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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Christie Come to Town

            Christie had never been on a sanctioned field assignment before, and she had to admit that it was a lot more reassuring to be going into a potentially dangerous situation with a group of armed agents.

            The CDC had requested that they bring along Dr. Hollis, the sullen-faced biomedical engineer who had awkwardly sat in on the meeting between Director Franks and his compatriots only a few days ago. He stood next to the four other operatives from the CDC in front of the hulking Humvee that the FBI agents had been loading for transport looking about as out of place as anyone physically could. The vehicle itself was on loan from the state, and so they could not officially requisition it until they received the “go” from the FBI, so it and all of its human cargo sat on the asphalt outside of the local military base’s garage.
            Their strange caravan had been assembled the day before, and they had taken an early flight to Jefferson City, Missouri, where they had been waiting ever since for the green light to head southeast to Liberty Cross. There had been no reply from Director Franks one way or another, so the heavily armed group had eventually stopped outfitting the Humvee and were casually throwing around the idea of getting a hotel room for the night, as the sun had already begun to sink behind the horizon.
            Agent Thomas scratched the back of her neck and sat down next to where Christie had squatted down on the pavement, and she folded her arms across her uniform, “So, how are you holding up?”
            “I’m bored, honestly.” Christie glanced over at Thomas and shrugged, “Is this what field work is usually like?”
            “Sort of. There’s a lot of paperwork and waiting for the bureaucracy to catch up. Once we get to where we are going, I doubt that we’ll have much down time.”
            “You think so?”
            “Yeah.” Thomas nodded towards the CDC men, “They look pretty spooked, and they have a better idea of what is going on then we do. Plus I know Agent Hughes… Bernie is a tough bastard, so if he is in over his head then we have our work cut out for us.”
            Christie nodded, “Oh good. I hope that Dr. Yeats isn’t infected with gooey, blistery death or anything.”
            “Dr. Yeats?” Thomas snorted, “Probably not. He seems like the sort to follow regulations, so he’s most likely running around in a full HAZMAT suit.”
            “Yeah, probably.” She adjusted her rump against the pavement, “So, what about you, Agent Thomas? I really don’t know anything about you and you have basically been my shadow. What was the toughest mission that you’ve been on?”
            Thomas shot her a steely glance, “Your security clearance isn’t high enough for me to discuss that.” Christie looked crestfallen, and Thomas laughed, “Don’t look so disappointed. It would give you nightmares, so I’m sparing you that. I used to be an international agent, though, so needless to say things got hairy in a dozen different languages.”
            “I bet you got to go to some weird places.”
            “Yep. Some really interesting ones too.” Thomas shrugged, “Honestly, I feel that I’m slightly overqualified for this latest assignment, no offence.”
            “None taken. I think that you are seriously overqualified. I sort of feel like you are a race horse that’s been sold to one of those pony farms where the kids ride around in circles…”
            Agent Thomas laughed, “Well, when you put it that way…” she scratched at her neck again, and Christie noticed a long silvery scar that ran from behind the agent’s ear across to her spine at the nape of her neck.
It was so delicate and uniformly healed that Christie immediately knew that it could not have happened naturally, and she found herself asking about it before she really knew what she was doing, “What happened there?”
Thomas abruptly stopped scratching and shrugged, “It was for a mission. I can’t tell you any more than that.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Oh Jesus, yes.”
            They were interrupted by an outburst at the edge of the yard, and they looked up just in time to see a heavily tattooed woman marching resolutely towards them. Thomas stood up and adjusted the holster on her hip, “Well, it looks like a protestor got through.”
            “A what?” Christie looked around the barren army base, “Protesting what?”
            The woman was met by three agents but simply brushed past them, a badge held high in her hand. As she got closer, Thomas sighed, “This aught to be good.”
            “Are you Agent Steele?” the woman asked when she reached them.
            Thomas eyed her, “No. Let me see some credentials.” The woman passed her the badge, and Thomas stared at her hard, taking in her natty brown dreadlocks, shocking pale skin and the tattoos peeking up from the low neckline of her incredibly un-tactical attire, “You are a DEA agent?”
            “Yes,” the woman had a thick southern drawl, and looked more like she belonged in a trailer park chasing away the DEA, “I’ve been undercover for the past few years, so you’ll have to pardon my attire. The Drug Enforcement Administration in its infinite wisdom would like for me to accompany you to Liberty Cross. Our liaison to the FBI told us about what has been happening there and the director wants to make sure that this isn’t being caused by any illegal substances.”
            Thomas curled her lip just enough to let the woman know that she disapproved, but she jerked a thumb over her shoulder roughly, “This is Agent Steele.”
            The woman nodded and thrust her hand out dramatically, “Tisiphone Jones.”
            Christie shook her hand gingerly, “Tisiphone?”
            “My parents were hippies.” She smiled, and it took all of Christie’s willpower not to jump when she saw that all of the woman’s teeth had been filed into sharp points.
            “Um, alright, Agent Jones.” Christie said awkwardly.
            Thomas interjected somewhat forcefully, “Walk with me, Agent Jones.” she started off and Tisiphone hurried after her, the vampiress’ eyes locked on the scar on Thomas’ neck.
            Once they were out of ear shot, Thomas stopped and regarded Tisiphone carefully, “Ol’ Papa sent you, didn’t he?”
            The vampiress regarded Thomas carefully and then slowly nodded, “Yes. Timaeus sent you?”
            “Of course. You seem fairly recovered from the river crossing.”
            Tisiphone laughed, “It comes from living in the bayou, surrounded on all sides by water of some sort. We’ve learned to adapt, it takes quite the crossing to do us lasting damage.”
            “I wish the same could be said for our French guest,” Thomas jerked her head towards where Chevalier had been laying in the backseat of one of the smaller government cars, retching and moaning pitifully. The Mississippi river crossing, while less intense than the Atlantic crossing, was just enough to send the already weakened vampire into conniptions, and Thomas knew all too well that she was going to have to feed him someone soon.
            “Well, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?” Tisiphone laughed. She looked over to Christie and then back to Thomas, “Is she the one that Ol’ Papa heard about? The one who could be on to a way to track our movements?”
            “The one and only.” Thomas shrugged, “She has proven useful in tracking Zuriel’s movements, though.”
            “I see.” Tisiphone grinned and bared all of her teeth, a move that Agent Thomas figured was designed to unnerve her.
            The moon had started to rise over the base, and Thomas hoped that the word to go would be given before she lost all of her will to proceed with Timeaus’ plan.

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