November 14, 2012 (Wednesday)
It’s early in the morning, a couple of hours before sunrise, and the Lone Fir Cemetery is still dark. Angelica sneaks into the grounds through the hole in the fence she followed the ghoul through the other day. She makes her way to the site where Wylie Peters was killed. Hovering over the patch of earth is the flickering figure of Wylie’s ghost. It groans at Angelica as she approaches. She traces a circle in the dirt around the ghost, murmuring a soft incantation as she does so. Wylie’s name is repeated several times in the incantation. Every time the ghost hears it, it seems to flicker slower, becoming more stable. Once the circle is complete, Angelica sits down, cross-legged, beside the circle and calls for Wylie to go home. She then begins the incantation again. She says it softly, beseechingly, trying to convince the ghost to move on of its own accord as much as possible. Finally, it fades away and is no more.
By this time, the dawn has just breached the horizon. Angelica picks herself up and scratches out her circle. She then makes her way deeper into the cemetery, looking for the grave of Lincoln Burgess. She finally finds it in one of the oldest quarters of the cemetery. It appears to be undisturbed. Relieved, she goes back and exits the cemetery the way she came in and finds her car. She looks around for any sign of Detective Fadil, half expecting him to show up even at this ungodly hour. She sees nothing, so she gets into her car and heads home.
She spends most of the day on the message boards, looking for signs of spiritual disturbance and necromantic activity. She finds nothing—things are pretty quiet out there, for now.
While she is working with one of her massage clients, Nick Salieri calls and leaves her a message:
Hey Angelica. I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but I’ve been working on a project for practitioners and other low-level magical talents. People that can’t join the White Council, and can use computers without accidentally hexing them, in other words. It’s called the Paranet. We’d like build a network of contacts, run a hotline for practitioners. Then contact groups in cities across the country putting word out that if people are in a supernatural fix, they can get word into the network. Maybe even set up some self-defense classes. Get people to coordinate, cooperate and support each other.
It’s already been set up in some other cities and I’d like to get a branch of it set up here in Portland. So I’m contacting other like-minded folks that might want to network together. I was wondering if you might be interested? I know you usually keep to yourself, and that’s fine. But you have some real savvy that could be of benefit to others. I’d like to see that utilized in the network.
Anyway, think about it and let me know…"
Angelica is quite conflicted about Nick’s offer, so she doesn’t respond to his message. While joining this Paranet would give her the opportunity to help more people, and do it better, she has always been an outsider and just isn’t sure that joining this group is the right thing to do.
She also gets a phone call from Dillon, asking if she could talk to ghosts of Mount Calvary again and find out where Kendel is. Angelica says she will, and that hopefully she will find one that is more sentient and willing to speak with her. Dillon also asks “Could you talk to the Warden about setting wards around the hanged man’s grave, Nick says it will take a full wizard to do it?” She says that she will. “I’ve been checking the cemetery every day for signs of a disturbance, but I’d also feel better if it was warded.”
Later that afternoon, she goes to Kendria’s shop, New Horizons, to pick up some more supplies and to ask her about the Paranet. “Are you joining?” she asks. “Especially since the Edgefield incident?”
Kendria laughs. “Join it? I’m already hip deep in it. I’m helping Nick set it up. Especially because of the Edgefield incident. To me, that just advertises how much we need this. We need to stick together and learn to protect ourselves. The Wardens can’t be everywhere at once. You’re talking to a true believer.”
“Speaking of which,” Kendria stops smiling. “I hope you can forgive me for talking to Nick about your talents. It seemed important and I knew that he could be trusted. I only hope you can continue to trust me.”
Angelica connects some dots in her head about the information the gang had about her. “It actually was quite important and I’m actually working with Nick right now. I understand that it was necessary and I still feel I can trust you.”
Angelica awkwardly accepts a hug from Kendria and completes her transaction.
Yuriko knocks on Nick’s door. A bleary-eyed Nick answers. “Yuriko?”
“Nick. We’ve got to get your apartment ready for this meeting.” She elbows her way inside and puts a bag of cleaners on his dining room table. The smashed stereo has been replaced and now a large map of Portland covers his dining room wall, colored push-pins marking certain areas.
“What’s this?” Yuriko asks.
