Elena is out doing one of her regular patrols, watching for rapists and murderers. Nine out of ten, her patrols turn up non-killing offenses. Heck, more like ninety-nine out of a hundred. The more minor offenses she leaves to mortal law. Anyway, some of her most productive work has come from investigating murders on her own – those cases that she catches wind of the cops giving up on. But when there is nothing to investigate, well, that leaves patrols. Elena isn’t one to idle.
So, she’s used to slow nights. She is patient. Deep Ellum has lots of Ecstasy and weed, Oakcliff has lots of Coke. But for the most part, she’s focused on rape and murder. In her patrols, as in most things, she has a system, and it works for her.Tonight, though, she has come upon an oddity of occurrence that sets on her tracker mode. On the surface it’s nothing more than a guy and his date having a good time. The woman is extraordinarily beautiful. Tall and curvaceous, with long legs, long hair and big eyes. However, as Elena watches her, the woman gives off a wrongness that makes the hair on the back of Elena’s neck itch. She senses something, but not with any of her normal senses. Ever since Conor and Jaime taught her how to recognize supernaturals, Elena has paid more attention to that sense.
She watches carefully from her perch on the roof of the two story building. Elena knows academically that there are a lot of supernaturals and they each hunt in their own ways, and most of them seem non-fatal. It doesn’t fit her MO to kill the ones that don’t murder their victims. So she watches the couple as they make out leaning against the car. When things really heat up, they move inside the vehicle.
Eh. Elena gets ready to head off, but as she is turning away, she notices the car give a very sudden, violent shake, and notes that it makes no further movement. If the evening had been going “really well,” there would be more… motion. But there is no more movement at all, so…. Better to stay and watch.
Then the car backs up and starts to drive off. Elena sees long hair in the driver’s seat, but no sign of the guy. That woman hadn’t been originally in the driver’s seat. Elena notes the license plate, and decides to pursue.
She keeps to the shadows, and stays high where able, jumping from roof to roof, to a billboard, then back to a roof, always landing with the quiet grace of a large cat. Tailing someone is one of things Elena finds most exhilirating, and reminds her of the totally awesome benefits of the deal she made with her patrons.
Elena watches the car pull up to, ironically, a BBQ joint – Jack’s Pit BBQ, established 1974. The woman gets out of the car and slinks into the restaurant, her crimson dress completely out of place at this country music and cowboy boots joint. Elena waits until the woman is inside, then hops down and walks over to the car and looks inside. There’s a tarp in the back that has a very distinctive, man-sized “bump.”
She glances around to case the place for a good spot, she when she sees the tarp move from the corner of her eye. It’s a very sluggish movement.
She looks around to see if the parking lot is empty. It appears to be empty for the moment, but of course it’s the parking lot of a restaurant. Elena is concerned that the man might be still alive but badly injured, so she pulls her silenced side-arm and opens the car door with her gloved hand.
Elena carefully lifts the tarp. The guy’s neck is completely shattered and there is blood everywhere. She almost jumps out of her skin when he gives a tiny, burbly groan. She knows some first aid, enough to know he shouldn’t even be breathing, and she is under no illusion about the fact that she doesn’t have the medical skills to save his life. She backs up and pulls out her phone, and considers calling an ambulance, briefly forgetting the monster inside the BBQ joint.
“Is everything okay over there?”
Elena’s drops her gun hand behind her as she slowly turns her head. She sees a man in a suit, in a cop stance with his hand on his sidearm. There is something about him…. Yeah, there it is. A cop in street clothes, who also happens to be a werewolf.
“Uh…” She turns to completely face him, but gets ready to run just in case, as she won’t fight a cop. “Not quite.”
The man pauses, studies her for a moment, then visibly relaxes. “Ms. Torres?” he asks.
Elena doesn’t holster her weapon, because although he may recognize her, she has no idea who he is. She continues to hold it behind her. “Who’s asking?”
“John Wolf. I’m an investigator for the DA. I know of you professionally, through Atwaters.”
“Ah,” she responds, keeping her voice low. “Well, if you have any first aid, there’s a guy in this car who might be bleeding out. Or might not be, I don’t know enough.”
Wolf takes his hand off his gun and walks over. He’s tall, but then everyone is when she’s five one on a good day. However, her training makes height and weight estimates easy, and she puts him at just under six and a fit one ninety-ish. He moves with a certain power and grace, maybe because of the werewolf thing? His hair is dark, either black or dark brown, but in this light, she can only guess at his eye color. His eyes are watchful, though, and Elena can tell he’s not the type to miss much.
“He came with a woman who did this to him,” she adds as Wolf approaches.
