Capin removed himself from the center of the room as Jaime crouched beside Aaron. Collapsing into the chair he could feel the weariness catching up to him in the weight of his own body. He pinched the bridge of his nose. There was a dull ache stretching back through his skull. All the excitement up until now had managed to assuage the headache. Or at least keep it at bay. He reached into his coat and pulled out his communicator, thumbing it open.
“Jenna…” he answered the familiar beep. The com repeated the name, pausing another few moments as the signal went through its encryption. A few quick rings and her voice came through.
“Our first step in the right direction today.”
“Nothing. I’m sorry.” Capin picked his head up, looking over to Jamie, inspecting Aaron’s ears. Her blonde locks fell over her glasses and she tucked them back. “It’s been a hell of a couple days.”
The first words to his mouth were ‘what isn’t?’, but he didn’t say them. “Mid-Night’s MIA. It’s a mess in progress.”
Okay… She dragged the word out, waiting for him to continue. What’s happening?
“Apparently Ak-Fet rebounded from our tangle with an uncanny swiftness. He’s got Corin.” There was silence between them a moment. “It gets worse. Ak-Fet Sur is apparently Corin’s uncle.”
Samuel Hammerstone? Jenna responded with a tone of surprise.
“Yeah,” he said, with his own slight surprise. “You know the guy too?”
I know things. It’s my job, Cap.
“Touché.” Capin got himself up and moved over to the bar. “Anyway, the very same. Corin’s girlfriend managed to escape and contact us.” He dropped a few cubes of ice into a squat rocks glass and poured some of the decanter’s contents over them.
What’s the plan?
Capin lifted the glass to his lips. “Find him. Save the day.” He took a drink.
“You know us. We don’t know the meaning of ‘fly by the seat of our pants’. I spoke with Andy, he’s on duty, but he’s on alert.”
I’ll put a strike force together here. See what we can smoke out. There was a rustle and soft tapping of keys on the other end. We’ve got a file on AK’s cult. It’s not as thick as we’d like but it’s a starting point.
Another wave of silence filled the connection as both of them avoided the other subject. Just as much as she was waiting for him to bring it up, he was avoiding it. Silhouette broke in first. Did you find him?
Capin looked at the glass in the light and then drained it. “Yeah we did,” he replied. That was all he had.
We’ll let you know if we find anything.
“Same here. Thanks, Jenna.”
Always. With that last word they closed the connection.
Capin took the glass decanter and refilled his drink, before returning to the group. The mood in the Matthews home was somber and quiet. Jaime had retired back to the sofa, cradling a fresh mug of tea between her palms. Kaye sat close beside her. Aaron held his chin over the armrest, his expression just as pensive as when Dr. Harris related the earlier events. His brow arched as he looked up to the dressed down detective. Capin sat down on the ottoman in front of him.
“Andy’s ready to jump if we need him. I talked to Sil. She’s putting a team on the street.”
“Alright,” Aaron said, finally getting to his feet. “We don’t have the time to waste grasping at straws. Ak-Fet Sur’s not going to keep Corin alive any longer then he needs to.” The words made Jaime shiver. “What’s it take to catch a powerful sorcerer?”
Capin nodded. “Another powerful sorcerer. I’ll ta-”
He was cut off as the door flung open, and Vivian Green tumbled through its opening. “The TV!” Everybody in the room turned. “Turn on the TV!”
Kaye reached forward, grabbing the remote control and thumbing its power button. The large flat screen popped to life. “-ill panic on the streets of Garrison. Police Chief Bennett has released a statement that the Police have the situation well in hand and a statement is expected from Mayor Archer shortly.”
As the anchor continued the screen was filled with footage of Garrison, its sky completely blacked out. The streets were peppered with people taking advantage of the panic that inevitably followed these sorts of events. Violence. Vandalism.
“What the hell happened to this city?” Vivian dropped onto the sofa. “Did you guys discover a hellmouth or something?”
“Ak-Fet Sur’s making a move.”
Aaron got up from his chair, moving to the window. He peeked out behind the curtains. Sure enough, wrapped up in their own events they had missed the darkness that had fallen over Garrison. Some movement around the neighbor’s building caught his eyes. it gets worse.”
“Corin’s enemy is bringing the game to us.” He took another look then stepped back. “Or part of it, anyway.”
