“Who are you?”
The man in front of me was Asian, but I wasn’t familiar enough to say exactly which ethnicity. He had a sharp face and eyes like daggers, his hair cropped as short as possible without actually making him bald. He wore a nice shirt and a tie, with a detective’s shield on his belt. On his right hip he had a gun that I recognized as a ‘sarian St. Jude. It was a good gun, but I was surprised they let him use it on duty.
His entire right side was covered in tattoos. Right now I could only see his hand and face, but when I had walked into the locker room, he had just been putting his shirt on. His right arm and chest were a map of ink. The tattoos weren’t abstract like Lily’s, either. I hadn’t gotten a good look at them, but there were lions, bears, wolves, demons, vampires… I felt like it was a map of Domina’s history.
“I said, who are you?” The man put his hand on his gun. “Don’t make me ask again.”
“I’m Adam Anders, from Domina City. We need your help.”
Ryan Hearing narrowed his eyes. “Anders. You’re the new clay, right?”
I started. “You’ve heard about me?”
“MC keeps me informed about some things. Clays are one of them.”
“There aren’t many of us,” I agreed. “We need to stick together.”
“I didn’t say that,” he snapped. He didn’t take his hand off his gun. “Now tell me what you want so you can leave. I’m off duty.”
“Who is this we you keep mentioning?”
I sighed. “She’s right around the corner. She didn’t want to come into the men’s room.”
“We’re the only ones in here,” Hearing called. “May as well come in.”
Lily stepped into the locker room. “Hello, Ryan.”
He blinked. “Lily? You—I—you’ve left the city?”
“Not for long,” she said.
“Right, of course…” He sighed and rubbed his head. He took his hand off his gun and relaxed a bit. Well, he shifted from aggressive to apprehensive, which was good enough. “Sorry. What’s this about, exactly?”
“A fugitive has gone missing,” I said. “We think she might have slipped onto one of the ambassador boats, tried to escape to America.”
“Oh. Is that all? Come on.” He led us out of the locker room and deeper into the precinct.
The precinct wasn’t packed, but it wasn’t empty either. There were at least a dozen cops, sitting around and glaring at us suspiciously. Lily had hidden her horns and tail again, so they couldn’t know we were from Domina. I had even hidden my CS device in my backpack again, though it was still on. They just seemed on edge.
Hearing ignored them all and led us to a tiny office far from the entrance. It was more of a closet than an office. It didn’t even have a window. In fact, it looked a lot like a re-purposed file room. But Hearing had managed to get a desk inside somehow. He turned on the computer and clicked around for a few moments.
“Here we are,” he said. “Video of the procession.”
I stood behind his chair, where I could get the best view. There were a dozen different views going at once. They were all in color, and in high-definition too. Well, relatively high definition. “This is the whole thing from start to finish?”
He nodded. “I managed to convince the captain it was a good idea. Now, what are you looking for?”
“A small Japanese girl,” Lily said. “Probably trying not to draw attention to herself.”
Hearing thought for a moment, then clicked around. Most of the videos disappeared, leaving just one taking up the whole screen. It was pointed at the ambassador’s ship on the docks. Hearing wound it back to the beginning, showing the boat arriving in the first place.
“How likely is it that she’d jump off the boat before it docked?” Hearing asked.
I glanced at Lily. She shrugged.
“If I had to bet, I’d say not very likely,” I said. “She likes comfort. Not the type to jump into freezing water if she didn’t have to. But she might have felt she had no choice. There would be a lot of eyes on that boat.”
Hearing nodded, and let the video progress. We watched Servants tie up the boat, the ambassadors step out and wave at the crowds, leave…
And half an hour later, someone slipped off the boat. The crowds had long since disappeared. There were probably still some people watching the boat, but not enough to dissuade her. She glanced around, then ran off in a different direction.
“Can we zoom in or something?” Lily asked.
“Doubtful,” I said.
“This is the best zoom I can get you,” Hearing said. “She looks Asian, though.”
I looked closer. “She’s not wearing her prison jumpsuit. Make sense. She probably managed to ditch it before she even got on the boat. Can’t tell if she still has the bracelet or not, though.”
“Can you track her?” Lily asked.
Hearing nodded and clicked some more. A new video popped up. He adjusted the time and let it play. We waited a moment before Saki ran across the screen.
“I can get to all of the police cameras in the city,” Hearing said. “But I can’t access private cameras. Besides, a lot of the police cameras are broken in the poorer sections. Sooner or later, we’re going to lose her.”
“You think she’s heading towards the projects?”
Hearing gave me a look. It seemed like he didn’t know I was a native New Yorker. “Yeah, maybe. That’s what I would guess.” The video changed again. “See, right here. If she hops on this bus, she can—”
Saki ignored the bus. Instead, she kept running, past a subway entrance and down a nicer street towards a business neighborhood.
“…huh,” Hearing said. “Odd.”
“She probably doesn’t have any money,” I said.
He nodded. “True.”
“Am I missing something?” Lily asked.
“The best option would be for her to take a bus or a cab to wherever she’s going,” I said. “Failing that, a subway. But those things cost money. So it looks like she’s just going to try running.”
“Can she do that?” Lily asked. “Run to wherever she’s headed?”
