Paperwork on the Inspector’s desk before I went home to sleep for the day, I felt an odd spring in my step which was out of sync with my general dour mood. It absolutely could not be because I kissed a man I barely knew, which meant it was likely an after-effect of my feeding last night. It had been years since I had a drink straight from the cow, as it were, and I guess it did make me giddy.
I could sleep that off though.
Before I did sleep it off, I wanted a quick peek into my new “partner’s” file. I called in a favor from Station House One. The records clerk, a reclining young woman I knew only as Zebra-girl, had gotten into a spot of trouble that I had a hand in helping her out of.
I had to stop into House One to fetch the file. The bank was an imposing structure. Huge doors opened off the lobby, the front desk occupied by a bored looking fellow I didn’t recognize, but the scent he gave off identified what he was immediately. Werewolf. I suppose the PC term was versi, but I didn’t care all that much. I ignored him and walked into the main room.
Past the main room was a hall with two stairways, one up to the medical wing and one down into the basement levels. The records room was in the secondary level. I took the stairs two at a time. As usual when I was in House One, the hairs on my arms and back of my neck were prickling. The place was chalk full of protective magic, and they were always adding on more.
The records were kept in the back most room of the level, near the armory. The same layout that had been here when we first moved back in to the place. Don’t fix what isn’t broken I suppose. I hurried on back. The records room had metal grid walls and a locked door, just like the armory. Zebra-girl was waiting for me, her signature black and white patterned hair slicked back into a pony tail. She popped a bubble of blue gum and slid the file through the slot without a word.
I gave her a nod, and skedaddled. Not that anyone would question me walking out the door with a file, but I was never the sociable sort.
I took the file home to my hole, climbed into bed with a box of crackers and a bottle of red wine and started thumbing through the file.
Special Division Personnel File: Raimes, Tobias
Identification Number: WH797300 – 28490
Fairly typical information followed. His previous assignment in Boston, a few commendations and awards. Towards the back, however, was the part I was interested in.
Rank: Special Detective
I was a V032, which just meant I was a vampire hunter, an R048 was someone with no registered specialty or psychic ability. Well that made fuck all sense. I suppose he could just be unregistered, he wouldn’t be the first fellow not to put all his cards on the table, as it were.
I thought back to our initial meeting. He’d had no Boston accent, I hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but nothing in his file indicated he’d lived anywhere else. The soft, understated accent had been familiar. My polo shirted Goldilocks wasn’t an American, at least, not wholly. Neither was I, but I’d been a citizen for four consecutive ID’s.
My accent, such as it was, was hidden neatly by my reticent habit.
Raimes’ accent, however, when meditated on, brought to mind sand swept streets and sunshine. Tel Aviv. I’d only lived there for a decade, but it had been a memorable one. My partner, it seemed, was a man of secrets as well. Interesting. I wondered if his resistance to my hypnosis would extend to questioning, or if he was just naturally inclined against sleep.
Something to ponder. I finished my bottle of wine, tossed aside the file and nested down into my blankets with the warmth of the wine making me drowsy. The mystery of Raimes would just have to wait, I had plenty on my plate already.
“Are you paying any attention to what I’m saying?” Raimes asked.
“No.” I pondered a map of Chicago, marker in hand, as I drew out the new territory boundaries. I was almost positive Daddy had taken over three whole zones now. Nearly a fifth of the city vampires were under his control. It wouldn’t be long before he had them all at this rate.
He slammed a file down in front of my face. “We have a case.”
I yawned. “Okay.”
“You don’t take anything seriously, do you?”
I blinked. “Vampires.”
“Anyway.” He opened the file to a photo. A body bled dry—with four puncture mark bites. My father’s work. “There’s a master vampire in Chicago again, and he’s a busy boy. Killed three already.”
“Only three?” I pulled the file toward me and flipped through. No, not three only. He left these for me to find. Asshole. Daddy didn’t do anything without reason.
“There could be more.”
I nodded. “Trail?”
“Seems he’s centered himself in the mills.”
Chicago was, once upon a time, a steel town. Old mills awaiting gentrification lined part of Lake Michigan. Perfect place for Daddy to set up shop with his less than savory kindred. His real base of operations, however, would be someplace plush, posh and expensive. He liked the finer things in life, and I’d never known him not to have his personal tailor nearby with a bevy of lovely young things to entertain him.
Lovely young things prefer plush over warehouse chic any day.
“I feel like I can hear the wheels in your head turning. What are you thinking?”
“Whole lot of silence for nothing.”
I grunted and got up from my desk. “Coffee?”
“No, I don’t want coffee. I want my partner to communicate with me like a human being.”
I stopped myself from snorting. Human being. If only. I gave him a look. He gave me one right back.
“We have to go to the morgue. See the newest body.”
“Okay.” I sighed. “Coffee first.”
Now who’s monosyllabic? I grabbed my jacket and keys and headed downstairs to the break room for coffee while Raimes continued a one sided conversation. His voice was pleasant enough for me to ignore. It became a low level hum. Background noise, like leaving a TV on to fall asleep. I got my coffee in a thermos I left in the cupboard for that purpose and then followed Raimes out of the house. I handed him my keys, mostly because I didn’t feel like driving today.
