Monday came with nothing new, except a security update that needed to be pushed out to a system in desperate need of documentation. I brought Mat Damon along as I tried to track down a computer in the science lab basement that records indicated existed, but the network did not.
“Found it,” she yelled from behind a stack of boxes in one of many storage rooms lacking any kind of room labels.
“Oh, hallelujah on a peanut butter sandwich,” I growl from across the hall. “Can you see the problem?”
“Looks like water damage, something is leaking, could be worse.”
“How much worse, ” I asked.
“It’s right next to a bottle labeled white phosphorus,” She answered.
“Would you look at that it’s nope the fuck o’clock, we’re done here. Get out of there without touching anything,” I said.
“I think this water is melting the soles of my shoes.”
“Out, Now.” She came out with the sole of one shoe visibly melting off. “Shoes off, I’m going to carry you.”
“Seriously?” She asked kicking them off.
“Yeah,” I said hoisting her up into a bridal carry. “Do you feel dizzy, lightheaded, blurry vision, chest pain, or any other discomfort?”
“Well my boss is carrying me rather intimately to an elevator, but otherwise fine,” she answered.
“Couldn’t have plotted it better myself, press the button for the fourth floor will you that’s where the lab techs have offices.”
“Sure, you can put me down now,” she said.
“No going barefoot in the whole building, or near the entrances. If you want, I could give you the rest of the day off and a ride home. You don’t even have to clock out, just don’t mention this to our insurance. In seriousness, they’re going to make you fill out a report.”
“Ok, I’ve got to ask, what’s with the necklace? Lilies don’t suit you, and the pentagram seems a lot like Matilda’s” She asked.
“We’re in a cult, or to be fair she’s in a cult, and I’m in a different one. It depends on your definition of a cult. I just consider a cult a small religion which hasn’t gained the legitimacy of a large one. Odd thing is you shouldn’t have noticed either of them,” I say.
“Why not?” She asked.
“Magic, Matilda still hasn’t noticed mine you really shouldn’t have either,” I answered.
“That makes sense,” She said.
“So you don’t think I’m crazy? Most people would if I started talking about magic, of course, most people wouldn’t be interested enough in me to ask in the first place. You’re an odd one.”
“Thank you, I try.”
“I’ll send you my address; we can set up a time for you to come over for the 101 course,” I say.
“That sounds vaguely not ok.” She replies.
“Do you want to learn magic or not?” I ask.
“Just like that, an offer to teach me magic?” She answered.
“You could ask Matilda to fill you in if you want, but I have no reason to be stingy with knowledge. Or I do, but I’ll tell you if there is a question I don’t want to answer,” I say.
“First question, what’s the shadow that’s sometimes following you?” She asks.
“Oh that’s Anna, she says hi. You aren’t supposed to be able to notice her at all,” I reply.
“So I have good eyes?”
“It’s not your eyes it’s your head, are you human, never mind we’ll figure it out, knock will you?” I ask as we reach the office the lab techs share.
One ran off to check if there was indeed a bottle with white phosphorus next to a corrosive leak, and why it hadn’t evaporated off. The other made Mat Damon, who’s real name, was Elise start filling out an incident report.
It looked like it would take a while and be boring, so I ditched her and headed back to the refuge of the help desk. Matilda, who was just arriving ran into me on the way, the fire alarm went off in the lab building at the same time.
“Didn’t you just come from there?” Matilda asked.
“I had nothing to do with it, what brings you in before noon?” I asked.
“Emergency meeting, a Lamia got killed over the weekend. Working theory is it was retribution for another killing last month. So we could be having a civil war between two of the families on our hands,” She answered.
Information I didn’t want to know even if it was useful. “Any other possibilities?”
“Well one of our girls got called in to deal with the police, she said the scene got trashed after the killing like a patchwork kill. With any luck it was the Dullahan’s, no retributive murders and no chance of another patchwork running around,” Matilda said.
“Damn, so another emergency council meeting?”
“If we’re lucky, you need to be careful if there is a war both sides are going to try an recruit you or take you off the board.”
We walked in silence to the admin building in which our office was located. She was worried about me which was nice, just to know she cared. Since the Dullahan’s wouldn’t be coming forward to take, responsibility things had the potential to get bad.
Father Vincent was waiting for us when we made it back in priest garb, with the collar and everything. He looked good-natured an happy, before promptly stealing me for what he called second breakfast without explaining why wanted me. So I found myself sitting outside the student-run coffee shop with an unexpected dose of caffeine in my hands.
“What can I do for the Vatican today, or is it the Dullahans today?” I ask.
“Both, did you hear about Alvia?”
“The Lamia? Yes.”
“One of our people checked out the scene, lots of destruction after her death. We’re pretty confident she was a patchwork, the sheer scale of destruction indicates a powerful one. Stronger than her age and travel history suggests, we think she was a changeling,” He said.
