THE THIRD DEGREE
Transcribed by: James
In Game date: December 2008
“It was my responsibility,” Lief said.
“What was your responsibility, Doctor?” demanded a voice. “What are you responsible for?”
“What?” Leif blinked his mind clouded by the powerful vision. Looking around he finally remembered where he was. The police had met him at Highline Medical Center in Burien. He had taken CAROLINE YOUNGBLOOD there for treatment. She was in bad shape, her arm obviously broken by RYAN DELMONT when he had kidnapped her for his insane, bloodthirsty taskmaster, BARRY GOLDMAN. To keep her docile Goldman had given Caroline a near overdose of heroine. She was in fairly bad shape but Leif believed she would live. In fact he had asked the doctors at Highline to transfer her to the Radcliffe Clinic as soon as possible.
The police had taken him from hospital to the 13th Precinct in WEST SEATTLE where Commissioner Montgomery’s Special Investigation Unit was headquartered. He was being detained for questioning along with his companions. All of them were there waiting. With the exception of OSAMU NISHIMURA (西村修) who apparently had been asked by Detective Mullinex to infiltrate the World Data Vault facility and steal the video that would convict his daughter of murder if it ever got out.
He blinked again and looked at the man across from him. RAYMOND AVILA stared at the young doctor ambition streaming from his every pore. “Doctor? Would you please answer me. What are you responsible for?”
Leif’s mind raced. “Sorry. I was just thinking of one of my patients. I had to make a choice about her treatment and it is my responsibility if anything goes wrong.”
“I see,” said Avila, clearly unconvinced. “Now doctor what can you tell me about a group called the Hunter’s in Darkness?”
“Monsters? Come now doctor. Surely you can’t believe in such nonsense.”
“Uh, right. ’Course not. I, uh, well its just what I have heard, you know? Like at bars and stuff. Oh and on the internet. I am kind of a nerd and I once looked them up. On the internet.”
“I see. What do you know of these “monster hunter’s” activities?"
“Well, nothing. Just what I found on the internet. You know?”
“Do you know of anyone who is a member of these so called…Venatori Umbrorum? No? What about Detective Mullinex? Is he a member? Or his daughter, Megan Mullinex? Does she take part in the organization’s paramilitary terrorist activities?”
“Megan? Uh, no. You see I don’t think so.”
“You dated her did you not, doctor?”
“Well yeah but that is none of your business. That is…Uh. Terrorists?!?! Well. I don’t know if I would call them… Uh. I think I need to see my lawyer.”
“Your lawyer? Why would you need a lawyer, doctor? We are just having a little chat.”
“See? You need to charge me or let me go right? Or give me my damn phone call so I can talk to my lawyer. Uh. If that is cool?”
“As you wish, Doctor Wotensen. A phone will be brought to you shortly. Please remain seated until then.”
ZEBADIAH EINAR was becoming increasingly impatient. He had been waiting for quite some time and hadn’t had much rest since their marathon trip to Jötunheim only two days ago. He was exhausted and grumpy, grieving over the murder of JACK YOUNGBLOOD and concerned for his apprentice, Caroline. When Raymond Avila came into the room he was almost relieved.
“Mister Einar,” Avila began without preamble, “What can you tell me about the death of Jimmy Mason?”
“What do you want to know?” the old Warden replied warily.
“It says here that Detective Mullinex got a tip off that he was dealing drugs from an anonymous source. Were you that source?”
“I was not.”
“Yet you were a consultant on the case were you not? In what capacity do you consult?”
“I aid in Special Investigations cases dealing with the occult.”
“I see. And how did your particular skills help with a simple drug bust?”
“There were reports that the Cross Street Kings were dabbling in the occult. I was brought on to help understand their motivations.”
“Detective Mullinex said that he had to use deadly force because Mason was on drugs and attacking people yet there were no drugs discovered in his autopsy. Can you explain that?”
“I am not sure. He certainly acted like someone on drugs. His behavior was violent and erratic and he was definitely a threat to innocent lives around him.”
“The coroner’s report says that he was killed by a blunt trauma to the head. Specifically a kick that would have taken some real training. Was Osamu Nishimura the killer?”
