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Authors: Ken White

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BOOK: Night and Day (Book 2): Bleeding Sky
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“That
was her platoon lieutenant’s decision,” he said. “General Bain doesn’t
second guess his officers.” He pointed at the couch against the wall.
“Please have a seat while I let the general know you’re here.”

I
sat down as he picked up one of the phones on his desk. “Mr. Welles is here,
sir.” He listened for a moment, then nodded and said, “Yes, sir.”

He
hung up the phone. “The general is ready for you.” He paused. “I have to
ask, are you armed?”

I
nodded.

“Please
place your weapon on my desk. It’s just policy. I don’t think the general
cares one way or another, but that’s why I have to care.”

“Not
a problem,” I said. I stood, walked to his desk and pulled the Glock from my
belt. “I’ll get this back when I leave, right?”

“Certainly,”
he said. He took the pistol and put it into his desk drawer. “You can go in
now.”

Bain’s
office was standard government issue. Government-issue steel desk, two
government issue steel chairs in front of it. Even the small cot against one
wall looked like something I’d seen twenty years ago when I was in the army.
It was nothing like the office in his home, with its ceiling-to-floor
bookshelves and large marble-topped desk.

The
compact, coffee-skinned man with the steel-gray crewcut behind the desk was
the same, though he wore an unmarked blue jumpsuit instead of the suit he’d
worn the two times I’d met with him. Bain had one of his ever-present
cheroots in his mouth and studied me through the cloud of smoke. He’d called
the cigars his only remaining vice.

“Sit
down, Mr. Welles.”

I
dropped into one of the chairs in front of the desk. “Nice to see you again,
Mr. Bain.”

“I
doubt that,” he said curtly. “Brenner is an acceptable trainee?”

“Yeah,
he’s doing real well. Picking it up very fast.” I paused. “If you leave him
for a couple of months, I might actually be able to get some good work out
of him.”

“Those
people are there for training, Mr. Welles, not so you can get good work out
of them.”

“The
success of the agency is dependant on our ability to service a human and
vampire clientele,” I said. “It’s hard to take night cases when the
investigator isn’t fully trained. And every time they start getting to that
level, you pull them out and replace them.”

“For
the moment, I require trained investigators, or even semi-trained
investigators. That situation will change in time, and you’ll see more
stability in the personnel I send. Until then, you’ll have to make
do.”

“I
guess I will.”

“Exactly,”
he said. “But I didn’t have you brought here to listen to your complaints. I
have need of your personal services.”

“Okay,”
I said slowly. “What’s the problem?”

“Do
you watch the news, Mr. Welles?”

“Yes.
And I’m so old-fashioned that I read the newspaper too.”

“Then
you’ve undoubtedly seen that the former German ambassador, Konrad Heymann,
is in the United States on a fact-finding mission. If he is satisfied with
what he finds, it will hopefully be the first step to resume diplomatic
relations with Germany and perhaps other countries.”

“Yeah,
I heard that. Pretty exciting stuff, huh.”

“Pretty
important stuff, Mr. Welles. We are doing what we can to reestablish normal
relations with the rest of the world. The government in Washington is behind
it, as is the Governor General.”

“So
what do you need from me?”

Bain
was silent for a moment, then said, “It won’t be announced till morning, but
the ambassador is taking his fact-finding mission on the road, as it were.
Going beyond the confines of the United Nations in New York and the federal
government area in the District of Columbia. He’ll be arriving in your city
tomorrow evening.”

“Okay.
I’ll ask again, what do you need from me?”

“Executive
protection is one of the services your detective agency provides, if I’m not
mistaken.”

I
think my jaw dropped, just a little. “You want me to be the ambassador’s
bodyguard?”

“No,”
he said quickly. “The ambassador has a bodyguard with him as well as
an...advisor. But Area Three Government is coordinating overall security.
The subject of his safety while here in Area Three was brought up with Mr.
Heymann. He understands the need for security, and is willing to have
vampire personnel from the Security Force provide protection at night.” He
paused. “But during daylight hours, he wants a human unaffiliated with the
local area government to coordinate the security detail. An
outsider.”

“And
you’ve decided that’s me.” I wasn’t liking the way this was going, but since
I didn’t have any warning, I needed to buy some time to come up with a
reason why I couldn’t do it. Coordinating the ambassador’s security detail
didn’t sound like my kind of job.

“You
have the required skill set,” he said. “You know the city. You know the
police department and the Security Force. Your work on our previous
collaboration proved your abilities and your dogged nature. Who better, Mr.
Welles?”

“Mr.
Bain, Joshua’s murder was personal to me. To you too.” I paused. “I don’t
have a personal stake in this. And I have a business to run.”

“Exactly.
Which is why the Area Governor’s Office will hire you for this assignment.
This office will be your client, like any other, while Ambassador Heymann is
in town.”

That
pretty much backed me into a corner. I sat there in silence.

“Are
you doing so well that you don’t need another client, Mr.
Welles?”

“No,
sir.” I said quickly. “New clients are always welcome.”

“Good.”
He pulled a piece of paper from under his desk blotter. I recognized the logo at the
top.

“I
took the liberty of having one of my trainees take a copy of your standard
contract,” he said. “For our files.”

“I
do have other cases that I’m working,” I said. “This sounds like it might
take up a lot of my time, and I’d hate to leave my other clients
hanging.”

“If
you need help with existing cases, I will provide personnel to assist.
Trained, skilled investigators, from other areas if necessary.” He paused.
“This is an important, high profile assignment, Mr. Welles. I’ve been given
free reign by Governor General Austin to do whatever is necessary to bring
it a satisfactory conclusion.”