Elena looks around to make sure the woman isn’t coming around. She crouches between the cars so that she isn’t instantly visible to whomever might be standing or walking about, while Wolf checks out the guy in the car.
“Whoa,” she hears him mutter as he exhales a quick gasp of air. He pauses, then breathes deeply. After a second, he looks over at Elena.
“So, this lady,” he says, then he describes the woman Elena has been following this evening.
“Yeah. She’s inside.”
“I think she’s one of the people I’m looking for,” he responds.
“Well, what about him?” Elena gestures to the poor guy in the car. “Is he dying or turning?”
Wolf looks a bit at a loss. “Good question. I don’t know.”
Elena’s voice is hard. “Because if he’s turning, we need to…” She doesn’t say it – the man works for the law, after all, but she knows what needs to be done if the guy has been turned, whether or not Wolf knows.
A very familiar voice breaks the silence. “Elena, is that you?”
Elena pivots slowly, still crouched between cars. “Um, hi, Conor….”
A man comes out of the alleyway and walks toward them. He’s a bit over six feet and powerfully built, broad shouldered and tapered waist. A tweed flatcap sits on his black hair, and his eyes hold an almost permanent twinkle. His guitar case is slung over his shoulder and he’s wearing his Aran sweater, blue jeans and Redwing boots. Yeah, he’s a walking, breathing stereotype, right down to the thick Irish brogue and easy charm.
“Is everything alright?”
“Only as alright as it ever is.” Elena smiles wryly.
Conor laughs. “Oh, it’s one of those kinds of evenings then.”
Elena watches him look over his shoulder and make a gesture, as if at someone. She doesn’t comment. Conor is fae, and likes his secrets to stay his. But then, who doesn’t hold tightly on to their own secrets?
Elena introduces Conor to Wolf, then asks Conor, “Can you tell if someone is changing into a vampire?”
Conor shakes his head apologetically. “Sorry, I don’t know that much about vampires, really. I kind of avoid them.”
Elena is disappointed, but moves on. “Ok. Well, there’s one inside, and she did this.” Elena shows him the guy in the back of the car. She’s starting to think that the guy in the car really should be dead, not just mostly dead, and is reluctantly considering alternatives.
As she is thinking, she hears Wolf say, “And she killed another person that someone’s been wrongly convicted of.” Elena’s head comes up at that, and her eyebrows come down, feeling deep concern and fierce anger at the thought of an innocent man paying for the crimes of the guilty.
“A wrongful conviction? Ah, poor bastard,” says Conor regretfully. “So, what’s…?” He jerks a thumb at the restaurant.
“I don’t know. Do I need to get silver bullets?” Wolf muses. “Wait, these are Red Court, not Black Court, right? That’s what the lady at Atwaters said…”
Their conversation fades as Elena looks around alertly. That vampire could come out any time, and Elena doesn’t like being caught off guard. As the two men are talking, Elena notes that Wolf takes his jacket off, hangs it from his arm, and seems to loosen up his clothes up a little. Getting ready for a fight, maybe.
“Oh, so are we rumbling with the Red Court tonight, then?” Conor asks cheerfully.
“They’re murdering people,” replies Elena.
“Oh, tonight they are?”
“Probably. She did him.” Elena gestures at guy in the back seat.
“Alright, well,” Conor nods.
Wolf looks at the car. “Do we stake him?” he asks. “No, that’s Black Court….”
Elena shrugs. “I figure enough bullets will do for anyone?”
Just then, a woman steps outside the restaurant. Elena’s first glance confirms that the woman is not the vampire – this woman has longish fair hair that gleams gold in the porch light. Plus, she’s wearing jeans and boots and has an irritated scowl marring her otherwise attractive features. Her right hand is balled into a fist and pressing her abdomen.
Elena’s second assessment is that the woman might not be a vampire, but she is supernatural.
Elena sees the woman look over at their group and hides her cringe. Really, these big guys need to learn to be less conspicuous. Then Elena watches the woman follow Wolf’s gaze into the BBQ joint, where he’s watching the female vampire.
“I’m guessing yall don’t want them here, either?” She is abrupt.
Wolf looks startled. “Excuse me, miss?”
“The vampires.” She is abrupt and blunt. “You don’t want ’em here, either?”
“No.” Looks like Wolf can be abrupt, too.
At that precise moment, Elena is distracted by the growing purple glow hovering just over and past Conor’s right shoulder. The light gets brighter and more intense, and suddenly floating there is an honest to goodness faerie. She’s about a foot tall, shades of gleaming purple from tiny head to toes, with opalescent wings fluttering, and purple glitter dripping from her to dissolve into nothingness below her. A faerie?? Elena knows she is staring, but can’t help herself. She knew Conor was fae, but this?
