The Hunters 2

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The Hunters

When Claire dropped in on Less unexpectedly at midnight a few nights later, his surprised shifted to a look of concern when he saw her face. He'd let her in and once the door was secure, she put the file folder she was carrying into his hands. As he flipped through it she began to tell him what this was all about.

"Sorry to drop in on you like this, Warden," she said in her raspy voice. "Under the circumstances I think you'd want to know immediately. We've lost two agents."

The first sheet described a dark fae spy named Todd. He was a mirror-skin, a shifter specializing in wearing different faces. He was a master of disguise and adept with use shadows. No one even really knew what he originally looked like, probably not even Todd himself.

"Todd went missing two days ago," Claire said, "after reporting he was investigating something called the New World Order. Now, I know what you are thinking -- I was too. But I don't think he means a secret government that seeks to control the world's mortal population. In this case I think he believed there was an organization that meant something to the supernatural world. I asked him to bring us details of what he was talking about and proof that a supernatural conspiracy existed. But, after he had missed several check-ins, I sent in Bea."

Beatrice was in the last half of the file. The file picture was that of Beatrice, a fae crone whose mortal visage looked like a sweet, little old lady that might be anybody's favorite aunt. Her unthreatening appearance had won her the trust of many targets in the past. But she wasn't just a friendly face. Bea was deadly in hand to hand. She could separate meat from bone in seconds with a good butcher's knife (which she always kept in her purse), or even just her claws.

The picture showed Bea with a gunshot wound to her head lying in a dumpster. Another picture showed the alley in which she was found, now cordoned off with police tape. Whoever had killed that tough old gal clearly hadn't cared who found her.

Less sat down heavily and robotically turned the pages from the file. He suddenly remembered that Claire was present and abruptly stood to put the kettle on. Claire was already pouring hot water into the teapot, so he sat down again and waited for her to join her. Two agents gone. He'd had agents be found out before, but amongst the supernaturals - and especially between fae courts - death was not usually the penalty. Enforced servitude, some form of exchange or payment, banishment. That was the usual price, and it was a telling clue. "Are we dealing with mortals here?" he asked for Claire's opinion.

Claire thought carefully. "I'm not sure. If we are, then they are mortals that can pick us out. We don't have proof that this organization is a supernatural one. Sir, I'm concerned about sending any more agents to investigate. We need specialists, or a team at least. Clearly sending even very good agents in alone is a death sentence."

"Yes, it is obviously too dangerous. I'll alert the network. I'll tell them to report in and to steer clear of anything that might smell of this New World Order. I'll have to go to the Countess about Todd and Bea as well. Have everyone stay clear of Todd and Bea's homes and workplaces, too, until we get a team together who is prepared to deal with the New World Order's, uh, methods."

Claire nodded. "Is there anything you would have me do right now?"

"Just help get the word out about the danger. Keep your eyes open for the New World Order and keep your head down. Todd and Bea got too close to something so we have to stay clear and hide the trail back to the Wardens and the Fiefdom." It occurred to him that every cloud had a silver lining. "If you can manage it, try to get me something that will lead someone sniffing around Bea's place back to the Brimstone Barony."

It wasn't an easy request, and that was just what Claire needed in order to keep her mind busy. Her natural tendency would be to dig in herself, so Less's instructions and her own recommendations against it would have had her very soon anxious as a cat in a doghouse. "I'm sure I'll find something," she said with a nod and half smile.

She excused herself after that to let Less get to his business and she to hers.

Less took out his phone and scrolled through his contacts. He wasn't sure if Rey would be up. Her lifestyle had changed significantly in the last while. If she was up she was either sitting in a graveyard communing with spirits of the dead, or renovating her new house. Either way she probably didn't want to hear from him. Mira, though, was always up for late-night adventure if she wasn't already fangs-deep with a vampire. And when he said 'fangs' he meant...he shook his head of the image and pressed the button to dial.

Mira answered with a, "Hello?"