“Oh god…” Jamie’s eyes welled up. “I was followed. They followed me here to you.”
Kaye put her arm around her, holding her tight. “It’s okay. It’s not your fault. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay.” With Jaime’s head nestled against her, Kaye looked up to Aaron, hoping for that reassurance that she wasn’t lying to the poor girl. Bluewolf held the gaze of the woman he loved.
“If they’d followed you here, they’d have made a move sooner.” Capin walked over to another window, taking a look for himself. He scanned the block. “Crap…” he said the words hushed under his breath, only to himself. They were well hidden in the darkness, but not impossible to spot. Not all of them, anyway. But what he could count was would be a handful to take care of. What they couldn’t see only worried him more.
“Capin’s right.” He didn’t say it for Jamie’s sake, but if they hadn’t followed her here, they were most likely getting information from Corin, information he wouldn’t give up willingly. “We need to work fast.” He looked up to Capin. “First priority: get to Melody. We need to know where they are to take the fight to them.”
“Consider it done.” As he said the words, the worn black shirt morphed into a white ribbed button-down. Enry crept over his face with that familiar dark cowl and the cape fell down around his shoulders. “What about you guys?”
“We’ll hold off the pajama party-” Kaye’s voice grew deeper and more feral, “until you can get back with Melody.” Jamie’s eyes widened as she watched Kaye shift into her preferred anthropomorphic tigress form.
“A little unsettling the first time, but you’ll get used to it kiddo.”
As the idea formed in his mind, Aaron knew there would be resistance. “Kaye, you take Vivian and Jaime through the basement tunnel. I’ll run interference until you signal you’re clear and safe.” He held up a hand to silence the argument Kaye was about the throw at him, “If they’ve discovered the tunnel, you’ll both need to be there to take care of them and get Jamie to safety. I can handle myself long enough for you to get clear.”
Kaye’s eye’s turned hard, and she let out a low growl, “You and I are going to have a talk if we manage to make it through this…”
The three women made their way down the narrow staircase, followed by Aaron and Ryu. As a portion of the ground floor was below street-level, the basement itself was little more than a musty crawl-space. They had to stoop to make their way to the back wall. Aaron moved to the front, and gripping a slightly off-color section of foundation with both hands, he pulled. His shoulders bunched and the stone shifted ever so slightly. Able to get a better hand hold, Aaron shifted his grip, and with a grating tug, the block swung free, revealing a short set of steps down to a sunken passageway that extended off into inky blackness. Vivian – dressed in her ‘work clothes’ – reached into a pouch and handed Jaime a spare set of starlite goggles.
“They work in low-light, UV and IR. The going won’t be easy, but we’ll be able to see something, at least.” Jaime simply nodded and slipped the goggles on.
“Hrm,” Ryu studied the ‘door.’ “A big block on a series of in-set ball bearings. Nice.”
“This house was one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad. I made some improvements in the event of an emergency.”
“I think this qualifies,” Ryu quipped.
Kaye turned Aaron’s face toward hers and gave him a long, lingering kiss. “Understand that by no means am I happy with this.”
“I know. Be careful.”
“You too.” Kaye stepped into the passage, followed by Jaime, with Vivian bringing up the rear. Able to stand at full height, they quickly disappeared into the black.
Aaron moved to shove the stone back into place, but found Enry brushing him aside. “Allow us.” The cape spread over the massive heavy block, gripping it tightly. Capin cupped his hands around dusty edge and pulled. With a few grunts and that grinding sound the door fell shut. “They’re always easier to close,” he said waiving the dust away.
“And I loosened it.” Aaron returned with a smirk, leading the two of them back up the stairs. The house was still and quiet. All the hallmarks of impending doom and violence.
“Your call,” Capin said, staring at the front door, “how do you want to play it?”
With his arms folded and his lips pursed he stared at the front door. The wheels were grinding smoothly, giving his expression a look less of hard thought strategy and more of “I wonder if I paid the insurance bill”. He let go of his chest. “Take the roof. Clear it as best and as swiftly as you can.” Capin nodded. “The less that pour in from above the easier.”
“Easy peasy.” The Dapper Detective swung around the banister taking two steps at a time before stopping halfway up. He turned around, ducking to look Wolf in the eyes as he slipped on his visor. “Don’t get dead.” Bluewolf nodded with a grin and the tuxedo clad Capin disappeared the rest of the way upstairs.