“Hello!” it pipes in a chiming, tiny voice. Elena blinks, then looks at Conor, who is smiling ever so slightly. Conor makes introductions, then Wolf gets back to the business at hand.
“Do I need silver bullets?”
“Uh, I just…” The woman stops, then shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“Should we lure them out here, or something?” asks the little faerie in its lilting voice.
Wolf shakes his head. “They’re not going to stay here all night.”
The woman glares in the direction of the restaurant. “Well, long enough to find another victim or two.”
Conor suddenly interrupts. “Does she know… maybe she’d know?” And he gestures towards the car.
“Do you mind looking at this?” Wolf points inside the vehicle. “Is he dying, or is he turning into one of them?”
The woman strides over to them and leans over to peer inside the car. She takes a long look at the poor guy in the back seat with the shattered neck. Then, before anyone can react, she whips out a nasty looking K-Bar-looking combat knife and stabs him in the torso. It slides easily into the body and there’s this slight flash of light at the entry wound. With a quick jerk, she pulls the knife cleanly out and sheathes it in one fluid motion. Elena has time to catch a glimpse of Latin script on the blade just before it disappears into its sheath.
They all blink.
She shrugs. “It was turned. It’s dead. Let’s go.”
“Thanks for clearing that up.” Wolf’s voice is both wry and appreciative.
As the woman steps back, Elena checks the crime scene to make sure the lady didn’t leave any trace of herself, or anything that will incriminate her. Nope. She’s really good. That body has had a rough night. Animal wounds that he died from, and a stab wound post-mortem.
“Those vampires will come out eventually,” the woman says, “because they think they have that guy in the car, who they will need to ‘feed’ his first victim to fully finish turning him.”
“Do we want to maybe follow them back to their lair?” Wolf asks. “Do we want to kill them here?” His gesture encompasses the parking lot.
“Lair,” replies Elena.
Conor agrees. “I’ve got to go with lair as well.”
“This is too public,” adds Elena, scanning the parking lot and nearby street.
“I was just going to do them in the parking lot,” the woman states.
Elena shakes her head. “You don’t want to kill them in public.”
“I have a date in there!! I don’t want to be back at a lair!” the woman protests, fully irritated. “This is my night off!”
“You know, miss,” suggests Conor with a twinkle in his eyes, “if it’s a date you’re wanting….”
Elena muffles a snort.
The woman looks briefly surprised, then laughs. “Thanks, but no.”
“I’ll buy you a drink after,” offers Wolf.
The woman seems resigned. “Alright. I’ll go back in and wait for them to leave, then I will follow them.”
The woman stalks back inside the BBQ joint. The rest of the crew loads up in John Wolf’s car. Elena gets in the back of the car and sinks low in the seat so as not to be visible.
“Okay, Chrys,” says Conor to the faerie still hovering near his shoulder. Her little face turns toward him attentively. “Here’s what we are going to do. I’m going throw up a veil over the car to make it more difficult to see. I want you to do the same thing so we’ll have two veils over the car.”
“Okay!” she chirps eagerly.
Elena grins and says to Wolf, “This is a really cool trick.”
The car vanishes from vision.
They wait for maybe ten minutes and the two vampires come out of the restaurant. They get in their car and start it up, and by the time the woman gets to her truck, they’re starting to drive out. She follows the vampires, with Wolf and the others close behind her. They follow for a while, when the vampires’ car pulls off into an old warehouse area just off Harry Hines. Quiet, secluded, and behind some industrial buildings.
The vampires get out of their car and stare at the woman’s truck as she pulls up.
She gets out of her truck and faces them, seemingly alone.
Elena pulls out her silenced weapon. Wolf pulls out his pistol, too, though it’s not silenced.
“They’ll not see us until we want them to,” says Conor.
Elena looks over at him and asks, “What if I get out of the car?”
“Fine until you get too far away from us, or we get too busy,” he replies calmly.
Elena nods, and she and Wolf step out of the car. Elena lifts her pistol, gripping it firmly with both hands, and aims. Rarely does she get a chance to do this with her pistol.
“Which one?” asks Wolf quietly.
“Okay,” Wolf agrees, lifting his own pistol.
The woman is looking at the two vampires with a smirk on her lips. “You shouldn’t just leave your victims in the back of your car. Bad things happen to ’em.”
The male vampire opens the back door of the car and looks down. He snarls angrily. “You shouldn’t have meddled. Who do you think you are?”
“Vampire slayer,” she retorts.
“Well,” it growls, “You’ve slayed your last vampire!”
