Anna stifled a yawn as the car pulled to a stop, it had taken them two hours to arrive at the base. She had known that the Dullahans would use US military bases for their resources, and transport.
She just hadn’t expected Vincent to drive two hours to have fifteen minutes of coffee with her brother before driving back. Once she was in the car she had been committed, people noticed when their doors opened on the freeway.
Corvid seemed to think her unnoticeability was iron clad, but people saw her just fine, they just didn’t remember it. A subtle distinction to be sure, one made all the harder to parse out due to her instincts to just act normal.
The building Vincent entered had a Dullahan sigil over the door, and a suspicious lack of people around it. How many people, Anna thought, know the Dullahans have enchanters as good as ones trained by Triss.
It was always possible the Dullahans were trained by Triss, according to V Corvid’s predecessor was a founder of their order. It probably wasn’t even something the Dullahans knew.
She nearly groaned in frustration when upon arriving at an office Vincent sat down to write a report. Why couldn’t it be like the movies, a convenient conversation to eavesdrop on that would tell her everything.
Checking Vincent’s calendar Anna saw that he had a conference call in an hour, so she buggered off in search of a vending machine. The Dullahan’s building was annoyingly bare of amenities. They probably didn’t know how to keep normals out, and still let the guy in to restock, which raised questions about the bathrooms.
“I don’t recognize you, and here I thought I knew all the corpses that frequented this base.” A rusty voice said, interrupting Anna as she watched a bunch of shirtless guys run around a field.
She looked over at the calico cat that had taken the seat next to her, it was muddy, had a bloody patch around its jaws, and a ripped ear.
“I’m just passing through, no souls for me this day.” She replied.
“Make sure that’s the case, none of these are scheduled anytime soon.” The cat said.
“So? I work in the unscheduled department.”
“We’ll keep your greedy mitts off of my humans.”
“I’m a grim fucking reaper, I do as I bloody well please unless Death himself tells me not to. Where do you get the audacity to presume to order me?” The cat actively ignored her, as it proceeded to lick its tail. “Of course, you’re not a cat are you, not even a cat spirit. Just some forgotten God in a land so very good at forgetting them. When was the last time a sacrifice was made in your name, the last time a child cried when their parents threatened them with you when was the last time your name was even spoken?”
The calico made a disgusted sound bounding off of its seat heading for the mess hall. Anna watched it go. “Some reaper I am, getting pissed at a cat with half a life left to its name. You’d better run asshole.”
She went back to the Dullahan building and started rummaging through rooms. It was annoyingly benign. It clearly wasn’t a building they often used, preferring to concentrate their resources in places of conflict, or a few training bases.
She did manage to swipe a new list of frequencies, and codes for their two-way radios. She was a little worried about their operational security, or maybe they just weren’t worried about not noticing a break-in, patchworks weren’t known for their subtlety.
Anna rummaged her way back to Vincent’s office just in time for his conference call. It was a video call with ten others, and their faces popped up on his screen. Six men, four women all had the look of career military.
One of the men started talking, something about thanking everyone for their time, apologizing for the time and something about an agenda.
“Right I suppose I should start us off with Corvid, the west coast’s newest healer.” Vincent said, “nice guy, but comes with several irregularities. Birth name is Harry Westbrook, nothing really notable in his background but he’s got enough Jewish blood that if golems start showing up in the area, it’s probably him. A month ago he missed work for three days, then comes without explanation claiming to be a healer. He seemed surprisingly aware of the potential consequences and doesn’t seem to care. He showed up unexpectedly at the hunt of PW-97842, and bypassed all of our surveillance, he did it again when he took the initiative to kill PW-97823. He has two other irregularities, the first is that he claims to be a member of Garden View, making him the first positively identified human member. The second is his familiar, who we have no real information on. All we have is that she’s more immune to surveillance than he is, she has only ever been observed inside of his home.”
“Recommendation?” One of the men asked.
“Build friendly relations and continue to observe, we will need to come up this a contingency incase he falls,” Vincent replied.
“Fine, you’re getting reassigned to the Peru mission soon, so Corvid’s file will be handed off to the ranking officer there, I believe it’s Jason Marlow.
“The Vatican wants you back an they have a zombi outbreak there. Probably just some hoodoo practitioner who found a mass grave.”
“Moving on, we have three possible hits in China for patchwork activity out people in the field are currently investigating. My intuition says two of them will be positive and the third a car accident.” One of the men said.
“We had another albino killed in Tanzania, so that’s going to require a squad sent out. Also, we think one of the Boko Haram leaders has started on blood sacrifices. We do not believe that it has magic so it shouldn’t be an issue, but I’d like a preemptive strike.” A black woman added.