“No. Of course he wasn’t.”
“Perhaps it was someone else? Whatever happened to Sarah St. Claire?”
“Sarah? I haven’t seen her in a long time.”
“Would you be surprised to know that she has been missing since that day 2 years ago?”
“What? I wasn’t aware of that.”
“If you have an accusation make it. Otherwise, charge me with something or release me. Now,” Zeb growled keeping his eyes averted from the intense glare of the Internal Affairs detective. He didn’t want to initiate a Soulgaze.
“Why won’t you meet my eyes, Mr. Einar? Are you hiding something?”
“No. I simply refuse to play your dominance games.”
“Very well. You will be released shortly.”
As Avila was leaving the interrogation room there was a disturbance near the Captain’s office. SID ROUTMAN was surrounded by several police officers who had him in handcuffs. The elderly police captain was screaming at the top of his lungs his eyes wild and voice completely unhinged as he struggled against his restraints.
“I am a good cop and those monsters got what they deserved. They weren’t even human for God’s sake! DAMMIT! Let GO of me!” he screamed shoving one of the arresting officers to the ground. DELILAH MONGOMERY stood calmly behind the raving captain a small, conspiratorial glint in her eyes. Her smile grew wider as the struggle continued.
DETECTIVE ROY MULLENIX started toward his mentor when Avila grabbed him by the arm. Roy called out to Routman but he was too far gone to listen. The man he considered like a father continued to damn himself.
“Yes I killed them! Murderers and monsters the lot of them! They weren’t even HUMAN!” he came face to face with Delilah and her smile widened becoming more predatory.
“Look at her!!! SHE IS A FUCKING VAMPIRE! WE HAVE TO KILL HER!!! KILL THEM ALL!!!!”
Avila’s grip on Roy’s arm tightened, “Were you aware that Captain Routman was fixing cases going as far back as 1982? We have evidence of his involvement in at least 15 disappearances.”
He led Roy to the interrogation room, “Mrs. Montgomery was able to point us in the direction of one of the bodies. She apparently was keeping extensive files on the activities of everyone in Special Investigations.” Avila’s smile was as predatory as Delilah’s as he continued.
“Sad really. He was almost retired. Guess he will lose that pension now won’t he?” Avila sighed shaking his head with mock sadness. “Too bad about his wife. I hear she is in poor health. A shock like this might cause the old gal’s heart to give out.”
“You son of a bitch,” Roy whispered before regaining control of his emotions.
“What was that detective?” Avila demanded.
“I said that would be a real bitch,” Roy replied innocently.
He realized what Avila was doing. He was trying to rattle the detective to get him to act rashly and implicate himself. Roy had used the same technique countless times on suspects. He wouldn’t fall for it.
“Detective, tell me about Zeb Einar. You have used him as a consultant on multiple cases, correct?”
Roy’s heart sped up at the mention of Zeb’s former apprentice. She had been possessed by an evil spirit and was part of the terrible events leading up to Black Monday. Zeb had been forced to end her life after the spirit had been driven from her.
“I believe she was Mr. Einar’s assistant and student.”
“I see. She hasn’t been seen since Black Monday. There are reports that she may have been murdered by Mr. Einar.”
“What reports? I never heard anything about any reports.”
Avila slapped a thick folder down on the interrogation room table. “Her father apparently filed several complaints about Zeb’s involvement in her death but they were lost in paperwork and never investigated. According to this memo Captain Routman was trying to bury the accusations at the behest of Commissioner Montgomery. Would you know anything about that?”
“What? No. Of course not.” Roy thought about the poor man who was driven mad by his grief at the loss of his daughter. He must have tried to do things legally but when that didn’t work he had turned to the dark arts. It was a tragedy.
“He is a friend of my family. I knew his father quite well before he went into a coma.”
“At one point you accused him of murdering two young women and then kidnapping his sister to murder her. Then you turned around and claimed that he was a victim too. Now he seems to have been part of your investigations into several murder cases. Why?”
“He is one of my contacts and has been very helpful in a variety of cases. While he had been involved in a some petty crimes in his youth he has since turned it all around and is now a useful street asset with a lot of connections.”
