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Detective Loach wheeled the ground penetrating radar module over the boggy ground, before getting the signal to stop from Dr. Jan Fisher seated on the back of the truck parked on the path.
"Have we got something?" Loach called.
"We have something that looks like a body about three feet under the surface." Fisher called. "It's in the part of the grid that looked as though it had recently been disturbed."
"Call Doctor Landau." Loach ordered before turning to the pair of uniformed officers. "Tape off the area, this lake shore is now a crime scene." She added as she removed her phone from her belt. "Ifan we found a body, possibly Mr. Bailey, did you manage to track down who paid his bail."
"Father Dominguez, you bailed out one Benjamin Bailey eight months ago." Ifan stated as he slid a criminal profile of Bailey across the street to the old man sitting across the table to him. "Can I ask you why you made such a charitable action towards a known thief?"
"You're a Muslim aren't you?" Dominguez asked. "I can trust you to keep my testament away from the church. After the Spotlight expose, Cardinal Lowe decided the church needed to gain some good press. To that end he asked myself and four other high ranking priests in the clergy to work with those rehabilitating offenders."
"When was this?" Ifan asked.
"We started in 2005, I can honestly say that during the first few years we were doing good work." Dominguez sighed. "We took confessions, sponsored criminals to get back into work and starting support groups to help each other. It was in the winter of 2008 that things changed, it was the death of Father Brown at the hands of one of the men we were helping that things changed."
"Changed as in from rehabilitation to murder?" Ifan asked as he took the file back from Dominguez.
"No, not at first but it was enough for me to consider parting company with the other three priests. They were conducting forced baptisms and physical punishment in the catacombs of their churches. I went to the Cardinal to tell him about these acts, turns out he knew." Dominguez explained. "I then thought about turning to the police, that's when he unleashed the 'Soldier of Faith', he broke into my home and broke my legs, they threatened to kill me if I talked to the police."
"Hence why you don't want the Church to know you came here." Ifan stated. "Do you know when it graduated to murder?"
"Perhaps, one of the others came to confession. I am sealed by my holy rites, but I can give you the date, it was the 12th of December, 2010." Dominguez told him, a look of sadness creeping over his face. "While I respected the seal of confession, someone else didn't. Father Williams disappeared a few weeks after he came to see me, the Cardinal told me he'd moved parish but honestly I don't believe him."
"Okay that brings us to Mr. Bailey, explain to me how his DNA got on a murder weapon found in Father Beckett's house?" Ifan hissed.
"You know the Ghost who came to my church asked me about Beckett. She asked me if I was still connected to this 'Circle of Sin' I'd help form. I told her now, as for Ben...I continued the good work I was doing, even sent my charges to the support groups we'd originally set up. In my gut I know that Ben was taken by the 'Soldier of Faith' for one reason, to remind me to keep quiet." Dominguez explained as Ifan slid a piece of paper over to him followed by a pen.
"Well Father, you don't have to say another word," Ifan told him. "But I would appreciate the names of the other members of this 'Circle' and where they assemble."
Detective Clarissa Loach's face showed little revulsion as she slipped one of the snails into an evidence bag. Moving away from the lake shore she watched as officers from the Parks Service excavated the area containing the body sunk into the bog.
"Hopefully this little guy will contain the same poison as the one found in the slime on the crucifix and rosary beads." Fisher announced as she took the snail from Clarissa, just as Doctor Landau and his assistant Trisha ducked under the tape and walked over to the slowly increasing hole.
"I remember reading something about bog bodies preserved from the First World War from what is now Poland." Doctor Landau announced, as the body was finally uncovered, the flesh darkened but intact. "They could even determine the weapons used to kill each individual soldier. Hopefully this fellow will be a similar state and can help us find who killed him. Miss Sedova, we need to cover him up quickly before decomposition begins to set in."
"On it Doctor." Trisha replied as Clarissa snapped a few photos of the corpses resting place. Rolling out a body bag, Trisha and one of the excavators gently lifted the body into the container, before passing it out of the shallow pit.
"Detective Loach, could you please assist Ms Sedova in carry this poor soul back to the van. I'm afraid that my knees are unstable at the best of times without the mud attempting to suck the boots off my feet." Doctor Landau asked as he watched Trisha pick up one end of the bag.
"Sure, so what happened to these Polish bog bodies?" Clarissa asked as she picked up the other end of the bag, and the three of them headed towards the ME van parked outside the crime scene, the uniformed officer guarding it keeping an eye on the crowd of joggers, cyclists and dog walkers curiously watching the excavation.
"They weren't Polish bodies, they were German, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers." Doctor Landau told her, as the officer opened the rear doors to the truck, just as the three of them ducked under the crime scene tape. "You see Poland was still part..." Doctor Landau stopped as a shot rang out and the uniformed officer dropped to the floor. Seconds later the crowd dispersed screaming as three men dressed in biker leathers and pagan masks rushed the van.
"Officer down!" Clarissa yelled as she dropped the body bag and pulled her weapon, only for the nearest target, a man armed with a short spear to knock her to the floor. "Request back-up at Golden Gate Park ASAP!" She yelled as she fired up at her attacker, his body convulsing as he fell. Unperturbed the other two assailants dashed past her and attacked Dr Landau with a club, the elderly doctor falling to the floor, his nose bleeding.
"Hey!" Trisha yelled as she removed a liver probe from the ME truck. Turning one of the attackers walked towards her, his hand clenched around a dagger. As he closed the gap Trisha struck, the sharp tip of the probe stabbing into the hunter's genitals forcing him to fall to the floor screaming in pain.
"Put your hands up!" Clarissa ordered, as she levelled her weapon at the last attacker. Turning, his hands raised the man bit down on something in his mouth, his body involuntary shaking as he staggered forward a few steps before falling face first to the floor.
"Doctor Landau can you hear me?" Trisha asked, as she hopped into the ME van and grabbed the first aid kit strapped to the wall.
"I can hear you Ms Sedova, there is no need to yell." Landau grumbled as Clarissa cuffed the man squirming on the floor. "I must remember to keep an eye on you when you use the liver probe it seems. Thank you both for stopping these fellows."
"Their masks look almost religious but they don't look Christian. Could they be related to Mr Bailey's murder?" Clarissa asked as Trisha dabbed at the blood running down Doctor Landau’s face.
"They look like they're based on Pre-Roman Germanic mythology." Doctor Landau stated. "I must ask Ms Sedova, what possessed you to grab the liver probe over a scalpel or the tire iron."
"My aunt has a saying, words are all good and well, but sometimes a liver probe to the groin works far better and quicker." Trisha explained. "Well her example involved a balalaiki and the back of the head, but the meaning is the same. Seek peace, but prepare for action."
"Indeed." Clarissa stated as she looked down at the bound man. "I've got a feeling we haven't seen the last of these guys." She stated, as the cold digital eye of a sniper scope withdrew from the tree-line, its masked owner retreating deeper into the woods.