Built on Sand

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The boarded path was flanked by a barrier of smooth cordgrass; brackish water lurked beyond it, twinkling to the raising sun. The air was thick with a sulfurous smell, the byproduct of hard-working bacteria breaking down remains of dead vegetation. The low tide exposed sediments otherwise hidden, bared clumps of seagrass to their roots.

She loved it. The marsh, the solitude. The cozy discomforts of her job. She slowed her pace; chill humidity prickling her skin, the wood creaking slightly under her rubber boots. On the horizon, a strip of sea and the unmistakable profile of the Claws.

A small boat was tied to a wooden pole; it wobbled as she stepped in. She untied the ropes and started rowing towards her destination, a roughly circular landform that the locals called ‘the Crown". A large specimen of Aeshna Persuasoria landed on the prow, then flew away with a buzz. Late for your appointment, are you? A brown dragonfly, mostly notable for its poisonous bite and for its unusually noisy flight, the Aeshna Persuasoria was endemic to that region; on the Crown, specifically, the insects reached their highest concentration. An ideal study case. Almost a dream come true.

As she approached the island, Janet took a digital camera out of her field bag. The buzz of the dragonflies was perceivable at distance; turning almost dizzying as she moved closer. Above the vegetation, their dance had begun. She stepped on the soft ground, made her way through the ever-present cordgrass. Was their pattern clear enough from that angle? She moved farther. The same spot as yesterday - where was it? Shooting some sample footage, just in case.

It was all of a sudden. What-? Crawling on the ground. A pallid, blood-stained, hand-shaped thing. Crawling. She suffocated a shriek. What have I seen? Her feet two lumps of ice, stuck and useless. Now breathe, you idiot. It was there. Immobile, however - a livid hand, a dead forearm emerging from the grass. She moved the cordgrass aside; it - he - was lying face downwards, his skull smashed, his once-white shirt red with blood. Of course it did -not- move. An arm stretched forwards, another abandoned to his side. Of. Course.

How long had she been staring? What was she supposed to do? The police. She had to call the police. Or not? What if-? But I’m Doctor Rivers. If only she’d donned better clothes… Not that it made any sense! But still. Well, she had to call the police. It was that, or them discovering about her excursion anyway. The dutiful-citizen path was no guarantee, not at all - but it looked less suspicious anyway. That was something. And she was a scientist; almost a professor. Damn, I’ll never be a professor if I go to jail. Now that was scarier than a moving corpse. Especially since it did not move.

She took out her phone. “I’m Dr. Janet Rivers. Hello. Erm, good morning”. Damn, you’re screwing it up. “I’m at the marsh. At the isle called the Crown, I-I found what looks li- I found a corpse”.

Then what followed was routine: she was told to wait, not to touch anything, all such things. As if it was needed! What followed were consequences.

On the Crown, alone with the corpse, she had little to do but wait. The dragonflies were buzzing above her head, their trajectories crossing each other according to a complex but regular scheme. Her camera - where was it? A reassuring lump in her pocket: it had slipped in a safe place. She had nothing to do but wait, so she took it out and shoot some more footage of their dance.
The night shift was coming to its end, the rising sun dying the horizon red. It had been uneventful – like it usually was. Perhaps that was a good thing, something one shouldn't complain about. But it certainly could be so dreadfully boring! It wasn't until the crackle of the car's radio and a chilling message until a certain police officer found his pulse quickening…

A body had been found. That was all Steele needed to hear before he made sure he was going to be on the team that would be first on the scene, his gaze stern as he looked ahead. The police speedboat cut through the dark, calm waters, introducing the hum of the motor to the otherwise quiet scene. He stayed silent, lost in his thoughts – but resolute. Everyone wanted closure, of course. But who would have ever wanted it like this? The approaching island was both something he couldn't wait to land on and something he dreaded to even get close to. A real mixture of emotions, that.

By the time the boat stopped on the shore, the sun had risen enough to shed more light to the situation, making the marshes slightly less dangerous. Steele could still be happy to have a pair of good boots as he jumped off and the wet land grabbed onto them, almost as if to swallow them whole. Had he lacked the worry in his head about some other very serious things, he surely would have made the mental note about how nice paved roads were in comparison to the wet marshlands. Nevertheless, they had docked safely and it didn't take long to notice the woman who had been the one to find the body.