“The Paranet. The beginning of it, anyway. Kendria and I have gotten it started. I’m hoping to have a meeting later this month if I can find a venue. People are still skittish about Edgefield and, while Dillon was nice enough to offer the church, I’m not sure this is a ‘church crowd’, you know what I mean?”
Yuriko approaches the map and examines the colored pins. Nick explains that they delineate what kind of talent the person has. He comments that he’s going to have to come up with a better system, though. “There’s a diversity of talent in Portland that push pins can’t contain.”
“This is impressive. It looks like you’ve gotten a good start on this.” Yuriko cocks her head at him. “So is the Paranet is open only to practitioners or is it open to members of the supernatural community.”
“Well, the national organization was meant for practitioners and minor talents—folks that couldn’t join the White Council and wouldn’t hex a computer accidentally. But I suppose if someone that is a member of the supernatural community that doesn’t have a group looking out for them could count on it help.”
“Good to know. Until I met you and Dillon and formed my own pack, I had no one to turn to in Portland and I think that’s important. I think that there are others in Portland that are having their own experiences.”
Nick eyes Yuriko. “Were you wanting to join? That would mean sharing what you can do with others. I know you usually like to keep that to yourself.”
“For now, I’m happy with my pack of three—though I suppose it’s growing a little bit, with Sabrina and Father Buxman, and who knows? There may come a time where I change my mind. I’ll let you know.”
With that, Nick and Yuriko go about cleaning his apartment in anticipation of a meeting to determine what to do about the Shrouded One.
After they’re done, Yuriko takes her leave and heads out to Flanagan’s Dog. She wants to talk to Troy about the possibility of running with Lau Hu in Forest Park. As the “alpha” of the wolf pack, she should probably get his blessing. As usual, the gang of teenagers are hanging out around one of the back booths. Troy is holding court, acting cool and aloof as the others smile and crack jokes. Yuriko approaches the booth.
The pack is glad to see her. They crowd around in greeting. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Troy frown. She quickly turns attention back to him. “Troy, I actually came to talk to you. To see what you thought about something.”
This piques Troy’s interest and he motions for her to come closer so they can talk. The pack let her pass and Yuriko takes a seat in the booth across from the heavyset teenager. She explains that there is a were-tiger that she’d like to invite to join their games. She emphasizes that this could be an even bigger challenge for the pack to test their skills at tracking and hunting.
Troy seems reluctant at first, but quickly warms to the subject, declaring it to be “badass” and “cool with him” if Yuriko invites him. Yuriko thanks Troy takes her leave.
On the way home, she texts Lau Hu with a date and a time and the following message: A GROUP OF US WILL BE RUNNING IN THE PARK. LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT MORE INFO. MAYBE OVER COFFEE?
Lau Hu texts back: WILL RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS. COFFEE WOULD BE NICE BUT PREFER TEA. WHEN AND WHERE?
Yuriko does an internal happy dance. She texts back: TOMORROW AT 4:00. JADE TEA HOUSE IN SELLWOOD.
Lau Hu texts back. TOMORROW THEN.
Once Yuriko makes it back home, she heads straight to the kitchen and starts throwing together a dough for cookies. After they bake, she packages them up in some foil and heads back out to Powell’s to find Aleister. She finds him in the Rare Book room. She knocks on the window to get his attention and he comes out.
“Hello, Aleister. I made you these. They’re very fresh. To say ‘thank you’ for all of your help.”
The old man takes the proffered package and smiles. “Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. This is very kind.”
Yuriko waves goodbye and heads back home to menu plan for the meeting.
Dillon gets up, amazed that no one has called him this morning and woken him up. Having mulled over a question the previous night, he dials up Nick. “Nick, can we set a magical alarm at the hanged man’s grave and/or wards?”
“Theoretically, sure that’s possible. You can set a ward with a little ‘something extra’. But I don’t know how to do it. We’ll either need a full wizard (like the Warden) or a practitioner that specializes in wards to build it.”
“Great, thanks Nick.”
After he gets off the phone with Nick, he calls Angelica. He asks if she could talk to ghosts of Mount Calvary again and find out where Kendel is. Angelica says she will, and that hopefully she will find one that is more sentient and willing to speak with her. Dillon also asks “Could you talk to the Warden about setting wards around the hanged man’s grave, Nick says it will take a full wizard to do it?” She says that she will. “I’ve been checking the cemetery every day for signs of a disturbance, but I’d also feel better if it was warded.”
