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The events after the trial’s closure were a blur. The guard freeing her hand from the cuffs, her lawyer taking her by the shoulders and offering his congratulations before following the legions of spectators flooding out of the chamber, leaving her behind.

She steadied her shaking hands against the table and inclined her head as the guard beside her coughed lightly. He was regarding her with a sort of reluctant sympathy.

“You’re not allowed to go home yet.”

Erica furrowed her brow and reached for her glass of water. “Why not?”

“It’s for your own safety,” he explained, kneeling down to retrieve the transporter from the floor. “Even though you’ve been cleared of charges, there’s likely to be a lot of angry people waiting for you. And they know where you live. Plus, there’s still a lot of fire damage from the stove, that needs clearing up before we can let you back in.”

The little woman nodded, taking a sip from the glass. “Fantastic. Where am I to go, then? My family…” She pursed her lips and stared hard at her lap.

“You’ve been assigned protective custody for the foreseeable future,” he told her. “One of our officers has just secured a higher position, received new duties. One of those responsibilities is to accommodate you until we can give you your house back. After all this has blown over.”

Erica was starting to look crestfallen. “Can I at least take some of my things? I have stuff back at the house, my clothes… my dogs have been taken in by some shelter somewhere, I—”

The guard held up the carrier, balancing it on the edge of the human platform. “We’ll be taking you to get your things now. We’re sending you in a car with some human officers, and the gentleman will meet you at your house to help transport your essentials.”

Erica paused for a moment before setting her glass down on the table and stepping into the carrier. The guard didn’t bother to shut the door as he made for the giants’ exit.

Once outside, the guard looked down at his feet, spotting three members of the human sector waiting for him and, beyond, a vast crowd of reporters and members of the public. Gritting his teeth, he placed the carrier down gently next to them, and Erica took her first steps outside the facility as a free woman.

She cupped her hand over her eyes as the sun streamed over her, looking out over the crowd with a mixed sense of trepidation and euphoria. The two female officers quickly came to her side and escorted her down the extensive set of human steps to the pavement below, the male officer flanking them.

The path was cordoned off on both sides but reporters, eager to get a word in with the released defendant, surged forward to meet her. She winced and ducked her head, trying to ignore the myriad questions being launched at her from all sides. The officers barked at people to move along, but the crowds remained even as the party of four reached the black police car that would take Erica home.

Sitting in the backseat, Erica breathed a sigh of utter contentment and tilted her head to look out at the view rushing past her. Human and giant architecture alike rose up alongside the car, and the occasional giant pedestrian strode past the speeding vehicle.

“Grendall Docks aren’t much further from here,” remarked the female officer sat in the back next to Erica. “We’ll be there in under ten minutes.”

“Thank God,” Erica replied, both excited and apprehensive about going back to the place where she’d committed the atrocity, where the love of her life had left her to be arrested and consequently tortured.

It’s over with now. You’re guiltless.

Not letting herself get caught up in such backward thinking, Erica leaned her head back and closed her eyes.

Erica was jolted from a light doze as the squad car came to a halt. She blinked sleepily and stretched in her seat.

“He’s here already,” remarked the male officer, leaning out of his window and craning his neck.

“Come on.” The policewoman next to Erica unclipped her seatbelt and opened the car door.

Erica followed her lead. From her vantage point she could see the side of her house and the docks. The smashed boat still lay in pieces and a great tell-tale mark left by cleaning fluid let her know that the blood had been cleared away weeks ago. Where her kitchen was, the wall was blackened and the window gone, obliterated by the fire.

Walking across to the front of the police car, Erica caught sight of the tip of a great black boot resting by the other side of the house. She took a small step back and craned her neck, her gaze scanning up the grey-trousered legs that reached above the rooftop, to a belt and even further, up to the face of the giant awaiting her.

The sun was shining behind the tremendous figure before her, illuminating him in a haze of gold. His identity was unmistakable. Erica tilted her head.


He'd ditched the tie somewhere in between the aftermath of the trial and reconvening at the crime scene. A cool breeze from the water's edge gently ruffled his combed hair and played with the open collar of his button down.  

Hearing the crunch of fine gravel, Aaron turned from the dazzling waterscape to greet the approaching squad car. In his pocket, he gripped his new badge. Detective now... He was thrumming with anticipation. The leading officer that had approached him after the trial had been so impressed by his investigation, he'd be starting immediately if he wanted it.  And how could he say no to the job of his dreams?

"I understand it's an unusual arrangement. But a familiar face could do the kid some good. If that's gonna be a problem, let me know now."

"There's no problem," he'd answered immediately.

But now, looking down at her lithe form outlined by the sun, Aaron felt something hitch inside him. The sort of something that made him want to reach down and hug her close in congratulations. To feel her warmth right within the palm of his hand...

Aaron groaned inwardly. I'm in trouble.

Shaking off such wandering thoughts, he stepped out from the other side of the house and got down on one knee, as was custom. Erica trailed behind the male officer, still wearing her white t-shirt and grey, prison-endorsed trousers. And yet, there were no handcuffs. It was like looking at a new woman. And for all purposes, maybe she was now.

Noticing their expectant looks, he gave the officers a curt nod.

"She'll be needing a trunk full of belongings," the officer called up. "I've got a pile of paperwork to fill in on the transfer. You got her?"

"I got her," Aaron answered.

The officers nodded, the female handing Erica a business card before trailing back to the squad car.

Aaron held out his hand towards Erica, forefinger and thumb extended beyond the rest.

"Aaron Stryke."

He filled in the blank, deciding that over a month of her being kept in the dark was enough. There was a beat of hesitation before Erica thrust her hand back out towards him, allowing him to grasp it gently and give it a little shake.

“Aaron,” she echoed, irritated to find that her voice barely rose above a whisper. His grasp was warm, and surprisingly gentle. More like it had been that time in the field than during her interrogation.

"So, I think congratulations are in order." He smiled down at her, a genuine compassion that surpassed exhaustion. "You're a free woman now."

She took her hand back, flexing her fingers and returning the giant’s smile. She cleared her throat. “Yeah… that I am.” Her expression seemed to radiate sheer relief — but as she looked at him she seemed caught up in a sudden shyness. Her hand came up to rub the back of her neck and she searched for the words to break through her flustered state.

“It’s nice to finally have a name to go with that face,” she remarked, her smile widening into a brazen grin.  

Aaron beamed in return, tentative at first, then luminous as the setting sun. This was a good moment. It wasn't to be tarnished. Her smile seeming to give him some unspoken permission to break his stoic demeanour. He was no longer her warden; they were on equal standing now.

"It's not generally protocol to be on a first name basis with inmates," he said apologetically. His gaze become more thoughtful, his hand resting now on his bent knee. "But I'm... I'm following a new protocol now. Field duty. Guess I'm not so quiet when I'm digging around. Heads turned... and for the better this time."

He pulled out his new badge, letting her glimpse the generic lettering lit up crimson in the dying sunlight.

Erica’s eyebrows shot up and she nodded appreciatively. “Detective, eh? Well, you deserve it. Without you I think the trial would have taken a much grimmer turn…” The look she gave him brimmed with gratitude. “You… well, you saved my life. I could never thank you enough.” She shifted self-consciously and tucked the business card into her trouser pocket, lowering her eyes.

Aaron curled a first around the badge and wiggled it back into his pants pocket.

"You don't have to thank me," he rumbled quietly. He glanced over at the horizon, the sun playing up streaks of gold and red across the water. How strange it was, that this tumultuous day was already past. And tomorrow, everything would be different again.  

"You need to grab your things, don't you?" he prompted. He reached behind him for a sturdy looking zippered handbag that had inadvertently covered up an entire bench. "I've got plenty of room in here, so you can bring what you'd like."

Erica couldn’t hold back a laugh at the sight of the enormous bag. I could fit my entire bedroom in that thing.

“Yeah. Or rather — you’ve got to grab my things,” she corrected him, eyes flicking from his face to his hands and back again. “My bedroom window — the one at the front there — should be big enough for my bed to fit through. If I open it up from the inside you can bring it out, okay?”

Without waiting for his approval, Erica scurried around his kneeling form to the open front door and shot inside, not giving herself the luxury of pausing to appreciate being home, even if it was just for a short time. She darted up the stairs and wrenched open the door to her room.

It was almost exactly as she had left it, save for the thin layer of dust that had collected on her shelves. Her personal belongings that had been taken in as evidence had been returned in a neat pile on the desk beneath the window. The dog beds lay empty in the alcove where a fireplace had once resided, and the books stood like lines of soldiers, neat and dusty in their case.

Shaking her head, she bustled over to the window and flipped the latches up, throwing it wide open. A fresh breeze from the water made its way into the room and ruffled her hair. She turned away and knelt by the double bed, dragging the big suitcase she and Roman shared out from under it. She noted in her head everything she’d need. Clothes, towels, toiletries, food… how am I supposed to cook at his place? she wondered, stricken.

Raising her voice, she addressed Aaron: “I don’t suppose you have human-sized facilities installed in your house, do you?” She suspected the answer would be a negative. “I mean, I can’t exactly up and take my kitchen…” It’s all burnt out anyway, she realised.

A deer-in-headlights look crossed the man's face, leveled with the first floor window. In the very brief imaginings he'd had of their co-habitation, it had clearly failed to cross his mind that she's be needing options for independent food access. Without such, she'd be waiting for him to get home each day like a grumpy hamster.