And that of course led them to the body itself.

Now, Steele couldn't quite barge in like he wanted to. He was in a rush, personal interests pushing aside his professionalism, but he had to reel them back. It was a crime scene. Being too hasty would ruin it and he didn't really have that much to do with the body either. It was a job for the coroner and the photographers, but he made sure to sneak in a good peek…

It probably should have made the man feel awful when he felt relieved looking at the body. The guy was a mess, for sure. But it wasn't– That meant his search hadn't come to the end, yet. There was still hope. It hadn't ended in a death. Who he was looking for could still be alive.

The woman. Steele should have been most concerned about her, but she hadn't been his top priority. Now, though? Not having much else to do on the scene, he had to take on the task he really wasn't all that great at: making sure a witness wouldn't break down mentally straight away. That made squeezing out information a great deal more difficult, after all.

Approaching the woman with the curly mane, Steele didn't exactly manage to make the most friendliest of expressions. He glanced behind him at the others, seeing them busy at their work already.
"Officer Steele," came the quick and dirty introduction, his gaze returning to the woman,
"…I am going to ask you some questions. When you're ready. If you want to sit down, we… Could. Might be a blanket or something in there," he continued with a gruff voice, nodding towards the shore where the boat waited. He got this.
A motorboat approaching. As its noise overpowered any pre-existing sound, the dragonflies scattered; their patterns disrupted, apparently lost. But - that must be the police! A few more seconds. A few more images of the dispersing insects. As team approached, she put away her camera once more. She nodded to the agents. Was she supposed to say something? Guide them, explain? Justify her presence there of all places?

They promptly headed to the body. Glad to see I'm not the most interesting subject on this island. Right, the body - the gore-soaked, butchered body, just a few steps away from her spot, only partially concealed by the luxuriant seagrass. Was it so easy to get used? The agents seemed to find it even before she could point at it. Now there was something to be said about professionalism.

Again, what was she staring at? Did she look shaken, or not enough? An officer approached, she extended a hand. “Dr. Janet Rivers, of Willowhill College”. And introduction, a security blanket? Whatever, let's go ahead with this.

At a short distance, the team seemed busy enough, shooting pictures, fixing tape, taking all precautions for the scene not to be intruded by someone like her - and, at once, altering the local environment. Beyond repair? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it wasn't too bad, hopefully she could resume her observations just as they'd been interrupted.

The terrain was fairly solid in that spot, and yet damp, covered by vegetation; the idea of sitting down more an inconvenience than anything else. “I'm fine, I can stand”. Was she? Was that normal? It never moved. No way. What are you even thinking?Whenever you want, I'm ready”. She was not, there was no such a thing as “fine" and “ready”. But, there was no point in waiting. Meanwhile, the dragonflies too were resuming their flight.
Steele looked down at the offered hand, the moment stretching on just a tad too long for it to be comfortable before he reached for it and gave it a firm shake. Didn't seem like she wanted to sit down or wait. With a quiet mh, the man reached into his pockets for a small notepad and a pen, readying it with a satisfying click. She had already provided him with some information, which he started to write down. If she didn't want to waste time, neither did he.

"Right. Perhaps we could start with your side of the story. How you got here and why, the events leading up to you finding the body…"
A shiver down her spine: her side of the story. Now, now, how to put it as clearly as possible?

Well, as I said, I'm a biologist”. Had she said it? She hadn't. Her mouth was dry; just a bit, just enough to be distracting. “I'm an entomologist, more precisely, and as such, I'm currently studying the behavioral and biomechanical peculiarities of the Aeshna Persuasioria... that is to say, I mean, those large, brown dragonflies you see swarming around here”.

Damn, I'm talking too fast. Also, Latin names, really? Am I trying THAT hard to be obnoxious?

So… as a part of my research, I've been coming here every morning at dawn, for a week or so - no: six days. I started six days ago. You see, it's at this hour that they gather, and perform what was once believed to be a mating ritual, a theory I had the chance to disprove, and…”. Great, was she holding a lecture, now? “And I don't really believe the details are relevant, now…” Was she supposed to decide what was relevant? “...although of course, if you care I can provide you with more in-depth information...”.

