Vampire Detective Midnight #3
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“This is human business,” the vampire said.
“As I have always said, if the humans take it upon themselves to kill one another, it is often best to simply stand out of the way...”
Vampire detective Nick knows a few seers.
One of those seers, an antisocial male with the annoying habit of painting things before they happen, appears at Nick’s work, claiming he has something to show him. That something turns out to be his latest creation, a mural of a bomb going off in downtown New York.
Unfortunately, by the time Nick sees it, it’s already too late.
Nick has no leads apart from the painting itself, a murdered human, and the dead man’s partner, the city’s star designer and architect, an eccentric vampire named Straven. Soon, what starts off as a simple case of a robbery gone wrong begins to look like something a lot more sinister, with much more far-reaching consequences.
It also brings Nick far too close to the life he thought he’d left behind, as a lieutenant in the White Death, the vampire criminal underground.
When his ex-girlfriend shows up, a new vampire boyfriend in tow at a hip vampire club, Nick figures things really can’t get any worse.
THE PRESCIENT is book #3 of a gritty, romantic new series set in a futuristic, dystopian New York populated by vampires, humans and psychics trying to rebuild their world after a devastating race war nearly obliterates the previous one.
A spinoff of the Quentin Black Mystery series, it features vampire with a past and homicide detective, Naoko “Nick” Tanaka, who gets transferred to the NYPD after a bad incident in Los Angeles forces him to start a new life. Nick works as a “Midnight,” or vampire in the employ of the human police department, but when he arrives in New York, he really just wants to be left alone to work, surf, and deal with his immortality in peace.
Life, and the residents of New York, clearly have other ideas.
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The lanky human with the blond and brown-streaked hair grinned, yanking down on the old-fashioned, L-shaped handle after his hand-held, semi-organic computer lit up.
The smooth motion confirmed the meaning of the loud click he’d heard when the electronic combination clicked into place.
The lock was disengaged.
Yanking open the safe’s thick door, he glanced back at the woman who knelt on the floor behind him. He watched her eyes narrow in concentration as she stared down at the face of a man sprawled on the carpet, his body motionless apart from the flicker of lights coming off his hyper-modern virtually-enhanced suit.
In contrast to the man’s dead-eyed stare up at the ceiling, his suit swam with distracting and disjointed flashes, images and lights that morphed and changed every instant, glowing and sparking in the dim space of the corner office on the eighty-eighth floor.
“You got it?” he asked her.
He aimed his eyes back towards the contents of the safe as he spoke.
“Working on it,” she muttered, without looking up.
She held a second organic machine over the face of the man on the floor.
Her metallic silver dreads were pulled out of her face in a long ponytail, making her features appear even more severe than usual. He couldn’t help smiling at the intensity in her dark brown eyes as she stared down at the body below her.
She was beautiful.
His fierce, feral, smart as fuck, utterly badass goddess.
He got off on watching her work, but he didn’t have time for much of that tonight, not in more than glances and brief looks.
He watched her run the scanner over the dead man’s face, then the length of his torso.
“Don’t forget the blood sample,” he reminded her. “Or the fingerprints.”
She gave him a flat look, one that made him grin.
“Really, husband?” she said.
When he chuckled, she jerked her chin towards the safe.
“Look for the damned thing, will you?” she said. “We need to get the hell out of here.”
“We’re good, baby… we’re good,” he assured her, checking his timepiece. “Four and a half minutes ahead of schedule.”
“We’re not past the anti-terrorism measures on the ground floor,” she reminded him. “Those damned things will be switched on by now––”
“Don’t worry, baby. Don’t worry,” he assured her.
He’d turned back to the safe, and began pulling out the contents.
The sheer variety was something.
Paper documents from before the war.
Schematics that looked more recent, probably only put down in hard copy to keep them off the network prior to patent.
What looked like machine part prototypes.
There were at least a half-dozen of these, but none matched the image he’d been provided by the client. He held each one up to the light to be sure, only eliminating them after he’d snapped an image with his headset and run the object-rec program to assess them formally.
None met the specs for what he’d been tasked to find.
Just to be on the safe side, he stuffed most of those that fit the rough dimensions of the tasked object into his pockets anyway.
He whistled a little under his breath when he saw the names on some of the original stocks and deeds making up the stacks of dead-tree papers shoved against three of the safe’s walls. He even saw a small stack of Archangel stock, which was probably worth more than this whole damned building, all on its own.
“Well?” she said, still focused down on the man’s body. “What are you grinning about?”
“The jackpot, honey––”
“The client’s jackpot?” she clarified sourly. “Because we need to start there, Tig.”
