VELVET GLOVE, IRON FIST -- Act Two - Patrick Forsythe
Captain Patrick Forsythe laid there, prone on the floor, watching these two vampires talking normally, with a dead body lying between them. All this... with no weapons apart from their own abilities. Damn, he thought, why don't I _ever_ get a break?
"What _deal_?" The woman named Deirdre asked.
"First things first." The man replied, getting up from the ground. "I should thank you for saving my life. I've grown rather attached to it."
"I didn't like the odds you were keeping. I decided to even them a little. So... who's your friend with the machinegun?"
"Oh, that's Charlie. He's been helping me out."
Great, Patrick thought, so if we make a move, we're Swiss cheese. Even with a werewolf's regenerative powers, a fist full of bullets could still take him down. He looked over at Sergeant al-Hajj, his instincts breaking through the buzz of alcohol. His eyebrows raised to ask what to do. The captain shook his head no; the best thing they could do was stay put.
"Could you tell him not to shoot me as well? Blood takes forever to get out of vinyl." The man took a long look at her for a moment. So long was the pause that she spoke up again. "Hey! You mind telling me your name? Saying 'hey, you' is going to get old after a while."
"Oh, sorry. Jason. Jason Monk."
Patrick put a finger to his head then brought it down to his palm. Salah understood and nodded; he'd remember the name.
"Well, Jason, let's get out of here. The local PO's probably heard that gun blast for three miles around. Let's torch the body and get out of here."
"Yeah... I should of thought about it." The vamp Jason seemed distracted. The signs were much like domination but subtler... as if she had a presence all her own.
"Hey! Jason!" The woman named Deirdre was getting annoyed. "This isn't your game is it? Bushwacking your fellow vamps doesn't really suit you."
"No, it doesn't. I'm a businessman."
"Funny, so am I. Now let's do some business."
"All right." He went to leave but the woman stayed still. "What?"
She pointed at the staked leech. "The body?"
"Oh... right." Monk took out his lighter, flicked it open, and tossed it on the still warm body. The clothes ignited with ferocity. As Jason and Deirdre walked off the hill, the fire became an inferno; quickly growing immense, then crumbling back, returning the night to darkness.
All this time, the captain and his platoon sergeant had been lying on the side of the hill, unnoticed by natural or unnatural forces. As they watched the two vampires walk off, Salah looked over at Patrick and whispered, "Do you want me to follow them?"
"No. I don't know what's going on, but it's not our beat. If we get distracted by this, we'll lose our chance to expose the Sabbat."
"What if they _are_ Sabbat?"
"Then the Crusaders will take care of them in due course. Right now they're killing leeches for us, so I'm not about to stop them." Forsythe turned over and sighed out his tension. "We'll get that mind mage to take their pictures off our memory. Then we'll sic InSec on them."
Salah's eyes flashed. TI's hatred of Internal Security was legendary, even though the Crusader teams used their resources constantly, there was no love lost between them. "Are you sure?"
"Do you want to waste a team to go after two blood-suckers? No, let InSec do the grunt work, THEN we'll move in. Besides," the captain finally stood up, "we're on shore leave."
About then, the whistles, sirens, and clangs of the local police started to be heard from their quickly approaching aerodynes. "Well, if we want to enjoy the rest of it outside jail, we better leave NOW."
"Agreed." The captain said and the two highly trained men disappeared into the shadows of the hill.
Waiting to see the Internal Security agents was like waiting to see the dentist; you were always afraid of getting your teeth pulled. Finally, one of them came out of their office and asked them to come in.
As Salah and Patrick entered in, the man behind the desk stood up to salute. "Captain, Lieutenant Francis Gresham at your service. How can I help you, sir?"
The French-looking man with the short curly hair looked slick in his fancy civilian clothes. Although he was friendlier than more InSec officers he'd met, he had that snake-oil salesman feel to him. Maybe that was just part of his job, Forsythe thought, but it made him feel creepy all over. "Actually, I think we can help you, lieutenant."
"Really?" The lieutenant sounded more amused than interested as Gresham sat down. "How is that?"
"Me and my platoon sergeant were witness to a fight between some vampires last night in Maine City."
