I kissed the top of Sage’s forehead and left his basement apartment office space. Thankfully the phone was in New York City. It was in Hell’s Kitchen at the moment – stationary and hopefully doing her thing. And by her thing I meant hacking. I asked. “Sage, can you get a status on your friends progress. Is our hacker busy?”
I heard Sage’s voice in my ear and smiled. “I can do that.”
Sage started typing away at his keyboard – or that’s what I assumed the sound was. Walker laughed. “He’s a typing machine.”
I shrugged. “He does it for a living he should be good at it right?”
Walker nodded. But Sage came back over the comms. “They are still trying to fight the hacker.”
“That’s good. Let us know if anything changes.” I said before moving on to our destination.
We moved through several different neighborhoods before we closed in on the signal. This place was more run down than most of the other places we’d walked through. Walker went around the back while I went in the front. I let my senses drift around me. I could feel the varying magics around me. I could see the patterns of the world in front of me. I could see and smell things that were not perceptible before.
The front door to the building was unlocked as I went in. It creaked eerily as I pushed it open. But there was no one and nothing but a long hall and stairs before me. I whispered. “Can you get an elevation on that phone?”
Sage spoke back clearly in my ear though it sounded little more than a whisper. “Negative. Software isn’t that good. I’ll write a better one for next time.”
“Got it.” I said. “I’ll go up, you check here and down Walker.”
“Confirmed.” Walker said into his own comms.
I went upstairs. The floorboards squeaked with each step. It didn’t matter how quiet we were, this was a den of dragons. I didn’t dare draw my gun, but I formed a pattern in front of me that would serve as a shield or net as needed. I just hope I didn’t need the shield. Things would end badly if it did.
Sage whispered over the comms. “Nox, you are coming up on the signal to your right.”
I moved to the door to my right and listened to the sounds on the other side. I heard nothing. I knocked on the door. Still nothing. I spoke loudly through the door. “I’m going to open the door.”
There was nothing. Picking locks was easy with my ability. It was one of the first skills I had learned when I started working in the City. It’s hard to hunt the monsters that think like a human if you can’t get into places.
The door opened easily and I checked each room thoroughly before moving on to the next. I checked under the couch for any sign of a phone or a computer. Just in case they’d been left.
I looked through the cabinets, and closets. Each room was empty. The phone wasn’t on this floor.
Walker had no luck on the first floor either, he was moving to the basement. I was moving up to the third and last floor.
The third floor was empty as well. The phone hadn’t moved which meant Walker was in the correct place. But we hadn’t heard anything over the comms. “Sage, how is Walker doing?”
Sage didn’t answer. Fuck! I took the stairs all the way down. I tried to raise either Walker or Sage but I couldn’t get through to either of them. They had to be jamming the signal now that we were there.
I found the stairs to the basement and started down. I made a ramp of air down instead of using the creaky planks going down. I made no noise as my feet never touched the wood. Another trick I had learned. A little more difficult to maintain on a regular path, but stairs were easy.
The floor at the bottom was concrete. It was old and cracked. I heard voices coming from the other room. There wasn’t a lot of places they could be in here. The basement was full of machinery that ran the building, generators, boilers, that kinda thing. Not really a good place to hole up for hacking.
I moved slowly through the shadows. Beyond the stairs entrance a door was closed and a thin bar of light shown through. I heard chains rattle to my left and I turned in time to see someone bolting out to attack me but the chains hindered their movement. There was blood dripping from his mouth, I could see tiny fangs protruding from his face. A caged vampire… What the fuck was going on here?
There was a loud noise inside the closed room and I heard a voice yell, “Someone else is here!” Followed by the sound of a fist hitting flesh. “You said you were alone.”
My first thought was they had gotten Walker. I wove air and fire in front of me, I would be ready for whatever came out of that door. Walker stared back at me. There was a bloody bit mark on his neck and a hand was holding a gun to his head from behind him. A small hand held his belt buckle in front of him. The nails were cut close to the finger like they’d been chewed on. I could smell the fear radiating all around me. The vampire was afraid now that the girl dragon had come out. Walker feared for his life. And he had every right to beleive he was going to die. Vampire bites were fatal to Venatori. Such a loss. The girl behind him was even more afraid.
“Let him go. He’s dead anyway.” Fear opened Walker’s eyes and I smiled at him to reassure him. “He got bit. You know Venatori die from vampire bites – wolves too.”
She paused a moment. I could almost feel the wheels turning inside her head. I wish I could see more of her other than her hand and legs behind Walker’s stance. “You won’t kill him.” she said confidently. “I know who you are.”