You know. Just in case a dragonfly was the main suspect.

Anyway! This morning I came here as usual. I have a small boat - well, it's not precisely mine, it's… I believe the Wildlife Management Area owns it, technically; anyway, the College has an agreement to use it for study purposes. It's the one over there. So, I came here rowing, I looked for a good spot to shoot some footage, and, well - I found what you've seen…

Just that. Nothing but that. Absolutely, she'd seen nothing else. Nothing crawling. That was it.
Steele gave a quick glance at the woman when she mentioned being a biologist – well, it wasn't that part that was off, it was that she claimed to have said it before. Guess she was still quite shaken about the whole thing, but who could blame her for that. He quickly wrote that down, along with what else of importance she gave him. Except… Once she really started to yammer on and on, Steele could maybe catch half of what she was saying. It was no surprise that it prompted him to look up with a slight raise of one of his eyebrows. His pen had stopped moving on the paper.

"…Right," the policeman grunted, noting down a few extra details he could get from the woman's ramblings. He prooooobably didn't have to know the details of dragonflies, so it was about time they got to the important part: what she was doing on the island in the middle of nowhere at the break of dawn. With a few mhms, Steele continued noting down the details.

"Nothing else caught your eye? Shadowy figures or movement in the distance? Lights, maybe? Anything that might have been off?"

Who knew if the culprit had been on the island at the time of discovery. Girl was lucky she didn't end up being another victim.
Not really, not that I noticed, at least”. Except for the fact the hand had moved. But it didn't matter, because she'd not seen that. Now, there was something else, tough. A discordant note in the events of that morning, like a misplaced piece in a puzzle. Somehow, somewhere. But, what was that? “Now that I think about it… I looked at the landscape over and again while coming here. And everything was quiet. So, if anyone's been moving about the marsh, they were at least well hidden, or anyway out of my sight. I can show you the path I've been taking, if it helps?

Nice, cooperative - did it help her case? Did it dig her hole even deeper? She wanted a way out, but, having seen a glimpse of the corpse, odds were there was no way out.

Then, there it was. “Actually! I might be mistaken, but… You see, I said I came here on a boat, right?” Yeah, this time she hadsaid it, indeed. “It's usually tied at the end of the boarded path; there's a pole, that's where I always leave it. This morning… I had the impression the ropes were tied a bit differently. I didn't stop to think about it, honestly - I mean, there are other people who might use the boat just like I do. However, it might be something to consider… maybe?
Didn't seem like the woman had managed to notice anything special. Did mean that the trail had gone cold on his part, for now. But before Steele managed to ask any further questions or end the questioning for now, it seemed like he had caused some memories to resurface. The pen that had been idle on the paper straightened up once more, almost like it had perked up from interest. Unfortunately, it didn't lead into any immediate clues, but… But it was something, he guessed.

Steele's slight interest had started to wane, but the conversation was proving to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Looking up from the paper as the woman's tone took a turn for the more excited, seeming to remember yet another new tidbit that hopefully had more to it this time. Whether or not it was, it was difficult to say yet. But maybe…
"The ropes?" The policeman tilted his head slightly. Glancing over his shoulder, it seemed like the rest of the team was quite busy securing the area around the body as well as documenting the surroundings – and the body itself, of course. It did take a while.

"…Maybe you could show me the path you took and then take me to the boat. Are you saying you think someone might have used the boat? Do you know if anyone keeps tabs on who uses it?"
Yeah, ropes. That boat had been kept rather casually. Which was the kind of consideration you only conceived when it suddenly became relevant, sticking out from the oblivious obviousness of your habits.

If you follow me...". She showed the way, although it was not a long one. “Actually most of the path is on the other side of the water - you can see it from here..." The boat soon appeared in sight. “I don't know if anyone's keeping tabs, to be honest. It's just an old boat, however, I guess it's not precious enough to care too much about its safety... and anyway, if one had to use it for some illicit purposes, they wouldn't really sign a register, even if there were one, right?" Wait, did she sound like an expert of illicit acts, now? Well, more like an expert of basic common sense. Most likely random kids similarly gave no notice before jumping on it on a dare. Criminal purposes or not. “If that's the case - I mean, if this has anything do do with the accident. It could have been my impression".