"Hi Mira, are you busy? I've got a job on a timeline that I could use help with. Do you know what Rey is up to right now?"

"Me? I... " She seemed momentarily confused by the rapid questions, unsure what to answer first. "I imagine Rey is at her new home resting or working in some room or other. I was just..." Hiding across the street from Drake's old apartment, watching as seelie fae took away his things and trying not to cry was what she was thinking. What she said was, "doing nothing in particular. Has something come up?"

The thought of doing something else was suddenly very attractive. She really wasn't sure what she was doing here anyway; she'd come days ago, right after Drake died, and found what he'd left for her and what he'd asked to have done in the event of his death. She'd said her goodbyes. Coming back here wasn't doing her any good.

"Yes, I'll explain when we meet. Can you get to La Fiesta?" The bakers there had to get there at 4am to start the morning fare so they stayed open 24 hours. It was also not too far from Todd's place in semi-gentrified Old Mythic. "I'll try Rey."

She had to ask for the address, but once he gave it to her, she assured him she could get there by cab easily enough. "So I'll meet you there right away?"

Less decided to text Rey for minimum disruption in case she was sleeping or in the middle of something. When he didn't receive a response by the time he was boarding his moped he decided she was out for the night. The strange hybrid machine galloped through the night.

Once secure in the warm booth of the La Fiesta cafe, Less began sending out coded text messages to his operatives. They would start in motion a general recall for all of his agents to check in so they could be warned of the New World Order danger. He would wait until morning to inform the Court. Once Mira arrived, he waited for the tired waitress to wander off with her order then pushed his mug to the side and leaned forward to talk quietly to Mira. "Have you heard any talk of something called the New World Order? From the vampires, maybe?"

Mira didn't answer right away. She looked at him carefully, her lovely deep purple eyes looking straight into his heart. Such was the nature of his displaced eyes. A shadow of a smile flickered at the edges of her lips. "Why would their kind tell me anything of importance? Nor would I ask." Her expression became serious. "What about this group has you so agitated?"

"It is probable that they have recently killed two members of the Seelie Court," he said simply, and stared back at her.

Mira blinked and frowned. "Do you think the Baron is behind this?"

"Only if we can link the Baron to the New World Order. Both fae had gotten wind of this organization and were looking into it. I want to see if there are any clues left over at one of their houses. The trail might be cold - he disappeared two days ago - but there's not much else to go on. I need you as backup."

Mira nodded. "Of course. You have my help." She hesitated, then asked carefully, "The ones who died, how did it happen?"

"One disappeared, the other was shot in the head."

Mira sat back in her chair aghast. "Mortals?"

"That's my theory." He took one last swig from his mug. "Come on, I've got the moped parked around the corner."

Mira stood, then followed him out to his moped. They buzzed through the dark streets and wound their way a few blocks over to Todd's rented home done in Southwest adobe style but with a single story ranch layout. The house was dark, eerily silent and every window was a large, black mirror.

Less overshot the house by a couple of blocks and they returned on foot. Less suggested they strengthen their Masks in case someone was paying attention. "I don't expect trouble here," whispered Less as they let themselves through the back gate. "The New World Order will have probably finished with this place and moved on to the fae they just killed, but they might have left something to keep watch."

They approached the back door, which proved to be properly locked. Mira produced her lock picks and cocked her eyebrow in question. At Less's agreement, she bent to work the lock and was able to pop it open after a few minutes' effort.

A bit of Glamour on Less's part let them see well enough and was better than flipping switches on around the house. But even a brief look around showed that everything here seemed to be in order. The kitchen was tidy, and there was only the typical minimal mess a that even an orderly person might leave behind if they didn't expect to get "disappeared" suddenly.

It seemed a very normal home, but Todd was an agent and Less his Spymaster. Less himself had taught many of his fae agents codes, how to secure things of importance and most importantly, how to hide them. Claire might have already been here once and had she found something, she would have shown him. But no one was perfect.

