It was never meant to happen this way. The United States had taken every course of action possible to stop the war, but in the end bloodshed was inevitable. World War III was the first was the first global battle wherein fighting took place on American soil, and the effects were long-lasting. War had raked its blackened claws against the earth: avenues that had one shone under a smiling sun now shriveled under the murky skies. The empty houses cowered against the cold wind that caressed their faded exteriors and penetrated their scavenged interiors.

The world may have been destroyed, but humanity persevered. Like cockroaches, people crawled out from beneath the rubble induced by atomic bombs and a new civilization sprang up from the ashes. America gradually revived, but only in fragments. The country as a whole was plagued by varying degrees of terror and violence; even the more metropolitan areas weren't safe. New Orange County was regarded as the safest area in the western hemisphere of the New USA, yet it was considered unwise to wander the streets after dark. It was commonly thought that only criminals and fools left their doors after nightfall.

All of this was common knowledge to the priest at New Orange County's largest church. Still, when her fiance mentioned a craving for Nutter Butters, Father Jaissa decided she would be a bad partner if she let her fear of the unknown prevent her from going out to retrieve the goods. She left their house and set out into the darkness, assuaging her nerves with the assurance that she was a black belt in karate and could defend herself if needs be.

And yet you didn't let Aly come with you. The priest pushed the thought to the back of her mind and set out into the night.

It was on her way back when she was assailed by a pair of masked men.

Although she defended herself and was able to escape, she didn't leave unscathed: she knew that she, specifically, was the target. It wasn't a random act of violence. It was an arranged murder.

Consequently, she refused to perform any large scale events for fear of sabotage and danger. Since she was the only priest in town, this meant no marriages.

It was only a matter of time before one frustrated couple hired a private detective to get to the bottom of the attack.

Deep within one of the houses, a wayward detective was fiercely examining a letter with bloodshot eyes. Every fiber in his being was glowing with passion for his work: he would sooner die in the wasteland than allow himself to miss a crucial element of the plot.

A sharp gasp permeated the air. "Eureka," he muttered, his eyes alight with excitement. He got to his feet and made for the door, thinking, I must go.

He went into the night with a coat so dark it blended in with the blackness of the night.

"So, tell me again: where did you find the body?"

Detective McD stamped his cigarette into the ground with nary a trace of concern. The post-nuclear world was filled with violence, and a dead detective was far from a rare case. As far as he was concerned, the threat of death came along with the badge, and although he'd never say it without a few drinks in his system, the man had brought it on himself. Really, living in one of the tattered pre-war residential districts like some aimless wanderer, as though he were too good to live in close quarters in the city with everyone else! It was only a matter of time.

"He was found on Sepulveta Boulevard, sir," the streetwalker said, batting his thick eyelashes at him. McD suppressed a shudder.

"Thank you, citizen," McD said through gritted teeth. He looked up to the faded street signs and was relieved to see that he had reached his destination. "That will be all." The man looked disappointed, but he gave a stiff nod and left the detective to work in peace.

McD found the corpse with his nose rather than his eyes. Sprawled between two buildings lay the rotting corpse of what once was a fellow detective. McD shook his head and knelt down, examining the body. He had no qualms about feeling up a cadaver; corpses were a common enough sight, and from his experiences, squeamishness never yields fruit. His fingers drifted over the black coat, looking for any items that could reveal important clues about the man's death. When nothing showed itself, he flipped the body and continued his search to no avail.

Eventually, he let out a sigh and sat by the body. "Poor man," he said, leaning over to hold the cold head hand. This created a startling crinkling sound, and he pried open the closed fingers to find a tattered note. "What the devil?" He examined the paper only to gasp in surprise. It explained everything: now he knew what was going on, and he knew just where to go.

When Jaissa first heard the knocking at her door, she wasn't sure whether or not it was worth it to get up and answer. Halfway in dreamland, she turned over and muttered, "Come on, giraffe...Eat the dang cheeseburger…"

The knocking sound persisted. She grumbled and turned over, trying to hide in her blankets, but she fell off the bed. Now that she was awake, she groaned and tried to disentangle herself from the sheets. "I'm coming, I'm coming!"

Upon opening the door and seeing the private detective standing before her, Jaissa said, "It's because I'm brown, huh?"

"Indeed," Detective McD said with a suave smile. "May I come in, Father?"

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" She asked, but she shifted to allow him entrance anyway.

"Yes, and I'm sorry, but I'm afraid it's urgent," he said after stepping in. Jaissa closed the door, and he lowered his voice. "The detective you hired has been killed."

Jaissa's face filled with surprise, but betrayed no remorse. "Well dang," was all she said. "There goes that." She turned her back and shuffled over to the coach before throwing herself onto the cushions with all the gusto of Superman flying off to save the world. A high sigh came from her spread-eagled person.

"Actually, Father…" McD unfolded a piece of paper from his coat. "I think this could help you."

Jaissa moved her body to a more natural position. "What's that?"

"Read this letter," he said. Jaissa took it from his hands with a curious look. Her eyes flew from side to side as she read it, and by the end her face had fallen. "So that's what's up," she declared.

"Do you know who the culprits are, and why they did it?"

"Hell yeah I know why those buttheads did it," she said with fire in her eyes. "And it ain't just 'cause I'm brown."