The boat floated mutely, its drab colors even drabber now in the sun. The oars were in their place - a relief! It looked unfamiliar, though. Was that the same boat she's been using all those days? Sure it was - she'd just never cared. Not that she was the kind of person who suddenly sees everything oh-so-different just because they had some sort of slightly unusual experience. Not that kind of person!

And yet. Who else had been there? Doing what? It could host two people, maybe; three did not look like a great idea. An old wooden carcass; it looked harmless enough. However... what was that? A small, darker piece of something, stuck on the splintery border of the boat. She moved closer to examine it. Without touching anything, of course! And there, a shred of black plastic. A piece of garbage bag? That, or something similar.
Steele followed, his eye on the road – if one could even really call it as such. Nothing immediately caught his attention on the way before they reached the boat, but he took note of the path they took, at least. Who knew if that would be of use, but that wasn't for him to decide. The boat the woman had been talking about soon appeared in view, old and rickety in its full glory.
"Most likely wouldn't," the cop grunted, indeed agreeing that someone either trying to murder someone or dispose a corpse wouldn't be likely to write their name on any papers,
"But that's the thing. Maybe someone noticed it gone when no one supposedly was using it," that sure would have been suspicious, especially if it didn't tend to happen. But who knew with the kids, the boat certainly wasn't secured very well. Surprise it hadn't been stolen a long time ago.

And they would have a handy chart of people who knew of the boat and had used it in the past, at least. But they weren't going to have that luxury.

Steele got closer, paying some attention to the surroundings of the boat, but if this was where the girl had docked then it might not have been as important to their case. The boat was the interesting part – though as the doctor got close enough to the boat, having clearly noticed something…
"Hey," came a short, gruff warning with the kind of a tone that surely would make any unruly schoolboys think twice about what they were going to do, just a single word needed. Steele's gaze was almost as piercing as, well, steel. Hopefully she would realize she was a witness, not an investigator.
Caught. She recoiled. Caught doing what? Like a kid, leaving sugar all around her mother's kitchen as a bait for ants. The stern call of authority reminding her she was wrong. Except, what was she looking at, anyway? The incongruous dark spot trembled to the crisp air - but was it her business? A way out of that story, that was what she was looking for! And yet, the subtle call of everything unexplained... That was silly - no, not silly: crazy. From a story like that, you only had to keep as far as possible. No matter how itchy unanswered questions can be. Those are not questions for you.
the boat

Steele could spot it quite easily. It was, indeed, a small shred of a black plastic bag, or something of similar substance, somehow stuck in the irregular surface of the boat.

To a closer observation, brownish stains were visible on the worn-out wooden boards. Streaks, not drops. Pale, scarce: someone had probably touched that boat with less than perfectly clean hands - but that was it; a clue or not a clue? Anyway, that was no crime scene.

The stains didn't stand out that much: the boat being a faded brown itself, and its color not that regular, they were in fact quite easy to miss. Moreover, if the obvious suspicion was obvious, without further analysis they could have been anything, actually.
Steele eased up when the woman realized what she shouldn't be doing. The cop inched closer for a quick inspection without touching, frowning slightly. Nothing jumped to his mind as the single vital clue to the mess, but he was just going to have to turn it to the boys. Straightening his back, he looked at the doctor.
"Right. We'll be taking a closer look at this. You won't be able to use it to get back, so I'll get you a ride," he spoke, walking further away from the boat and expecting Janet to follow him. He definitely was keeping a closer eye on her now, not wanting her to get too curious about something behind his back. Her prints must have already been all over the boat, they didn't need more of those.