It took a couple hours of searching, but Less finally found Todd's log book hidden in the lining of the lazy chair. The slender book didn't give out details -- just a record of places and times; Todd himself would know what they meant. The last location noted had a date for two days ago. Less knew that meant Todd was checking something out or staking someone out at that location. Something that Todd would have felt was of interest to the Wardens. That then, was the next place to check.

The address was an unfamiliar one, but given the size of the city that wasn't terribly surprising. Still, they'd have to refer to a map to find it. There didn't appear to be one at Todd's rental house, so they left with the intention to find one at a gas station.

At the moped, Mira asked, "Maybe before we go further we should get some more help. Shall I give Rey another try?"

"I'd rather not just now," said Less. He could feel the hard cover of the book where it was tucked inside his jacket pocket. "I've just sent a message for people to steer clear. I don't want to rush headlong into that same danger. These people can somehow identify fae. If we ride by at two in the morning on a suped-up goblinmobile, we're just asking to be their next targets." He steered south towards Santa Fe. "I'll do some innocent checking at the library in the morning once I've broken the bad news about the deaths at Court. We can fill Rey in then." And hopefully Claire will have something Brimstone to plant at Bea's by then.

Mira nodded. "Okay." As they mounted his franken-moped, Mira asked, "Will we check out where Bea was found tonight?"

Less considered this. Bea hadn't known what Todd knew about the New World Order and was mostly looking for Todd. She had, however, found something out or she wouldn't be dead. Less also didn't want to get caught up in a mortal police investigation by "returning to the scene of the crime." In theory, all the evidence will have been shipped off for safe-keeping but Bea was also an agent and probably knew she was being hunted. She might have been able to leave a secret message behind if she hadn't be able to post it to herself. In any case, the New World Order would not have stuck around after making sure she was dead.

"All right, it might be worth a look," he called back and turned the bike at the next intersection.

As they neared the neighbourhood where Bea had met her demise, Less slowed the moped to a slow canter and made a wide circuit of the block. When nothing gave him that punky feeling of danger, he parked behind a shop and led the way to the crime scene. He found a police car keeping silent vigil next to the mouth of the alley where it happened, but the officer there meant to keep the public away had dozed off and was comfortably snoring away in the driver's seat.

It was still roped off. Under the weak, yellow light reflected off the brick walls between apartment buildings that bordered the alley, black stains on the street were an ungentle reminder of the violence that had occurred here. Yellow police tape still surrounded the site and a human form was marked in bone-white chalk.

Claire had mentioned Bea's body was found in a dumpster. One stood nearby, a viscous dark fluid dripping from the lid like it was the drooling maw of some beast. If the body had been found in the dumpster then the chalk outline must represent an educated guess as to how the body had fallen when she was shot.

There was nothing like a sleeping mortal to brighten Less' day, but all it would take for him to wake up was random chatter on the radio. "Mira, can you spell that guy to keep him from waking up?" he asked his companion.

A small, evil smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Yes, of course."

She quietly stepped over to the car and bent down to get a good look at the policeman in the car. The window was open, so she propped her elbows there and leaned in a little. Less heard her whispering something with a rhythm, to it, like a dirge.

Interestingly, the officer's snoring subsided and he slept quietly, taking deep, slow breaths. Mira smiled at the officer, laughed, and kissed him on the cheek to test her success. He didn't react, except to slump further in his sleep. Mira turned back toward Less, a movement that was almost a pirouette. She smiled widely. "Done."

Less came forward from the shadows and rubbed his hands together. He lifted the 'Do Not Cross' tape for Mira to duck under ahead of him. He stood where Bea must have stood when she faced the shooter, with his back to the chalk outline. He steepled his hands in front of his nose and took in the entire scene. Where would Bea have left him a message?