"We'll figure that out," he assured her firmly. "I'll uh... I'll make a trip tonight, round off the supplies you'll need."

Shifting closer on his knees, he laid the bag before what looked like a patch of soil tilled for gardening. He was careful to avoid the fragile chicken-wire fence that surrounded it. He crouched down again, lifting a hand to make sure the window was open as far as possible. He was grateful it was large enough to allow his hand in, but just barely. And he might not make it back out if he was holding a little queen-sized bed.

"Can you push the bed up to the sill?" Aaron called inside.

Erica also adopted a slightly helpless expression as she left the suitcase in the middle of the floor and stood, moving over to the side of the bed.


It wasn’t a particularly weighty frame. Wood had long since stopped being used as a material for building, now replaced with more sustainable, recycled materials that were considerably lighter. Nevertheless, Erica failed to disguise the sheer effort it took for her to wedge her shoulder behind the headboard and shove the bed away from the wall. It squeaked against the bare floorboards, stubbornly scraping a few feet closer to the window.

“Is this okay?”

She panted and raised a hand to rub her shoulder, blinking up at him. He took up the entire view outside. She could no longer feel much of a draft coming in from off the water. Erica took a few steps back, moving to disembowel her side of the built-in wardrobe and throw the contents hurriedly into the suitcase.

The room went dark as Aaron squeezed his hand through the opening and dragged the bed up at an angle. For all Erica's struggles, it glided like butter against the floor under the influence of his considerable strength. After pulling it halfway out, he was able to get a more secure grip on the frame, gently wiggling it out the rest of the way. He marveled briefly at the fact that, from heel to tip, his hand could fit her entire bed, with a fingertip's length remaining on all sides.

Shaking off this dizzying comparison, he tucked the bed into the depths of his bag, then groped a few more fingers through the window to find the thick blanket that went with it. He folded it up like a handkerchief and set it on top of the little mattress.

He watched her progress patiently through the window. She moved like there was a ticking bomb on the premises, only minutes left before detonation. He pursed his lips, understanding how haunted this place must be for her. He wasn't particularly excited to stay on longer himself; he'd seen the crime scene tape discarded in a bin, bare traces of blood still staining some of the limestone gravel.

Ross' blood.

Determined to distract himself from the unholy ground he knelt upon, Aaron leaned in closer, looking around for anything else he could grab. A framed picture was laying face down upon the ground – likely knocked to the floor in his fumbling attempts to remove her bed. Seeing as Erica was still emptying the contents of her closet into a suitcase, Aaron squeezed his hand inside again, long fingers stretching out to pluck at the support on the back of the frame.

It was smaller than a postage stamp to him, the photograph an unprofessional snapshot. Squinting, he could make out Erica as the woman within. A man had his arms wrapped around her waist from behind, planting a messy kiss on her cheek while she was trying to pour some sort of drink.

Roman Davies, Aaron surmised. Talk about loving and leaving them.

He set the tiny picture back into the room on her ransacked dresser, face down the way he had found it.

Erica did her level best to ignore the massive hand that crowded into her room like it was
merely a chamber in a doll’s house.

Instead she let her mind wander, straying to thoughts of the next few… well, she didn’t know exactly… Days? Weeks?… of her life. Living in a giant’s house — a whole new ball game compared with the carefully downsized living quarters of the prison. She thought back to the last time she’d stayed in giant territory. It must have been more than ten years ago, she realised, frowning.

A quiet sound caught her attention, breaking her reverie. She looked up sharply to see that the photo frame had been placed as tactfully as possible back on top of her dresser. She hadn’t even noticed that it had fallen in the first place.

She didn’t have to look at it to know which picture it contained. For a moment, she considered retrieving it, taking it with her as a memento. He’s not dead, she reminded herself firmly. Don’t get sentimental.

With a decisive nod, the woman sniffed and shoved her last few clothes into the suitcase, then stalked out to collect her things from the bathroom. Returning, she added these, along with a random assortment of books, to the case and zipped it up.

“Ready,” she informed the waiting giant, wheeling the case over to the window and hoisting it up onto the desk for him to reach it.

Aaron plucked up her suitcase and stowed it away inside what, in hindsight, was far too big a bag. It would have been far easier to simply stow her belongings in his jacket for the stroll over – would it not cause controversy at his new post over using pocket transportation on his very first go at protective custody.

On instinct, his hand went back to gather up Erica herself. He stopped himself halfway through the window and quickly backtracked, looking sheepish.

"I, uh... You'll be wanting to take the stairs down, I'm sure," Aaron mumbled, pretending he hadn't just been about to pluck her up like a piece of luggage. He scratched the back of his neck, looking rather like he'd been called on unexpectedly by the professor in his least favourite class. "You are shoulder-certified aren't you?"

Erica froze as she realised what Aaron was getting at. Ever so casually, she peered down out of the window to the ground below. The squad car had already driven off out of sight. There was no other option.

“I…” She stammered, hands fidgeting behind her back. “Yeah. Yeah, I am. It’s been a while but last I checked, I’m still insured,” she assured him hesitantly.

Why are you so nervous? she hissed inwardly, annoyed by her sudden trepidation. He’s not going to hurt you.

“If I just—” Trying to forget her fear, she stepped up onto the desk, wobbling on bent knees with her arms out at her sides. “—climb up here I can save you the trouble of reaching down…” Somehow the idea of being lifted from ground level filled her with more unease than at this slightly more even altitude. Clenching her jaw, she eyed him expectantly. He looked just as worried as she felt.

A light eyebrow arched with intrigue as Erica hoisted herself up towards the window's ledge. Seeming to catch onto her unorthodox plan, Aaron studied his feet. She just had to put a garden right outside the window, didn't she? Still, with some careful navigation, he managed to gain a close position to the first floor that didn't devastate the toddling tomato plants.

His shoulder brushed the dusty paneling, the little ledge of the sill covered up by a fold in his pale blue button-down. If she was careful, she could crawl right on. Only briefly did he make the mistake of turning his head towards her. She was so very near to him. He tried not to take her apprehension personally. After all, he'd nearly crushed her into a pulp against the prison wall a mere three weeks prior.

"Watch your step," Aaron instructed, watching in his peripherals as Erica edged closer. He lifted a hand up as safeguard, unwilling to let her fall.

The woman reared back a fraction as his hand came up, and shook her head at her own flightiness. Trying to diffuse her own tension, she sent Aaron an attempt at a confident smile.

“Righto.” Steeling herself, she raised a hand to grip the windowpane and pulled herself up straight. From there she could step straight up onto his sleeve.

She reached out, promptly lost her nerve, and found herself clinging to him like a marmoset, fists curled into the fabric and knees holding fast to the gentle curve of his shoulder. She thumped her forehead against the vast surface and sighed. “Shit.”

Squeezing her eyes shut so she couldn’t possibly look down, she released one arm and gripped a crease of his shirt a little further up, then another, then another, until she righted herself on the almost horizontal plane that met his neck. Her knuckles were white as she sat with handfuls of his shirt in her grasp at either side of her.

“Okay,” she called up to him shakily. “I’m good. So good.”

"Who are you insured through again?" Aaron asked under his breath. He slid his hand through the handles of the bag and stood slowly. Even from that simple movement, he felt Erica sway like a petrified tree branch, apt to break. He stood there uncertainly, knowing he couldn't justify taking a stroll through downtown Grendall with her so precariously perched.

"Here..." Aaron gently set the bag down on the roof of the house and plunged his hands into his pockets. He pulled out the necktie he had previously stowed away and draped it around his neck. He carefully tucked the silken fabric between Erica and his neck, ensuring she wasn't pushed around as he deftly tied up a loose Windsor knot. Pushing the knot a little tighter, enough tension grew that something as small as Erica could find some sort of restraint.

"Duck under here," Aaron said patiently, holding the side up with one finger for her. "You can hang onto this. My place is on the other side of town."

Despite his best efforts, he found himself fighting off a grin as teeny grunts of effort and nervous mumblings floated up to his right ear.

Erica soon situated herself comfortably, clinging to the huge strip of fabric and directing her steely gaze forward. Close to his neck as she was, Aaron could no doubt feel with incredible sensitivity how the human’s tiny muscles tensed as she readied herself for his movement.

“I forgot how crazy this is,” she remarked out loud, fingers clutching the necktie to make certain that she was secure. She tried not to focus too much on how she could feel the blood rushing through the artery in Aaron’s neck, how she could smell the clean scent of his skin and hear his every breath.

They were almost too close for comfort. But somehow Erica didn’t feel like complaining about the situation. She carefully relinquished one hand and gave his neck a pat.

“I’m sorted. Just… tread carefully, okay?” Short as the journey was, she had a suspicion that the rocky movement would get to her.

A small smile quirked on his lips as he picked up the bag of her belongings again. “Will do.”
Caught || FOURTEEN
Co-written by the fabulous :iconmentalcasevole:! If you haven't checked out her gallery yet, it's well worth your look!

Previous chapter:

next chapter: Next Wednesday!

