingers tightening on her pen as she eyed the tall
dark haired Bostonian as he scanned the humming machines, centrifuges,
test tubes and microscopes. “Hey, do you have a moment?”

“I was actually on my way out.” Natalia informed him, closing the
notebook. Of all the CSI’s, Ryan was the most critical of her. He
hadn’t forgiven her for spying on the lab. “But Maxine isn’t here yet,
so how can I help you?”

The CSI fingered a test tube filled with a black putty like substance.
“Can you run this though and see if we can identify it?”

“Sure.” Taking the test tube, Natalia held it up to the light. It had
the same texture and color as the substance she found in Edward’s
prosthetics. “I’ve seen this gunk before, I extracted it from our
airplane crash victim at the hospital,” she explained. “Where did you
find this?”

Ryan lifted a brow, his sharp blue gaze focusing on the test tube.
“One of the bodies from the scene. Three of them were covered with the
stuff. I heard you weren’t able to finish processing today.”

“Edward had a seizure.” Natalia explained feeling selfconscious. Ryan
Wolfe was always pointing out her failures. Sometimes she wished he
wasn’t so critical of her. In the past, he had been kinder to her,
they'd even dated.

“Edward? You got a name?” He folded his arms, interest narrowing his
features.

“Yes. Edward Elric. It will be in my report. I sent my findings to
Aaron, he’s running a search in missing persons. We should have
something by tomorrow.” She explained. “He shouldn’t be too hard to
find, not with those odd prosthetics. I've never seen anything like
them before. Thought-controlled and all. They’re amazing.”

Ryan nodded, rubbing his chin. “Delko said Sevilla mentioned
prosthetics. But yeah, with a name, and the prosthetics, it should
narrow things down. I trust you documented and photographed everything?”

“By the book.” Natalia informed, and flickered a faint smile. She
looked away from the CSI, hands absently toying with her long blond
hair. Ryan made her nervous, and she wondered if he was looking for a
way to make her feel insecure with her job as CSI. He was one of the
people who'd objected loudly to her leaving the lab.

“Good work.” His words came to her as a surprise, and he offered her a
reassuring smile. “You’re getting the hang of it.”

“Yeah, I guess I am.” Natalia felt her face warm. He must have been
tired, she thought, and unable to pick apart her victim processing,
because he of all people would have been annoyed at her failure to
finish. But she took the compliment, nodding her head, and trying to
gather her thoughts. “Anything else?”

He shrugged. “Not that I can think of, let me know when you guys run
that through, ok?”

Natalia placed the test tube on the rack. It was already labeled and
dated. She’d have Maxine start it and she’d work on running it though
tomorrow. It would take about four days to get the results, unless she
rushed it. “Sure, and I’ll see you around?”

As Ryan Wolfe turned to go, he glanced over his shoulder. His boyish
face was sunburned. “This should be interesting. Well, got to run. I
have to find myself a rocket engineer. Talk to you later.”

A rocket engineer? Natalia blinked, and watched the CSI vanish out the
door without explanation. Now, why would they need one of those? Well,
that made the case interesting enough. With a weary sigh, Natalia Boa
Vista returned to her notes. Well, it would all make sense in the end,
she thought. It would just take a while explaining it all in a report.

And that in itself would take her the night, at home without the
compensation of overtime.
*&*&
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