Mira crouched and looked at the outline, then peeked inside the dumpster. The smell it emitted was an awful mixed of stale blood and garbage. She made a face. "Why would they pick her up and put her in the dumpster after they shot her?" she wondered aloud. "Did they do something to the body, do you think?"

Less shrugged. "I was thinking they were just hiding it to delay the investigation, but discreet inquiries at the morgue would not go amiss." He swung about, pacing around the alley in frustration. "It's no good. Either the police are better than I thought, or Bea managed to get a message off before the very end. It's going to be a busy day tomorrow." Less added a call to his contact at the returned mail office to his list, then returned to the dumpster to stand next to Mira. "Bea was a fine and dangerous fighter. Do you have any thoughts why she was able to be gunned down without at least one other chalk outline gracing the pavement?"

Mira thought about that silently a moment. "She might have been surprised, off her stride. They knew what she was, maybe, and acted immediately before she could do anything fancy. That could explain why they used a gun; pulling a trigger is a faster and more thorough way to kill someone. But if a gun was used, even a silenced one can be heard. Just not as far. Someone around here may have heard something. And if they heard something, maybe they went to look and saw something, too."

Less looked around for any likely places from which a silenced shot might be heard, including any evidence of a homeless person living rough. The problem was that this very sort of investigation had gotten Bea killed and Less didn't want to be next on the list. This was distracting him and it looked to him like the killer had chosen his ambush site carefully - he could see no windows or likely doorways through which the sound might have carried.

Less shook his head. "This crime scene is too clean. There's nothing here." He gestured with his umbrella for Mira to proceed him out of the alley. "I just have one last line of inquiry before we go." Once past the yellow police tape, he approached the sleeping officer and reached through the open window to touch his forehead. Instantly, he was experiencing the poor man's dreams.

The man dreamed he was awake. In fact, all the details of the alley seemed perfectly normal save that neither Mira nor Less were in the alley. The officer was watching, sipping his coffee when dream-Less approached. Less was dressed as the officer's superior - a detective in a plain suit. He couldn't help but to include Mira as his Corporal in the dreamscape. Her crisp blues were creeping dangerously over to the sexy side of regulation.

"Officer Sandoval, have any witnesses been found?" dream-Less asked.

The officer was startled, looking at Less in surprise. He hastily got out of his car. "Lieutenant Moore! Sorry, I didn't see you coming. Uh, I wouldn't really know. I'm second shift here. Detective Gonzales would know that. I understand she was in charge of the investigation. I hope he catches the bastard. Shooting a little old lady like that." He shook his head with a frown. "Isn't right. Like someone executing your Gran, you know?"

"This city is going to the dogs," agreed Lt. Moore. "Have you heard anything about their progress. Did they find the murder weapon? Any suspects?"

"I only know what I overheard the guys talking about down at the station," he replied. "I did hear Detective Gonzales was questioning people in the area for hours. I don't know what she learned, if anything. That's Homicide's business. I guess they found the bullet. Anything else, you should talk to Gonzales."

"Thank you, Sandoval. Keep up the good work. Pleasant dreams!" With that, Less left the officer's subconscious to deal with Lt. Moore's strange way of saying goodbye. To Mira, who he thought looked good in a uniform, he said, "Detective Gonzales is in charge of the investigation. I'll try to keep tabs on her."

To her, Less had simply walked over to the car and gone still for a few minutes. She was rather astonished at how simply he was able to slip in and out of the man's dreams. "Oh, uh, okay. So we wait until morning before we go any further? Is there anything I can do until then?"

"No, I don't think so. Time to get some rest."

The next morning, Less had a report waiting for him. It had been slid under his door so as not to disturb his rest and once he opened the plain, manila envelope, he realized it was from Claire. She reported that she had slipped inside Bea's place and removed any contact information that could lead to more Wardens and replaced it with a number and notes that insinuated one Viscissitude was someone she answered to. Aiming whoever these killers were straight at the Baron's Knight seemed to be something she relished. She ended her report with a statement she was sure she had not been seen.