“He is one of your Confidential Informers then?”
“Uh, yes. That is correct. Jack is…was one of my….” Roy stuttered to a halt as he realized his mistake.
Avila’s smile was deadlier and more predatory than any sharks.
“Detective you realize that with that admission you have just admitted to a crime do you not? Officers are not allowed to investigate the murder of their own assets to prevent collusion and corruption of the worst kind. By law you should have reported that Jack Youngblood was your C.I. when you first learned of his death and turned the investigation to the department. I am afraid I am going to have to suspend you with pay (for now) pending an investigation. Please place your badge and gun on the table.”
“Well, actually I wasn’t investigating Jack Youngblood’s murder so much as his sister’s kidnapping. Which is not against the law.”
“Nevertheless, detective. Until a ruling can be made I must insist on your suspension.”
Stunned at the turn of events and realizing that the I.A.D. officer was technically correct the detective did as he was ordered.
“Would you be shocked to know that two more victims have been found this morning?”
“Victims? What victims?”
“An Alex Cauldwell, who has ties to the The Pack was found this morning burned at the stake in a park near Pioneer Square. And an elderly man named John Spencer was found on Capital Hill killed in an identical manner.”
“Detective, what do you know of an organization calling itself the Venatori Umbrorum?”
“What is that? Is that Latin? I don’t know Latin.”
“According to your high school transcript you studied it your senior year getting a ‘C’,” Avila opined holding up Roy’s transcript.
“Sorry. I forgot. I did only get a ‘C’ after all,” he answered with a smile. Avila’s glare intensified.
“Are you a member of the organization?”
“Is your daughter?”
“No. Of course not.”
“Are they in fact killing at your direction? Perhaps you wish to ‘protect’ everyone from Captain Routman’s ‘monsters’?”
“Enough. Avila, I have indulged your witch hunt out of courtesy to the department. But I have nothing further to say without my union rep,” Roy stated rising to his feet.
“Sit down detective. I am not through with you!”
“Either charge me or get out of my way,” Roy growled. For long moments to the two men locked stares neither backing down. Then Avila stood aside.
“Very well, detective. We will do it the hard way. Tell your friends that none of you are to leave the city until this investigation is concluded.”
Roy joined his friends waiting in the hallway and they were approached by a well dressed man who explained to them that Commissioner Montgomery wished to speak to them and was waiting in the parking lot. As one they moved out to the lot led by the man who was obviously a high priced lawyer. Montgomery was speaking on his cell phone while standing at the front of his 4 wheel drive stretch limo. White, of course, as befit Lord Montague prince of the White Court and ruler of Seattle. Only MATHEW “WOOF” RILEY noticed the 7 figures that strode toward Monty with murderous intent.
As a survivor of many battles Riley had honed his senses into a keen edge and he noted that all of the figures were wearing hoodies except for the one in the back who was wearing a full cloak. What startled the ex-Navy SEAL though was that the eyes of the hooded men were sewn shut while the cloaked man had eyes that glowed with an inner flame.
The demonic eyes flared up and Riley saw the tall figure gather a huge ball of flame into his hands and throw it at the Commissioner. He cried a warning but it was far too late. The ball of fire slammed into Lord Montague blasting him into his limo with so much force that the massive vehicle seemed to fold up around him. Everyone staggered at the force of the resultant shock wave.
Standing in the doorway of the police station was Delilah Montague AKA Delilah Montgomery daughter of the most powerful man in the Emerald City. The look of triumph on her face at the attack on her father was evident and bordered on ecstasy. Riley saw that behind her all the police who had started toward the door at the commotion were held in thrall by her emotion controlling powers as a White Court Vampire and were unable to act. Obviously they could expect no help from the police.
Realizing that they were completely exposed and unarmed Riley followed Roy toward his car where he kept his weapons while Leif moved toward the downed police chief calling for Sleipnir’s aid. Zeb summoned a mystical shield to protect himself from the demonic figures that were charging them. Leif recognized the figures from his vision of Jack’s last stand*. They were the hooded figures that had shattered Jack’s shield leaving him vulnerable to the gunfire that brought him down.