After Angelica, he contacts Butler Industries and tries to get a hold of Jim Butler’s receptionist. It takes some time, navigating various phone trees and talking to various assistants and lower echelon managers, but finally, he is connected to Jim Butler’s assistant.
When asked who he is, he responds, “Dillon Krister, requesting a sit-down with Mr. Butler. I’m hoping to discuss a competing organization.”
“Mr. Butler has a full-schedule, but I will notify him that you called and we’ll try to fit you in. If you give me a call back number, I will call you back once a date and time can be set.”
Dillon gives them his number and, frustrated at the slowness of it all, begins his day. Tonight will come quickly and then he’ll be meeting with Verikai and Valen. On the upside, at least he’ll be able to go out with Sabrina again.
Dillon’s phone rings. It is Jim Butler’s assistant. “Mr. Butler can work you in today at 3:30. Shall I pencil you in?”
Butler Industries is headquartered in a large building in North Portland. It is a one of the most successful construction firms in Portland, responsible for many of the high-end projects around the city. This building is the corporate headquarters of Butler’s legitimate empire.
Dillon walks inside and approaches the security desk. “Dillon Krister to see Mr. Butler. I’m expected.”
The security guard checks an electronic registry. “Yes, here you are. May I see your ID please, Mr. Krister?”
Dillon produces ID and the guard gives him temporary building pass to wear. “Mr. Butler is on the top floor,” one of the guards says. Dillon thanks him and heads to the elevator. Once inside, he hits the top button and waits for the doors to open again. The doors open up into a long hallway. Dillon walks down the hallway and up to a receptionist desk where he is met with Ms. Teller, Butler’s assistant. Ms. Teller announces Dillon via speakerphone and Dillon hears Butler tell her to let him in. Ms. Teller then goes to the office door and opens it for Dillon.
Inside is a large office with plush, leather furniture. The office is surrounded by windows, except for the wall that faces the receptionist’s desk. Dillon is thankful that it’s an overcast day or the sunlight would be brutal in here. Half the office is done up like a lounge, with a wet-bar, a big flat screen television, two couches, and a lounge chair. The other half is office. Butler sits behind his desk and motions for Dillon to shut the door. Dillon does and then approaches the desk.
In front of the desk are two comfortable leather chairs. “Have a seat,” Butler says. “I have to say I was surprised to get your message. But when the man that saves your daughter’s life comes calling, you pay attention. So what is this competing organization you mentioned?”
“Thank you for meeting with me. If I may ask, how is your daughter? The other girls?”
“Cecily is…well, we take it one day at a time. At least she is home now where we can look after her. I understand the other women have taken to various treatments with various rates of success. If my daughter is any indication, the going is quite rough.”
“To be honest, I’m not sure if competitor is entirely accurate, that’s just the terms I used with your receptionist to get this meeting. However, you are a man of resources and I am hopeful that you can provide more information than the police have on this group. Are we good to speak freely here?" Dillon indicates the office with a wave of his hand.
Butler nods. “We can speak freely here. I have the office swept for electronics daily. One can’t be too careful.”
“I was hoping that you might have some Intel on the ‘888 Tong’, I am working a case, and I think you understand the type of cases I work, that has lead me to China Town and the Tong. Since that is a tight knit community and will be difficult to infiltrate, I was hoping you might be able to provide assistance through information you may have acquired by being a resourceful businessman that is not readily available through Police channels.”
Butler rubs his chin. “I’m somewhat familiar with the 888. We have brushed shoulders, so to speak, in our business dealings. As you say, this is a tight-knit community. I have only socially met their leader’s right-hand, Wang Bai Hu, once. Their head is actually his sister, Wang Fa Hong, no one sees her.
“As far as infiltration, that could be difficult. You’re not Chinese and this is a very ethnic organization. Their front is that they are neighborhood association for Chinese immigrants. They do business in non-Chinese neighborhoods, but usually their runners and go-to men are Chinese.
“I owe you a favor, and would be happy to help. If you had someone in mind to infiltrate, I could have my organization corroborate a back story for you. Did you have any other sort of information in mind?”