“Sounds like a headache,” I reply.
“It is, which is why we would appreciate it if you just told us how you knew she was a patchwork.” Before I could deny he continued, “we are aware it was you, there isn’t anyone else on the continent besides the two organizations I’m currently representing who hunt patchworks,” he said.
“My boss sent me after her,” I say.
“You hacked her phone,” he retorted.
“I needed to know where she was going to be.”
“So you aren’t going to say how you knew about her?” He asked.
“I had nothing to do with that information coming to light, ask my boss,” I say.
“Does he have a phone number?”
“I’d be amazed if he did,” I answered.
“Are you stone walling me?”
“Yup, change the topic please.”
“Fine are you going to do anything about the vampire in Seattle?” Vincent asked.
“Aren’t vampires more of a priest’s problem, or at least a learned professor.”
“Normally I would offer to help, but the Dullahans don’t care about vampires only patchworks. You, however, are with Garden View, an organization known to hunt monsters.”
“That’s a good point, how do you even kill a vampire?” I ask.
“They use to be human and have an instinctual fear of fire, silver is crap, you need to stop them moving and take them apart. Besides cutting off limbs or the head, the only thing that will stop them is a stake in the heart. To kill them chop off the head stuff the mouth with garlic, nails in the eyes and burned. The body needs to burn as well, and then, both sets of ashes dumped in different bodies of running water that doesn’t intersect.” Father Vincent answered.
“Damn am I glad I don’t have to be the one to hunt that, what about sunlight?” I ask.
“Nocturnal doesn’t mean they burst into flames in the sun, but they only regain power from blood or resting on soil from their first graveyard,” he answered.
“You know your stuff.”
“If I weren’t assigned to the Dullahans I would be hunting it.”
“Can I expect a Vatican team showing up some time soon?” I asked.
“No, the Vatican only has one team that does vampires, and they’re up in Siberia,” he answered.
“What’s in Siberia?”
“River demon thing, we think,” he answered.
We finished our coffee in an awkward silence, I could tell he wanted to ask more questions but as long as I didn’t talk he didn’t have a chance to. He did offer me a blessing before he left, I accepted because I didn’t have the heart to tell him I believed in his god and just wasn’t that impressed.
Eventually we said our goodbyes, Vincent went on his way and Anna followed him. I wasn’t sure why apart from a very mild interest she just seemed bored. Since she would likely have just distracted me in the office anyways I didn’t object.
Heading back I found three student workers at the help desk. None of them were Elise, and I couldn’t remember their nick names. So I ignored them as I headed into the backroom they ignored me in way of returning the favor.
“I”m just running into everyone today aren’t I?” I ask.
The room was filled to the bursting with people, only a handful of which I recognized. Some guy leaned against the wall, he looked to be South Asian and probably not older than thirty. His amulet taking the form of a ring declared him a fox.
Next was probably the tallest woman I had ever seen, her features were Greek. She was probably in her thirties as well. Even without seeing her amulet I pegged her for a Promethean.
The third was a guy I recognized from the council meeting, though his name escaped me. He was the fighter who was possessed by a fire spirit and engaged to a Lamia.
None of them mattered much, even the oddity of seeing such a group together compared to the final unexpected person in the room. She had taken Matilda’s chair, and placed a euphoric Matilda on her lap.
I had only met Triss once a month ago, and she had left a lasting impression. Seeing her in person I realized that impression had faded a lot, memories couldn’t do her justice.
Trill was six feet tall, busty, and the rest was very proportional. I couldn’t place her ethnicity skin tone said middle eastern, features said Scandinavian. She wore a midriff-bearing tight black shirt that made he lack of bra clear and regular jeans. Around her neck was a collar made of velvet. Just sitting she oozed sex, a thousand lurid promises in every shift of her weight.
It was thanks to Triss that Matilda was the only one who noticed me when I entered. The other three were far to focused on her, it wasn’t a matter of their sexuality Triss was just that intriguing. That and the oozing sex thing wasn’t just a turn of phrase.
“Triss knock it off, I’ll never find out why I have an office full of people while they all want to fuck you.” I say.
Triss the succubus who probably predated the ethnicities she might be part of, the most dangerous monster ever sealed by Garden View, a direct employee of the god Life, and my direct superior apologized.
The fox snapped out of it first, followed by the Promethian, and then the fire spirit. Matilda didn’t seem to snap out of it, but she was probably just enjoying herself, being the least likely to get accidentally ensnared.
“Now that you’re all acquainted with the image of an immortal witches breasts who wants to state their business first?” I ask, most people just assumed Triss was human being known as a demon would cause all sorts of trouble for her.
“How familiar are you with vampires?” The fox asked.