The morgue wasn’t a particularly cheerful place, but it was no less cheerful than House Six. Some folks might even think it was more cheery. Sometimes it was even warmer. The Night Shift’s designated coroner was Dr. Laura Ball, a woman I’d never seen out of heels and formal wear under her white lab coat. I don’t know what kind of parties she went to, but it seemed like she’d always just come from one, or was going to one.
Strange woman. Definitely not completely human, but I wasn’t one to pry unless absolutely necessary. My partner, on the other hand, was definitely pry worthy. His wide collection of polo shirts notwithstanding, I found him suspicious. There was too much missing from his file to be coincidence, and thus far my contacts in Boston and turned up zilch.
“Doc.” I nodded at Dr. Ball. Today she graced our presence in a gold sequin sheath, matching heels and carefully done makeup, freshly applied. So she was going to a party.
“Wayland.” She nodded back and then looked at Raimes. “You must be Tobias Raimes, a pleasure.”
“Doctor. Is this the latest victim?” He gestured to the sheet covered corpse out and awaiting our inspection.
“Yup.” She pulled the sheet back to expose the corpse of a twenty-something androgynous youth. Male, anatomically speaking. “Very clean set of punctures at the femoral artery you see. The lack of other injuries leads me to believe we’re dealing with a European blood strain. There were no drugs in his system to otherwise explain his lack of a struggle.”
I nodded. “Agreed.” I peered at the distinctive marks for a long moment before realizing what it was about them that bothered me. That’s not Daddy’s bite. I swallowed. That would mean there were two master vampires in town. We could see an all out turf war. Daddy wasn’t big on sharing. His territories could stretch entire countries, the entire city of Chicago was no mean feat when you’d ruled France.
I did not need this shit.
Moreover, I was going to have to either side up with Daddy and take out his rival, or run like a jack rabbit from a forest fire. I was leaning more and more towards running. I was good at running.
“We have to report this to Inspector Mulhaney,” Raimes said.
“Yeah.” I had to buy a plane ticket, pack and see how many identifications I had left. I’d burned through quite a few in the past decade. Might be time to have some more made. I looked at Raimes. “You go.”
“Errand to run,” I said. I checked my watch. “Meet you later.”
I left before he could protest further.
Maybe I’d get lucky and he’d just shoot me. That would solve all of my problems.
I went home and went straight for my lock box, cleverly hidden behind a wall of frozen pea boxes in my generally unused refrigerator. I pulled my keys from my pocket and popped open the frost covered steel box. I rifled though the papers there and realized a problem almost immediately.
Sure, I had four ID’s left, but they were all from the fifties. I hung my head. I’d gotten lazy. Really lazy. I sighed, closed up the box and dug out my phone. It was time to call Mulligan again. I hated Mulligan, much in the way I hated all vampires. It was a natural instinct. Like hating brussel sprouts was instinct for anyone with taste buds.
“You’ve reached the office of Mr. Mulligan Esquire. If you leave a message I will get back with you as soon as I can.”
Goddammit. “It’s Caspian, I need a set of ID’s within a fortnight. You can reach me at this number. If you screw me over, I swear to the blood I will put a stake through your shriveled heart.” I hung up the phone. Mulligan always best responded to threats of death. I felt a bit out of breath too. I hadn’t said that much in ages.
That taken care of, I decided it the most responsible thing I could do was have a rational conversation with my father. Given that I wasn’t responsible, I ditched that plan and went for a drink instead. I was still feeling a bit drained. The local blood bar was the kind of place my fellow hunters would kill to know about. For as much as I hated them, I knew I couldn’t kill them all. It was far simpler to leave some of the infrastructure intact, let the less dangerous vampires be, and go after the ones killing people.
Not every hunter could separate themselves like that, but I had to.
The blood bar was located in the business district. There was a card key which gave access to a basement level of one of the steel and glass office buildings. It had been there for years now. I was tolerated there so long as I didn’t kill anyone on the premises. My kind were rare these days, but being a half breed was still closer to a pure blood than the mosquitoes most hunters dealt with. And as much as it pained me to admit, Daddy’s name kept me from getting a stake through my heart more often than not.
I showed fang to the guard at the door and he let me pass without any questions. The place smelled like a hospital, disinfectant and blood. The bar was a long stainless steel counter backed by a wall of glass door refrigerators filled with hanging bags of blood. I went straight up to the bar and ordered a bag of O negative.
I wrinkled my nose a bit at the prices. O had gone up five dollars a pint since the last time I purchased it. I plopped the cash down without blinking. Inflation hurt everyone I guess. My phone rang as I was finishing up my pint.
“Caspian, darling. Is that you?”
“How many new identities were you needing this time?”
“Four.” I suppose that was me making my decision.
“I see, I see. Now, Caspian, does this have anything to do with your father?”
“Not your business.” I grimaced.
“Well, you see darling, I promised your father I would stop helping you run from him. He was quite insistent.”
“I am sorry, Caspian, but I can’t go against your father. He’s much more frightening than you are. Good luck now.” He hung up.
I crushed my phone and then swore. Now I had to get a new phone. Worse, it looked like I would have to talk to my father like a grown up. This was not going to end well.
I’m going to get bitten again.