This story takes place in the Wander universe... approximately 250 years in the future!!! The year is 2129, and a lot has changed since the events of the Bergen revolution. Jude, Penelope, Adrian, and the rest of the New Equality Movement gang have gone down in history books, their press for equal co-existence having left a meaningful mark on the world. Magic has been replaced by technology, and the only pixie dust left in the world is found in old folklore and fairy tales. Giants and humans co-exist on a near global basis now in every aspect of society. But even in such a seemingly harmonious society, crime is still as common as death and taxes.

Featured Cast: (aka face-claims of each character)

Erica Sage: Amy MacDonald……

Aaron Stryke: Armie Hammer……
BONUS: Aaron's ID Badge by Obsess-Confess

Ross Vogel: Brett Dalton………

Roman Davies: Mat Baynton……
“Your trial’s been moved. You appear in court tomorrow morning.”

The guard who delivered this message so late at night had offered Erica a stern, satisfied glare, turned on his heel and left her without another word. For some minutes after, she stared in disbelief at the massive door that kept her contained, helpless, until her fate was to be decided.

She remembered her brief spell outside, how good it felt to pretend she was free for those few precious minutes. To think that was probably the last time I ever got to see the light of day.

Needless to say, Erica didn’t sleep another wink that night.

When the guards came to collect her in the morning, they found that she had already washed herself and put on the crisply ironed uniform that had been left for her. Her boots gleamed and her hair was neatly in place for once — but still her efforts failed to hide the sunken cheeks, the tremulous hands, the red-rimmed eyes weary with exhaustion.

“It’s time to go,” one of the guards stated.

She was sat upright on the edge of the bunk, head bowed and hands clasped between her knees to stifle the shaking. She turned at the sound of the voice, couldn’t speak, merely nodded.

The one who had spoken sighed and knelt before the cell, raising a transporter to the front, while the other pressed the button to dissipate the barrier. Casting one final look around at her prison, Erica got to her feet and climbed into the carrier.

“Your barrister will meet you in the courtroom. He’s making his own way there,” the guard informed her as he shut the latch on the box and drew away from the solitary cell.

With their prisoner in tow, the two guards strode back out into the maze of corridors and towards the crown chamber.

Time seemed to flash by at an incredible pace compared with the last time she was being ferried between the courtroom and the holding cells. It wasn’t long before Erica could hear a dull chorus of voices emanating from somewhere ahead of them. There was a deafening creak right in front of her and Erica could imagine the sight of two enormous doors swinging forth. The voices fell silent for a moment as they walked in, then increased in volume and speed as they realised who had just entered the courtroom.

This room was specialised — built specifically to accommodate an interspecies dispute. On one side was the vast rows of seats for giant spectators, a huge table and a witness stand large enough for a giant. On the other was a raised platform that provided seats for a huge number of human spectators if the need arose, a flight of stone stairs leading up to a Gothic tower of a witness stand, and a table. To a giant’s eye, it looked like someone had built a miniature replica of the chamber, with living, breathing figures to fill it.

The jury were all seated, with giants at the back and humans on a raised line of chairs before them. The judges’ bench was still vacant.

The guard holding the transporter stalked across the vast space, past the giants’ gallery to the elevated defendant’s table. Phillips was already seated, and they exchanged a brief nod as the giant set down the carrier and let Erica step out.

“Hold out your left arm,” he ordered, dropping the transporter gently to the floor and reaching into his pocket. Erica obeyed wordlessly, and he withdrew a pair of cuffs. With incredible precision, he clicked one end shut around her left wrist and attached the other to a round metal hook protruding from the table’s surface.

The magnets in the handcuffs activated upon each lock shutting tight. Erica found her bound wrist snapped tight to the metal hook. Not painful, but it was impossible to make a run for it. Still trapped, even without a box around her.

"All rise," a booming voice cut through the anxious chatter like a knife. "The honourable Judge Kerning presiding."

A solitary giant with silver hair and heavily lined features emerged to the podium, wearing black robes. He took his seat, and the congregation also took theirs.

"It has been brought to my attention," the judge began, stirring murmurs as the usual commencement was put on hold. "That there has been an error in testimony regarding this case. New evidence brings to light a more complicated situation and therefore justice will be pursued as such."

He lowered his gaze over towards Erica's spot, gavel in hand. "Mister Phillips, if you would call your key witness to the stand, we may begin."

The stout man cleared his throat, leaning in over his microphone. "Aaron Stryke to the witness stand, if you would."

Someone rose in the third row of the giants’ side.

Aaron was dressed for the occasion in a crisp button-down and tie, his hair combed back neatly as always. But his face bore a freckling of fresh cuts on one side, a butterfly bandage holding together the largest one over his right eye. Shadows under his eyes suggested he had slept very little in the last few days.

Only once he was sworn under oath and seated on the right side witness stand did those blue eyes slid over to acknowledge Erica's position. They burned once again, but not with the anger he'd harboured when she had first met him. This time it was something different.

Phillips stood, pulling out a sheet of notes. Aaron rigidly set his attention on him, steeling himself as the questions began.

Erica’s eyes never left Aaron as he answered every question Reed put forward — most she thought he’d never know the truth about. But now the guard was speaking confidently about his encounters with people directly connected with the organisation which had caused her so much trouble. And not just that, she noted, fighting back tears. He’s telling the truth. For me. The realisation left her stunned.

The longer she watched, the more she forgot to concentrate on what was being said and instead focused entirely on Aaron’s face as he talked. His words were reduced to a dull hum in her ears as she fell into a reverie.

“… from the head of the group himself. He sent Ross out to kill a man who hadn’t been able to pay him on the night. Ross attacked both of them with murderous intent before the weapon was even fired. The intended victim’s girlfriend, our defendant, did the only thing she could to protect the both of them from certain death.”

Kerning pushed his spectacles further up his nose. “And I understand that you have conclusive evidence of this Mister Gallows’ confession. In the form of a…” Here he glanced at a page of notes on the desk before him. “… A recording device?”

Aaron nodded, reached into his trouser pocket and drew out a nondescript piece of technology that nestled snugly in the palm of his hand. “A conversation less than 72 hours ago that took place in Gallows’ storage bunker. I went there with the motive of getting some answers, but it didn’t go as cleanly as hoped.”

Subduing a gasp, Erica shifted in her seat to get a better look at Aaron’s injuries. They didn’t look major but she knew exactly what could have happened to him for messing with that organisation. She was struck with a newfound respect for the sentry, and something else that made her face tingle, her cheeks turning pink. He could have been killed. And all to clear my name.

Here, Phillips added: “The machine has already been checked by professionals. They can confirm that it hasn’t been tampered with since the recording was taken.”

Kerning sat back, adjusting his robes. “Then I suppose we’d better hear it.”

Complying with the indirect command, Aaron set the device down on the table in front of him and clicked it on. The room was silent for a moment, then a rush of recorded sound rang out in the vast courtroom — a past conversation made perfectly audible.

Those in the back rows of the jury strained to hear, but those closer to the front reacted with immediacy. Aaron shifted self-consciously in his seat as the conversation cut short – his pull of a gun on Gallows – and the diplomacy broke down into a desperate fight. After a permissive glance at Kerning, Aaron shut it off after the second deafening gunshot. Erica's stare weighed on him more than anyone’s in the room, no matter where he looked.

The woman's mind was kept busy the entire trial. Far from dragging on, she was startled to hear the clap of a gavel and the rush as the jury fled the room to deliberate. She was handed a glass of ice water to slowly sip at with her free hand. Even water made her queasy. When the jury came back into that room, they would decide whether she would live or die. But... her case for innocence was good. Almost irrefutable.

Because of Aaron.  

Her heart leapt to her throat as the jury returned and Kerning slapped his gavel to announced the resumed session. Far too soon, the judge rose from his throned seat. This was it.

"After reviewing the evidence and stark eye witness accounts," Kerning proclaimed to the room. "The jury finds Miss Erica Sage not guilty of all charges, by reason of self-defence. There will be no discrimination hearing to follow, and I concur with their findings."

And then, just like that, it was over.
Caught || THIRTEEN
Co-written by the fabulous :iconmentalcasevole:! If you haven't checked out her gallery yet, it's well worth your look!

Previous chapter:

next chapter: Friday!

This story takes place in the Wander universe... approximately 250 years in the future!!! The year is 2129, and a lot has changed since the events of the Bergen revolution. Jude, Penelope, Adrian, and the rest of the New Equality Movement gang have gone down in history books, their press for equal co-existence having left a meaningful mark on the world. Magic has been replaced by technology, and the only pixie dust left in the world is found in old folklore and fairy tales. Giants and humans co-exist on a near global basis now in every aspect of society. But even in such a seemingly harmonious society, crime is still as common as death and taxes.

Featured Cast: (aka face-claims of each character)

Erica Sage: Amy MacDonald……

Aaron Stryke: Armie Hammer……
BONUS: Aaron's ID Badge by Obsess-Confess

Ross Vogel: Brett Dalton………

Roman Davies: Mat Baynton……
Aaron in London by Obsess-Confess
Aaron in London
Trying to figure out scaling! But I like making things seem more natural, almost as if the photograph was taken with blurs and errors and all.

Aaron is 98 feet or so, and Big Ben is roughly 316 feet... So this is a pretty accurate representation! I can just picture it being his first time visiting after immigrating to England, in his spiffy suit. What a giant cutie.

((Photocredit: public use of London photograph, Armie hammer photo shoot ))


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Rich Newman dragged a satisfying sip from the stout glass. The bourbon and ice clattered together as he slapped it back down on the table with a heavily scarred hand.