Dillon responds. “Well, specifically, I need information about two people. One is Nicky Zang, a low level flunky, and the other is Dragon Tony, a higher up lieutenant. Both these men have been implicated at different levels of the same game. But all I have are names. I don’t know the extent of your reach, but, I could use photos, locations, daily routines, whatever might help separate them from their companions so they could be questioned.
“As for the offer of back story, can I get back to you on that? I’m not sure if sending a man in is the way we’re going to go, but that does sound helpful. Also, would it be alright to contact you again on this matter, in case I think of any other questions or have ideas that need a professional’s consideration before implementing?”
Butler nods. “I may be able to get some of the surveillance information you’re asking for, but it will take time to devote my resources to it and to gather the information. But, this is something I am willing and able to do for you.”
He writes something down on the back of a Butler Industries business card and hands it to Dillon. He has written down a phone number. “This is a secure line on which you may contact me directly. Obviously, this number goes to no one else. If the security of the line is compromised, I will be very…displeased.”
Dillon takes the card and offers to write his phone number down. “Thank you for your help. Let me assure you that you are helping to stop another nasty individual with no regard for human life. I will be looking forward to your call, is there a general time frame you can estimate for me to expect the information, I need to let people know that progress is being made. And, will you be contacting me directly, or will someone else be passing along this information? I know you’re a busy man.”
Butler takes Dillon’s number. “We’ll need at least a week to get people in place and actually observe some patterns. I need to be careful where I put my resources—if it were to get out that I have eyes in Chinatown, my motives may be misconstrued and I don’t need a conflict with the Tong at this time. You’ll be contacted by Laurence Storm. He’s the man I’ll be putting on this.”
Dillon shakes Butler’s hand and leaves.
November 14, 2012 (Evening)
Angelica to the Warden
That evening, Angelica calls the Warden. There is a lot of interference on the line. The Warden explains that she may have inadvertently hexed her own phone.
Angelica follows up on her initial text. "I did a bit of research and found that in Lone Fir, there is another hanged murderer buried there. And since the other hand is out of the Shrouded One’s reach, this other grave may be targeted.
“When I was there last night, at Lone Fir, it looks like the grave has so far been undisturbed. When I talked to Dillon, he brought up the possibility of warding the grave, to set off some sort of alarm if it was disturbed. It doesn’t sound like something he or his friends can do. It is certainly not something that I could do. Is it something that you would do, or could you refer us to someone else who would? My only other thought is that I will continue to visit the graveyard at night and keep an eye out.”
The Warden asks, “Did you want this ward to actually block someone from disturbing it or simply alert you when somebody has?”
“Originally, the thought was to alert us when somebody had. Hopefully to maybe let us catch somebody in the act. I don’t know how feasible that is.”
The Warden says, “Both could be done—establishing a barrier and setting up an alarm.”
“Ah, it may be overkill but I don’t want the Shrouded One getting a hand. it’s in one of the oldest sections of the cemetery; I don’t believe it would be easily disturbed by a casual visitor.”
“For how long do you want this ward to last?” the Warden asks.
“Is this going to be feasible for you to reset it periodically? I know you’re a busy woman…”
“Resetting it is really the least efficient way.”
“Then I would prefer it be a longer period of time. Maybe a month? My sincerest wish is that this thing is resolved by then.”
“I can do this, but it will take me some time to prepare the ritual,” the Warden says.
“Days?” Angelica asks.
“A few,” the Warden says. “This will be a complex ritual.”
“It is based on the assumption that the Shrouded One wants to make a Hand of Glory. However, I’m not sure that’s a chance we want to take, leaving it unprotected. I will watch the cemetery in the meantime at night. Or check back during the day until its ready.”
“As part of the spell, I assume you want a silent alarm or an alarm that you can carry with you?”
“Yes,” Angelica says.
“Shall we wait until this is done before we meet as a group to discuss the Shrouded One and our plans moving forward?”
“Yes,” Capstone says. “This will give me more time to prepare the spell.”
“Alright, then I will let the others know.”
“Where in the cemetery will I be placing the ward?”
Angelica describes the location of the grave of Lincoln Burgess. “Contact us again when you are ready for us to meet.” Angelica wishes her goodnight and hangs up.