Good old Claire! Less would be lost without her. He hoped they had acted in time and gotten to Bea's apartment before the New World Order, and that Claire would not end up on the NWO's list. The only thing he would have changed was the target of the misdirection. Vicissitude was good, but Dame Nightshade would have been better. He supposed Claire had more access to information about Vicissitude.

Less set about his ablutions and ate a decent breakfast. It was going to be a tough day. First stop: the Summer Court, to inform the Countess of the deaths of Todd and Bea.

It was a grim task. The Countess was very concerned two seelie fae had died in a single night. Less could tell she wanted to do something, send more resources to investigate it, but she was wise enough to realize that investigation was Less's purview. He was the expert in that field and she must trust his wisdom in it.

They were walking through her garden as the talked about it. Accessible only in Faerie, it was reached typically by way of a simple gate that opened only to this place. The environment here was less harsh than the high desert of the mortal realm, allowing for more lush vegetation. She had a hedge maze, orchards and flower patches all knitted together by winding paths made soft and spongy by a layer of mulched wood resembling cedar.

She had paused near a flower patch that featured flowering plants as big and tall as sunflowers, but with blue, drooping bells. They seemed to lean toward her as they spoke.

"If you need further resources, Mr. Seleman, please ask," she was saying. "Is there a danger to other fae?"

"Assuredly, yes!" said Less calmly. "This New World Order can somehow see through Glamours, possibly even the Mask. Todd and Bea were good, very good, at seeming to be something they were not, so the general population of fae is at risk and need to be warned to steer clear. However, both Todd and Bea were specifically investigating the NWO. There is no evidence yet that fae are being specifically targeted by NWO. It is possible that if we keep our distance NWO will not continue to be aggressive. That said, the NWO is a dangerous unknown and I personally cannot let that stand. I mean to gather some volunteers to determine what new world the NWO is trying to achieve. Using, of course, the knowledge that poking into their affairs invites deadly retaliation. I very much appreciate the offer of support." He bowed formally and gracefully, hat in one hand and umbrella in the other.

She smiled at him and he realized she smelled of fresh bloomed lilic mixed with something else sweet, like honey but not quite. It occurred to him that it was her gentle scent that really told him the countess was near. "Please be careful, Mr. Seleman," asked. "The fae cannot afford to lose you."

Less returned his hat to his head. "No one is irreplaceable. Claire has instructions in the event of my incapacitation." With that, he saluted with his umbrella and hurried back to the Mainland.

While waiting at an empty bus stop, Less called Worm. His moped stayed at home today to save on gas and as a transit employee he received free monthly passes from the city. The lost and found didn't open until afternoon so he had time for some errands. When Worm answered he asked, "Do we have anything on Detective Gonzales in Homicide?"

It took a moment for her to answer while she referred to a pocket database on her smartphone. "Nothing very interesting," she said. "Middle aged. Unmarried, no children. Work is her life sort of person. Started out on a beat after academy, then managed to squeeze in college and make detective. Homicide seems to have been her thing for about ten years. Are you looking for something specific?"

Someone who might be looking to download the stresses of her day during a quiet evening. "Can we get anything on her current case without rocking the boat? List of witnesses, suspects?" It all depended on whether Worm had any agents embedded in the force close enough to Homicide.

"That should be possible," Worm said. "It might take a little time, unless she's already closed the case and filed the paperwork. I doubt that she has, so it should be just a matter of getting her or those close to her to talk a little. How soon do you need this?"

"I'm willing to wait," said Less, craning his neck to see if the bus was coming. "This is Ultra Mega secret. Inquiries have to be as discreet as possible so don't rush or force it."

"I'll phone you back as soon as I have what you need," she said.

When the bus came, Less stowed his phone and took a seat. He waited patiently while the driver made his way downtown. Less thanked the man as he descended at the back doors in front of the library. He checked his watch. There was time to check on the address Todd had given him before coffee break at the post office. He waded in through the crowds and settled into his usual table in the Reference section. Getting information about the address would be more easily done through the Land Records at City Hall, but phone books, business directories, and newspapers would probably turn up enough to get him started with the advantage of not being very conspicuous.