"Want another, Rich?" a small voice called up from the table. He perked up to see a glittering brunette human rise from the spiral staircase built into the centre.

“You know I do.”

"I didn't hear a please..."

She pouted, sticking her hands on her hips. The tassels on her short denim shirt fluttered as she shifted her weight from foot to foot.

"And you ain't gonna get a thank you, either," Rich purred.

He pulled out a pricey bill, folded between two fingers. He stroked up the side of her tanned leg with the rolled edge before letting her little hands take hold of the other side.

The waitress grinned devilishly. "Where did you learn your manners?"

Rich opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted as another man abruptly dropped into the rounded booth beside him. Rich rounded on the man, giving him a look of true offence as he settled right in.

"Get your own table, kid," he growled.

The blond man looked around innocently. "I like this one."

"Can’t you see we're in the middle of something here?" Rich released the cash to cool a menacing fist on the table.

Aaron pulled out a pricier bill and pushed it across the tabletop to the tiny waitress. "And I'm sure she can come back later," he said pointedly.

The girl needed no further encouraging, happy to take the extra revenue. After rolling up her cash like long maps, she tucked the rolls under her arm and strutted down the stairs. Rich watched her retreat, his buzz officially killed.  

"You've got ten seconds to tell me what the hell you want," Rich spat, before gulping down the last swallow of his booze.

Aaron casually glanced around the rowdy crowd of the Resurrectionists bar, keeping a calm outlook in case Rich wasn't alone.

"I want to meet him," Aaron declared cryptically. "I know you're privy to his hideaways."

Rich sat back for a moment and pursed his lips, eyes narrowed at the irritatingly forward man who’d interrupted him. After a pause he sighed and set his glass down with exaggerated care on the table.

“Whose hideaways?” he challenged equally cryptically, his eyes on the tumbler. “I’ll be damned if I know what the hell you’re talking about, kid.”

Aaron sat up straighter. “I think you know exactly who I’m talking about. He’s about yea high—” he held his hand a little above the table, “—comes here often with a couple of gentleman’s gentlemen… sits in this very booth in fact.” He smoothed his hand on the table and cocked his head at Rich. “Goes by the name ‘Gallows’.”

Rich’s eyes turned to flint. “That’s ten seconds. I can’t help you. Now get the hell out of my booth before—”

“Oh really? Because folks around here have told me in no uncertain terms that you guys happen to meet up in this spot pretty regularly.” He arched an eyebrow. “So I’ll ask again. Where can I find Gallows?”

The scarred man’s fist was tightening up again and he shot to his feet, glowering down at Aaron. “That’s none of your business, son. For the second time, get the fuck…”

He trailed off as the blond man also rose, and now Rich was staring directly at his collarbone instead of down at his face. The stranger opened his jacket a fraction, revealing a badge pinned to his shirt. Narrowed blue eyes bore straight into Rich’s, and he swallowed; dropped back into his seat. After a second, Aaron did the same, resting elbows leisurely on the table as he regarded the other man.

“I was really hoping you’d be more co-operative.”

"Screw you." A vein in the thug's thick neck twitched dangerously. Aaron felt the weight of his pistol securely tucked in his waistband, ready at a moment's notice.

"Let me ask you somethin'," Rich countered, finally straightening out of his hunched posture. "What exactly do you think you're gonna do when you find him. Kill him?" A scathing chuckle left him. "You've got another think coming."

"I just want to have a conversation with him," Aaron replied. "Now, are you gonna answer my question or do I have to make a scene?"

Rich clenched his jaw, glowering at the man with a ferocity that would turn most recipients into a puddle of nerves.

"Just past West Street," Rich grunted. "Behind the tram rails. There's a storage bunker where the city lights don't reach. You come alone, you might find yourself some company."

Aaron frowned, and Rich immediately jabbed a meaty finger in his direction. "Alone, you hear me? You bring any other nosy snitches with you, you'll find yourself an empty room."

"I understand."

The finger tapped him square on his chest. "And you and me. We never met."

"I know how to be discreet," Aaron hissed, shaking his hand away.

Rich snorted. "Could've fooled me."

Though Aaron sent him a dark look, he understood he had gotten his necessary information. All without bloodshed... Certainly a better outcome than he had anticipated. He grunted a passive thanks towards Rich, who for all purposes had now tuned out his existence and was eagerly searching for the curvy little waitress from earlier on the human walkways.

As he shuffled between the regulars towards the exit, the bar sudden erupted with cries of outrage. Aaron doubled back to give the room an alarmed glance... and found what had caught their eye.

"Shit," he breathed, blue eyes fixed high on the plasma screen that bore Erica's mugshot and a fine picture of Ross in uniform, side by side. The local news headline read "Investigation Pending on Grendall Docks Murder".

Try as he might as he continued on out the door, he couldn't block out the distasteful, ignorant comments spurred on by rounds of Jose Cuervo. Most of them, from his fellow giants.

It was late. Very late. But all the same, Aaron found himself eager to find out whether the man from the bar had been telling the truth. He didn’t want to chance waiting another night.

So it was that in the early hours of the morning, Aaron was making his way as quietly as possible down the long road after West Street, eyes shifting about warily in the darkness. Rich had been right. This place was well out of city limits, and the only illumination was supplied by a half-dead lamppost he’d passed forty seconds ago.

This notwithstanding, he could still easily make out the dark, hulking shape of the bunker rising out of the gloom before him. He paused several yards away.

This was undoubtedly the spot — there were no other particularly noteworthy buildings around for miles and, he noticed, one of the rusty metal doors was leaning open a fraction, the latch hanging loose. He strained his ears, but couldn’t hear any voices within. Either there’s nobody here or they arrived a while ago and are right inside.

Squaring his shoulders, Aaron moved in a tight arc to the front wall of the building and paused again, making sure nobody had heard his approach. The night was still. He glanced down at his feet and gave a start — in the shadows right up against the bunker wall, he could just make out the outline of what appeared to be a sleek black Bentley. Must be Gallows’.

Extending an arm, he eased the door open wide enough to let him slip inside, wincing as the neglected hinges uttered a squeaking groan. He wasted no time creeping down the shadowy chamber.

After a short time, he heard a dull murmuring and froze. A chink of light became visible several yards down the way — there were people in that room. Clenching his jaw, Aaron set off at a slower pace, until he was right up against the opening. He quieted his breathing and set one hand noiselessly on his holster.

"I'm telling you. We gotta do something about the girl."

"No," a quieter voice replied.

"No? She–"

"She knows nothing," the quiet voice snapped. Aaron heard the little snick of a lighter being clicked on. "She'll hang at the trial's end, in any case. No need to dirty our hands."

Aaron clenched his jaw, grinding his back teeth together in an attempt to keep from barging in to forcibly quash any notion of harming Erica. He briefly questioned how sick in the head he was for feeling protective of her, but soon forgot such thoughts altogether as the quiet voice became a shout.

"Would you care to join us?"

Aaron held his breath, waiting for anyone else in the room to answer. Anyone at all.

"You with the big shaking steps. Get in here."

Aaron pulled his pistol out of its holster, gripping it tight as he rounded the corner. The room was large, even to a giant. The ceiling stood double his height, greasy windows hardly letting moonlight filter in.

Two giants in factory jackets sat on top of an old forklift on the left side of the, lazily fingering a pair of semi-automatic handguns. They sat as the silent overseers before a group of three human men, gathered around a game of ivory draughts.

"Take a seat, boy." The middle man at the table pointed a stubby cigar in his direction.

Ignoring his request, Aaron tentatively stepped closer. He kept his gun trained between the hulking giants in the corner, each angling their guns tighter towards him in return.

"Put that thing away, or I'll rethink my invitation." The middle man, seated with a tower of checkers before him, gazed up at him calmly.

Aaron glared down at him, fuming silently. But with two other barrels aimed at him, he hardly had the upper hand. Diplomacy it was. Keeping a menacing look about him, Aaron reluctantly stowed his gun back in his holster. The other giants also relaxed their weapons, given a dismissive wave from the middle man.

The man peered up at him with the cool gaze of a worthy host. “Now please. Sit.”

Aaron bristled, straightening his back. “I’d rather stand if it’s all the same to you.”

The human sighed, twirling a draught-piece between his finger and thumb. A heavy silence drew out for a few seconds, Aaron fully expecting him to say something — but he just sat there. Looking around uneasily, Aaron cleared his throat. “So, how long did you know I was there?”

“I heard you come in from the lot outside,” the human responded lazily. “You tall folk aren’t the most subtle of creatures.”

Aaron’s eyes darted to the two giants at the corner of his eye. Their expressions remained impassive. “So you know I heard you talking.”

“Quite. It’s very rude to eavesdrop, you know.” He sent the giant an admonishing glare that would have suited a mother scolding her unruly child. “Besides… you might end up hearing something you won’t like.”

Aaron clenched his jaw, bracing his hands by his sides. “This she you were talking about. She’s the one who killed Vogel?”

The human shut his eyes, letting rue seep into his voice. “Ah, Ross. Such a pity. He really was one of my best.”  

“He worked for you?”

“Quick, this one, isn’t he?” the human to the right of him growled. The middle man cracked open an eye and he said no more.

