(Contains SPOILERS for Chapter One. Go watch it first.)

Detective Rocco Banyan

Smart, incorruptible, ambitious. Top of his police academy class; made detective in record time. Odds were good that he’d be chief of police one day.

Possibly too ambitious. Spoke his mind. Wouldn’t tolerate laziness, incompetence, graft, or stupidity. Wasn’t universally popular with his fellow cops as a result.

Loner. No close friendships. No long-term romantic relationships. Preferred to work solo — and that’s what got him killed.

“I’m chasing down a tip on a cold case nobody cares about. Run-down industrial park, dead of night. No sign of life; not even a guard. I let myself into a warehouse. Pitch dark. I take two steps — and black out. Never knew what hit me.

“I wake up in a hospital, or that’s what it looks like. But I’m strapped down and my mouth’s taped shut. Some grinning ghoul in a white coat is telling me not to struggle, there’s nothing to worry about. (Yeah, right.) Part of his face is seriously messed up — we’re talking giant green pustules. Not a good look for a doctor, if that’s what he was. He puts plastic over my face so I can’t breathe. I pass out again.

“I wake up in a drainage ditch, half a mile from the warehouse. No idea how I got there. My ribs are bruised, my wrists are bleeding, and my knuckles are skinned. Must’ve been a hell of an escape; I’m sorry I missed it. I stagger back to the warehouse. It’s been burned to the ground. Fire crews are mopping up. Nothing left but ashes.

“I call in. Five days have passed, but nobody wonders where I’ve been; supposedly I phoned in sick. Thoughtful of my captors to keep anybody from looking for me.

“I waste no time in going after the snitch who tipped me about the warehouse. Turns out he died of an OD the day after I got nabbed. Funny; I’d always thought that snitch was clean.

“I decide to keep my little warehouse experience to myself. For one, who’d believe it? For two, remembering how much superiors didn’t want me to bother with that cold case in the first place is making me just a bit paranoid. So I go back to work… and pursue the incident on my own time.

“Except there’s nothing to pursue. The warehouse was empty, bank-owned. The fire was of ‘indeterminate cause’. The ‘doctor’ stays a man of mystery. There’s no trail to follow.

“Later, I discover that whatever the doc did to me has an aftereffect: the ability to go utterly berserk. Kind of an adrenaline hyper-rush: my strength triples and I’m damned near impervious to pain. It’s like the freaking Incredible Hulk except that I don’t bust out of my clothes, and all that changes color is my eyes. It only lasts a minute or so… but it scares the crap out of me every time (and the ‘hangover’ is utter hell), so I use it only when it’s life or death. I can’t wait to track down the doc and give him a hands-on demonstration.”

Jasmine Fairchild

Forensic psychologist. (Hates the term ‘profiler’; too many wildly exaggerated connotations.) Evaluates criminal behavior; interviews defendants and gives expert testimony re their mental states; also consults with the police department.

Intelligent. Liked and respected by her colleagues. Objective and level-headed.

Romantic at heart. Ready for a long-term relationship, but can’t seem to find the right guy. Is considering giving up the hunt and staying home with her cat.

“My grandmother died when I was fourteen. Dad said she had a massive stroke while tending her garden and assured me that she didn’t suffer at all. I figured he was lying a little to make me feel better because he knew how much I loved her. But at her funeral, I brushed a hair off her forehead – and the moment my fingertips touched her skin, I experienced her death. I was sitting in her garden, trimming a rosebush… my arm went numb, my chest tightened… I felt calm. There was no pain. And… I died.

“In reality, I fainted. Gave my family a huge scare, but I was fine. I never told anyone what I’d ‘seen’… I figured they’d ship me off to a shrink or something. Besides, I didn’t think it was real in any way. Probably just my overactive imagination… But then I visited grandma’s garden. It matched exactly what I’d ‘seen’, right down to the half-trimmed rosebush…

“It wasn’t a fluke. It’s a talent… I’m not sure whether it’s a gift or a curse. If I touch a corpse, I relive the moment of death.

“Don’t call me a psychic. I’ve never believed in any of that supernatural or paranormal garbage. I believe in rational, scientific explanations for everything… even this. My theory is that the nervous system retains a residual sensory memory of the last moments of life… it stays with the body like a static-electricity charge… and when I touch the body, my own nervous system ‘absorbs’ and ‘reads’ that charge.

“Yeah, I know, it’s a flimsy theory at best — but it’s the only half-sensible one I’ve got. It seems to fit the facts: each ‘flashback’ happens only once; the second time I touch a corpse, nada. And it doesn’t work on cremains or bones; it only works on a fresh or decently preserved cadaver.

“Trust me, it’s not a talent you want to have. Every time I use it, I die — or so it feels. And most deaths aren’t peaceful and pain-free like my grandma’s. Many people die in lonely agony… fighting for one last breath… or broken and bleeding from horrific injuries…

“A very few die while looking their killers in the face… and that’s the only time my talent can actually prove useful…”

Captain Stroud

OFFICER: Stroud, William Lester.

CLASS TITLE/PAYGRADE: Captain (I).

PERSONNEL FILE: Restricted access.

Refer all inquiries to Internal Affairs.

“Get out of my face. I don’t have to tell you ****.”

Angela Hailey

CASE NO.: B08-184301

DRUG SCREEN RESULTS: Urine Screen (TLC-Basic) was POSITIVE for cocaine. Urine Screen (Immunoassay) was POSITIVE for benzoylecgonine.

CAUSE OF DEATH: Stab wound to the heart.

MANNER OF DEATH: Suicide.

“You a cop? I don’t do cops — ”

Thornhill

All we know is his name: Thornhill.

.

.

Actually, we don’t even know that, but we’ve got to call him something.

“Ah, don’t struggle. You’ll only damage yourself… No need to panic. You’ll be back soon… as one of us.”