The address turned up information in a number of places. First was the fact it was a personal residence of someone named Thomas Roundhill. Mr. Roundhill was reputed to be very wealthy. His home, which was built by his great, great grandfather and expanded substantially over the generations was an estate worth millions and situated in the northern edge of Mythic City. It appears a great deal of money was made in land deals with the city as it sought to expand and purchase rights to water sources. Smart investments grew that very substantially. These days, Roundhill rated among the idle rich. His fortune meant he could hire smart investors and do whatever he wanted with the rest of his time.

Mr. Roundhill, a married man in his middle 40s and father of two children, occasionally hosted social events, particularly in his youth. These days any social events at his home are private and do not appear in the paper.

This then is what he could learn from public sources.

Less looked at his watch and swore silently to himself. The unexpected connection to the Roundhill family had gotten him deep into sifting through the society columns of old newspapers. He had missed his chance to catch his contact at the post office at break time and had to hurry to get to work at the train station. No matter, he would simply forge a mail redirection form to have any mail directed to Bea's address to an anonymous P.O. box. If he got it ready by tonight it should be in time to catch anything she put in the mail before her death.

He arrived at the train station with enough time to make a fresh pot of coffee in the staff room before shrugging on his uniform coat and reporting for mortal duty. The routine gave him time to ponder what the Roundhills had to do with the New World Order. Rich and idle: never a good combination - they might as well be vampires! Probably some sort of secret society aimed at scratching whatever illegal itch their money couldn't provide. The question was how to dig deeper without ending up a stencil for sidewalk art?

With his mind filled with the challenges presented by the latest developments, the work day seemed drag. He knew that soon, perhaps even early tonight, he might know more about what Detective Gonzales might have learned during her investigation into Bea's murder.

Finally, he had handed his last purse to a happy recipient and was closing his shutter for the evening. He was anxious to get home and continue his work on the NWO problem. Just as he was about to snap the padlock closed on the shutter, there was a knock at the office door. Sighing, he opened it. There was a yong man, probably a student. Tall, but he stood hunched over the laptop he clutched. In Less' opinion, he should shave in hopes that his wispy beard would grow back with more substance - and with a moustache attached.

"I lost something on the train yesterday," he said.

"You weren't the only one," replied Less. His desire to get home was immediately dispelled by his duty to help find lost things. His response was nearly automatic - he hoped it was slightly amusing while prompting the person to actually describe what they had lost. It never worked.

After a short pause Less coaxed, "Can you describe what you lost?"

The man struggled to gesture with both his hands while holding the laptop. "Yes, it was about this big." He kind of cupped his hands together as if holding something. "Kind of brownish. Wrapped in plastic." He struggled for adjectives.

Less struggled to imagine what the man was talking about. Had such a thing been turned in? Would checking his log book help at all? They stared at each other in confusion before Less realized that the man clearly thought he had told him the name of the item out loud.

"Was this thing a wallet...?" he ventured.

"No," said the man without any indication of impatience. Less struggled to keep his and this interfered with his ability to pose another leading question. Luckily, the man had evidently finished running whatever labourous calculation was going on in his head and supplied, "It was a sandwich. Ham and avocado."

Less' impatience came flooding back, but the hungry sandwichless man would not simply take Less' explanation of the train company's policy that perishable items were not stored in the Lost & Found. He had to defend the practice of 'wasting' food found on train seats by depositing them in the garbage, and had to go as far as reassuring the man that this would not result in a population explosion of rats and/or crows at the city dump that would end up invading the city.

It was dark by the time he got home.

After making himself a small meal and settling down for a hot cup of tea, he had time to review local news. A fire at an old mansion left two dead, including the owner, was the biggest news. Apparently the owner was a recluse almost never seen in public. The fire department determined the fire started in the study, exactly where the recluse had been sitting, but could find no cause. It was the first real case of human spontaneous combustion in years and the press was running with it.