Leif mounted up on his motorcycle and muttered a prayer to Odin to aid him and his allies in the coming battle. His friends all felt the comforting surge of energy as the Son of Odin’s power took effect.
However, none of the companions was quite prepared for the savagery and power of the silent figures. Detective Mullinex barely managed to dodge the first attack and the creature’s long claws tore into the side of his vehicle like a katana cutting through rice paper. He opened the trunk of his car and tossed a pistol to Riley while pulling out a shotgun to defend himself.
Riley dodged to the left as his opponent lashed out with its wickedly clawed hand and it tore through his body armor as if it wasn’t there. Fortunately he had managed to dance to the side enough and the claws only cut shallow furrows on his belly instead of tearing his guts out.
Both men were well trained and they returned fire on their opponents with discipline and skill born from years on the battle field. It was almost inconceivable that they would both fail to hit their targets at such short range yet neither were able to draw blood. The demons simply moved too fast.
Meanwhile, Zeb braced himself as two of the figures slammed into his shield. He smelled the strong smell of brimstone wafting from the silent monsters.
“Demons,” he cried, “We are facing demons!”
By that time Lief had made it over to the fallen White Court noble and managed to wrestle him from the wreckage of his limo onto his mystical motorcycle. He gunned his bike but was slowed down by the heavy snow that covered the parking lot.
“Come now old friend,” said the cloaked figure with the fiery eyes, “Surely we can come to an accommodation? Hand over the vampire and you are free to go. You are no ally to the White Court and I well remember your grand battles against Montague in the past.”
With that the figure pulled off its hood and Zeb was heartbroken to see his old ally, JOHN FRANCIS YOUNGBLOOD JR., Jack’s father, was obviously possessed by the Denarion Demon. Just as he feared. All of the Fallen Angel’s minions paused as if waiting on Zeb’s reply.
Steeling himself and gathering power into his right hand Zeb bit out, “You are no friend of mine, demon, no matter whose body you have infested. Get the Hell out of my city you son of a bitch!”
With that he released a powerful blast of wind and ice that the demon arrogantly ignored. The blast rebounded from the monster’s tough hide causing little or no damage. The demon smiled in anticipation and unleashed a white hot blast of Hellfire that slammed into Zeb’s fortified shield rebounding off of it into an SUV parked near the police station. The resulting explosion was deafening and the 13th Precinct caught fire as several of the windows were shattered by the blast. The wave of heat from the blast and the explosion flash melted most of the snow in the lot and the entire area was covered in a shrouding mist of steam.
The Denarion’s silent minions resumed their frenzied assault as the people in the police station began pouring out of the entrance to escape the rising flames. In the distance sirens from the nearby fire station could be heard approaching the battlefield. Realizing that he was about to face dozens of armed police officers the Denarion glared at the companions and he and his minions faded into the smoke and confusion getting away from the scene.
“We need to get out of here,” Leif screamed out over the chaos and confusion as the fire department arrived. “We can meet at the Clinic!”
With that he kicked his bike into gear and took off with Montague in a side car that had suddenly manifested at his command. Roy, Zeb and Riley jumped into his battle scarred Subaru station wagon and he followed at a much slower pace as the four wheel drive struggled against the deep snow covering the streets.
“Hey, I think that SUV might have been Avila’s,” Riley pointed out chuckling. “He looks pretty pissed.”
They turned to see Avila screaming into his expensive cell phone in rage staring at the blasted and burning vehicle.
“Great. Just what we need,” Roy replied wearily, “Avila in a bad mood will be so much easier to deal with I am sure.”
Riley’s smile dimmed as he realized the detective was probably right. Luckily no one seemed to notice them leaving the scene in the confusion and make their slow progress to the Radcliffe Clinic on CAPITOL HILL. Leif had arrived at the clinic far ahead of the station wagon. Sleipnir had little trouble navigating the snow covered streets.
He turned the heavily injured Police Commissioner to AUNT B who immediately began treating his battered body. All in all Leif realized that the White Court noble was very fortunate. His injuries were significant but not life threatening. In fact with his enhanced metabolism he would likely be healed up in a very short time. After making sure Monty’s injuries would get treated Leif checked in on Emmie. He found her in the main office looking exhausted drinking a cup of coffee.