“Strictly part time. During the daylight hours, he had other… more noble commitments, shall we say?” He chuckled and moved a draught on the board.

“Then you’re Gallows.”

The middle man smiled and put his arms out to his sides. “The very same.”

Aaron took a moment to really consider the figure before him. He looked, to Aaron’s consternation… entirely ordinary. The villainous caricature he had dreamt up was nonexistent. From what he could tell from this vantage point, his only distinguishing feature was the expensive midnight three-piece he wore, complete with watch and chain. From the waistcoat protruded two crisp white sleeves. The suit jacket was hung neatly on the back of his chair despite the chill.

“You sent Ross — an honest, working police officer — to kill two defenceless humans? That’s your business, is it?”

Gallows smiled then, exposing his teeth in an unpleasant smirk. Aaron took a moment to appreciate how like a shark’s that expression was. “You knew him,” he responded shortly, ignoring his question.

Aaron’s heart pounded. “I thought I did.”

The human chuckled, took a drag from his cigar and released a smoky breath. “Let me guess. He was a mate of yours who you recently found was particularly good at keeping quiet about his… extracurricular activities.”

The giant scowled, setting his gaze on the wall behind Gallows.

The human nodded. “Mm. You’d be amazed how many people thrive in a double life. Your friend was smart. He was in a bit of a sticky situation when he came to me, begging for help — but he proved himself loyal to me and in return I saved his life.”

Aaron’s jaw ticked. “Doesn’t look like that helped him much.”

“It’s a dangerous job, I make sure they know the risks… but I’ll admit, I was shocked when I heard what happened.” He shook his head. “Killed by that wretch Davies’ hussy. Who would have seen that coming?”

Gallows took a deep drag from his cigar and blew it out leisurely. “She’ll get what she deserves, the crown will make sure of that,” he told the giant matter-of-factly. “It’s her fancy man who needs to answer to me. He needs hunting down like the slippery fox he is.”

He regarded Aaron slyly, and a hush fell over the room. No one moved.

“If it wasn’t for him, if he’d just paid what he owed, your friend would still be alive. You have more reason than anybody to seek him out, make him suffer like he deserves. Which is why I’ve reserved this proposition for you.

“Since our dear Master Vogel — God rest his soul — can’t finish the deed himself, how about you go out and seize Roman Davies for me? I think you know that I can make it well worth your while.”

“I don’t want your blood money,” Aaron sneered. His heartbeat quickened and he wondered if the little men below could hear it. Roman Davies. No doubt the unspoken man Erica had sacrificed her freedom, her innocence to protect.

“I didn’t offer you money,” Gallows pointed out, raising his eyebrows under the brim of his hat. “I know the idealistic type you are. Probably think you’re making some divine difference in the world don’t you?”

He grinned, and Aaron wanted to wither away from the predator-like quality to his gaze. Not even a sliver of fear was hidden in his face. Size mattered nothing to him. Aaron didn’t have a doubt that Gallows could have been the size of an ant in his shadow, and that leering smile would still be pointed up at him, dictating his doom.

Gallows lowered his attention back to the draughts game at hand, apparently mulling over his next move. “I want to offer you a job. Not just with me, naturally… I see that badge you’re hiding under your coat. Official looking, certainly… but I know an actual officer of the peace when I see one.”

Aaron scowled at the blush that threatened to rise. Ross was dead. It was high time he stopped getting embarrassed that his best mate had been selected for the field position on the police force instead of him.

“If I wanted a fairy godmother, I would have brought a pumpkin,” Aaron said, managing to repeat his resolve. “I’m not killing Davies. Not for Ross… and certainly not for some low-life loan shark like you.”

The man across the table from Gallows rose from his chair in offence. His hand groped for a firearm, but Gallows motioned for him to relax.

“Ross said the same thing, first time I asked,” Gallows said, dropping a cigar stub to the floor. He stood and ground the ashes into the floor with his heel. “Real stand-up guy, minus the hero complex.”

One of the giants in the corner chuckled at this, sharing a knowing look with the tiny man. Aaron glared icy daggers his way, but his heart was slowly sinking to his feet as Gallows went on, pacing closer to his boots. Aaron edged a few steps back, keeping far enough away that he didn’t have to look straight down at the man.

“Everyone has their price. Ross, he just wanted to make a difference out there. But you know… You can make a helluva lot more difference with a little extra cash coming in.”

“You backed him into a corner,” Aaron accused.

“I didn’t do a damn thing. I gave him the job offer, end of story,” Gallows shouted back, for the first time raising his voice. “He was the one who came crawling back to me like a lovesick dog – begging for more cases even after I got him a spot on the force.”

“You’re lying,” Aaron breathed, his chest tight. He wanted to hurl at the thought of Ross wearing the greed on these men’s faces. Murdering men and coming back with a hunger for more. Little better than a serial killer.

The human threw his arms up in a display of exasperation. “Am I? What reason would I have to lie to you?” He cupped his hand to his ear mockingly, as if awaiting a response.

Aaron didn’t have an answer to that. After a pause, Gallows went on: “Just what I thought. Now for Ross on the other hand, lying to his peers — you included, of course — was the best thing he ever did for himself. We offered him payment, protection and good company — and in return, he kept quiet about our antics, stopped attention being drawn to us. We were all he needed.”

“And then he got himself killed. For you.” The words tasted bitter as they seeped out through gritted teeth.

“A terrible loss. But, you see? He respected me, respected this organisation, and his death was a noble one. I couldn’t have asked for a better mercenary.”

Aaron’s hand tensed at his side. “There’s nothing noble about trying to kill an innocent woman — trying to kill her partner while she watched.” He was breathing heavily, angry eyes fixed on the man at his feet. “And all for money. It’s barbaric.”

Gallows laughed. “More money than the lives of two pathetic humans are worth; far more. They had it coming. I would have ordered the deaths of a thousand skanks like our Miss Sage if it whipped their worthless lovers into giving up what they owed.”

As he spoke, Aaron’s hand twitched and suddenly it was gripping his gun. The barrel flashed even in the dim light.

But before Aaron could make another move, there was a roar from behind and suddenly the giants were no longer reclining on the forklift — but were wrenching Aaron’s arms to the sides to remove his target from immediate danger. Gallows wisely fled backwards, giving the three tussling men a berth of several dozen feet.

The more heavyset of the giant goons lunged immediately to grab Aaron's gun-bearing hand and twist it off to the side. The pressure was crippling, causing instant red marks to singe his skin from the furious struggle. Despite having a solid four inches [roughly 6 ½ feet] on this guy, the goon was built like a concrete slab, seeming to have no weak spot. With the man's hand sliding higher to try and pry the gun away, Aaron gritted his teeth and squeezed off a shot towards the sky.

Glass and sparks rained down from the broken light fixture. The other giant instantly cried out. He dropped his gun and slumped down to his knees, covering his pained eyes with the heels of his palm.

Though he won the struggle for dominance, Aaron didn't move quickly enough to dodge the heavy right hook slung his way. The sheer impact sent him into one of the antique forklifts resting towards the side. The metal groaned under the massive weight, rocking on its tired old treads.

He had scarcely gathered his bearings before the same pair of hands gripped him from behind and threw him to the ground. He lost his pistol that time, sent clattering somewhere into the shadows of the warehouse. Aaron's breath hitched in pain as sweaty hands dragged him backward, the harsh rasp of concrete drawing blood on his cheek.  

With a fire of survival, he smashed his boot into his attacker's knee, sending him off balance. Aaron shot to his feet, throwing his body weight forward to send the man back into the forklift. This time, the weight became too much. The machine and two others collapsed onto their sides with a terrible groan. The grappling giants hardly paid this any mind, still struggling for the upper hand while Aaron dodged the barrel of a small handgun.

Gunshots rang out, but of a lesser magnitude. Around the same time, Aaron felt a sprinkling of fire pierce his calf. He craned his neck, fiery blue eyes locking on the draughts opponent standing amidst the broken glass, shooting at him openly. Hoping to end the attack quickly, Aaron shot out his wounded leg and kicked the human across the room. He smashed against a wall of old crates, where he moved no more.

His momentary distraction nearly cost him his life; whipping back around, he found the glinting barrel of a gun mere millimeters from his eye. A grunt of fear escaped him, sweat dripping down his blood-speckled cheek as he gripped the man's wrist and heaved upward, pointing the barrel away from himself. The man fought like a heavyweight cobra; he bucked with sharp, twisting movements that nearly sent Aaron's head into the hazardous forked panel of the forklift.

At last, in one final surge of strength, Aaron slammed the butt of the gun into the man's forehead. The dark eyes rolled back, his grip loosened from the jarring jolt. Aaron threw him to the concrete floor, a few more blows ensuring he wouldn't get back up.  

With laboured, stunted breathing, Aaron stood back and glanced about the room. Two unconscious bodies were accounted for, but Gallows, the other human and the other giant had disappeared amidst the struggle. Aaron lifted a hand to his face, drawing back a light smear of blood. He grimaced at the sting, then patted himself down on the inside of his jacket. He withdrew a live microphone chip, barely the size of a child's button to him and only twice as thick.

He flipped a switch on the other side, and audio playback began. It was a bit scratchy, but distinguishable enough. Enough to make out the entire conversation between him and Gallows. The conversation that implicated Ross Vogel and Roman Davies – and cleared Erica's name.