She really didn't have a choice in the matter, now did he? It wasn't that smart to try to resist an officer of law.
"I could still do with your contact information, in case we have any further questions. And if you remember anything, well," Steele wrote down the number of the station in the corner of his notepad, ripping it off so he could give it to her. It wasn't like she couldn't find it easily on her own, but just in case.
"Hey! Got you more to look at when you're done," the man called out when they had gotten closer to the rest.
Shit. Did that mean she could not visit the island again, too? It looked like a less-than-optimal question to ask, but still - Shit. Also, was her boat that interesting? Shame she couldn't take a closer look. She'd missed her chance earlier, but then of course she had no idea. "Sure, I understand... I guess, the island would be off-limits for a while, right?". She grabbed the piece of paper, then opened her bag. Now, business cards would have been practical, but when do you use them while being an entomologist? Okay, 'in more than one case' would have been a fair answer; at any rate, she hadn't ever bothered; and even if she had, she wouldn't have brought any on the field. You're not overly formal when your typical encounter are dragonflies, poisonous or not. "Here. Of course. I'll let you know if something else comes to mind". She'd just talked about it with some colleague; about how our brain processed memories in a less than linear way. Not really her area of expertise, but she'd brought home the essential concepts. Maybe she'd literally noticed nothing, that morning; maybe, she'd realized only later. She gave him a similarly ripped piece of paper with her number - it was fortunate enough that, indeed, notepads were something you did bring on the field.
The Coroner

The team emerged from the cordgrass and reached Steele; all of them eyeing now the officer, now the woman with him. As if saying, We're not disclosing anything serious with a witness around. Dr. Smithson, the coroner, a portly man in his fifties, guided the group. "We're taking that fellow to my office, and soon". A quick glance to the stranger. "I'm going to need you once I've done everything that must be done, but by now, Steele, let's just say it looks like quite an interesting case". Another glance. "Erm, and 'morning, lady".
"Right," nodded Steele to the woman's inquiry. The island was small enough for it to be rather impractical to try to conduct criminal research and have curious onlookers at the same time. They also didn't know for sure if everyone was going to be safe, either. How long it was going to take, that he couldn't say. All he could hope for was that someone else was going to fill the paperwork.

The cop had handed the woman their contact information, so it seemed like she was going to do the same. Nothing would have stopped Steele from, well, writing it down as he had a paper and a pen in his hand at the very moment, but the method didn't really matter. He accepted the offered piece of paper, making sure it would stay with the rest of his notes. He glanced up from the papers, his gaze on the woman's face. Too bad he was really bad at reading others to figure out if they were truly alright after all this.

Digging for his phone, Steele already was ready to call in someone to pick up the witness. He did notice the team approaching however, his hand with the phone lowering when he noticed that they were coming towards him, his eyes following them. The coroner was in the lead, though of course no one was going to say any key details with an outsider among them. Steele did give Janet a quick glance before turning to the rest, frowning at the comment from Smithson.
"Isn't it always," the officer grumbled, certainly noticing how his cases rarely were straightforward and easy…

"I'll just," Steele nodded at his phone and glanced at the witness, as if to ask for final confirmation as to whether or not he could send the girl home. "I'll just," Steele nodded at his phone and glanced at the witness, as if to ask for final confirmation as to whether or not he could send the girl home. After getting the confirmation, he turned back to the phone in his hand and quickly chose a number. Bringing the phone up to his ear, the man waited in silence until someone answered.
"Hey. It's Steele. Requesting pickup at the Crown…"
Well, indeed, shit. Goodbye to her dearest project, for who knows how long! Not that she could voice her complaints - you can't really ask to run around a crime scene, not even to study dragonflies. Especially to study dragonflies - entomology was, with little exception, a rather poor excuse for anything. Nothing cute and fluffy to move one's feelings, indeed.


Now that awkward pause. Time for her to go home, wasn't it? Nothing else to say or to do. All that police people were quite obviously in a haste to have her out of their hair, so they could speak about their really important matters. Involving her? If anything, the recent developments had sedated her worries, somehow. That place, that situation - they were uncomfortable on a number of levels, however she was not a suspect, unless they were hiding it very well.

Hm. I'm Dr. Rivers, anyway. I was here to study dragonflies. For Willowhill College, I mean - ".

Better or worse, now? The older man - was he the coroner? - grumbled something back. "Smithson... That must be... fascinating?" - notably a codeword for "I couldn't care less". He deserved a bit of her sympathy, anyway; for not being too happy about that excessive amount of companionship.