“You look terrible,” he said with a wry smile. Emmie smacked him in the arm weakly which demonstrated her fatigue more than it hurt the young doctor.
“Ow. When was the last time you slept? You should go home. I can give you a ride on my bike.”
“That’s not going to happen,” she replied with determination. “Aunt B is counting on me. With the snow storm we are running short on help and I won’t leave her in the lurch. And don’t you dare try to change my mind because it isn’t going to happen.”
Leif opened his mouth to reply and closed it with a sigh. He could see Emmie’s stubborn determination. He briefly thought about tranquilizing her and taking her to his place but he dismissed the idea immediately. Emmie had made a choice and he would respect that.
“Hey. Remember how I found some inconsistencies in the paper work on the transfer of the ‘Black Monday’ Patients?” Emmie asked. “Well, I found something that seems pretty weird.”
“What do you mean? ‘Weird?’” asked Zeb who entered the well appointed office followed by Roy and Riley having just arrived at the clinic. Emmie and Leif jumped a little startled by their sudden appearance but she turned to the old Warden and replied, “Well, it is a bit complicated but I noticed that there were some discrepancies in the paper work for the ‘Black Monday’ coma patients.”
Zeb had a sudden intuition that chilled him as he considered the situation and the Denarian demon’s recent activities. “Please go on. I think it might be extremely important,” he said gently, urging the young lady to continue.
Emmie took a deep breath and said, “Well, initially it looked like they were transferring the patients to a variety of hospices and facilities throughout the state. But when I dug deeper I realized that the patients were never arriving at those facilities or if they did go there then they were only there for a short time before being transferred to a single facility outside the city. I have managed to track shipments of beds, food, medicine and the other supplies that would be needed to run an extensive facility that go all the way back to the 1970s. But I can’t find any information on its exact location or a name. I also cannot find any definitive patient list.”
Zeb turned to Roy, “Detective, I think with your skills as an investigator we should be able to track down that facility with Emmie’s help. We need to know what is going on with those patients. I hope I am mistaken but we have to find them immediately.”
“Why?” asked Leif, “What is it you are so afraid of? They are all in a coma. It’s not like they are going to wake up and take over the world or anything.”
“Maybe. But if I am right they might just wake up and destroy it,” the old Warden replied grimly.
“How? What does that even mean?”
“Think about it,” Zeb said, “The Denarion demon was able to take over John Youngblood’s body because his soul was somehow trapped in his Warden’s Sword by the Denarion. His body was an empty vessel a sort of….Hollow Man…that offered the Fallen no resistance when it possessed it.”
“And those particular coma patients had had their souls burned out of them by Sawny Bean and the Leviathan leaving them completely empty,” Leif replied his voice growing more alarmed as he followed the wizard’s logic.
“Exactly,” Zeb answered, “Which means that the Denarion would have over 300 Hollow Men open and ready for possession. He could become the premier supernatural force on the planet.”
“Odin’s beard! With that much firepower the Denarion could take on almost anyone.”
“We have to speak to Abby immediately. She might be the key to stopping this madness before it gets started.”
“Damn!” Leif breathed. “Uh. OK. Give me a minute to set up the database for Emmie and Roy and then we can go check on her.”
“I am going to visit my apprentice while you do that.”
“Good idea. She is going to be fine but she went through a lot. Seeing you will help. She is in room 215.”
Knowing that his mere presence could affect all the electronics in the office Zeb left his three companions with the computer to do their investigation. When he entered" Caroline Youngblood’s room he was stunned by how fragile she looked.
Her skin looked grey and unhealthy and she was breathing shallowly into a breath mask. He saw the ugly evidence of the abuse she had suffered a the hands of Barry Goldman and Ryan Delmont and he silently swore they would pay for their crimes. He could feel some slight magic and noted a magic circle that encircled her bed presumably to protect the electronics in the room from any wild magics that she might accidently release in her current condition. She stirred as the Old Warden approached her bed and woke up although it was clear that she was still groggy.
“M-master Einar?” she groaned.