She peeked around Walker and I saw a deep brown eye lined with dark eye liner and mascara that was smudged, it looked like she’d been crying. “You are local Venatori who doesn’t kill innocents. Everyone knows you.”
“Woah! I’m famous huh?” I grinned at her. “Why don’t we get on even footing and tell me who you are?” I widened my smile.
She looked back at me with wide eyes contemplating the situation and her answer. She shook her head, “You don’t need to know my name.”
“Okay. I’ll just call you Duckling then. You need to let my friend go. He’s already in shock from the vampire venom. He’s going to die.”
Walker added to my words. “Just shoot me Nox. Kill us both.” He looked like he was about to puke. He was ashen and his eyes were watering and red. He actually looked like he believed what he was say. But I had no intention of killing either of them.
She looked back at me and frowned. She pushed Walker away from me and pointed the gun at me. Walker staggered away from her and crouched down with his hand to his neck. I wove elements around his neck and stuffed the bite with elements like I had when I’d been bitten. I don’t know how long he’d been bitten. Hell I didn’t know if it’d work but I knew I had to try. Walker didn’t know the difference as he felt himself dying in the shadows of the basement.
I opened myself to Ant. It was one of those things I could just feel. I called him and hoped he could hear me. It was still the middle of the day and he was weaker now with the sun nearly at it’s peak. But I couldn’t worry about it. I looked at the girl with a smile. “Well, Duckling, that’s better. You and I can talk now.”
“Why are you here?” She asked.
“To stop you from what you are doing. What are you doing?”
She shook her gun at me. “I’m the one asking the questions. How did you find me?”
“A friend of mine found you.”
“I heard The Wicked Truth was helping the feds. He lead you here?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I don’t know any Wicked Truth. Is that some kinda code name?” I asked with a grin.
“He’s a white hat called Truth. He was Wicked before he got busted. He’s been poking around. He’s the only reason why you’d find me. Damn technopaths!”
Sage didn’t even know he was a technopath, but this dragon did. “Duckling, if you can keep The Wicked Truth from your game you must be pretty big on the playing field.”
She laughed. “I suppose. You need to go. I have to get back to work or he’ll let him go.” She nodded towards the chained vampire.
I wrapped the vampire up in bonds of air and he looked at me with wide eyes as he could no longer move. “Duckling, I’d worry about me and not this baby vampire.” I formed a flaming ball above my hand. “See, I need you to stop harming the human world. And I need you to come with me. I don’t want to kill you, but I will if I have to. Emerson found that out the hard way.”
The girl paled and the gun dipped just a little as she regained herself. But it was enough of a slip that I had moved in and taken the gun from her with a quick move of my near human speed and my ability. She was lying on the ground with my knee at her throat unable to breathe. “You can’t spit fire at me if you can’t take a breath.” I smiled as I gagged the girl and got up with her hands still in mine. “You need to come with me.”
I spoke over the comms. “Love, you can give the feds the location, but I’m taking the occupants. Basement is will be clear of all danger to humans once I leave. Walker is down, I need to get him to the Infirmary. I’ll be in touch.”
Sage laughed. “You really don’t want to confirm who I am to our little friend?”
I shook my head but knew he couldn’t see it. “No, I don’t.”
“Danny, and a team are on their way to the location. He said to leave the computer equipment.”
“Done. I will give him an update soon as we have a story to sell.” I sighed. “I’ll catch you later.”
In the shadows I felt a presence appear. “Bout time you showed up. Got a baby vamp for you to take care of. I need to get Walker home. He’s been bit.”
Ant looked over at Walker who was looking a little less pallid than before, maybe the resources were helping. Maybe vampire bites didn’t need to be fatal. One could only hope.
I helped Walker up and took the dragon by the bonds of air and dragged her with me. Ant took the vampire by his elbow and it instantly calmed down. “Hey Nox. Let me get you home faster.”
I frowned but nodded. “Okay.”
He grabbed my elbow with his other hand and we shadow walked into the alleyway behind the AU Building. A place I knew well. I jumped into the very alley way on many occassions. It was seculded even on the most sunny days. Ant frowned at me as i bent over trying to keep what little I’d eaten down. “Thanks, man. Let me know what’s going down. The Council and Elders won’t be happy once they find out the dragons had one of us chained up and starved.”
“I will let you know Ant. Thanks for the ride.” I grinned.
Ant chuckled as he stepped back into the shadows and was gone.