Favouring the leg that wasn't riddled with tiny bullets, Aaron collected his gun from the corner of the warehouse before heading swiftly back towards town.

"I need to speak to Judge Kerning," he breathed urgently, leaning into the cell phone against his ear as he walked. "I don't care that it's late. Wake him up!"

The night guards were still packing up at the tail end of their shift at the cusp of dawn when Aaron barged into the facility. He passed right by the security scanner, much to the dismay of his fellow guards. He ignored their clamouring protests, pressing forward, still wearing last night's clothes.

Sergeant Thelm spilled his cup of tea right down the front of his pants as the large sentry burst into his office.

"Dammit, Stryke! What the hell is wrong with you?" He snapped up from his seat, searching for napkins from a drawer.

Seething, Aaron slapped down a thick court order on the desk in front of him. Thelm gave him a bewildered look, a look that grew more severe when he saw that all the proper signatures were in order.

"Sage's trial's been moved to tomorrow," Aaron stated, looking utterly satisfied. Thelm was left with nothing but a stammer, dismay written all over his aged features.

"The evidence is still against her," he reminded the young sentry.  

"Hope you're as sure about that tomorrow," Aaron quipped back in an icy tone, already headed back out of the office.

Thelm dragged a hand down his old face. His dampened pants forgotten, he sank down in his seat with the court order in hand.

The image of Erica Sage haunted more than one mind that night.
Caught || TWELVE
Co-written by the fabulous :iconmentalcasevole:! If you haven't checked out her gallery yet, it's well worth your look!

Previous chapter:

next chapter: Next Wednesday!

This story takes place in the Wander universe... approximately 250 years in the future!!! The year is 2129, and a lot has changed since the events of the Bergen revolution. Jude, Penelope, Adrian, and the rest of the New Equality Movement gang have gone down in history books, their press for equal co-existence having left a meaningful mark on the world. Magic has been replaced by technology, and the only pixie dust left in the world is found in old folklore and fairy tales. Giants and humans co-exist on a near global basis now in every aspect of society. But even in such a seemingly harmonious society, crime is still as common as death and taxes.

Featured Cast: (aka face-claims of each character)

Erica Sage: Amy MacDonald……

Aaron Stryke: Armie Hammer……
BONUS: Aaron's ID Badge by Obsess-Confess

Ross Vogel: Brett Dalton………

Roman Davies: Mat Baynton……
The next morning, Aaron arrived at work and navigated through security well before 7:00am, unable to explain to himself why he was quite so eager to see Erica again. He passed it off as a morbid fascination with the tiny criminal but still… there was more to her than met the eye, as he had since discovered.

The little human was completely undeserving of her situation — he could only imagine what it was like to spend countless days in a sparse, unwelcoming cell like hers, while she actually had to bear the torturous monotony of prison life… which was why he had decided that today he was going to allow her some reprieve.

By rights, prisoners were able to claim a blissful few minutes of fresh air and a stretch of the legs in a spacious, outdoor unit right behind the human sector of the jail. No one had bothered to inform Erica that she had this option, of course, but with the way things were now… Aaron didn’t feel like it would be noble of him to deprive her.

He was on his way down to the solitary confinement block with this plan in mind, but as he passed the main offices he was stopped, as before, by a familiar authoritative voice to his left.


Aaron gritted his teeth and stopped in his tracks. “Sir?” he responded, turning on his heel to face Sergeant Thelm, who had materialised in the doorway of his office.

The higher-ranking gentleman beckoned Aaron with a flick of his head. “Step into my office for a moment, son,” he ordered. “I need to talk to you.”

He disappeared behind the doorframe again and Aaron followed, dropping into a seat at Thelm’s indication.

“What’s this about, sir?”

The sergeant raised his eyebrows, shooting the lower-ranking man a meaningful glare as he slid behind his desk and sat down. “I want an update from you, lad. On our only current resident in solitary confinement.”

Aaron shifted uncomfortably, knowing his incomplete investigation was about to be put in the spotlight.

"I managed to get a full confession out of her, about what really happened that night at the docks. What she refused to testify publicly," he announced. "Ross provoked them, attacking Erica's companion, and then her. Shooting him wasn't an act of discriminating violence, it was self-defence. Sir... this isn't a murder case."

Thelm's face continued to fall as Aaron went on. At last, he sat back with a sour look on his face. "I expected more from you. Falling for the wiles of a woman's lies…"

"She's not lying. Her story checks out!" Aaron retorted, braced to stand from his seat.

"And how do you know this? You've been snooping around on your own time?"

"Investigating," Aaron corrected. "Ross was the closest thing I had to a brother. I deserve to know the truth."

Thelm knit his fingers together, narrowing his eyes at him. "Well, I have to say you were rather quick to turn on Ross. Your own friend–"

"Stop it!" Aaron snapped, breaking what was left of his orderly façade. "Don't talk about him like that! You can't just call up his memory like that excuses what he did. I wish to God he was still alive but he brought this on himself."

Thelm merely rolled his eyes at the outburst, picking up an electric cigarette and flicking it on. "I already have her dipshit lawyer trying to convince the judge to try it as an investigation into one of our own officers. Now you, too?"

Aaron scoffed, unable to believe his ears. "And you should let him! She shouldn't even be contained in solitary at this point."

"She did this to herself. She chose to withhold information. She was obstructing justice."

"She was scared," Aaron pressed. "Protecting someone. You can't just ignore the facts and continue pinning her as some maniac."

"You have eyewitnesses? Anyone who can prove this little shit isn't just changing her story to get a sympathetic jury?" Thelm raised his voice to match Aaron's.

The blond sentry opened his mouth and shut it again, faltering. For all his late-night wanderings, he had nothing concrete as of yet.  

Sergeant Thelm rose from his seat, taking advantage of Aaron's seated position to tower over him. "You have no proof Ross came with foul intentions that night. None. Until you get your hands on some cold, hard evidence, that girl is staying in that cell and will be tried to the full extent of the law if I have any say about it. Are we clear?"

Aaron clenched his jaw, glaring up at his superior with a muted fury. "Yes," he gritted out.

"Then you're dismissed," Thelm said coolly. Aaron rose promptly and headed for the exit. "And Stryke?"

Aaron stopped in the doorway. "I expect your regular duties performed additionally from now on. Unless she has a different story to tell the world."

Aaron sent him one last seething look before disappearing down the hallway, towards the captive felons.

Erica slowly surfaced to consciousness not long after 8:30am, wading through oceans of distorted, nonsensical images — a burning house; a courtroom with walls stretching 150 feet tall; a dock churning with blood red water and a single, smashed boat; silhouetted figures hiding among trees; enormous soldiers in endless lines of blue eyes and blond hair; a dying giant with a noose trailing from his destroyed eye-socket—

She gasped and her eyes flickered open, immediately squinting against the glaring white light of her cell. She heaved herself up onto her elbows. A glance at the clock in the outer room told her that it was really far too early for someone like her to be awake right now.

Turning over onto her back, she yawned and scrubbed her fringe out of her face with a groggy hand, already shutting her eyes again.

I got no reason to get up just yet. Good thing about this place, she thought wryly, is that I can always sleep as late as I want without inter—

Her eyebrows furrowed. She sat up once more as a dull rumbling struck up, her bed quaking and juddering.


That all-too-familiar beeping of the door assaulted her ears, followed by the loud rush of air as it slid open and the sentry walked in. Groaning, Erica gripped the thin blanket that had pooled around her thighs and dragged it back over herself, flopping down on her back. Her voice came out as a muffled growl from beneath the covering.

“You’re a little early, aren’tcha?"

Aaron stole a look at his wristwatch. "Late, actually."

He got down in front of her cell, carefully clutching a tray of morning gruel in his left hand. With a few expert clicks, the front barrier flickered out of existence, allowing his hand passage inside the barren space.

His steely gaze lightened when he realized the odd little lump under the blanket was Erica, shielding herself from the fluorescent lights of the waking hours. Aaron snickered softly as he dropped her breakfast on the table, watching her all the while for signs of stirring.  

"I was wondering," he started awkwardly. "If you'd... If sometime today you’d like to go outside with me. Er, not with me, of course... under my supervision."

The covers stirred and he whipped his hand out of the cell so fast, he singed it against one of the remaining walls. He hissed as the sting made itself known, a bright pink streak on his littlest finger.

"We don't have a garden, but we have a little grass out back," he finished softly, managing to curb himself back to a professional demeanour.

Hearing him tripping over his own words, then uttering a sound of pain, Erica smirked and twisted around under the blanket, lifting the edge to peer out at the giant. The barrier was raised but she saw through bleary eyes that his hand had withdrawn.

With a strange boldness she sat up, pulling the blanket over her shoulders like a cape, and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

“Hm?” She tilted her head, trying to appear nonchalant, though inside she was buzzing.

Thank God, I’m going to get some fresh air. It’s about damn time.

Slipping into her boots, she stood and stretched leisurely, shooting Aaron a fond smile. “I’d love to, ah… go outside with you,” she teased. “Or you know. Whatever.”

Dropping her arms, she turned away and moved to the sink to splash some water on her face, blinking away the haze of lethargy from her eyes.

“No one told me you guys had an outdoor bit,” she commented, looking up at the sentry from over her towel.

"It's not a courtesy often extended to those who are assigned to solitary," Aaron admitted. He frowned, watching her wiggle into her shoes without so much as giving her breakfast a second glance. "You don't want to eat first?"