“We took out PW-83276 and PW-83277, they were teens who thought their new powers were fueled by some god of vengeance in India. One of their victims survived and has expressed interest in joining us. We’ll give them the usual work up.
“I’ll see if we can get some drones on Boko Haram, maybe they’ll kidnap some school girls again, and we can call it a humanitarian mission. Good work in India, I’ll make sure there is room for our new brother at Quantico.” The same guy who told Vincent he was going to Peru said.
“I should note that it looks like we’re going to have a vampire problem in Seattle, I know you guys don’t really care, but you should plan for the fallout if it comes to that,” Vincent said.
“I’ll pass it onto Jason and tell him to use his best judgment,” a Scandinavian woman replied.
“Speaking of non-humans, the dragons here in China are acting up. It probably won’t extend beyond the family and their business partners. Nonetheless, I would like assets ready to deploy here anyways.” An Asian man said.
“Has there been any moment in North Korea?” The Scandinavian woman asked.
“The usual saber rattling, and a failed nuclear test. At this point, we don’t believe the current Kim is a patchwork.” The Asian man answered, “you do realize the answer won’t change no matter how many times you ask. If North Korea starts acting up I’ll say something.”
“I just don’t like not having good information.” She paused staring at her screen intently, “Vincent who’s that behind you?”
Vincent spun around pulling a gun from his jacket. Anna grabbed his hand using his momentum to prevent it from pointing at her. With her other hand she snapped two fingers in front of his face.
He blinked like something was in his eyes, she used the distraction to remove herself from his line of vision. He sat there blinking, trying to make sense of what he had seen.
“Vincent, snap out of it, what just happened,” the Scandinavian woman said.
“Sorry what? I must have zoned out, we were talking about North Korea?” He said.
“Vincent, someone was behind you, you pulled your gun. Are they still here?” She asked.
His eyes scanned the room slipping right past Anna, and moving down to focus on the gun in his hand. “I pulled my gun, when did that happen?”
“Just now, Vincent are you alone?”
“No, she’s here too.”
“Who is she Vincent?”
“Who is who?”
“I don’t suppose any of you got a good image of her on their screen? Mine was blurry.” She asked.
“Image of what?” One of the other women asked.
“Did anyone notice anything unusual?” A series of negatives were issued from the call participants, some sounding less sure than others. “Son of a bitch, either I’m seeing things or some girl just cast a spell that hit people on every continent. Who the hell has that kind of juice?”
“Or someone got magic working through a screen.” One of the men added.
Anna noticed that none of them seemed to think hallucinations were a possibility. That meant something, or she was their leader bound to the Dullahan they took their name from.
“Human wise the only person on the continent I can think of is Triss, a witch in North Dakota word has it she’s immortal,” Vincent said. “If it wasn’t human I don’t have any idea, we have a well-known trickster deity, but why Coyote would be here is beyond me.”
Anna slipped out as they debated what or who she was. Vincent had been growing distracted and probably wouldn’t remember the conversation by the time it was over.
It had been refreshing to have a normal human react to her like she was a real person if annoying that she didn’t get to finish gathering Intel. Her phone rang.
“Where are you,” her brother asked.
“Well don’t blow all your money on dances, when are you going to be back I’ve had a hell of a day.”
“I’m coming back now, but it might take a while unless an ax murder gives me a ride.”
“You’re going to hitch a ride on the back of a truck?” He asked.
“Pretty much, Dullahan’s officially don’t think you’re a slobbering evil mastermind by the way. They’re still going to try and keep you under surveillance, though.”
“I can live with that, you sure you don’t want a ride back.”
“Pick something up from the Japanese place on our way back will you?” He said hanging up.
“I just don’t get you sometimes,” Anna replied knowing it wouldn’t be heard.
Navigating to the gate Anna found the calico cat waiting for her. The guard on duty had left out a bowl of tuna, and was scratching it behind the ear. “Are you leaving? Good don’t come back.”
She stuck her tongue out at is as she waited for a car to stop, jumping on the back of a truck she was able to watch the cat disappear into the distance. The truck started heading in the wrong direction so she abandoned it.
On her skateboard, she headed towards the freeway, in no time at all she was going as fast as the traffic and had to move to the left lane.
She could always traverse a road regardless of conditions no gates would bar her path, no doors would deny her passage. She was death and death moved as it please, in this case dodging between an old muscle car and a Prius.
She couldn’t move as fast as V in her car, that thing could get from one end of the continent to the other in a matter of hours but damn was it better than anything she had experienced while alive.
Alvia’s soul, and the knowledge that the gods were almost as annoyed with humanity as she was a nice bonus. When it came right down to it, she would have become a reaper just for this.