Angelica then texts Dillon: THE WARDEN WILL MAKE A WARD/ALARM AT GRAVESITE. CAN TAKE A COUPLE OF DAYS. WILL CONTACT US WHEN FINISHED TO MEET AS GROUP RE: SHROUDED ONE.
Angelica sets her alarm to wake up and get to the cemetery at midnight.
November 14, 2012 (Evening)
Yuriko and Hana
Before dinner, Yuriko approaches Hana. “So, one of the people I’ve run into recently is a were that doesn’t have much of pack here in Portland. This particular were can turn into a tiger. I’ve already talked to Troy and he’s okay with inviting this were with us to Forest Park to play chasey-stalky games. However, I want to make sure you’re okay with it, too.”
Hana is fascinated by the concept of a were-tiger and has a hundred and one questions for Yuriko about how it works—questions Yuriko probably has herself and doesn’t know the answers to. Hana says that she is perfectly fine with having another were join the group. If they’re a friend of hers and Dillon’s, she’s sure they’re fine.
Yuriko says, “Lovely. I’ll be meeting with them tomorrow to work out details and then we’ll all meet tomorrow night at Forest Park. I’m excited. I don’t think they get to shift much. I’m hoping this will be a good experience for the were-tiger as well.”
November 14, 2012 (Shortly before 8pm)
Dillon, Nick, and Yuriko arrive at the rendezvous point, the old abandoned strip mall that Verikai indicated. Yuriko excuses herself and goes behind the mall to change into her fox form and then find a place to hide and watch. Dillon and Nick try the various shop doors and find that they are all locked. There is no going “in” the strip mall unless Verikai has a way in.
“I’ll hide across the street. If I see any trouble, I’ll come running. Good luck,” Nick says and starts jogging across the boulevard. By the time Nick gets positioned, Dillon sees a large SUV pull into the parking lot. It’s lights shine on him and it comes to a stop. The driver cuts off the engine and the lights and Verikai emerges from the back seat.
“Verikai. Where’s Valen?”
“He’s in the truck. But first, I have a question for you. You see, it strikes me that I receive no benefit from this little tete-a-tete you plan on having with my friend here. It also occurs to me that whatever benefit you derive from it is a net gain for Winter, which, you’ll pardon me if I don’t much appreciate.
“So my question is, what can you offer me in return for this little meeting?”
Yuriko, from her hiding place, gives a very tiny sigh and lays her head on her paws.
Dillon warily approaches Verikai. “If you don’t appreciate a gain for Winter, then understand this: By helping me you will be helping to impede two of Winter’s players. If Valen is able to provide useful information that will lead me to Hubbard, then two things will happen, Hubbard will be taken down, the Winter Fae that used a Summer Fae as his errand boy, right under your nose, a fact that probably reflects poorly on your leadership abilities, especially if you allow it to go unanswered.
“Second, Trevidian, former Winter Envoy, will lose his chance of delivering on a blood debt. If I deliver Hubbard to Winter, I receive the object of Trevidian’s obsession as reward, leaving him empty handed, unavenged, and back on ice.
“That means the failure and embarrassment of the Winter Queen’s former envoy to settle his blood debt and the satisfaction of bringing down the Winter Fae who has called your ability to control your court into question.
“All is accomplished by allowing Valen to help me.”
Verikai claps his hands. "I honestly cannot tell if you are trying to impress me or infuriate me. A little of both, I think. Your grasp of my hold on my court is tenuous at best. Do not try to guess at it. But, I do like what you have to say about the former Winter Envoy and Hubbard. You play a dangerous game, mortal. On a board at which you don’t understand all of the pieces.
“You have revealed much of your game with the Winter Court to me. For that, I thank you. You may speak to Valen. He’s in the truck.”
Yuriko sniffs and gets the distinct odor of rotten eggs and skunk coming off of the truck and also caught a glimpse of goat horn in the side view mirror as Verikai got out of the truck. She continues to keep a wary eye on Verikai as Dillon approaches the truck, in case he makes any sudden movements.
Dillon gets in the truck. The truck is filled with the smell of rotten eggs and skunk. He sees Valen wrapped in a dark cloak sitting in the back seat. He has tufts of fur missing from his large head and the exposed skin looks sunburned. He smiles when he sees Dillon.
