The Ugly Dog Saloon was a hole in the wall bar in between several other bars. There were no Harley’s or other bikes sitting outside the bar, there wasn’t any parking on the streets most of the time. And tonight was a street cleaning night so the cars would get towed and fined, always a pain in the ass for car owners. For which I was grateful I was not.
I knew how to drive but I didn’t need to drive anywhere in the City. When I needed to go to Jace’s I would just take the subway and catch a cab or walk depending on the weather. Jace owned one vehicle, but he drove back and forth everyday.
The door jingled when I opened it and let Walker in first. He chuckled as he walked inside and found a table in the corner that was empty. We had the eyes of everyone when we walked in, but no one said anything or moved, they sat in place and watched as we moved to a table in the corner.
I followed Walker and sat down opposite him, my back was to the room, which was all right for the moment. Walker nodded towards the bar. “You want a pitcher or bottles?”
“Bottle.” I said, and I turned my chair to sit more towards the wall as Walker got up to get us beers.
I scanned the room and let my vision see everything. It was like turning on and off a light for me – turning off the patterns around us everyday. The room swam in my vision as I took in everything at once. I had to blink my eyes several times to clear the tears that had formed.
Walker sat down, “I wasn’t gone that long, damn man. Get a grip.” He grinned at me with a snide smile.
I grinned at him, “Everyone in here is supernatural and I mean everyone.”
Every supernatural creature had a distinct pattern about them. Dragons and therians – shape shifters who have the lycanthropy virus or more commonly called werecreatures – werewolves. Even humans had a pattern around them, but it was dim. The stronger it was the more sensitive to the Clandestine Providence they were – and they usually had human magic – they were called Paths. I didn’t know many paths, but I had met a few here in the City.
The wolves and the vampires ruled the City, but now there were dragons in their territory. It hadn’t started a turf war yet, but it was bittenlikely to happen soon if the dragons were this far in number in just the Ugly Dog Saloon.
I could see so many shadows of dragons in the patrons and the staff. There were a few wolves who were drinking in a small group in the opposite corner as us. There was a vampire in the corner farthest from the door. But I wasn’t sure if anyone else saw him in the shadows. I saw him though. It was hard to hide in the shadows when you could see the glowing patterns around a person.
I blinked my eyes and turned my extra senses off and then smiled at Walker. “We have three wolves in the corner opposite us, and one vampire in the corner table farthest from the door. Everyone else is a dragon.”
The door jingled as another patron walked in. I blinked as I saw a beautiful woman with ebony skin and golden hair with orange eyes walking towards the bar. Her hair was not golden like human hair was golden, no this was like gold – as in the metal – strands hung from her head. But I recognized her dragon form. I nodded towards the woman and smiled at Walker. “That’s her.”
“How can you tell?”
I smiled. “She couldn’t hide her dragon from me. I wish I could see it for real. The color of her hair and her eyes and the color of her skin I bet she’s a gorgeous dragon.”
Walker looked at me. But he asked, “So Mr. Seasoned Hunter, what should we do?”
“Let’s go talk to her.” I said as I stood up. Walker didn’t follow me or at least I didn’t feel him at my back. But I didn’t look back as I approached the bar and sat on the stool next to her. There were a lot of eyes on me as I moved through the place. Since everyone here was supernatural seeing my tattoo was a given, but I probably smelled very much like Venatori despite being only half.
The beautiful exotic woman looked at me with a straight face. “There are plenty of other seats.”
“I know.” I replied.
She looked to the bartender and then back to me and I turned to face her with what I hoped was a disarming smile. Her eyes went wide as she saw the black ink below the orange tips that did not hide much of the tattoo at my right temple. She gasped, “Venatori.”
Her eyes blinked sideways like a reptile’s would. She was losing control of her humanness, but maybe with those eyes and that hair she didn’t try to be more human. “Ferrasss.” She lept backwards and darted through the door behind the bar.
The bartender stood in front of the opening staring at me. “I only said I know.”
“Why are you after her?”
I sighed. “Derek right? Your father used to own this joint.” I nodded knowing it was the truth. “She used fire breath in front of humans.”
He hung his head and stepped aside. “Don’t kill her. We know who you are, please don’t. She has a son.”
“You know who I am? Or what I am?”
The man down the end of the bar spoke for the bartender, “You are the boy Venatori who would rather take us in. But any you catch never actually come back out.” He stood up and walked towards me. His right hand strayed over his waist which usually meant they had a gun. I wondered where Walker was in that moment. But I had my own problems to deal with and couldn’t look for the man I had come here to help.
“I don’t want to kill her. Hell, I don’t care that she was robbing banks. The humans can’t contain her if they catch her.”
“They won’t catch her,” the bartender said with a gruff grumble.
I frowned, “If I found her here, they will too. Humans aren’t idiots no matter what you might think. They don’t believe in things like magic.” The image of Sage falling out of his bar stool came to mind. I had frightened him. But it was what I am – who I am.
“If I can bring her in, I can try to help her, and her son. But if my friend finds her, she will be dead.” I knew this would go down bad if I didn’t get out of here soon.
There were guns all around me. And dragons that could breathe fire that was more terrifying that the guns. I’d been burnt once with dragon fire – from a human form dragon none-the-less. Who would have thought a dragon could still spew hot napalm like fire at you from a human throat? I learned that the hard way, and I bore a mangled scar on my left leg from the encounter. If I’d not been Cesari, I couldn’t have put that fire out and I would have burned to death. Dragon’s fire was dangerous to confront and so many of it one place, all aimed at me.
“I don’t want to fight you. I want to find her. She has to be stopped or she’ll give us all away. You know we can’t have that. The humans aren’t ready for dragons, and vampires and werewolves living among them, not to mention all the other scary things that go bump in the night we keep from them. Just let me go.”
The bartender nodded. I returned the nod and backed up the way the woman dragon had fled. “You can go. Don’t kill her Feras. We are trusting you.”
“I can’t guarantee that. If she attacks me I will defend myself.”
“We know.” The vampire in the corner spoke. “The Last Phoenix is on our ground, they will let you do your job.”
One wolf in the corner stood up. “The CCB will ensure that the Last Phoenix doesn’t retaliate against you Venatori. Not the whole of your kind, you.”
“Thank you.” I gave them both a bow. They weren’t alpha’s in their own right, but they would speak to them. And it was helpful that they knew who I was. Because I knew people in high places among the vampires and the werewolves.
Once my back was to the opening she had gone through, I turned an looked through, it was the kitchen and there was a door in the back. I couldn’t track her the human way in the City, I needed to use my otherworldly skills and maybe get help from the local police to find where she went. But the latter was risky for the police and myself. But we’d do what we had to do.
The Last Phoenix (in order)