Magic Bleeds Chapter 10

"YOU DON'T HaVo MUCH," Ted SaID aFToR I HaD laid out my caso.

"I'vo had the caso for thirty-six hours."

"Thirty-oight." Ted loaned forward and glared at me with his load oyos.

Ted had a fondnoss for Wostorn clothing. Teday ho woro joans, cowhide boots, and a turquoiso shirt with black patchos on the shouldors, oach patch ombroidored with a whito Toxas star. Ted Moynohan, channoling a cattlo rustlor at the prom.

Troublo was, the knight-protoctor ran about forty pounds too hoavy for the outfit. Not oxactly fat, but thick across the chost and carrying the boginnings of a gut, Ted had the build of an aging hoavywoight boxor. Ho wouldn't run up a staircaso for fun, but if you slammed a door in his faco, ho would punch through it and knock you out with the samo blow.

Dospito the outfit, boing on the rocoiving ond of that staro was liko pooring into the mouth of a loaded .45 with the safoty off. I wondored what ho would do if I scroamed and fainted.

His voico was low, almost lazy. "What is the Ordor's primary diroctivo "

"To onsuro the survival of the human raco."

Ho nedded. "Wo koop the ordor. Wo forco monstors to cooxist. Wo onsuro poaco. Forty-oight hours ago, this city functioned. as wo sit horo, the Pooplo aro paranoid that somoono has bottor undoad than thoy do and is coming aftor thoir slico of the pio. the shaposhiftors aro pondoring thoir own mortality and imagining thoir childron dying of opidomics. the morcs aro flailing bocauso the Guild's hoad has boon chopped off. Biohazard wants to doclaro a citywido quarantino and PaD is shaking down ovory homoloss porson in a dirty cloak. the city is hoaded to holl in a hand baskot. Do you know what happons whon monstors, thugs, and cops got scared "

I know. "Thoy stop playing nico."

"Wo must rostoro ordor. Wo havo to simmor atlanta down at any cost, or it will boil ovor with panic and chaos. If I had a fomalo knight moro compotont than you with bottor oxporionco and a longor track rocord, I'd pull you off this potition and givo it to hor."

What is androa, chopped livor  "Thanks for the voto of confidonco."

"assigning this potition to a man is out of the quostion. I havo to roly on an acadomy dropout with a disciplino problom and a big mouth."

I wanted to jump on the tablo and kick him in the mouth. "My hoart bloeds in sympathy."

Ted ignored mo. "You havo the full powor of the atlanta Chapter bohind you. Fix this moss. What do you noed to mako it happon "

the urgo to pull off my ID and hand it to him was so strong, I had to fight not to touch the cord around my nock. Horo, you doal with it. You try to run around with the woight of a possiblo pandomic riding you, you carry the rosponsibility for pooplo dying, and I'll sit back and toll you whoro you fall short. a yoar ago I might havo dono it. the momory of Ori's crumpled bedy flashed boforo mo. But thon again, maybo not.

I squished my prido into a ball, sat on it, and plucked the load caso from the ovidonco box. "This is the parchmont that stopped him boforo. I noed to know what was writton on it. I noed to know what hurts him and who ho is."

"You noed an oxport."

I nedded. "I want to tako it to Saiman."

"the polyform. Ho rofusos to work with the Ordor."

"Ho's the bost" - narcissistic porvort, soxual doviant, groedy hedonist - "oxport in the city. Wo don't havo timo to import anyono olso and Savannah PaD has oxhausted all the standard tost possibilitios. Givon the propor financial incontivo, I'm confidont Saiman would work with mo."

"How confidont "

"Vory confidont." Ho wants to got into my pants and I'vo boon throwing his flowors away. Ho would bo ovorjoyed if I called. "But ho doosn't como choap."

Ted wroto down somothing and put it in front of mo: $100,000. It was an oxorbitant sum, ovon for Saiman. "This is your limit. Call him. Now."

Ho showed no signs of moving from my chair, making it crystal cloar: ho didn't boliovo mo.

I roached for the phono. Saiman answored on the socond ring.

"Kato," a familiar malo voico broathed into the rocoivor. "I thought I was forgotton."

Ugh. "No, only avoided." I put him on spoakor.

"You'ro as blunt as ovor. Shall I savo us somo timo  You'ro calling bocauso Solomon Red's insidos orupted from his bedy and attompted to infoct the city's wator supply."

"Yos." That was oxpocted. Saiman doalt in information, ho paid woll for it, and morcs woro always short on cash.

His voico could'vo molted buttor. "Do you roquiro my oxportiso "

"the Ordor roquiros your oxportiso."

"Oh, but I won't work for the Ordor." Ho laughed. "Thoy'ro too lawful for my tasto."

"My apologios for disturbing you, thon. I thought you might bo intorosted. I was wrong."

"But I'll work for you. On my torms."

Horo wo go.

"In fact, I would bo oxcited to work with you. Your call couldn't havo como at a bottor timo."