“Back again, I see.” Valen’s voice is low and gravelly.
“Valen, tell me about Hubbard. How can I find him?”
Something in Dillon’s expression tells him of the urgency of his need. The gruff doesn’t equivocate and gives what information he has.
“Hubbard wanted to disrupt things as much as possible. Ensure that the murderer was never found. Ensure that the blood debt was never paid. Outside of that, he had an alternate plan. Perhaps he could form an alliance between himself and the murderer. Wreak more havoc that way. This is all I know of Hubbard’s plans. He didn’t share much with me. I don’t think he was much of a strategist.
“We always met in the house that you found me in, which I’m sure is abandoned by now, so that won’t help. But if he’s still trying to find the changeling’s murderer, he may be working through my police contact, Jerry Hines. He’s the one I had following your policeman. If you lean on him, you may find Hubbard. Hines is a beat cop that works at the same precinct as your man, Casing.”
Dillon peppers the Gruff with questions. “Why would a police officer help you take down a fellow cop?”
“Was it just for money, or did he have a problem with Casing?”
“Would Hubbard keep using this cop?”
“Are you aware of any other places Hubbard would frequent or hide out?”
“Can you give me a good description of him and any ‘glamours’ he was fond of using as disguises?”
“Just out of curiosity, why were you helping Hubbard?”
“Are you well?”
“Oh, is officer Hines aware of who and what you and Hubbard are?”
“Was he only in contact with you, does he even know about Hubbard?”
“Does he know you got caught?”
“What was your method of contacting him?”
Valen answers Dillon’s questions as best he can. “Hines did it for gold. Hines has been on the take for various things for years. I paid him in ingots. Would Hubbard keep using him? I don’t see why he wouldn’t if he still wanted a bead on the murder case. I’m not aware of any other hangouts than the house you found me at and he’s probably abandoned that by now. Hubbard looks like a young, Caucasian man, long light-brown hair over his eyes. Handsome in that pouty, youthful way young women like. Looks a bit like a rock musician. I didn’t see him disguise himself.”
“Am I well?” Valen chuckles. “I’ve been better. Let’s say I’m being chastised for my recalcitrance in choosing a Court.”
“I was hired by Hubbard. It was a job. I did it for gold, nothing more. More gold than I gave Hines, to be sure. No, Hines never saw my face, only the gold. He had no idea who or what he was working for. He never knew Hubbard’s name. I let him know I had a boss, nothing more than that. Does he know I got caught? The gold stopped flowing so he’s got to know something is up. I would text him a date and time signed “V” and we would meet in an old parking garage downtown. Slot 287. We’d usually meet after midnight, when the cars had cleared out."
Meanwhile, Yuriko watches as Verikai paces outside the truck. She also sees a shimmery/wavery Nick running from across the street and settling behind a light pole. Verikai doesn’t seem to notice Nick and continues to pace.
Dillon continues to interrogate the Gruff. “Would Hubbard use anyone else to contact Hines or would he do it himself now?”
“Would he show up if I texted him from ‘V’, or would he be suspicious after all this time?”
“What is his number and do you still have the phone you used?”
Valen shrugs. “I don’t know who else Hubbard would use in Portland. To my knowledge, I was his only other hireling in town. I think he would do it himself.”
“Would he be suspicious? Of course he would. But would that negate his hunger for gold? I think not. But much depends on what Hubbard has told him.”
“I do not have the phone I used. I can give you Hines’ number, though.” He gives Dillon a local number.
There’s a banging on the door. “Tempus fugit,” says Verikai from outside. “Let’s wrap this up soon, Mr. Krister.”
“Guess that’s my cue, thanks for the help, Valen, and I hope if we cross paths again it will be amicable and not adversarial. Assuming you stop hunting mortals for gold.”
He then exits the truck.
“Thank you for the time, Verikai, I hope this wasn’t too much of an inconvenience for you," he tells the Sidhe. Verikai salutes and gets into the SUV and it pulls out of the parking lot. After the truck is gone, Nick emerges from behind the light pole.
“Are you okay?” he asks Dillon.
Yuriko emerges from her hiding place and comes to sit in front of the two men. She barks once, sharply, and cocks her head.