"If I eat it warm or cold, it won't make it taste any better."

A little smile lifted the corners of his lips. "Fair point," he muttered, digging a hand into his pants pockets. It came back with a pair of tiny metal cuffs resting in the crease of his palm, glinting innocently in the light.

Aaron lifted his eyes to her, apologetic. "These are necessary for the move. Unless…" he faltered, fingers flexing as he considered a new possibility. "Unless you would prefer a carrier?"

Erica grimaced at the sight of those handcuffs, dropping the towel to the floor and folding her arms.

“Yeah… steady on, big guy, I’ll take the carrier over those any day.” A slow smile crept onto her face. “I get to choose myself, huh? This is an improvement,” she trilled, grateful that she’d been given the option.

She stepped forward eagerly, remembered the absence of the barrier, and halted before she got too close to the sentry. She returned his gaze, green eyes hopeful. “So, if it’s really no trouble,” she added, finally. “Please.”

"No," Aaron blurted. "No trouble."

The little handcuffs disappeared into the deep recesses of his right slacks pocket, while he rose to access a second giant cube on the other side of her cell. Instead of seating, it served as storage of some sort. The view from her cell was obscured, but Aaron returned with a standard issue human-carrier and aligned the opening to that of her cell.

"You wouldn't be the first person to avoid hands," he remarked, contemplative as he kept the box steady beneath her barely perceptible footsteps. His thoughts took a dark turn as he realized he and Ross both played a hand in likely turning her away from giant contact for ages to come after this ordeal.

"I... I understand the trepidation."

When she gave the wall a pat, Aaron shut the grate of the carrier and lowered it to his side, moving for the door.

Erica braced herself in the dark for the nauseating sensation of being swung through the air. She felt the box lurch and heard the whoosh of the door opening. Gritting her teeth, she shut her eyes for a few seconds, frowned, then opened them.

Perhaps it was her mind playing tricks, but this box seemed a little less cramped than the one she had arrived in, and the ride was perceptibly smoother. Glancing up at the carrier’s ceiling, she wondered if Aaron was taking extra care with his strides.

She was grateful. Deciding that this was far preferable to being carried on a bare hand, she relaxed a little, loosening her grip on the walls but keeping her legs braced in case of turbulence.

Aaron gripped the edges of the box firmly as he navigated the corridors of the prison, and took pains to keep his arm from swinging too much. She wouldn’t have thanked him for that.

A few officers watched as he strode past them to the door at the back of the facility, swiped his ID in the scanner and walked through into daylight.

It was a chilled morning — the sun was glaring but a light fog rested in the air. Adjusting his collar with one hand and supporting the cell with another, Aaron lowered himself to a crouch. With a finger and thumb he clicked open the latch and drew the grate up and back, watching as Erica appeared in the light and stepped out onto grass.

“Wow,” she breathed, hugging her arms to her chest.

Quietly as possible, Aaron set the carrier by the doorway, his eyes remaining on Erica rigidly. There was a natural tension that came with bringing a prisoner outside; the stress of having to worry they were going to pull some hare-brained escape attempt. And that tension was curiously absent as Erica wandered a few steps forward into the close-cropped grass.

He remained in a tight crouch, as close to her level as he could get without laying flat on his stomach. A light morning breeze ruffled Erica’s silky hair, causing wavy strands to pirouette under the wind's influence. She hugged her arms a little tighter around herself.

"You can go as far as that post there," Aaron told her, pointing at the warning signs about the high-voltage fence in the distance. "Your boots will lock up if you try to go any further."

Raising a hand to her forehead, Erica stared across the vast space, zeroing in on the distant post.

She shifted on the spot and glanced down, seeing how the blades of grass, blunt as they were from being cut, brushed up against her hips. A bird flying overhead cawed as it passed. Dew clung to her grey trousers and made her shiver.

“Okay.” Erica nodded and turned to look back at the guard. She found herself craning her neck even further, having misjudged just how large a figure he presented even crouching down. He was completely still, mouth turned down in an adorable little scowl.

“You can relax,” Erica sighed, arching a brow at him. “I won’t go far.” There was also the fact that, no matter how fast she ran, she couldn’t put herself out of his reach. She’d be caught in seconds.

She took several steps backwards through the grass, eyes wide as she tore her gaze from the monumental sentry before her. She moved slowly in a circle, drinking in the surreality of the situation.

“This is mental,” she sighed aloud, voice heavy with awe for this scaled-up landscape. “It’s been years since I’ve seen anything like this.”

In other words, since she’d set foot on land cultivated by giants for giants. Her homeland was a very human-centric environment — she was used to seeing giants squeezing past trees that barely even reached their thighs — everything that grew was, well, normal-sized. Giants had their food imported in from far-off plantations.

A childish excitement alighted in her eyes at this strange illusion; in which Aaron and the field were the perfect sizes and she… some small, unnatural creature.

Until now, she’d barely given a thought to the wholly giant-occupied areas worldwide, where genetically upsized vegetation and animals resided along with them. She wondered with not a little curiosity whether Aaron came from one of these places.

It’s lucky the grass is so well-groomed, she thought as she picked her way through it, carving a meandering trail away from Aaron. Or I might get lost.

The remnants of a mown-down dandelion squatted among the blades, its severed stem swaying five and a half feet tall. This catching her attention, Erica took a moment to lift up one of the leaves and peer under it, smiling.

Aaron shook his head, bemused by her apparent fascination for a simple weed. She looked different outside... smaller, if that was possible. She didn't linger near the building like most of the prisoners. He was afraid to take his eyes off her, lest she simply disappear into the plain of green. She stood there under the slight shallow of the severed dandelion, looking at it like it was a long lost friend.

Maybe that's not the only tall thing she likes. Aaron squared his jaw, banishing that unruly thought to the back of his mind.

"Last I checked, grass hasn't changed much," he called over.

Erica let the leaf drop back down and sent the guard a flat look that lasted all of a second before turning into a smile again. She raised her voice as high as she could manage. “Maybe not to you, Beanstalk — but I’m used to regular sized grass, y’know?”

She tugged at a nearby stem to exaggerate her point, having to use two hands… and even then only able to snap a bit off the top. She waved it in midair for a second before letting it flutter over her shoulder as she walked a little further on her way.

Aaron snorted softly. "Regular sized..."

A small mound rose up before the human, a piece of bark overgrown with lichen. She sauntered around it, gauging it to be about three metres long. Tilting her head, she placed her hands on her hips. “Whatever tree this came from must’ve been huge,” she commented. “Hang on…”

Curiosity getting the better of her, she dropped to her knees and pushed her hands underneath the bark — it was lighter than she had expected, for its size. With a small noise of effort, Erica stood, raising the bark to the level of her head and flipping it over onto its other side.

Before she knew what was happening, a skittering black mass materialised; rushing over the ground from under the bark and pooling on the grass — and Erica failed to withhold a shout of surprise.

All Aaron saw was the look of shock on her face, her frightened posture. It didn't fully register for him what threats she could possibly find in a highly-monitored prison yard. But it sure as hell got him on his feet.

"The hell?" His voice was an urgent bark as he came to stand beside her in the field. All he saw was a piece of overturned bark and Erica's skinny shoulders tensed up. The last little black beetle that seized up from his ground-shaking steps went unnoticed at his standing altitude. "What's wrong?"

Erica let out a shaky breath, watching the swarm of weevils vanish into the grass. “Whew… okay, I’m okay.”

In her shock she’d completely failed to register the giant’s advancing footsteps; and so when she turned towards the voice she let out another yelp, lurching back from the surprisingly close and colossal legs that had somehow managed to sneak up on her. “Oh, geez!”

Recovering, she felt her face growing warm and she laughed, trying to cover her embarrassment.

“Nothing, nothing! I, uh… I’m just upsetting the local wildlife,” she explained, gesturing vaguely towards the last critter making a break for the shade once again. “Oops. Forgot that these guys happen to like dark, damp places.” She exaggerated a grimace and shrugged, taking a few dainty steps away from the bark, and indeed the tall figure standing by.

It was easier to see him as a vast monument rather than a living organism from down here, she noted. If she tried to look up at his face from this vantage point, she’d never see it, it was just too damn high up. Unreachable. Suddenly disconcerted, she skipped backwards a little further, until she could see all of him without hurting her neck. She had to repress a curious sensation, a mix of fear and fascination, as she braced her hands on her hips and cocked her head to one side. He wouldn’t be able to see it, but he could hear the smirk in her tone of voice as she called up to him.

“Were you worried about me, big guy?”

"Give me a break." He dismissed such notions entirely with a scornful roll of the eyes. "You're my prisoner. Something happens to you on my watch, they dock my pay."

He shuffled away from her, picking up on her discomfort way down on the ground. Yet he couldn't make it back to the door without adding more. "So just... try not to raise any more hell with the wildlife, okay, Tinker Bell?"

He smirked down at her before nudging the abandoned bark with the toe of his boot. No more beetles scurried out, and Aaron turned his back on her with the satisfaction that she would find no further danger there.

The little woman grinned at his exasperated retort, crossing her arms over her crumpled grey shirt as she watched him go. “Cute…” she called after him, quirking an eyebrow.