Elena’s mind doesn’t quite flinch from the cheesiness, but there it is. Just as the two start to lunge, Elena fires at the female vampire she’s been aiming at, who is unaware of Elena’s presence. Elena sees her shot tag the vampire’s rib and its face contorts in a painful grimace.
The woman whips out her awesome K-Bar. She swings her knife and takes off its left arm, and dark fluid starts flowing from its bloody stump. The female vampire looks at its arm on the ground next to it, casts a terrified look at the woman with the holy blade, and turns tail and runs.
Conor’s faerie friend throws some flashing purple glitter at the male vampire and the woman. The vampire gives a full-bodied shudder as an expression of worry crosses its features. Also, there suddenly appear to be three of the woman!
The male vampire snarls at the woman, “You may have taken out my partner, slayer, but you’ll never get me!” It lunges towards the woman and its tongue lashes out violently, trying to get her with its narcotic saliva.
“Don’t think so, sweetie,” says the woman as she deftly steps out of the way.
Wolf takes his shot at the fleeing female vampire, still aiming carefully. His shot gets her in the back. As she slides, she leaves a trail of skin and fluid. Her bat form flops and gives one last twitch.
Conor runs up to the male vampire and swings a powerful fist, hitting it in the back of the head. The vampire’s skull makes an ugly crunching sound and Elena sees the bat-creatures head as the skin is peeled from its face by the force of the impact with Conor’s fist. She tags him with a bullet in its head. Its brain sprays behind it, but it is still standing.
The woman does some kind of backflip tuck, landing in front of it in a balanced crouch. She swings her knife, cutting its gut. It slumps over and lands on the ground with a thud.
Elena immediately holsters her pistol and gathers her expended shells. She walks over to the male vampire, checking for her bullet, then follows the trajectory and removes the bullet from the wall. Then she trots over to the female vampire and pulls her bullet out of its torso. She figures Wolf can take care of his own stuff. As she’s cleaning up, she notices an illusion creep over the scene.
The woman checks the male vampire’s pockets, gathers his ID and effects and gives it to Wolf. “Enjoy,” she tosses over her shoulder as she starts to walk back to her truck.
“Can I get your number?” he calls after her.
Elena walks over to the woman just as she is climbing into her pickup and holds out her hand. “Nice work,” she says.
“Thanks.” The woman’s voice is matter of fact. They shake hands.
“If you ever need help with this kind of thing,” adds Elena, “leave word for me at Atwaters. My name is Elena.”
“Okay, thank you. I’m Doran.” Doran looks confused for a second, and then asks, “Um, where is that again?”
Elena tells her. Doran climbs up into her pickup and drives off, and Wolf relates to Elena his conundrum about trying to exonerate Munoz. Wolf recalls the vampires left some skin behind, so he has their DNA. He strongly suspects that their human caul registers as mortal.
Elena wants to get the guy free, so they remove to Atwaters to consider what to do.
“What will it take to exonerate him?” she asks Wolf as she sips her drink. “What about proving there were other people at the scene of the crime, too?”
Wolf doesn’t look optimistic. “Once someone gets convicted, it’s really hard to overturn based on actual innocense,” he says quietly.
“I don’t like it. Innocent people shouldn’t be in jail. Was he sentenced to death?” she asks.
They sit in silence. “What about that new body? Isn’t this the same MO as the others, and yet he’s in jail, so he clearly couldn’t have done it?”
Wolf shakes his head. “It could be a copy cat.” He pauses, thinking. “But if we can establish that the same two people’s DNA was at all three of the crime scenes, that would help.”
Wolf suddenly thinks that there is a good chance that there is still spit at the crime scenes. He and Elena go back to both crime scenes. Elena busts out her crime scene kit, which she keeps with her. Wolf checks where he thinks the splash pattern of their saliva might have gone. Yep, exactly where he thought it was.
He collects a swab from where the saliva landed while Elena watches.
“Is this going to get you in trouble?” she asks.
“No, I’m just collecting evidence from a crime scene,” he replies absently as he’s working.
“Okay, but you’re going to free a convicted man,” she says skeptically. “Hopefully,” she adds under her breath.
Wolf looks up, understanding. “Oh, no, no. I work for the District Attorney’s office. Calvin Watkins. He’s a former defense attorney. The first defense attorney to be elected as District Attorney in Collin County. He has had more exonerations than any other DA in the US, by a large margin. It’s my job to make sure the guilty stay in jail and the innocent go free.”
Wolf tells her about Calvin Watkins as he wraps up, and as Elena is packing up her own crime kit. When he’s done, Elena looks over at him and asks, “So will this be enough?”
“It’s a good start,” Wolf replies.
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