The band gets ready to head for home, with Yuriko changing back into her human form and getting dressed, and Dillon texts Sabrina to contact him ASAP. On the way home, Dillon gives the run-down of his meeting with Valen.
Yuriko looks thoughtful. “Hines. Hmm. Wasn’t that the name of the cop that was watching us when we went to visit Tom at the police station?”
Sabrina returns Dillon’s phone call. “What’s up?” she says.
“We have a problem, I just had my meeting with Summer, turns out he had a police contact watching Tom. Officer Jerry Hines is the cop in question. He may be in contact with Hubbard and still spying on Tom. We need to interrogate this guy, but he’s a cop, a dirty cop, but a cop. My source also tells me that Hubbard may actually be wanting to team up with the killer, not just hold him away from Trevidian. That means more murders are coming, so we need to find Hubbard fast. I wasn’t sure how to handle the cop, so I’m calling you for advice on this.
“Also, should I give Tom a heads up, I don’t want to tip off Hines or Hubbard, plus I have no proof beyond the word of a fairy, but I trust it.”
Sabrina pauses. “Wow, this is a lot to process. I know this guy. He’s been here a while. A veteran. He’s not going to like being confronted with any of this. And if we have no proof, he’s going to laugh in our face.
“As far as Tom, he trusts you so if you give him a heads-up and tell him to keep it to himself, he will. I think we owe him the truth as much as possible.”
Dillon calls Tom and gives him the news, that Jerry Hines is an informant and Hubbard may be planning to help Abel ramp up his game, but “you gotta play it cool, we don’t want to tip them off we know. I’ll call you with my plan on ‘meeting’ officer Hines when I have one.” Tom says he understands.
Dillon is also convening a meeting of “The Other Guys” at Yuriko’s apartment at Sabrina’s earliest convenience. That turns out to be after her shift tonight, after she and Dillon go hunting.
November 14, 2012 (Midnight)
Dillon catches everyone up on his conversation with Valen. “The question is, how do we get information out of Hines, a cop?”
Yuriko says, “So far, all we know is that he’s motivated by gold … By money.” Yuriko looks at Sabrina. “Is there anything else you know about him that we could use to our advantage?”
Sabrina says, “I don’t really know Hines all that well. He’s a career cop. He never made detective, but that never seemed to bother him. He’s been around the precinct longer than I have. I think you’re looking to me for a magic bullet, but I don’t have one. It seems to me our magic bullet is that we have his contact MO. If we can lure him to this parking lot for a payment, then we have him in the midst of something shady and he’s on the defensive. Then we can pounce.”
Yuriko nods, “He won’t be expecting us, to be sure. Are you planning to be there as well, Sabrina? For the confrontation? It seems that another police officer knowing his “shady” secret might be the leverage we need to get him to spill the information we need. Also, what are we going to tell Tom?”
Dillon says, “Getting him to show up at a drop site is not proof of anything. We can’t present Valen as evidence or his testimony. Hines has been dealing in the supernatural world, even though he didn’t know it, it protects him from mundane courts. We are going to have to use supernatural coercion to get him to tell all.
“And, I’ve seen enough movies to know when dirty cop is confronted by straight cop, dirty cop always gets desperate and starts shooting.
“I think we need to learn from those movies. I think we need to disguise ourselves, nab him, and question him about his boss, then we’re just bad guys looking for another bad guy, just like in the movies.
“We can’t torture him to make him talk, but we could scare the truth out of him. Maybe Nick can conjure something up (looking at Nick), or, something simple like dangling him over a tiger pit. (Looking at Yuriko) “You know a tiger we could trust to be scary but not lethal?”
Yuriko raises an eyebrow. "I don’t watch a lot of cop movies, but I imagine that dirty cops also get desperate and start shooting at people trying to nab them as well. We need to be careful. I don’t want Nick … " She pauses slightly. “…or a tiger to get hit with a bullet by accident. Do you have an idea of where this interrogation would take place?”
Nick says “I don’t think I would be able to conjure up anything that would last long enough to do what you would want to do. That would take some thaumaturgy of an order that I can’t do. I might be able to do a quick illusion, tricks of the light, that sort of thing, but nothing lasting more than a few moments. I’m with Yuriko. Where are we going to take this guy once he gets nabbed?”