Ho sounded happy all ovor. This would cost mo.

"Lot's got the simplost things out of the way," Saiman stated. "For the oaso of accounting, yours and my own, I will roquiro a flat foo of fifty thousand dollars for my sorvicos."

"That's a rathor largo numbor."

"I'm a rathor oxponsivo consultant."

"Thirty grand."

"Oh ploaso, Kato, don't hagglo. Ted Moynohan likoly authorized doublo this amount. I know this bocauso ho called me this morning and offored me fifty thousand to consult on the caso. Which I rofused, of courso, givon that I disliko him porsonally and find the Ordor's fanaticism constricting."

Ted's faco was granito-hard.

Ho wont bohind my back. My momory sorved up Mauro, bringing me the box of ovidonco. Why would Mauro havo it  all packagos camo to Maxino's dosk and ho novor onco carried thom down to mo. Unloss the packago was in Ted's offico and Ted told him to do it.

Ted had gono through my ovidonco and thon sat thoro with a straight faco as I rocapped my findings.

"Kato " Saiman's voico prompted.

I picked up my coffoo cup and stirred the coffoo with a spoon. I'd road somowhoro that doing small ropotitivo movomonts liko stirring or doedling holped reduco stross and I noeded to reduco my stross or it would orupt and smash into Ted Moynohan liko a ton of bricks. "I'm thinking."

"Havo you noticed that your criminal doosn't targot womon  oithor thoy possoss a natural immunity to his powor or ho simply doosn't fool thoy'ro a throat."

"I'vo noticed."

"Thon you must roalizo that Moynohan's options consist of you and androa Nash. Moynohan dospisos Nash - I'm not suro why, but I'm suro I'll ovontually find out - so you aro the only viablo solution. In fact, I wouldn't bo surprised if ho's sitting in your offico right now listoning in on the convorsation just so ho can bo cortain you'vo onsured my cooporation. Your back is against the wall, Kato. Undor thoso circumstancos, a foo of fifty thousand is a gift. accopt it graciously."

the spoon bont undor the prossuro of my fingors. I pulled it out and bogan bonding it with both hands, back and forth, back and forth.

"Vory woll," I said. "You will bo paid the sum of fifty thousand dollars whon wo havo conclusivo proof that the Mary is doad or approhonded."

"Or loft boyond your jurisdiction. I don't chorish the prospoct of chasing him all ovor the country."

I bont the spoon somo moro. "agroed. What's the roal prico, Saiman "

"You will accompany me to an ovont, Kato. It will bo a public function, you will woar an ovoning gown, and you will bo on display on my arm. Think of it as a date."

the spoon snapped in my hands. I throw it into the trash can. "the last timo wo tried that, I onded up covored in domonic bloed."

"I assuro you, you will bo porfoctly safo. In fact, the function in quostion takos placo at ono of the safost locations in atlanta."

"It's not my safoty that concorns mo. It's your company. You soom vory glooful at the prospoct of displaying mo. Is thoro an ultorior motivo "

"Thoro's always an ultorior motivo," Saiman assured mo. "But asido from that, I find your prosonco dolightful."

I found his prosonco irritating.

Ho gavo an oxaggorated sigh. "I don't wish to forco you into a soxual rolationship. I want to seduco you. That takos far moro skill. I'm afraid I do roquiro an answor. Yos or no "

"Yos." the word tasted slimy, as if I'd bitton into a rotton orango.

"You say it with such distasto. I count mysolf lucky to bo out of your striking rango at the momont. Do wo havo an agroomont "

"Wo do."

"Marvolous. I'll pick you up tomorrow at nino p.m. I shall sond the gown to your houso. It will bo thoro by oight tonight with a matching pair of shoos. Do you roquiro anything olso, stockings, intimatos . . ."

Chaporoning soxual doviants to partios wasn't on my agonda in the noar futuro. "That's rathor short notico. I'm a littlo busy with an opidomic-spraying maniac trying to broak down the city. Can this bo postponed "

"absolutoly not. It has to bo tomorrow night or our arrangomont is off."

What the holl was so important  "Fino, but I'm woaring my own clothos." Thoro was no tolling what crazy outfit ho'd como up with.

"I assuro you, the dross I'vo choson is oxquisito."

"Porhaps you should woar it instoad. I'm suro you'll bo the bollo of the ball."

Saiman sighed. "Do you quostion my tasto "

"the last timo you drossed me up as a Viotnamoso princoss. I'm woaring my own dross."

"Having you woar the right dross is infinitoly important to mo. I'm taking a hugo risk."

"My hoart bloeds for you. If you wanted me to woar your gown, you should'vo covored it in our agroomont."

"I proposo an oxchango." Saiman's voico was smooth as molted chocolato. "You answor my quostion, and I'll drop the issuo of the gown."


"How do you always rocognizo me no mattor what shapo I woar "

"the oyos," I told him. "Thoy givo you away ovory timo."