Another
door slammed in my face. “I’ll let you know on that,” I said. “It’s possible
the other clients can wait a few days.” The last thing I wanted was more
involvement with Area Government and it’s personnel.

“Understood.
Anything else?”

“You
know it’s six hundred dollars a day, right? Or I can bill hourly at a
hundred dollars an hour if you prefer, but it’ll probably end up costing you
more.”

He
nodded. “I’m aware of the price of your services,” Bain said. “It’s
acceptable.”

“How
long will the ambassador be in town?”

“Three
days, perhaps four. There’s no set timetable that I’m aware of.”

“One
more thing,” I said. “Brenner. He’s good, but not good enough to investigate
cases on his own yet. So I’d be losing business by not being able to service
our vampire clientele. Unless you expect me to spend the day guarding
Heymann and then train Brenner after dark.”

Bain
didn’t say anything for a moment, and I thought maybe I had him. I should
have realized that Phillip Bain was never ‘had’.

“All
right,” he said. “Area Three Government will pay for both your services and
Brenner’s. You can use him as you see fit in this assignment, or he can cool
his heels. That’s your choice.” He centered the contract in front of him and
lifted his pen. “Twelve hundred dollars per day for the duration of the
assignment?”

“Plus
expenses.”

Bain
shook his head. “You won’t have any expenses, Mr. Welles. If you require
support or logistics, we’ll provide it.” He stared at the contract. “Do you
require a retainer?”

I
could have said yes, but what was the point. This was a done deal. No matter
what I said, Bain would have an answer. “That’s okay. I’m sure area
government is good for it. You can pay on completion.” I paused. “And staff
time?”

He
just stared at me silently.

“Okay,
twelve hundred a day, flat rate. No extras.”

Bain
nodded. “Done.” He filled in the spaces on the contract and scrawled his
name at the bottom, then pushed it across the desk. “Everything correct, Mr.
Welles?”

I
scanned the contract and nodded.

He
pulled the contract back. “I’ll have a copy made for our files and someone
will deliver the original to your office tomorrow morning.” Bain picked up
the phone on his desk and tapped in two numbers. “Would you come in,
please.”

“So
how is this going to work?”

“You’ll
coordinate through Security Command,” he said. Behind me, the door opened. I
looked over my shoulder. Tiffany Takeda stepped into the room and closed the
door. “Miss Takeda is Security Command for this operation.”

“Mr.
Welles,” she said with a small smile and a slight bow of her
head.

“Miss
Takeda,” I replied, matching her bowed head.

Tiffany
Takeda. California beach bunny turned vampire. And recently, having
discovered her Japanese roots, turned American quasi-samurai. I’d worked
closely with her during the investigation into Joshua’s murder. She’d been
both helpful and ruthless. And she’d stuck a sword into the back of a
vampire that was getting ready to cut me up and have a sip.

“Miss
Takeda will have overall command of the operation, and will personally
supervise the Security Force during nighttime hours. You will have command
autonomy, within reason of course, during daylight hours, and will supervise
the Security Force while the sun is up.”

Bain
opened a desk drawer, took out a cell phone, and put it on the desk between
us. “For the duration of the assignment.”

I
picked up the phone. It wasn’t the latest model, of course. Imports dried up
around the time the war began. But it had a touchscreen and some icons on
the home page. And it was a huge step up from the ten-year old phone that
Bain had let me use when I was investigating Joshua’s murder.

Cell
phones are few and far between these days. The Vees had outlawed their use
by civilians after the war. Security, they said. It’s easier to monitor
calls going through the phone company central office than it is to monitor
cell phone calls. The only people with a cell phone these days worked for
area government. And I had no doubt that every call was logged, maybe even
monitored.

“I
believe the last time I gave you a phone, you complained, Mr. Welles,” Bain
said. “I hope this meets with your approval. It has...apps.”

“Yes,
sir,” I said. “At least people won’t laugh at me when I pull it out of my
pocket.”

“Miss
Takeda will provide you with a vehicle charger,” he said. “You’ll note the
icons on the home page. One is a direct-dial link to Miss Takeda’s cell
phone. The second is direct-dial to mine. The third is direct dial to the
Area Operations Center.” He paused. “She is your point of contact and
represents the Area Three Governor’s Office, your client. If you are unable
to contact her in an emergency situation, you can call me. If you need
something else, call the operations center.”

“Should
I be expecting emergency situations?”

“Miss
Takeda will give you a full briefing during your return to the city,” he
said. “She can answer your questions.”

Bain
stared at me silently for a moment, then said, “This assignment is
important, Mr. Welles. For our country, and for the future of the humans and
vampires in it.”

“I’ll
do my best.”

“I’m
sure you will,” he said. “Thank you for taking the
assignment.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter
Five

 

Takeda
was silent as she led me through the massive operations room and into a hall
at the end of the room opposite the raised platform. The black jacket she
wore over her white blouse and loose black pants only came to mid-thigh, not
quite long enough to cover the Japanese short sword she often carried in a
rig under her left arm. Apparently she leaves it at home when she’s in the
office.

“So
how have you been?” I asked as we walked through the long corridor, our
footsteps echoing on the concrete walls.

“I
have been well,” she said. “Busy.”

When
she didn’t say anything else, I said, “Yeah, I’ve been good myself. Thanks
for asking.”

She
smiled. “I have followed your progress with the trainees General Bain
provides. Training is time consuming.”

“Yes,
it is. Especially when you put all that time into training them, only to see
them yanked out and replaced before they can actually be useful.”

BOOK: Night and Day (Book 2): Bleeding Sky
4.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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