"Why didn't you take it to the local authorities? It was all over the local net this morning. Man burned alive in park... it made great news."
Patrick coughed. "Lieutenant, we're professionals. As much as the PO's are competent, vampires take special expertise. Since we're on an assignment all ready, we turn it over to you."
Francis smiled like the wolf he faced, "I see. Well, if you'll permit a mind scan..."
"Our experts have already draw up standard prints for you to identify them with, sir." Salah produced the etheral mug shots. Anything they could to avoid getting scanned by InSec's goons was necessary. "The first man was the leech who was incinerated. The second called himself Jason Monk. The girl who saved him was called Deirdre."
"Deirdre Macoure?" Gresham's face lit up like a flash.
"She didn't say her last name." Forsythe replied.
The lieutenant quickly flashed to her picture. "Yes, it could be her. I can't be sure until I run it into the computer."
"Who is she?" Salah asked.
"Macoure is a known gunrunner, a thief, and a murderer. She killed several of our agents in her escape from Van Diemen system. All of our stations have been on alert for her." Greshman examined the pictures further. "If it is her, captain, you can be assured of receiving a sizable reward."
"Really?" Now it was Patrick's turn to be surpised. "Frankly, lieutenant, I just like frying vampires. One less of their kind off the streets, the better. However, I'm curious about the other two."
"Well, like I said, we won't know anything until we run them through the computers," the Internal Security officer's smile disappeared, "but we'll let you know what we find out. Good day."
"... I give you a little down time and you act like its the end of the world." Colonel Nostros was not in a forgiving mood. "First you find the only firefight on a supposedly peaceful world, then instead of following it up yourself, you let the men in black do OUR job!"
On board the EFS Prince of Wales, an antique cruiser built over forty years ago, the 42nd Platoon made their way back to Avalon. It was on standard anti-piracy patrols; the death rattle job of a warship, especially in such a quiet area as the central systems of the Federation. The TI lieutenant had told him that Maeve Harrington, the great corporate magnate, was its first captain. Not that it mattered, in the present, Captain Forsythe was getting chewed out by his boss. "I didn't go looking for a fight."
"But you seem to find them easy enough! Damn it, Patch..." She leaned her hand upon her head. "Why do you have to be so _damned_ inconvienent."
Forsythe didn't smile. "That's what you pay me for, sir. To _inconvienence_ the leeches."
"That's not what I meant."
"But the act is done, sir, and it's turned over to InSec. I believe I still have a task at hand?"
Maria sighed. "Yes, how is your investigation going?"
"Apart from getting our butts kicked at Wilke's Star, all right. Does that platoon have Cortez in hand?"
"No. We're sure that he's in the capital city, though."
Forsythe's eyebrows raised. "Capital city? That's it?"
"The observation platoon had trailed Cortez openly for a day until he completely disappeared. He must have changed his appearence, and since then, their scans have turned up negative."
Patrick was thinking that his platoon should have been trailing them from the start. Still, it was too late to start second guessing himself. He had to find Cortez and get the answers he needed. "What was the preliminary report?"
"The lieutenant there said that he had no pattern, no predictable motion to his movements. Ambush would be difficult due to his profile."
Well, he thought, if he _was_ the leader of the Sabbat, he would have to be good. "Then what makes you think he's still in the capital city?"
"Etheral scanners have been established throughout all exit checkpoints. They're a terrible drain on energy most of the time, so the security guards only use them for special searches. We've set them to search for a ghoul's aura; if he leaves, we've got him."
It made sense, although a clever man like Cortez would find alternatives out of the city; he was beginning to take an interest in this man. "What about my other inquiries?"
Nostros let out a barked laugh. "Elizabeth, Patch, was the name of one of Mordred's inner circle. If this Cortez truly IS running the show, he's doing with _her_ consent. Still, a ghoul that could dominate a vampire... this guy's bad news. I can feel it."
"They all go down in the end."
Maria allowed herself a smile. "They do indeed. Report to me when you reach Avalon. Discom."
END OF ACT TWO
Text Copyright © 2000 by Marcus Johnston. All Rights Reserved.