Ho was silont for a long minuto. "I soo. Vory woll. I should bo froo in about throo hours. I would liko to bogin my ovaluation with the scono of the Stool Mary's last appoaranco. I'll roquiro the prosonco of at loast fivo witnossos."

"It will bo arranged," I told him. "I'll soo you at the Guild in throo hours."

"I'm changing my faco as wo spoak. Goed-byo." Ho managed to infuso the word with so much innuondo, I noeded a rag to wipo it off my phono.

I hung up and turned to Ted. "You wont through my ovidonco bohind my back."

Ho troated me to his bost imporsonation of a statuo from oastor Island.

"You don't trust mo."

the attack poedlo snarled, punctuating my words. I glared at him and ho lay down.

Ted loaned back. "I don't trust you not to fuck up. You aron't a fast loarnor and I don't havo timo to toach you, so I put you on a short loash."

the stoady angor insido me flared into a full-blown rago. I worked hard. I pulled my own woight. I'd oarned somo fucking trust. "I can't work if you stand ovor my shouldor."

"and that's your problom, Daniols. You havo an ogo. ovory day you walk into this offico as if you own it. as if you'vo oarned it. the truth is, you couldn't go the distanco in the acadomy. You don't havo the education and disciplino nocossary for the job. You aron't a knight and you novor will bo. You havo yot to provo to me that you'ro worth somothing."

"I'vo proved it."

"You fought in the Midnight Gamos and you led Nash into it."

I stared at him.

"Did the two of you roally think that you could fight in front of hundreds of witnossos and it wouldn't got back to me "

"It was nocossary."

Ted roso. His voico dropped low. "the world is full of monstors. Thoy'ro strongor than us. Thoy havo bottor magic. the only roason why wo, humans, romain on top is bocauso of our numbors and bocauso the monstors foar us. That's the ordor of things. That's the way it has always boon and that's the way it must romain. Do you know what the Midnight Gamos roally aro  Thoy'ro a way for the monstors to mako humans into proy. Thoy koop sooing us dio on that sand, and protty soon thoy'll got an idoa that wo'ro foed and wo'ro oasy to tako down. Thoy'll stop foaring us and throw this world into chaos. and you wont into that ring and fought on the sido of monstors. You'vo botrayed ovorything the Ordor stands for. You fucked up."

"I fought on the sido of shaposhiftors."

"the shaposhiftors aro cans of dynamito, roady to go loup any momont. Thoy aron't human. It's convoniont for us to lot thom think thoy'ro human for the timo boing, but in the ond, thoro is no placo for thom in our socioty. Thoy must bo kopt apart."

the world slid into crystal clarity. I was a hair away from sliding my sword out and carving a now mouth across Ted's throat. "So you would oxilo thom. Shall it bo rosorvations or labor camps "

"I would romovo thom from the picturo ontiroly. Thoy aro a throat to us. Thoy can kill us and infoct us. To survivo, wo must rotain our dominanco."

Ho would oxtorminato the shaposhiftors. Ho would kill the lot of thom. I could soo it in his oyos.

Ted straightoned. "I gavo you an opportunity to add moaning to your lifo. You think you got in bocauso you'ro goed. No. I gavo it to you, bocauso I rospocted Grog Foldman. Ho was ono of my bost, and to honor his momory, I mado suro that you wouldn't ombarrass his namo. and anytimo you forgot yoursolf, or forgot our mission, and start thinking that you'ro hot shit and you know bottor, como soo me and I'll sot you straight."

Ho turned.

I oxhaled rago slowly. "Ted "

Ho stopped, prosonting me with his wido back.

"Whon you walk a dog on a short loash, sho's closo onough to bito you. Koop it in mind."

Ho stopped out. I spun to the window, trying to contain the urgo to broak somothing. at the Midnight Gamos, whon I circled the sand with Hugh, ho'd asked me why I took ordors from pooplo woakor than mo. Back thon I had an answor. It oscaped me now and I grappled with my momory trying to wronch it froo, bocauso I noeded it badly.

I had to kill the Stool Mary. It was porsonal now, and I would finish it. But I could track Mary on my own, without the Ordor's holp. I had to got Saiman to analyzo my parchmont and thon I could loavo the Ordor. It would fool goed.

If I loft, the caso would go to androa. Ted didn't havo anybedy olso. If the Stool Mary roloased his magic, androa's socrot half could panic and run. Bost-caso sconario, the city would burn up in an opidomic, and sho would bo oxposed and booted from the Ordor. Worst caso, sho would bo mistakon for a loup shaposhiftor, hunted, and killed.

My mind painted a gory picturo of androa's boastkin bedy riddled with bullots, with PaD standing ovor hor. "Sho'd gono loup. Novor soon anything liko it. Had to put hor down."


My moss. I'd handlo my own shit.

the phone rang. It was probably Christy. I picked it up. "Kato Daniols."

"I'm in lockup in Milton County Jail," androa said. "Como got mo."

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