The other guys, meanwhile, were entirely absorbed by the boat and the reveals that came with it. A glance to the water: how long was it going to take?
Steele confirmed that the ride would come – hopefully soon, as his eyes flicked between the woman and the coroner. It was such a lovely atmosphere between bug-girl and pokes-corpses-guy. Poor Smithson at the very least seemed like he wanted to leave it as soon as possible – but he wasn't going to get to be so lucky. Steele could almost remember a similar situation in the past, one where he was the one forced to entertain some close to a crime scene while waiting for a way to send them away… Because someone did a masterful walking out. The cop eyed Smithson, still salty about it.

"Right, they're trying to get here as fast as they can," spoke Steele, his phone disappearing in his pocket. He wasn't going to give the coroner the ability to just leave this time.
"I'll go check the boat scene. Will be back to get you," he continued, not even waiting for a response or a reaction before he left, leaving the two behind to do whatever it was they were going to do. Stand together in awkward silence or do some even awkwarder small talk? Pettiness made Steele quite content thinking about it. They'd be fine, they were close enough if something happened.

And Steele actually had a reason to join the other investigators for once, giving some extra information he had gathered to them while they waited. It didn't take long for another speedboat to fill the air with the hum of the motor, leading Steele to go grab the girl – not literally – and escort her that short distance so she could get off the island and they could get back to work.
They wanted her to leave. No way to blame them, in that case: she wanted to leave as well. That exchange of bored glares and impatient glares and sleepy glares - that had sucked what was left of morbid charm (for lack of better words?) out of that entire situation.

Everyone pacing, looking for something to do, Smithson replying to a rather unlikely 'text message' - what if she'd took her own phone, pretend she was sort of busy as well? Could that lead to additional questions? No reason to test her luck any further. What, do you believe in -luck- now? In luck as a supply you can consume and run out of? Okay, not luck. But human patience, or something. Or luck, indeed.

Now, in terms of discomfort, how did awkward silences compared to being alone with a body? How to a sight and experience you can't really figure out? A shower would not have answered to any question, but it would have been welcome anyway.

Finally, the boat came. More sleep-deprived people staring at her, exchanging words with their colleagues, No, I am not the culprit, thanks, more embarrassed greetings, what a beautiful morning to be on a murder scene, then, to everyone's obvious relief, she was on her way home.

"Steele", the Coroner said once the witness was finally gone. "Maybe you'd like to take an -actual- look to our guy?". He hinted to move towards the body once again. Not distant from there, but the vegetation made a good job hiding everything. "There are a few things to say, but you know, one talks better with the subject matter under his eyes...".
With the girl out of their way and the boat speeding its way back to the town proper, Smithson was quick to get to their earlier point. Steele glanced at the man over his shoulder, giving him a small nod. While he did know where the body was, he still let the coroner lead the way and he would follow after him all nicely.
"Right. Tell me what you found – thought it sounds like nothing I'd like," the cop sighed, not expecting an easy case anymore. But maybe he was already getting used to that idea and wouldn't grumble as much as time went on…

They walked back to the body, now surrounded by tapes and all such means of caution. He was lying face-down on the ground, in the same position he had been found. His skull had been cracked like an egg, a mess of brain matter and longish grey hair and congealed blood and bone fragments. Smithson seemed perfectly at ease, but that kind of ease took years of training. The dead man's shirt was blood-stained, but with irregular patterns. Traces of blood were on his hands as well, however area was not as gore-soaked as one could have expected, given the gruesome treatment the victim had undergone. "Unique, isn't it". Smithson looked at Steele with a vaguely sarcastic air. "I'm looking forwards to examine it a bit better than this, but at a glance, I am positive it wasn't the brain injury that killed him. My best guess is that he was brought here soon after his death, and with his skin still quite intact. Also take a look at this". He showed a plastic bag containing a foreign driving licence. "His wallet wasn't far from here; all money had been taken, but they let us this. Maybe the killer couldn't give him a ride to the otherworld... Anyway, guess what? It seems he's our guest star". Inside its plastic wrapping, Steele could read the name "Elliot-Caltrhope". A dragonfly buzzed by Steele's ear, landing on the corpse's devastated head.
Steele's eyes fell on the corpse that was still extremely dead and unmoving. Thankfully. It wasn't a nice sight, not a clean murder in the slightest… But for something so messy, the surroundings weren't looking very messy at all. There should have been more blood. The cop glanced back at Smithson as the latter spoke, his brow furrowed. Only a coroner would be the kind of a person to say things like that, wouldn't they…

But to hear that the most apparent and deadly injury wasn't the one to have done the guy in? Well, that was why they had professional body-pokers on the scene, though it did make Steele tilt his head. Even that couldn't be straightforward in the case, huh? Steele was quite silent as he let his eyes and thoughts wander in search for clues, only properly turning to the coroner once the man offered to show him some evidence that had been picked from the scene.

