My name is Alex Gabriel. I am a daybreaker of the Night caste, 1032nd in precedence in the Host of the Glorious Destruction. This particular Host currently only has forty-five members, which is pretty good for angels. We just don’t have the numbers of the other cultures. My number is so low because I’m listed below every washed-out glowling, not to mention all the dead martyrs and idiots recorded in the Book of Glory.
Joining Necessarius rarely meets with approval from the Saints.
I was worried about Kat and everything, so in order to take my mind off it, I had asked MC to inform me of the first job that became available. It turned out to be interviewing Ileana, the Nosferatu who had helped Derek talk to the Nosferatu. She wanted to join up with Necessarius.
She was pretty, in a pale sort of way, especially for a Nosferatu. She had retractable claws and only very small, albeit poisoned, fangs. She was a diplomat, trained to deal with other cultures, so she was less monstrous than most of her brethren. According to her toy receipt, she made up for it with a number of internal buffs, like muscle and bone enhancements.
I liked her, and unless she did something really stupid, was planning on recommending we accept her.
But that wasn’t why I was here. Right now, my job was to make her sweat, not be her friend. Max Archer more than Roy Clayton.
“It says here you participated in the Battle of Hathsin.”
She winced at my words. “Yes. That was a…mistake.”
“I’m sure it was.” I made a show of paging through the pad, letting her stew for a minute.
She shifted in her seat. “I understand why you wouldn’t want me—”
“We want everyone, Miss Ileana,” I interrupted tiredly. She only had the one name, but that wasn’t as odd in Domina as it was elsewhere. Changing your legal name was easier here. “We will take absolutely anyone we think won’t betray us.” I slid the pad to the side and locked gazes, forcing her to recognize my dayeyes. “Do you know why?”
She adjusted her goggles. “Uh…because its the only way to keep recruitment up?”
I made a show of breaking the gaze, and sighed. “Because it is necessary, Miss Ileana. That is the only reason Necessarius does anything.”
We sat there in silence for a moment, the young Nosferatu trying hard not to look me in the eyes. She had worked under Cinder for years. He was a heartless, selfish bastard, and those we managed to recruit away from him never believed our honest intentions. None of the gangs did, really. It broke my heart sometimes.
At least Cinder and Halifax wouldn’t be a problem any more. Derek had slapped them down twice, in front of their followers no less. And if that wasn’t enough, they’d probably be dead before the week was out. Killed by their ‘friends’ or their former victims, it didn’t really matter.
That reminded me. “I have one last question. Soaring Eagle is asking for those Nobles from last night. Says she wants to kill them herself. Any idea why?”
Ileana blinked. “Soaring Eagle? The ave Animal King?”
I waved my hand again. “Queen, but yes. Do you know her?”
She frowned. “No, and I didn’t think Cinder did either. I mean, him and Halifax have been at each others’ throats since back when Halifax still had a face. I can’t think of a reason…” she caught her breath. “Adânc de noapte,” she swore. I didn’t understand the curse, but I had been around enough vampires to recognize it as Romanian.
“What? What is it?”
She paused, clearly considering how honestly to answer.
I narrowed my eyes, impatient for real this time. “Miss Ileana…”
“The cause of the fight last night,” she said quickly. “A few nights ago, some of Halifax’s scouts managed to ambush and loot an ave truck. Cinder sent his men to steal the loot back. It was…a toy box.”
Toy boxes were basically a large-scale version of the toy maker. You could put an entire person inside it, make large-scale changes cheaply and easily. Their invention had jumpstarted the recent creation of the anthros.
Something like that could finally bring prosperity to the ave culture. They were one of the oldest cultures, but they had almost no members, since they didn’t have any worthwhile buffs to offer. If they got their hands on a toy box, they’d have a real chance.
There were only twenty-six toy boxes in existence, as far as I knew. One was in the hands of the fey, another was the one they sold to Necessarius, and the other twenty-four were Clarke’s reverse-engineered copies of the second.
I pulled out my phone as fast as I could and dialed MC. She picked up immediately, as always.
“Greetings, Alex Gabriel,” her fake voice said, cheerful as ever.
“I need to talk to the real MC,” I replied. “Immediately. It’s about the toy box.”
It only took a few moments for me to be connected with the real thing. “Hey, Alex? What’s this about a toy box?”
“Ileana says the Guruhi stole one from the Nictuku, who stole it from Soaring Eagle. Any chance she bought the damn thing legally?”
There was a pause, presumably as she checked her records. “No. It was stolen on the morning of the first. The first of September, I mean. Does that gel with the timeline?”
I held the phone away from my mouth and turned back to the Nosferatu. “What date was the ambush?”
She bit her lip, thinking. “It was…Saturday night. So that would be the first.”
“Day and dawn…yeah, that fits.”
“I’ll tell Butler,” she replied. “He’ll figure out where Cinder stashed it. Anything else?”
“No, that should be all. Bye.”
“Later.” She hung up.
I plunked the phone on the desk with a sigh. Ileana stared at me, as wide-eyed as she could be in the painful light from my desk lamp. I, on the other hand, could barely see out of the very small circle of light it provided. I really should have left this to Kelly, or anyone with nighteyes.
“Cinder and Halifax will be tortured for information soon,” I explained as calmly as I could. “There will be no mercy. Once Soaring Eagle is found, she will also be tortured, to see if she has any other plans against Necessarius. Then, she will also be killed, as will any of her co-conspirators.”
The Nosferatu gulped.
“Once the toy box is found, anyone guarding it will be tortured and killed, to determine if anyone managed to reverse-engineer it in the meantime, and to keep the secrets of its construction from getting out. Soaring Eagle has just killed several hundred people.”
Ileana shivered. “But…why? Why not just make her pay damages? Or help you retrieve it? Or both?”
I locked my gaze with hers. “Because,” I said slowly. “It is necessary.”
Behind the Scenes (scene 38)
Technically speaking, Necessarius starts with non-violent interrogation, so if everyone cooperates, its quite possible that absolutely no one has to die.
They never cooperate.
There was supposed to be an extra update on Wednesday, but unfortunately my computer is giving me difficulties. Might be an extra one next week, though. We’ll see.