“A jackpot for us,” he said, winking at her. “Can’t I multi-task?”
“Sure,” she said sarcastically. “Multi-task away. But do the fucking job first, Tig,” she said, emphasizing the word tartly. “They won’t pay us the rest, if we don’t get what we came for. I’m doing my half. We need yours to get the full payout. Their contact made it pretty clear we wouldn’t get shit if we didn’t bring them both.”
“Don’t worry, baby,” he said, pulling out a black box that sat in the back of the safe cavity, under all the papers. “It’s here. It has to be.”
He brought the locked box over to the modern, semi-organic desk.
Like the man’s suit, the desk flickered with internal life, sparking up and down its legs and the enormous, flat, living monitor that made up its dining table-sized surface. The whole thing was a translucent, pale green with thread-like veins, almost like it was part plant.
He wondered if it ran off photosynthesis, like a tree.
It would explain all the windows in here.
Placing the box carefully on top of the massive desk, he began examining it.
Unlike the table, it was matte black, featureless apart from a flat silver disk on one side. The perfect, rectangular shape looked almost like it was made of some dense stone.
Tig tried touching the silver pad, swiping it with his fingers, tapping it, pressing on it, running his scanner over it, hitting it with a jolt of electricity.
As far as he could tell, nothing had any effect.
After examining it for a few seconds more, he picked it up, bringing it over to his partner, and the body she crouched beside.
“I think we’ll need his fingerprints to open this thing,” he said when she looked up. “See if any of them work on the pad.”
Glancing up at him, she frowned delicately, then nodded, stopping her scanning long enough to take the box from his gloved hands.
Going back and forth on which hand to use, she glanced up at him.
He knew her well enough to know what she was asking him.
“Is this one right-handed?” he said.
“Left,” she said, prompt. “They said left for this one, right?”
“I think so.” Tig checked the job specs in his headset. “Yes. Left.”
Getting up from the carpet, she walked around to the other side of the body and knelt by the dead man’s left hand.
He followed her, crouching down beside her.
Looking at the mirrored, silver plate on one side of the box, she touched it with her fingers, tentatively at first, trying to elicit a reaction, just like he had. When it did nothing, she looked between the dead man’s hand and the box.
He watched her try to decide which finger to use.
He understood her caution, and appreciated it.
Some of these lock-boxes had built-in defense mechanisms.
Get the wrong finger, and they shut down altogether.
Then you needed specialized equipment to pry them open––equipment he and his lady hadn’t brought with them for the job. Not bringing that equipment hadn’t been an oversight. They discussed it, then decided they didn’t want the extra weight in case they had to leave down the outside of the building.
That equipment was too expensive to buy for just one job.
It was definitely too expensive to ditch due to a bad exit.
For the same reasons, they didn’t have it back at the garage, either.
They’d have to hope the client had it.
They’d have to hope they’d be willing to pay for it, if they didn’t.
They’d have to hope they wouldn’t be a dick about it, in either case.
“What if we try the thumb?” his wife suggested. “The pad looks too big to be for one of the other fingers. I say thumb or heel of the hand.”
He nodded, agreeing with her.
“Thumb,” he said, after peering again at the silver mirror. “It’s too small for the heel. He’s got big hands.”
Her lips pursed as she looked at the man’s thick, muscular hand.
Then she nodded.
“Okay. Agreed. Let’s do it.”
Tig slid closer, so he could maneuver the hand while she held the box.
Picking up the human’s dead fingers, he positioned the thumb over the slight indentation in the silver disk, sliding closer to her on the carpet, and closer to the organic-metal box she held now in both hands.
Double-checking that he had everything lined up right, Tig hesitated, glancing at his partner, who was watching everything he did minutely.
“Look right to you?” he said.
She nodded. “Looks good.”
“Well,” he said, exhaling. “Here goes nothing.”
He pressed the thumb onto the silver disc.
Previously invisible veins in the matte black material lit up, pale greens and blue that grew brighter as the pad continued to scan the dead man’s thumb.
The thief grinned, glancing at his wife holding the box.
“It’s working!” he said gleefully. “They don’t do shit when you have the wrong finger––”
“Wait!” she said, holding up one hand. “What’s it doing now?”
The lights on the box changed.
They began flashing erratically…
Right before colors shifted.
They went from that softer green and blue to yellow… then to orange.
Then to red.
“What the fuck?” he said, frowning down at it. “Could it know he’s dead?”
He glanced at the woman’s dark brown eyes, those beautiful brown eyes he could get lost in, even in the middle of a job…
But she never got a chance to answer.
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