Sabrina says, “Now we’re talking about kidnapping a cop and the only car we have is mine. It’s not going to be too smart to use that to do it with.”
Dillon says, “I’m hearing a lot of negativity about my idea, but no alternative solutions. Anybody have an idea on how to approach Hines and get him to talk?”
Sabrina says: “I say we get him to meet at the parking lot, thinking it’s Valen, we confront him en masse that we know he’s been following Casing, that Casing, a good cop, got shot for his trouble, and we’re not happy about that and that we can make life hard for him if he doesn’t cooperate. With all of us there, and with one us being a cop, I don’t think he’s going start shooting—too hard to explain and cover up. Will he talk, maybe, maybe not. But with all of us there, maybe we can lean on him enough to get him to open up.”
“Well, you’re a cop, the rest of us are nobodies to him. Do you really think a group of nobodies will impress him to talk? And, once he’s seen our faces, it’ll be too late for my tiger pit movie plan," Dillon says.
Yuriko says, “We’re not exactly nobodies. He knows we have ties to the police department. He saw us working with Tom. And aren’t you on file as an official consultant?
“WE know that we really can’t produce Valen as a witness. But Hines doesn’t know that. I think we can use that to our advantage.
“We’ve got information and the element of surprise. We’ve also got people who are good at talking to others and getting things to go our way. I think we’ve got a shot at this.”
Yuriko cocks her head slightly at Dillon and Sabrina. “I suppose if he’s being reluctant to help, one of you could spit on him. A bit awkward perhaps, but that might make him more compliant.”
Nick shudders. “Let’s use that as a last resort, okay?” And Hana nods emphatically in agreement.
Sabrina says. "Yuriko makes a good point. If we can convince him that I have Valen, but that I want his boss, then maybe he’ll be scared enough to talk. I’m hot enough on the trail to have Valen and to have Hines, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Which is close enough to the truth to be convincing.
“She’s also right. Don’t sell yourselves short. You’re not nobodies. You’ll be there with me and if he’s been watching then he knows you, Dillon, at least. There’s power in numbers. Witnesses. Even if he doesn’t know who everyone else is, that’ll be part of the element of surprise, throw him off his game.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this, but I’ll concede to the group. When do you want to do this? Also, I want to let Tom in on this plan, I case he wants to put his two cents in or even join us, since we’re playing by cop rules," Dillon says.
Sabrina says: “I suppose the sooner the better if we think this Hubbard character is joining forces with a serial killer. Let’s contact Tom in the morning and see what he thinks and if he wants in and see if we can do it tomorrow night.”
Dillon’s phone rings. It’s Reverend Buxman. “Dillon, I thought you should know that there was a break-in at the Church tonight. The burglar was apprehended. The police are bringing her in now. No one was hurt. Father Riley heard a noise in the scriptorium and notified me and the police. The police arrived before she got very far.”
“A break-in? In the scriptorium, how did she get in there? I thought it had a super door on it? What was taken, who was it?” Dillon asks in rapid succession. He also notifies Sabrina and asks her to make some calls to her police contacts to get some more information.
Buxman says. “She broke into the door’s lock. She was apparently a professional. The warding was against supernatural attack. Nothing was taken, but she made it into the room. I do not know the woman’s name. The police have her and are questioning her.”
Sabrina says she can make inquiries with her contacts at the police department. She’s not in the burglary division, so she’s not sure how much access she can get to the suspect.
Yuriko looks anxious. “The Shrouded One is on the attack again. Let me text the Warden. She’s going to want to know about this as well.”
Sabrina gets off the phone and says, “Our burglar is named Jen Overland. She’s a pro but she has a record. She has a reputation of getting into trouble with gambling debts. They’re holding her on B&E charges right now. She was unarmed, so the bail isn’t going to be terribly high.”
Yuriko receives no immediate response from the Warden.
Yuriko turns to Sabrina. “Since the bail is set pretty low, I guess there’s a good chance this woman won’t be in jail for long. Will you be able to tell us when she’s back on the street?”
Sabrina says , “I’ll keep my eye on the situation and keep you posted.”
Yuriko turns back to the group. “Then are we in agreement to talk with Hines tomorrow night?”