“Yes, Apprentice. You are safe now. You are going to be OK,” he said taking her unbroken hand. “You me worried but you are tough and we are going to get through this. Together.”
Her eyes seemed to unfocus and she started to drift back to sleep. But then she sat up in alarm.
“Jack! What happened to Jack??!? Is he OK? Where is he? No. Oh, no,” she cried, her eyes tearing up as her memory started flooding into her consciousness. Caroline was so responsible and such a strong person that Zeb almost forgot at times that she was still a child. He was proud of her though as she steeled herself and asked the question she clearly dreaded.
“Please, master, where is my brother?”
“Apprentice…Caroline, I am so sorry. Jack fell protecting you. He loved you with all his heart. Take comfort in that.”
“No. He can’t be gone. He would never leave me,” she said fiercely. She looked Zeb in the eye, tears streaming down her cheeks and calmly asked, “And Bruno? What happened to him?”
“He is going to be fine,” said Leif as he strode into the room. “He is being cared for right down the hall.”
Caroline sat back into her bed her tears still falling down her cheeks, “Jack can’t be dead,” she mumbled weakly, “He would never leave me behind. He would nev….”
“She is out again,” Leif whispered. “We should let her get all the rest she can,” he said as he led Zeb from her room.
The two walked down the hall and stood outside the room of Abigail Wharton, Jack’s lost love and former host to the Fallen Angel that threatened them all. “She has sustained a gunshot wound to the chest,” said the young doctor, “It was a frangible round just like the ones used during the assault on Jack’s house. I figure she must have caught a stray bullet during the attack while she was trying to maintain the veil that kept the assault from the neighbor’s eyes and ears.”
“Agreed. She would have been vulnerable while trying to maintain such a powerful spell,” Zeb said. “Will she recover from the gunshot?”
“Actually the gunshot wound isn’t the real danger. We have run all the tests and it looks like she has cancer. Stage IV. Unless she goes into remission he only has a few months to live,” Leif stated sadly. “Aunt B might be able to extend her life with her healing magics but there is no guarantee. It seems that her body has been fighting the cancer for several years. Perhaps the Denarion used its magic to hold it back. But with the demon gone the cancer seems to have surged back with a vengeance.”
“The Denarion must have been looking for a host for a long time. Fighting such a disease must have taxed its resources,” Zeb reasoned.
“I will bring her around but she is very weak,” the young doctor stated entering the room. He approached his patient and administered a mild stimulant to wake her up. As the frail yet hauntingly beautiful young woman woke up Emmie and Detective Mullinex entered the room obviously having found some information. Zeb held up his hand for them to wait as he turned toward Leif’s patient.
Abigail took long moments before her memories seemed to catch up with her. Leif spoke to her quietly as she woke up trying to comfort the young lady who seemed to become more and more alarmed as she gained consciousness free of the Fallen Angel for the first time in years.
“Jack. Where’s Jack,” she whispered weakly. “He should be here. Where is Jack?”
“I am sorry but Jack is dead,” Zeb told her, “he was killed when your previous host led an attack on his house.”
“No. That isn’t true. That can’t be true. Azael would never allow Jack to die. He wanted him for himself. He wanted Jack to take up the coin. Only Jack is powerful enough for his plans yet vulnerable enough to be taken.”
“Azael?” Zeb asked.
“The Denarion who possessed me. I did so many horrible things…Killed so many people,” she replied.
Her beautiful eyes lit up in alarm and she clutched her belly with sudden agony. The lights in the room started flickering off and on and as her magics flared and spiked with her emotions. “No. Oh, God, no. No, no, no. A baby,” she whispered her voice heavy with sudden dread.
“Jack and I have a baby. When Azael possessed me I was pregnant. I didn’t even know it at the time.”
With each word she became more and more frenzied and everyone could feel power and magic building in the room as her emotions intensified until she was shrieking.
The lights in the room blew out in a shower of sparks and broken glass and all the electronics in the room exploded with Abigail’s terror. Zeb did all he could to contain her magics in the room to protect the rest of the clinic while Roy and Emmie held the struggling young woman down. Leif was finally able to administer a sedative that took immediate effect.
“What did he do with my baby?” she whispered before losing consciousness.