She found herself gritting her teeth involuntarily as each step he took reverberated through the soil beneath her, creating a sensation not unlike an earthquake.

It was odd. She’d spent more than twenty years coexisting happily alongside the bigger people, but the strange and awe-inspiring novelty that came with feeling their every footfall had never left her.

A sudden inclination took her and she unfolded her arms, began trotting leisurely back through the grass towards the imposingly tall prison wall and the sentry, who was once again lowering himself down onto the ground. She came to a halt only a handful of metres away, sidestepping gingerly away from a stinging nettle the size of a coffee table. “Half expected those critters to be giant-sized,” she laughed. “Damn, it’s weird seeing nature like this.”

Trying not to look too interested, Erica regarded the giant coolly. “So, you have much of this stuff where you came from? Plants your size?” She furrowed her brow, looking almost wistful. “I’ve never been to America, but I imagine there’d be lots of giant settlements like this, right? Big place like that…”

She reached out a hand as if to touch the nettle, then seemed to think better of it — changing her course to wrench another blade of grass free. She knotted it idly and looked back up at the guard.

Aaron reached down, flicking away specks of blunt grass that interrupted the perfect sheen of his black boots.

"There's a lot more giant-heavy settlements on the West coast. Open space, places you can really step back and breathe. East coast... You really gotta watch where you step." He straightened up again, wearing a calm nostalgia.

His pondering gaze drifted back to Erica, straining to see every detail her size made so difficult for him to comprehend. She was still looking over the blade of grass like it was ancient papyrus, finding joy even in a desolate place.

"If you think our grass is impressive, you should see the trees," he told her, finding nothing in the moment more satisfying than the way her eyes lit up.

“I can imagine,” she sighed, almost reverently. Her smile slipped only a little. Not caring how the damp grass chilled her, she lowered herself down to sit with her legs stretched out before her, looking up at Aaron through blurry green bars.

“Maybe if they let me go I’ll pay a visit one day,” she went on, longing seeping into her voice. Perhaps if she found Roman again, they could go together. Her eyes flickered. Or... maybe not. She twisted up the grass blade and let it fall.

A dark look crossed Aaron's face when she wasn't looking. He recalled his conversation with Thelm all too vividly. The fact that there were authorities actively looking to keep Erica framed made him sick to his stomach. All the politics... That wasn't justice. That wasn't why he served the system.

"They'll let you go," Aaron murmured, his voice so quiet it hardly sounded like his at all. "You've got people fighting for you. The truth will come out in the end."

Erica huffed out a breath and lay back in the grass, feeling it prickle her scalp through her short hair. With the damp came the cold, but she simply folded her hands behind her head and ignored it.

“Yeah, like who? Phillips?” She barked a laugh. “Please. He means well, but he’s not really falling over himself to find some good evidence for my case. The sod probably hasn’t even found the time to review the statement I gave him.”

Light eyebrows shot up on Aaron’s face as he leaned over his knees briefly to glimpse her resting place in the tangle of grass.

"He's requested your charges be altered," Aaron offered, resigning his gaze back to the horizon. "It's not as straightforward as it should be. There's a lot of people who still think this was a hate-crime. Or maybe they just want it to be."

“I don’t doubt that,” she agreed, propping herself up on her elbows so she could see the sentry. “Bloodthirsty bastards… people love a good hanging.”

Her tone was disturbingly lighthearted, but her insides ran cold at the thought. They just want an example made of me. They don’t care about details — I killed a giant and now they want recompense.  She pressed shaking hands into the dirt and sat up rigidly.

Aaron watched her quietly overhead, withholding his inner conflictions. His fingers twitched from the urge to reach down and gather her out of the yard, into absolute safety.

"There's still time," he insisted, his voice a monotonous rumble. "These things are a mountain of paperwork and red tape, you have to know that."

This time, she did not reply right away. Her silent despair seeped into the air, fears that could not be justified by words. His fingers twitched again, and this time he could not resist the pull to get closer to her. Closer, but not quite touching.

A great ocean of fabric folded and rustled as he bent over, hand outstretched near the tiny prisoner. She stiffened up as the shadow crossed her – but his shadow was the only thing to touch her. His fingers dove instead for a lone beetle wandering over towards her shoes. Pinched carefully between a finger and thumb, he moved it far from Erica and blew it into the air. Then his hand retreated once more, restless as ever in her presence.

Erica spotted the little creature only a second after he did, and she inhaled sharply as his hand came down right next to her, fully expecting to experience its destructive power right in front of her. Instead she watched with mild amazement as the beetle was scooped up — its delicate exoskeleton kept intact by gentleness unfathomable for a giant.  

“Oh! Thanks,” she breathed, mortified to hear how small and flustered her voice was. She let a smile cross her face all the same, reaching to rub the back of her neck. “They’re following me.”

Her eyes glazed over as her fear dissipated a fraction. That forefinger had been so close that she could have reached out and ran her hand across it…

At that moment another little black blur buzzed through the air and alighted on her arm.

"Oh, now you're just inviting them," Aaron groaned.

Erica jolted in surprise as the weighty insect perched on her arm, spindly legs wrapped around her bare skin. He waited for her to shake it off, to shriek and smack at it.

She did nothing. She just... sat there, wearing a wide-eyed look. Her eyes flickered up to his for the briefest of seconds, and Aaron suddenly felt his mouth go dry. She was waiting.

His breathing swirled the air around her as a hand-shaped shadow crossed over her once more, this time aiming right for her. Both their breathing hitched as Aaron caught the pest between a finger and thumb, pulling it off her arm. Her skin was soft under his fleeting touch, and she swayed under even the gentlest of pressure.

"We should get back inside," Aaron said, shaking the bug off to his other side. "Before you're eaten alive out here."

Erica looked away for a second, her hand coming unconsciously up to clasp her arm where his finger had brushed her.

“I…” She shook her head, ahemed, and gave a reluctant nod. “Yeah, I suppose we should,” she laughed.

But despite the ridiculous amount of insects around here… the little plot of land was far preferable to her sterile and claustrophobic cell. She’d hoped taking a turn outside would improve her mood, but now came the dread of being shut up alone once more; so it was with a rueful sigh that she got to her feet. Shaking out her arms, she directed a sorrowful glance up at the sentry.

Don't look at me like that. Turning away from those heartbreaking eyes, he twisted around to retrieve the carrier. He pressed the open box onto the grass before her, giving her a silent nod of his head to proceed forward. Even forced down by his right hand, the grass kept the lip of the box at what was thigh-high to Erica. She didn't struggle for long. Without offer or warning, Aaron was suddenly clasping her tiny hand within his vastly larger one. Her momentum to climb aboard was assisted by a flick of the wrist from the giant. He gave her hand such a brief squeeze, it could have been imagined.

She was left to wonder just that, for when she turned around, the grate was pushed shut behind her, the carrier lifted into the air. She squeezed her eyes shut tight as Aaron scanned himself back into the prison complex, hating the sterile halls that loomed within more with every passing day.
Caught || ELEVEN
Co-written by the fabulous :iconmentalcasevole:! If you haven't checked out her gallery yet, it's well worth your look!

Previous chapter:

next chapter: Friday!

This story takes place in the Wander universe... approximately 250 years in the future!!! The year is 2129, and a lot has changed since the events of the Bergen revolution. Jude, Penelope, Adrian, and the rest of the New Equality Movement gang have gone down in history books, their press for equal co-existence having left a meaningful mark on the world. Magic has been replaced by technology, and the only pixie dust left in the world is found in old folklore and fairy tales. Giants and humans co-exist on a near global basis now in every aspect of society. But even in such a seemingly harmonious society, crime is still as common as death and taxes.

Featured Cast: (aka face-claims of each character)

Erica Sage: Amy MacDonald……

Aaron Stryke: Armie Hammer……
BONUS: Aaron's ID Badge by Obsess-Confess

Ross Vogel: Brett Dalton………

Roman Davies: Mat Baynton……

What would you like to see next from me? 

30 deviants said More Supernatural G/t
21 deviants said FAIRIES. ALL THE FAIRIES
13 deviants said More post-Wander short stories
4 deviants said More Shot in the Dark universe
3 deviants said I dunno man. Scrolling this far down was exhausting.
3 deviants said Other (comment if you feel inspired)
1 deviant said The sequel to "Capitol City" centering on Iyla


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Little Miss Maggie
Artist | Student | Varied
United States
:iconrequestsopen: :icontradesopen:
Finally uploaded a pic of myself!
I'm a college student, majoring in character animation. My dream is to work at Pixar Animation Studios.
I love to draw people. The human body is a master piece in and of itself. I don't have a lot of my serious art on this account, but that might change.
I gravitate towards romantic subjects, or very emotional things. I like feeling something when I create. In a weird way, the mood of the piece possesses me while I make it.
I love art, writing, and discovering new ideas. I'm always up for a GT roleplay, or doing sketch trades.




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thank u for allowing my submission into the group ^^ Llama Emoji-06 (Depress) [V1]   ...I was scared it was too dumb.
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Thank you for the watch and faves ^^

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Thanks for the faves! :)
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:love: Thank you for the favorites, it really means ever so much to me that you enjoy my artwork! I invite you to add me to your watch so that you can see all the future beaded and stitched pieces I have planned! :blowkiss: Just think of the sparkles... :squee:
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Bless you and your supernatural gt :heart:
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Haha thanks
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