He took the bag, his eyes on the… Driver's license. Not the kind he had seen around Sandsbridge, but when he noticed the name, he couldn't help but grimace. Juuuuust great. Couldn't even be a local. Had to be someone who had been raising a buzz in the recent days. This wasn't going to be easy or quiet.
"Great," Steele sighed. Just their luck, wasn't it? Now it was international. The buzzing of insects in his ear caused the man to just wave at the air in an attempt to signal them to get lost.
"This moisture and all the bugs can't be too great for the body, so we should get it moved as fast as we can. Anything else you think you figured out yet? Time of death, any theories on how the guy bit it? Signs of dragging on the ground the guys found?"

At least Dr. Rivers was seeming like a more unlikely suspect at this point, unless she had an accomplice. Even dragging a body here didn't seem too likely for someone with her frame.

"Hm. Indeed. I'll have it in my lab in... as fast as possible". Sleepy and grumpy as he was, Smithson seemed nevertheless entertained by the new case. "This is not CSI so you aren't getting the exact minute of death and the killer's favorite playlist. But I'd say... He was killed tonight, carried here immediately afterwards - carried, not dragged; you'll be looking for a big guy or two. And then, once they were here, they turned it into the mess you see. Yes, I'm positive about that. Cause of death, that'll require a closer look. But he's been cut and cracked after his death, that's why we're not in a pool of blood ".
Steele let out a small hm as the coroner gave him more information. Carrying a man definitely wasn't an easy task, especially if the ground was wet and treacherous. But the island was a pretty good place to try to stash a body. Strange for it to not have been hidden better, but who expected anyone to actually come here? Just as the man had thought earlier, it was a pretty good place to let the body be… Disposed of. Not as fast as the criminals would have liked, for sure, but the idea behind that wouldn't have been the worst.

"Shit. Kinda useless to go bashing someone's skull in at that point," the cop frowned and crossed his arms. The reason for that… Well, definitely escaped him. You wouldn't get damage like that from just accidentally dropping someone, now would you? Intentionally doing extra damage… Surely they didn't think trained professionals would be confused by that and the method of killing, right?
"Don't think they were nice enough to leave us what was used to do this anywhere nearby?"

…Though, if a body was to be disposed off… It would have been quite the coincidence. Maybe even too big of a coincidence for it to be plausible, but…
"…Say. Guess you didn't find any pieces of a plastic bag or something around here?" He was going to guess no, as that would be too easy for them, wouldn't it?
"Might be more likely for some traces to remain on the clothes of the body…"

Smithson shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe they were not sure he was dead?". You don't want to almost-kill someone, so when it comes to murder, you're better safe than sorry. "No bloody big rock nearby, sorry to disappoint you. Nor bags, or anything, but I assume your mates will be searching the marshland as a next move? I don't know about you, but if could drop some item from a boat I'll do it, as opposite to leaving it on an island... Which makes one wonder why the victim was left here, but that's why we all have an interesting case. With all this said, we could really go back. Everything else, I'm going to check it at my lab, not here".
Who knew indeed. They'd have to actually catch those responsible before they were able to squeeze any kind of a story out of anyone. Was it just that? Checking if someone was dead was easier than making sure via such… Destructive ways. But perhaps they weren't dealing with some professional killers. Maybe they had panicked, maybe this was their best idea. Everything did seem like half of a good plan that then fell flat on its face, if their guesses were right.

"Yeah," Steele nodded to the coroner. There was going to be a lot of searching to find the necessary clues… If any even existed. Or if they could even find anything. They sure picked an awful place for the cops to have to search…
"Afraid that someone would find the body in the water faster? Hard to say. I guess people usually don't come here, but it's not like anything is stopping them, either," he mused. He certainly didn't enjoy spending his time in a marshy swampland. But then there were people like the one who had found the body…

"…Let's get this body moved."