“Not easily,” Hearing said. “New York is smaller than Domina, but it’s still pretty big. It also has some very confusing streets, and I doubt she wants to cross any of the bridges on foot. It pretty much depends on where she’s going.”
“It looks like she’s heading towards the business district,” I said. “See? If she had turned here, it would have taken her farther away. She’s definitely heading in that direction.”
Hearing frowned. “That’s pretty close to the UN.”
I nodded. “Seems an odd choice. Getting that close to people who will be on the lookout.”
“I didn’t see any toys on her, but…”
“She doesn’t have any,” I said. “No obvious ones, anyway. She has a few minor internal enhancements. Disease resistance, digestive efficiency, that sort of thing.”
“No cosmos or anything?”
“Hm.” Hearing looked back at the screen, tracking her progress through the streets. She tried not to attract attention to herself, waiting patiently at crosswalks and not running. Not where people could see her, anyway. “She clearly knows where she’s going. Has she been to New York before?”
I shook my head. “Not that I know of.”
“Definitely not,” Lily said. “She’s never left Domina before. Barely even left her home district. This is a major change for her in every way.”
Hearing frowned. “Not good.”
Rather than asking, I thought about it. “…she knows where she’s going. She has a specific goal in mind.”
Hearing frowned. “Which implies that someone told her about a safe place. Which means someone is helping her.”
“Wonderful,” I muttered. “Tell me this isn’t a full conspiracy.”
“It could be something benign,” Hearing said. “Some friend who moved out here and told her where to find him.”
“Or her,” I corrected automatically.
“Or her. Old family friend, maybe?”
“No,” I said. “Most of her family is dead. Same with friends. Her aunt is the one who tipped us off about this.”
Hearing raised an eyebrow. “Really? I thought you said she was a fugitive.”
“Her aunt is also the one who brought her in.” I shrugged helplessly. “Things have been kinda crazy recently.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard the rumors.” He glanced at Lily before turning his attention back to the screen. “You’ll have to tell me the full story sometime.”
“Sometime,” Lily agreed. “Though most of it should come out at the talks anyway.”
“Sure. I—oh. Here’s something.”
We all leaned forward, which probably wasn’t necessary. The screen was plenty big. It showed Saki waiting outside a building, glancing around suspiciously. After a few moments, the door opened and she slipped inside.
“Looks like an office building,” I said.
Hearing minimized the video and clicked through some menus. “It is… it’s all owned by one company. Radiant… Mee-oh? My-oh? Miomanta. Radiant Miomanta. They’re a temp agency. Pretty standard.”
I nodded. “All right. Maybe the security guard or someone is an ex-Dominite. Is there any way you can look that up from here?”
He shook his head. “That’s all private. There are ways, but it would be easier to just walk in.”
“What, and ask if they’re sheltering a dangerous fugitive?”
“Might work. They might not know who she is and what she’s done.” He paused. “What has she done, anyway?”
“Killed some people,” I said. I was a bit distracted looking at the screen, reading the company information. He was right, it all looked pretty standard. “Then we caught her, and when she escaped she killed a few more.”
“…how old is this girl?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure. Fifteen, I think? I’d have to ask Akane to be sure.”
“Well, someone dangerous like that, you might be able to convince the locals to give her up.”
“If not, we might have to siege the building.”
He chuckled. “You’re jumping ahead a bit too fast. New York isn’t used to that sort of thing. More likely, they’ll demand a warrant, and she’ll flee while you’re supposedly distracted. That will give you an opening to grab her.”
“Good, good.” I doubted it would be that easy, especially if she had managed to get her bracelet off. “Any chance we can actually have that warrant?”
“I would really prefer not to bring the local police into this.”
“Fair enough. They wouldn’t approve of letting a foreign country arrest a minor.”
“Technically Domina isn’t a foreign country yet.”
I smirked. “Fine. When’s the last time a Dominite criminal was extradited from America? Or vice versa?”
He sighed. “Fair enough. Just try not to start an international incident. Or an inter-city incident. Whatever. With the ambassadors here, this is the worst time to be causing trouble.”
“One could argue it’s the best time to cause trouble, since they’re here to fix it.”
“One would be wrong.”
I smiled, then turned to Lily. “You ready to go raid Radiant Miomanta?”
She didn’t look ready. She looked frozen like a statue, eyes staring straight ahead at the computer screen.
“Lily?” I said, rubbing her shoulder. “What is it?”
“Miomanta,” she said.
I frowned. “Yeah? What, is it a Dominite company?” I glanced at Hearing, but he shook his head.
“After a fashion,” Lily said, still stock still. “It’s an obscure word. I’m not surprised neither of you have ever heard of it. Even among demons, I think only Pale Night and Sargeras would remember her plans. She never got it off the ground before everything happened…”
“Lily, what is it? What’s Miomanta?”
“She was going to make a second domain,” Lily said. “A satellite site, separate from Shendilavri.”
My heart skipped a beat. I had heard so many stories, from Derek and Akane and everyone else…
Lily looked at me with fearful eyes.
“I think we finally found Malcanthet.”
Behind the Scenes (scene 303)
I have been planning on the confrontation with Malcanthet since the very beginning. I think it might have been the first thing I came up with after the demon culture.