The words 'spontaneous combustion' smacked of the supernatural, especially to an elemental fae who personally knew people who were literally composed of flame. For that matter, so did the word 'recluse'. He paid close attention to the article, jotting down any information regarding the location of the mansion, who the owner was, and the identity of the second body.

The location wasn't hard to discover. The owner, said the article, was Mortimer Wheeler. The second person hadn't been identified. Looking deeper, the article claimed that the reclusive man was the victim, but there was no indication as to how that was known for certain.

Around ten o'clock, Less received a call from Saya. She was a seelie fae; attractive, smart, and very good with people. She held the position of Bearer of the Tearful Cup and was in charge of communications. She was the one to make contact with Detective Gonzales.

According to Saya, Gonzales did have a lead or two. Whether they led anywhere was another story. However, the detective had found the bullet that killed Bea. Forensics had confirmed her initial suspicions when she first looked at it herself; it had a lead core but an iron case. It was also hand made. Now, how a person could make such a thing by hand she didn't know. Worse, she didn't know why someone would make a bullet with an iron case. Steel case? Okay. They did that in WWII. But iron? That was a puzzle. And, it would require specialized tools, probably custom made. Unsurprisingly, the bullet had grooves in it, like many do. But instead of a gas trap, it had some kind of lubricant. Again, not really unusual, just another attribute of this particular design that hinted at someone using advanced equipment to hand-make bullets with an iron case.

Gonzales had mused that maybe someone was trying to make their own version of a full metal jacket bullet that would defeat kevlar armor. The iron jacket might work, but that didn't explain why they needed that to assassinate one little old lady.

And Gonzales had found a witness in a young hispanic man. However, the kid was obviously scared and refused to talk. There wasn't much she could do beyond impressing him how important it was to catch whoever had done this so it wouldn't happen again. He lacked faith in the police's ability to catch them, apparently. Nonetheless, Saya managed to get the name of the young man from Gonzales and she shared that with Less.

Most alarming to Gonzales, and the reason she was willing to speak freely about it was that at the end of the day her captain yanked her off the case, telling her it was a dead end and that there were more important cases for her to look into. For example, a recent house fire might be arson that ended in murder...

Less felt chilled to the bone at Saya's news. Iron bullets! That meant the New World Order, or whoever they hired as their assassin, was specifically prepared to kill fae. This was far worse that the NWO simply defending their secrecy from a couple of fae who got too close.

He wasn't, by any means, an expert on guns but he did know one thing. Something out of the ordinary, like specialized tools and lubricated bullets, meant there was a trail to follow. Maybe it was only that there was a killer wielding a unique gun in Mythic, but there was the chance that the distributer of these specialized tools has a very short list of clients. Or, he thought darkly, the killer is capable of making strange one-of-a-kind tools and weapons on their own - like Faerycraft!

Less frowned at his notes on the mansion fire when the subject came up in Saya's briefing. Clearly, the NWO was no upstart organization. Such corruption stank of old families and money, like the Roundhills and vampires. The mansion fire was a red herring to keep the detective out of their hair, but to Less it was at least two other things. First, it was still connected to the NWO, if only marginally. Second, Gonzales was now a pair of eyes and ears inside the police force with a grudge against her superiors who were influenced by the NWO. He instructed Saya to be careful, but to nurture her relationship with Gonzales. There may be other things that the NWO warn the police away from, and Less wanted to know what these things were as soon as possible.

It was late after his planning session with Saya, but he stayed up to go his forgery of the mail forwarding forms. It was not a difficult task - these sorts of forms were readily available and the post office clerks would not do any fact checking. Anything in the system heading to Bea's apartment would end up in a P.O. Box to which he held the key. If she had managed to post something to herself, he should get it instead.

The Hunters 3